The demise of modern rock radio

I can’t remember the last time I’ve listened to regular rock radio, primarily because it’s the same tired old songs, over and over again. 

All you have to do is listen for a few days, and you’d think Led Zeppelin never recorded anything beyond the first side of Led Zeppelin 4, or that rock music had never progressed past 1976.

And now one of the last of the breed of radio the way it was has been thrown under the bus, again.


L.A. DJ Jim Ladd’s been around since the dawn of AOR, or album oriented radio, and I grew up with him as I was first getting into rock music as a kid. 

The Tom Petty song, “The Last DJ,” was written about him, and he was indeed the last of a breed, especially if you grew up with rock radio in the eighties like I did.

Now his long time station KLOS in Southern California has laid him off, and it’s obviously not the first time Ladd’s been dismissed from radio.


It’s an old, sad story out here, but a lot of good radio stations have been taken over, and as The Hollywood Reporter tells us, Clear Channel laid off 27 employees of KABC radio and KLOS in favor of “Premium Choice’ content,” whatever that is. Clear Channel also reportedly refused to play Tom Petty’s “Last DJ” tribute to Ladd because it’s also an indictment of the sorry state of modern rock radio, which obviously hasn’t improved since the song came out in 2002.

As Ladd explained to the Orange County Register, he didn’t even get a last show, but he did get in an appropriate last song, Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Growing up with rock radio the way it was is a fond memory for me, especially when I was coming of age in the eighties, and rock radio was still cutting edge. It not only played what was cool, but DJs didn’t just spin the songs everyone knew. They would air songs they liked, not the hits that were overplayed, and it was always cool to know your favorite DJ liked that tune as well. 

Things weren’t programmed and researched to death then, and I even remember there was great comedy on the weekends with Dr. Demento, and one of the precursors to Howard Stern, a local funnyman named Frazier Smith who was indeed pretty funny for his time.

For the readers that are metal inclined, you may also remember we had KNAC, an all hard rock / metal station that got sold in 1994 – which Lars Ulrich once called the best station in the US. Nowadays radio is like MTV, once great, now a pathetic joke, and another sad reminder of the collapse of the music business.