This post was written as a comment in response to a recent post on Inside Music Media.
Early in my career, I was a national media buyer with the Fotomat Corp. They were, at that time, the 8th largest spot radio buyer in the US. I worked with incredible radio stations, both AM & FM. The Fotomat buying strategy was simple: 40 weeks of radio annually in 80 markets. Everything Fotomat did from a marketing standpoint was primarily dependent on the reps, the stations, the station personalities and the marketing partnerships we developed. Fotomat's marketing strategy utilized the best each station had to offer. Aside from having the requisite cpms to meet, the programs were individualized and they worked. Fotomat's marketing dept was smart enough to realize the strengths and unique aspects of each station with whom they partnered. There was no 'one size fits all". There were no clusters, no ownership monopolies and very little voice tracking other than the "Beautifuls". Stations were still personality-driven and formats were pretty much divided between: Top 40, Rock, Oldies, AC, News/Talk & Beautiful. Our national reps were the cream of the crop from Group W, CBS, Eastman, Katz, Blair, McGavren-Guild, Christal, Buckley and many others. Bill Burton was, indeed, The Man. It was a golden time.
To say that these days are gone forever and radio will never recover to these levels again is probably true. And yet, when you look at the amazing way it all fit together, the dynamics of the stations, their representatives, their advertising partners, their personalities...it all fused to deliver a great product with thoughtful marketing and strong content resulting in a fiercely loyal audience. What is so hard about that?