It was a new technology that was going to ruin the lives of singers and musicians and put them out of work.

“Everyone will have their ready made or ready pirated music in their cupboards,” he said.

Mp3 files? No, records played on a phonograph.

That doom and gloom prediction came from John Phillip Sousa (conductor and composer of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”) in 1906.


Why would anyone attend a concert if they could listen to that music at home?

This clip below is from the great 1960 film, Inherit the Wind. Spencer Tracy portrayed Henry Drummond, a fictionalized version of legal legend Clarence Darrow, who battled William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey trial of 1925. The creation versus evolution faceoff was the first courtroom battle to be broadcast live on radio. Passages from the trial transcripts were used in Inherit the Wind though, after several Google searches, I couldn’t find out if Darrow actually said radio was going to be a barren source of amusement.

Radio went on to amuse and entertain millions of listeners.

Technology marches on and we can be old codgers like Sousa and yearn for simpler times. The internet has had a devastating effect on newspapers and magazines and, as a journalism grad from way back, that saddens me. 


Then again, online subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post have increased “bigly” following the election of a guy who doesn’t read (not even his own ghost-written books) and has it in for mainstream media. Be careful, Donald. The Post ended Nixon’s presidency.

Then again…again…without the internet, you wouldn’t be reading this.

My radio show is pre-recorded. It has to be because the Riot also runs on WRSG in Middlebourne, West Virginia so it must be sent via Dropbox in fully produced mp3 segments. But….

I do miss the days of mostly live radio. Go back even 20 years ago and stations were usually live until midnight and, in major markets, round the clock. The 7 pm to 6 am slots were given to younger announcers who honed their chops during those shifts, broadcasting to night owls, truckers and those folks stocking shelves or assembling cars after midnight.


Today’s jocks voicetrack those hours, often for several stations that can be hundreds of miles away.  Trying keep them separate and trying even harder not to say the wrong call letters. And hey, it takes talent to sound local and live when you’re in another area code so I could go on a rant about radio consolidation and stations being run by bean counters who don’t give two shits about quality and only care about the bottom line….

And yes, to all of them…get out of radio and switch to banking. That’s your calling.

But it IS a business. Technology means greater efficiency and connectivity. I spend my days recording and editing radio ads with computer software, and mistakes can be fixed with a few mouse clicks. With all due respect to John Phillip Sousa, I do not want to go back to the older ways.


When I started in radio in the late ’90s our producers cut commercials as follows: start the music (on a turntable), turn on the announcer’s microphone and, if the jock flubbed a line…start the whole thing over again. They had to make it through 30 seconds of copy without as much as a pause.

And…I will likely publish this blog and discover spelling mistakes…and edit, and republish. I LOVE this technology and the days of writing articles on a manual typewriter…or even an electric model with correction tape…seem distant indeed.

About johnnymaraca

sole proprietor of Maraca Media, former radio host (Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot), copywriter and producer and a print journalism grad.
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