Jim Ladd and the Glory Days of FM Radio

Jim LaddI was twirling ’round the satellite radio dial, looking for something interesting when I happened upon a familiar voice. This was a voice from the past that I had not heard in a long time. It was the voice of Jim Ladd.

As I have referenced on the podcast, I grew up loving radio. It was a magical time for FM radio when I was in high school. It was the late 70’s and large corporate interests had not yet taken over. DJ’s played what they wanted to play and had a true personality. The DJ’s of my childhood truly loved the music they were playing and it sounded like it. It was this raw passion and honesty that hooked me. Jim Ladd was the master of this.

When the corporations started taking over, they “programmed” the stations with music carefully culled from computer algorithms based on God knows what, record sales and popularity I guess. DJ’s became pushbutton monkeys drained of all passion and excitement. Some stations could even be run completely by machines, no humans needed. This was about the time I stopped listening to radio. Ratings for radio have been declining ever since and I don’t think to this day the industry understands what it did to itself.

This is one of the reasons Podcasting has been such an exciting and fantastically rejuvenating medium. Podcasting brought back DJ’s and hosts who really cared about what they were doing. The passion, energy and creativity came back. Fortunately, there is a future for Jim Ladd and his particular brand of rock radio. Ladd has found a new home on Satellite radio on XM Radio’s Deep Tracks channel. Other than Podcasting satellite radio is the only other place where creativity and artistry can breath. Howard Stern famously made his move from traditional radio to satellite several years ago for many of the same reasons.

This is the big mistake many businesses make when it comes to media, they forget or underestimate the power of a unique and authentic human voice. This is the mistake the traditional radio industry made years ago.