Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

In 1946, Robert John Landry — who wrote extensively about the radio business and who had a very long career at Variety, where, among other things, he established the radio review department — published a piece titled “The Improbability of Radio Criticism,” where he lamented the state of radio criticism for a few different reasons. He took issue with the fact that, at the time, radio wasn’t typically allotted the same prestige and respect as other art forms by the major newspapers. He worried that the state of media consolidation was such that critics were increasingly placed in the awkward situation of having to criticize things created by their own corporate overlords. He was concerned about the viability of the profession, because criticism is often very hard work that doesn’t always allow for a living in it.

Also, there were way too many radio shows. Landry wrote:

The radio critic’s task is complicated by the stupendous range of radio programs. It is not enough to specialize in radio drama. There is also music, debate, current events, quizzes, and that weird fusion of arts — the cantata.

With the exception of what I presume to be the historical popularity of the cantata, it’s striking to me just how little distance there seems to be between Landry’s complaints about the state of radio/radio criticism and today’s complaints about the state of podcasting/podcast criticism. Which is to say: Podcasting doesn’t get enough respect; almost every media company makes podcasts now (including New York Magazine and Vox Media); there’s too much of it, and who has the time? Oddly enough, I find comfort in the similarities. It’s nice to know that at least some of these issues aren’t new.

Anyway, let’s get to it. As always, tell me what you’re listening to: Reach me at, or find me on Twitter.

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By admin