chapter  10
10 Pages

Music Radio—The Fickleness of Fragmentation

WithSean Ross

Fragmentation is the most-cited explanation for top-40 music radio's declining ratings and revenues, and the resulting exodus to other formats by station after station. Music market fragmentation is why all stations are headed for a three share, say radio executives—with the glut of new signals, they argue, no single station will ever control a market like the top-40 AMs of old did. The fragmentation theory doesn't account for everything, however. If music radio were truly fragmented, Miami should still have an easy listening station, Seattle should still have commercial jazz, and Detroit should still have an FM home for rhythm and blues (R&B) oldies. The diversity that people think accompanied music radio's fragmentation is offered by a number of national multichannel digital services fed through local cable operators—a sneak preview of one future for music radio.