Tom Kent Has Strong Comments On The Coverage Of Whitney Houston's Passing
February 15, 2012 at 7:00 AM (PT)
TOM KENT RADIO NETWORK Pres. TOM KENT has dropped an open letter to the industry, with strong opinions on how radio and the music industry handled the tragic passing of WHITNEY HOUSTON. "I'm sure most of you, if not all of you, were moved by the passing of WHITNEY HOUSTON," he wrote. "To that end, I've written an open letter to our radio and music industry that I'd like to share with your readers which is attached."
The text of that letter:
"On behalf of everyone at TKRN, we're saddened by the loss of WHITNEY HOUSTON and the fact that another great artist's life has been tragically cut short. While the radio industry is scrambling to be heard above the continuing TV coverage, the 'pile on' with the claim that 'we were the first to report it' ring hollow in my opinion. I host a syndicated live show on SATURDAY night called 'The Ultimate Party' and it's on all across the country. It’s always live from 7p-12m eastern. The WHITNEY HOUSTON story was breaking as I was going on the air this past SATURDAY night, and so I began with not only reporting the story but playing WHITNEY's music and fielding phone calls from listeners who were emoting about the news and her music. The immediacy of live radio makes radio the excellent medium that it is. I heard from numerous affiliates that they were proud to have the show on because their collective stations were the only stations in their respective markets that had anything on at all about WHITNEY HOUSTON. It's a well known fact that it's pretty much lights off at local radio after 7p each day of the week. Thankfully we have live programming all week long.
I've been reading all the self adulation from radio executives touting how they were all over this on SATURDAY night. It’s not that I don't believe them, but I’m having a real hard time understanding how that could be since most music stations are canned on SATURDAY night. Perhaps they sent forth a distress call for all hands on deck and to report back to ship. If that happened, terrific! Perhaps I'm living in a bubble, and I didn't hear about it until I read about it in the trades on MONDAY.
Here's another irony. All this week, radio will play WHITNEY HOUSTON music and tell the world how beloved she was. After this week, her music will disappear from the airwaves once again as it has mostly been M.I.A. since her days as a current artist. The reason why WHITNEY HOUSTON will never be a 'classic' artist is because the record labels 'designed' her music to be disposable. It was mostly synthesized and had a high burn factor setting the stage for the next WHITNEY single. It was brilliant short term marketing of one of the most gifted performers of our time but the long term effect was that her music has not stood the test of time. To prove my point, do a one month monitor on spins which would include the week prior to her passing. You will see that her music will vanish once again.
Her music has been compared to THE BEATLES, ELVIS and MICHAEL JACKSON. Like those three, she certainly dominated the charts and her talent was just as great -- but unlike those, she will never be a true 'classic' artist thanks to the record industry. Their short term vision or lack thereof has made WHITNEY HOUSTON a footnote in the history of our business. Sometimes your biggest asset can be your greatest liability. Their lack of vision not only killed her career but killed her. She was enabled by the record industry to self-destruct and she did. It would be great if there was more vision in our collective industries -- for those without it shall perish. If our radio and music business truly wants to honor WHITNEY HOUSTON then we should as an industry demand that the NAB lobby congress to make her version of THE NATIONAL ANTHEM at THE SUPER BOWL be declared the 'Official Recording of the National Anthem of the United States of America.' At the same time, our radio industry should collectively commit to more live programming to fulfill our obligations to the public interest. In addition, the music industry should come together to take responsibility for their artists much the same way as the sports industry has put systems in place to help athletes who have become stricken by the disease known as addiction. The public and the performer deserve better."
Tom Kent www.tomkentradio.com.