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Dr. Jack Kevorkian just died. Best known for killing an estimated 130 patients, it’s a lesser-known fact that I’ll always remember him for.
Kevorkian killed the Grey Age of radio.
Kevorkian was actually the pioneer of User Generated Content. For millennia one’s final end was authored externally. Maybe it was a lion, maybe it was a jealous lover, maybe it was a pain in your side that just never got better, but you were just a participant in your final moments. An actor.
Kevorkian changed all that. You became the writer, director and set designer as well as the star of your final production. You chose the time, place, and means of the last scene.
Now able to control all that, emboldened with the power of life and death, do you mean to tell me people would continue to buy Greatest Hits albums for the one additional track? That they’d settle for being able to tune in a handful of radio stations and wait with baited breath for their favorite song? Hardly. People were going to listen to what they damn well wanted when they damn well wanted to and that was that.
Not coincidentally, the internet popping up coincided with Kevorkian, and the Age of Choice and Control flourished.
Grey Radio and the Grim Reaper sat at the bar and lamented their diminishing role with the new generation.
“I keep changing the battery in my pager…”
“I know. I know. Crickets.”
“You know what the worst part is?” one said to the other while holding up two fingers to the bartender for another round of Muddled Old Fashions. “I don’t feel I’ve lost a step at all. I just got out of step. Or they did. I’m not really sure which.”
Music’s never been more alive. Radio’s never been more alive. Kevorkian just indirectly killed the old business models. People listen to and love music more than the ever did. They listen to a wider range than they ever have. They’re just less patient. They won’t sit through filler, (horrible) commercials, or hokey schlock. They don’t have to any more. The genie’s out of the bottle. The people are in control.
RIP Dr. Kevorkian. And the one-way street of Grey Radio.