TIME radio

Garrison Keillor to Say So Long to Lake Wobegon

Garrison Keillor
Jim Mone—AP Garrison Keillor, creator and host of "A Prairie Home Companion, in an interview by The Associated Press, July 20, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn., said he plans to step down after next season and retire such popular sketches as “Guy Noir, Private Eye.”

The Prairie Home Companion host says he's retiring

Garrison Keillor, the creator and host of A Prairie Home Companion, says he is retiring next year.

Keillor has hinted at retirement before, but this time he’s serious, the Associated Press reports. He has set up sometime-guest host Chris Thile to take over as host after Keillor’s last show in July 2016. Thile, who is a member of the bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, will carry on the show’s musical heritage.

Keillor has hosted A Prairie Home Companion since 1974, with 4 million listeners tuning in every week. He will start a farewell tour, “America the Beautiful,” next week.

This may not in fact be his last encounter with the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon; he says he’s working on a screenplay about a young man returning to the town after his father’s death. He previously brought Wobegon in a slightly different format to the silver screen in 2006’s A Prairie Home Companion, which focused on the last day of a radio show.

In Keillor’s words, “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”

Read Next: TIME’s 1985 Cover Story on Keillor

TIME Media

Google Launches Free Music Streaming Service

But it's more like Pandora than Spotify

Amidst all the hubbub about Apple Music and Taylor Swift, Google wants you to remember that it has a music streaming service of its own. And soon, users will be able to access it for free.

The search giant announced Tuesday that it’s introducing a free version of Google Play Music that allows users to listen to custom-made radio stations based on time of day, mood, artist or other factors. The new stations will be built in part by the staff of Songza, the contextual music streaming service that Google bought last year.

Unlike with Spotify or the paid version of Google Play Music, users of the free, ad-supported Google service won’t be able to play songs on-demand. They’ll also only be able to skip a limited number of songs, like on Pandora, though Google hasn’t specified how many skips per hour people will be allowed.

The free version of Google Play Music will be available on the web Tuesday and on iOS and Android devices later this week.

TIME Apple

Apple Exec: Apple Music Puts Artists ‘in Control of Their Music’

Tim Cook, Jimmy Iovine
Jeff Chiu—AP Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, hugs Beats by Dre co-founder and Apple employee Jimmy Iovine at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 8, 2015.

As some artists say they don't see enough money from streaming

Apple is, yes, putting radio on the Internet.

But unlike the parody on HBO’s Silicon Valley, there are lots of other people doing just that: Spotify, Jay-Z’s Tidal, Rdio, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Google Play and more. What makes Apple’s recently announced music streaming service, Apple Music, any different?

According to Apple execs Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine, the difference is control. They say they want to shift power back into the blistered hands of the musicians and artists that create the industry’s content. So they’ve transformed the recently acquired Beats Music streaming service into Apple Music: a library of music, plus a radio station — Beats 1 — and playlists curated by human DJs. (Rather than robots or algorithms.)

Apple Music also includes another feature, Apple Connect, that lets artists interact with their fans. The appended social network — a bloglike platform that the Guardian describes as “part-SoundCloud, part-Facebook and part-YouTube,” — allows musicians to share messages, tracks, photos and videos with their fans. It’s not hard to see how this could be used to offer exclusive content and behind-the-scenes material to subscribers.

Drake, for instance — the hip-hop artist who helped unveil the service at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference this week — plans to release his next album through Connect.

It’s that kind of control that Apple senior VP Cue hopes will set Apple Music apart. “Our viewpoint was very simple,” he told the Guardian. “Let the artist and label control it. They can put it up on Connect for free if they want to, or they can put it up behind the [subscription] paywall, or they can make it available on the iTunes Store for sale. They’re in control of their music and how they want to distribute it.”

According to Iovine, who also spoke to the Guardian, juggling the interests of all parties involved is no easy feat. “There’s got to be a win for everybody: there has to be a win for the consumer, a win for the artist, a win for the rightsholders,” he says. “We wanted to give artists a place where there’s a rhyme and a reason: where there’s an ecosystem where it feeds off each other. Where there’s a payoff! And not just a financial payoff, but an emotional payoff. A creative payoff.”

Until more details are released — for example, how voluminous the service’s music archive will be, which artists will sign on to the service exclusively, whether the song curation is substantially different or any better than its competitors, and just how much musicians will benefit, economically and otherwise, from the deal — it’s hard to say whether Apple Music’s “payoff” will be worth the payout.

[fortune-brightcove videoid=4284070781001]

TIME Caitlyn Jenner

BBC Host Apologizes For Calling Caitlyn Jenner ‘He’

"A bit sloppy"

A BBC radio host had to apologize after referring to Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, as “he” on air.

“Now, this is complicated,” James Naughtie said on BBC Radio 4’s Today morning program, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “He used to be called Bruce but he’s now a woman. I realize some of you will never have heard of Kim Kardashian, let alone her stepfather, who was Bruce and is now a woman but, anyway, they are very well known on television.”

After backlash from fans saying he was insensitive to transgender issues, Naughtie apologized on Twitter:

If only this handy Twitter bot could have corrected Naughtie in real life.

TIME celebrities

Listen to an Official and Radio Host Argue Over Johnny Depp’s Dogs in the Most Australian Interview Ever

'Doggate' has taken over the headlines and airwaves Down Under

The threat by Australia’s Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to euthanize actor Johnny Depp’s dogs — after the screen legend brought them into the country by private jet, flouting quarantine laws — has provoked a backlash in Australia, with many believing that Joyce has overreacted.

But there’s probably no one as outraged as Australian radio host Kyle Sandilands, at least judging from his interview with Joyce Friday morning. Sandilands filled the airwaves with a torrent of abuse against the minister, calling him “a joke”, “a disgrace,” “a gerbil of a thing” and far worse.

Sandiland admitted that Depp had “done the wrong thing,” but argued that the tone of Joyce’s response was embarrassing, because the minister had earlier said that the dogs should “bugger off back to the United States.”

Said Sandiland: “You sound like an absolute clown telling the guy to bugger off to Hollywood or we’ll kill his dogs … You’re a government minister, not some idiot off the street mouthing off to a news camera. Have some decency.”

An outraged Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald he had demanded an apology from the radio host.

“They beeped out words on the radio. Some of the language was far worse than [what has been reported], so we’re trying to get a transcript,” a spokesman for Joyce told the Herald.

Listen to the complete 3.5-minute interview in all its vivid Australian glory below.

TIME norway

Norway to Scrap FM Radio for the Digital Era

Jean-Pierre Lescourret—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images Karl Johans Gate

Officials promise "better sound quality and new functionality"

Norway will become the first country to scrap FM radio after it announced final plans to switch to digital radio in the next two years.

The government said in a statement that it will make the transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting by 2017, following up on a 2011 government proposal. It will be the first country to do away entirely with FM radio, The Verge reports.

The move will allow for roughly 40 national channels, including 22 already in use, compared to five national channels on the FM system. Transmission costs are also eight times more expensive on the FM network than the DAB network.

“Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement. “Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”

TIME Media

Why Musicians Want Radio Stations to Start Paying Them

The decline in record sales means artists are looking for new revenue streams

Music sales’ continued decline has forced performing artists and their record labels to look to radio as a potential new source of revenue — and they want Congress to help make it happen.

Monday morning, a group of politicians, musicians and music industry executives are expected to unveil a new bill that would force terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to performing artists and record labels when playing their songs. Performing artists currently don’t get paid for traditional radio play, which has long been thought of as a promotional tool to drive music purchases rather than as a revenue stream itself. New digital music platforms such as Spotify and Pandora, however, are already paying royalties to performing artists. (Songwriters, who can’t make money through avenues such as touring and merchandising, are paid for radio play.)

In addition to targeting terrestrial radio, the new bill, sponsored by House Democrat Jerrold Nadler and dubbed the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act,” would also force Internet and satellite radio companies like Pandora and Sirius XM to pay royalties to performing artists on songs recorded before 1972, which are currently not protected by federal copyright law. It would additionally raise the royalty rates paid by satellite radio platforms like Sirius XM to be more in line with rates paid by Internet radio services such as Pandora.

“The bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that attempts to address several inequities that exist in the copyright world today,” says Michael Huppe, CEO of SoundExchange, a non-profit established by the record labels to administer digital royalty payouts. “The overriding theme is leveling the playing field, treating everyone equally and making sure all creators are paid fair market value for their work whenever it’s used.”

Record industry revenue has been more than halved since its CD-era peak, dropping from $14.6 billion in 1999 to less than $7 billion in 2014, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. An increasing amount of the money that remains is coming from streaming services rather than purchases of individual songs and albums. Those factors could increase pressure on radio broadcasters to pay performers whose revenue is coming from fans accessing their music across myriad platforms rather than buying it outright.

“It seems to be inconsistent that the same recording rewards performers when it’s on the Internet but doesn’t when it’s on AM/FM radio,” says E. Michael Harrington, chair of the music business program at SAE Institute Nashville. “That inconsistency is really foolish.”

Despite the onslaught of new ways to listen to music, AM/FM radio still wields incredible clout, with 243 million Americans tuning in weekly. That massive audience means the medium is still the best way by far for artists to debut and promote new music, radio station advocates argue.

The National Association of Broadcasters, a powerful lobbying group for radio and television stations nationwide, has already expressed its disdain for the new legislation, rallying 147 representatives and 11 senators to oppose the new bill. “We think it would be potentially devastating to the economies of a lot of local radio, kill jobs and actually hurt artists in the long run because if you have fewer financial resources, you have less ability to expose new artists,” says Dennis Wharton, NAB’s executive vice president for communications.

Previous legislation aimed at forcing radio stations to pay performers, like the 2009 Performance Rights Act, went nowhere. Moreover, the fact that the new bill simultaneously burdens terrestrial radio, Pandora and Sirius XM through its different provisions could lead to widespread opposition from a variety of stakeholders. “I can’t see the whole thing working because of the divided interests,” says Harrington. SoundExchange’s Huppe, meanwhile, argues the bill isn’t overly ambitious, pointing to a recent U.S. Copyright Office report advocating performing artist royalties for terrestrial radio and for pre-1972 songs on Internet radio.

Sirius XM declined to comment on the bill. Dave Grimaldi, Pandora’s director of public affairs, said in a statement: “We welcome a thoughtful conversation regarding ideas that promote robust music ecosystem for all music-makers, as well as consumers.”

Even if this bill dies, changes are certainly coming to the way performing artists are compensated for their music in the future. Sirius XM has been found liable for copyright infringement in various states for its use of pre-1972 recordings by the band The Turtles. Meanwhile, broadcast radio giants like Clear Channel have been quietly brokering deals to pay performing artists royalties at individual record labels such as Big Machine, which represents Taylor Swift.

“It’s all about the listen, the stream, the hitting of the eardrum instead of the buying of the CD,” says Huppe. “That makes these issues even more critical because they’re now such a big part of the revenue stream.”

TIME Economy

How FDR’s Radio Voice Solved a Banking Crisis

A Fireside Chat
MPI / Getty Images Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivering one of his fireside chats to the nation, circa 1935

Mar. 12, 1933: FDR delivers the first of his 30 “fireside chats,” addressing America’s dire financial situation

March of 1933 was a terrifying month for Americans. A quarter of the nation’s workers were unemployed. Farmers and bankers alike suddenly lost their livelihood. Stocks were down 75% from 1929 — and in those four years the suicide rate had tripled.

In New Orleans, hundreds of tourists in town for Mardi Gras found themselves stranded on March 2, with no money to get home, after Louisiana shuttered its failing banks. By the next day, 21 more states had followed suit. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office on March 4 — the last such term of office before Inauguration Day moved to January — his first act was to declare a national bank holiday to stall the run on banks that was quickly liquidating the Federal Reserve.

It was under these grim circumstances that FDR broadcast the first of his 30 “fireside chats” on this day, March 12, in 1933. These speeches, and his frank, down-to-earth manner, may have been the most effective tactic used to soothe the panicked public since the beginning of the Great Depression.

His language was inclusive. “My friends,” he began, “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.”

And it was intentionally simple. “I recognize that the many proclamations … couched for the most part in banking and legal terms, ought to be explained for the benefit of the average citizen,” he went on. “I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and the good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and the hardships of the banking holiday.”

These fireside chats were not literally delivered by the fireside. As TIME noted in 1937, they were broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Room, which has no fireplace. But the speeches, which ran anywhere from 11 minutes to more than 40 — depending on the speech itself and the number of “persuasive pauses,” per TIME — gave Roosevelt a chance to explain and defend his New Deal policies. They were known for their comforting effect on an uneasy populace, as much during the Depression as they later were during World War II.

While future presidents followed FDR’s lead, using the technology of their times (Obama broadcasts his own addresses via YouTube and has reached out to millennials on Reddit, Instagram and Twitter), it would be difficult to name anyone who did it better than Roosevelt. After this first chat, he was inundated with fan mail from listeners who felt they now knew him intimately. Herbert Hoover had averaged 5,000 letters a week; FDR got 50,000, according to “FDR’s First 100 Days,” a publication by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.

“The broadcast brought you so close to us, and you spoke in such clear concise terms, our confidence in the Bank Holiday was greatly strengthened,” wrote one California woman.

She was not alone. Sixty million people listened to Roosevelt’s first radio address; the next day, per the Roosevelt Library, “newspapers around the country reported long lines of people waiting to put their money back into the banks. The immediate crisis had passed.”

Read original 1933 coverage of the state of the economy at the time of Roosevelt’s inauguration, here in the TIME archives: The Presidency: Bottom

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Hollywood’s diversity problem goes beyond “Selma.” Asian and Latino stories and faces are missing.

By Jose Antonio Vargas and Janet Yang in the Los Angeles Times

2. Shifting the narrative away from religion is key to defeating ISIS.

By Dean Obeidallah in the Daily Beast

3. Innovation alone won’t fix social problems.

By Amanda Moore McBride and Eric Mlyn in the Chronicle of Higher Education

4. When the Ebola epidemic closed schools in Sierra Leone, radio stepped in to fill the void.

By Linda Poon at National Public Radio

5. The racial wealth gap we hardly talk about? Retirement.

By Jonnelle Marte in the Washington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Media

Rush Limbaugh’s Problem: How The Internet Changed Talk Radio

Rush Limbaugh;Rush Limbaugh [Misc.]
Kimberly Butler—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Rush Limbaugh flashing thumbs up sign in 1994

In the history of talk radio, Limbaugh’s comment on campus rape is nothing

Last week, Rush Limbaugh suggested that if he had faced questions about dropping out of college, as Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker did, he would have responded, “I left college because I didn’t want to be accused of rape someday.” Limbaugh noted that Walker could not say such a thing because he was a candidate, and added, “but I mean that would just ram it right down their throats. Trying to create this rape culture on the campus.”

Liberal blogs recounted the statement with incredulity and horror, even though it did not create the firestorm that followed late last year when Limbaugh declared that actor Idris Elba could not play James Bond because James Bond was Scottish and white, and Elba was black and British. The social-media outrage in response to the campus rape and Elba comments was unsurprising, and Limbaugh tends to respond to such reactions with equally unsurprising contemptuousness. But, even if he and his fans ignore online criticism, the Internet has already substantially changed the history of talk radio.

The first all-talk station had launched in 1960. After the mid-1960s, interviews and listener calls drove talk programs, and stations offered “full service” talk formats that mixed current-affairs talk with expert discussion of everything from gardening to relationships. Famed Los Angeles liberal Michael Jackson and conservative New Yorker Barry Farber exemplified this era of talk radio—their politics might have emerged on occasion, but their philosophies were not a centerpiece of either host’s show. As Farber once told me, “It would have occurred to us to fly down to the Amazon and get our head shrunk before it would occur to attack the President.”

Even stations that featured an opinionated host offered an array of views during the broadcast day. Many stars, including Larry King, whose program entered syndication in 1978, had liberal views. Edgier, boundary-pushing talk formats existed only in a few major markets. Overall, one estimate put the number of talk stations at just 59 in 1983.

When Limbaugh began broadcasting nationally on Aug. 1, 1988, he changed what talk-radio sounded like. Limbaugh took fewer calls than many of his predecessors, and did no interviews; instead, his show revolved around his opinions. The former disc jockey fused the zany antics of rock music DJs with the explicit conservative advocacy of earlier weekly radio sermonizers, such as Dan Smoot and Clarence Manion, and the interactive talk format. He had fun on the air, using parodies, theme songs and absurdity to illustrate his points.

During the course of his 26-plus years in national radio, Limbaugh said far more controversial things than his musings about Walker and Elba. In his early national days, he aired edgier and more offensive material multiple times per show (on one 1990 show, Limbaugh allowed listeners to vote and suggest new entrants in a contest to determine the theme song for the AIDS updates that he would quickly discontinue and for which he would apologize. The cringe-worthy entrants included Gene Autry’s “Back in the Saddle Again” and Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again”).

His style was extreme, but it connected. A combination of his success; necessity, as music listeners and advertisers fled to FM music stations; technological and legal changes; and the discovery of a heretofore unidentified audience that thirsted for conservative programming drove the subsequent explosion of talk radio. By the early 2000s, Limbaugh’s success and that of several early all-conservative talk stations, along with ownership consolidation, had transformed talk radio into a nationally syndicated, conservative, political medium.

After the uproar over the Elba comments, Limbaugh noted that a lot of his critics hypothesized that he made such statements to draw attention. Those critics, however, miss the point of talk radio—Limbaugh absurdly and colorfully illustrates his points, not to draw attention, but rather to entertain, as entertainment value has driven the success of his show dating back to 1988. And, as he correctly pointed out amidst the accusations of scandal-mongering, these days he doesn’t even have to try to draw attention. Instead, in the Internet and social media era, he receives almost constant attention—yet only occasionally is that wider attention positive, thereby demonstrating the paradox facing hosts in 2015.

Whether you love or loathe Limbaugh, you can’t deny that tackling controversial topics today presents risk that did not exist in 1988. Yes, Limbaugh provoked complaints almost instantaneously after debuting on many stations. Gradually, however, calls to executives from fans exceeded these complaints. More importantly, in those days, when Limbaugh signaled a homeless update with Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s “Ain’t Got No Home,” only the audience heard it.

Today, by contrast, every word that Limbaugh says is broadcast and archived. Watchdog groups, such as Media Matters, scrutinize every word, waiting to blast any potentially offensive statements out to the world. Whereas the opinions of non-listeners might have been irrelevant in 1988 and a boycott hard to organize, someone who considered the Elba comments to be racist could easily use social media to pressure advertisers to remove their ads from Limbaugh’s program (as many did in 2012 after Limbaugh insulted Georgetown student Sandra Fluke).

Several times over the years, exposure to broader audiences changed the paradigm for talk-radio hosts. In 2003 Limbaugh resigned from a short-lived job as an ESPN football commentator after he sparked outrage by musing that quarterback Donovan McNabb received undeserved credit because the media wanted to see an African American quarterback succeed. Disney-owned ESPN reached many people who did not regularly consume talk radio, and Disney had broader business interests to protect. As a result, Limbaugh could not sneer at the handbook of political correctness, as he did daily on the radio without consequences.

The Internet reaches an even bigger audience than ESPN did, and through it that broader audience can now hear what is said on talk-radio programs themselves. Hosts’ words far more easily reach non-listeners than they did 25 years ago. Indeed, a show’s actual audience need not be bothered for comments to cause trouble. Campaigns against a host can build over time, and social media makes it easy to pressure station management and advertisers.

In fact, the provocative, unpredictable content that produces the best talk radio fits poorly with an advertiser-based business model in the Internet and social media era. This problem may eventually drive the content provided by Limbaugh and his peers to an internet-based subscription platform, where hosts do not have to worry about losing advertisers when they generate controversy.

It might seem that talk-radio’s critics would have won if that happens. But, in reality, they would have won their battle, but lost their war. If critics force the delivery mechanism away from an advertising-based model, their pleas will be less likely to affect talk radio’s bottom line. Subscribers, unlike advertisers, aren’t likely to be swayed by a social-media campaign (after all, they are fans). As such, executives and hosts will be freer to ignore critics, while profiting from giving fans what they want. In the end, talk radio’s content will exist as long as an audience for it exists.

The Long View

Historians explain how the past informs the present

Brian Rosenwald is a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia. He is completing a doctoral dissertation entitled Mount Rushmore: The Rise of Talk Radio and Its Impact on Politics and Public Policy.

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