The End Of R&R: Some Personal Thoughts

You’re up to your elbows in Radio & Records tributes already, and though I don’t usually like to be the fifth or the fiftieth person to write about something, I still had to weigh in. R&R was too personal to me to do otherwise.
Reading R&R was my education in the business. On Friday afternoons, I took the subway to its Washington, D.C., bureau, whose staffers then included Joel Denver, to scrounge a free copy of that week’s issue. Just as Variety was the only way to get the film grosses in those years, R&R was the only easy way to see playlists — back when just knowing what a playlist was set you apart from all those other … civilians.
In an era when radio was still both show biz and (despite the protestations to the contrary) rocket science, reading R&R was like being allowed access to the set of every TV show you loved. Programmers talked candidly, or so it seemed, about making great radio, and if they probably weren’t telling all their secrets, what they did share was still new to me. Even in the three intervening years before anybody actually let me work at a radio station, it was admission to a dialogue between the influential programmers of the day.
When I graduated from college in 1983, I went to Los Angeles and kept bugging then R&R editor Ken Barnes for two months until I finally got a job taking radio stations’ then self-reported playlists two days a week. “We thought if we didn’t hire you, you would die,” said Krisann Aglio, the woman who did hire me. A month later, I was full-time. A few months later, I was associate R&B editor to Walt Love, and had a weekly “This Day in Rock History” column. A few years later, I became the first “Gold” editor, covering Classic Rock and Oldies radio as they both blossomed.
I spent four years at R&R at a time when it was the undisputed voice of the industry, the souvenir program of CHR’s mid-’80s comeback, and, in a less enviable way, the scorecard of the indie promotion game. Taking playlist reports in the mid-’80s, you could tell if a station was under the sway of an indie promoter because if one PD inadvertently reported a song by the wrong title, five other stations in the format with nearly identical “adds” that week would make the same mistake.
In an article called “Dancing On The Grave Of Radio & Records?” Radio-Ink’s Eric Rhoads takes aim at R&R’s final owners who, he says, “followed the path so many large conglomerates take.” In that environment, he contends, “R&R lost its passion and enthusiasm and became the ‘bastard child’ of Billboard.” Rhoads is right to look beyond the malaise of print and the travails of the radio and music industries for a cause of R&R’s woes. But I have to point out here that my other alma mater, Airplay Monitor thrived for the better part of a decade as part of the Billboard organization. At the most, I will concede that the shotgun marriage of Monitor and R&R a few years ago never entirely took hold–and not for lack of effort on the part of either staff.
Instead, what made R&R the groundbreaking publication of its time had been whittled down for many years and in many ways. The chart credibility that founder Bob Wilson worked so hard to establish never recovered from the paper adds and unreported airplay of the ’80s, even before BDS and Airplay Monitor came along to offer monitored airplay as an alternative. It wasn’t R&R’s fault that the labels worked so hard to game the charts, although things might yet have been different if R&R had itself partnered with BDS.
Beyond that, R&R had long slipped away from being a forum for radio programming ideas – it was not consistently “by radio people, for radio people.” And the culture that prized innovation in radio programming had been diminished as well. The advent of PPM may have restored the notion of science to radio programming, but any PD who wanted to spend too long ruminating on the art of programming in today’s climate was under orders to wrap it up because the sales promotion meeting was starting.
There was also an element of radio wackiness in the ’70s version of R&R–already fading away during my tenure as radio became, even then, big business. The first decade of R&R front pages are essentially radio people posting their goofy photos – DJs streaking (it was the ’70s), pie fights in the studio, scantily clad women in station t-shirts, jocks dressed up like Alice Cooper and Kiss. Whatever the value of that franchise, it hasn’t gone to any competing industry publication or Website. It instead exists now as the Facebook and YouTube postings and Tweets of various radio people. And just as radio has to work harder than it once did to maintain a sense of “community,” so do trade publications.
Besides, you can count on wackiness to find its own venue. Free thought and learning are something else. Media watchdogs worry any time a unique voice is silenced. This week, forty different voices at R&R are out of the discussion, momentarily one hopes, and this is no time for the dialogue on radio’s future to be under wraps. The burden of keeping the lines of information and innovation open in this industry now falls not only on R&R’s surviving competitors, but on the willingness of their constituencies to participate in that dialogue.

87 replies


  2. B. Rand Nickell
    B. Rand Nickell says:

    Sean, etc:
    Is there a library for classic Radio and Records? I am particularly interested in their earliest (they opened in 1973, i believe) Adult Contemporary charts.

  3. Tom Bigby
    Tom Bigby says:

    I remember the first R&R… Sitting in my office at KTLK in Denver……always looked for that next best job in Street Talk, sad to say, never found it, but R&R was always part of our life for the last 4 decades…..Bob, and the rest of the hard working people thru the years, Thanks for being the Daily News of our carrers..

  4. Marthe Reynolds
    Marthe Reynolds says:

    It is truly a sad day to lose R&R. I got into the biz when Cashbox was still around, Mickey’s Turntable and more. When they folded, the biz survived but has had to draw ever inward in the recent years. R&R was an iconic publication. I will miss it, and hope my friends there all go on to lives that they enjoy and are full of rewarding work, and music. It DOES HAPPEN!
    Great commentary, Sean. And hi, Roxy!
    Love, Marthe

  5. Chris Mays
    Chris Mays says:

    It is indeed a sad day for the music industry when a publication of this strength can be folded in a day. They did so much to unite the radio and records community and provide an open voice. What a messed up world that R&R can’t survive or be purchased. My best to the fine people who kept it alive so many years, including Erika Farber.
    All the best,
    Chris Mays

  6. Steve McKay
    Steve McKay says:

    Well stated. I remember as a high school kid, talking my folks into buying me a subscription. Each week I’d stalk our mailman around our development trying to get him to give me my mail before he got to me block…I couldn’t wait. I would look at the logos of all the playlists, and dare to dream that I would one day work at one of those magical stations.
    Later, I remember paying my way to my first R&R convention in Dallas. I got quite the education that week! I made many friends through those conventions, and though I’m no longer in the biz, I treasure those friends and memories.

  7. Mark Edwards
    Mark Edwards says:

    It doesn’t matter in which order your voice is heard, its an important one because of your history with both R&R and Airplay Monitor.
    I hope we can remember the good times of R&R and our business, and not the times when the publication was more populated with information on station sales, FCC fines, and sales tips than it was with what it was with information by and for radio programmers. R&R changed with the industry, and sadly the move toward the radio “business” ate away at the soul of what used to be “the paper”.
    I just cancelled my hotel rooms for the R&R Convention in Philadelphia this fall. I’ll rely instead on the fond memories and good friends of conventions and “papers” past. We have to live in the present, but we can’t forget what got us here or why we’re doing what we’re doing.

  8. Michael McDowell/Blitz Magazine
    Michael McDowell/Blitz Magazine says:

    You did indeed bring a considerable degree of personality and enthusiasm to their otherwise somewhat stoic format at that time. I share with you in lamenting its passing.

  9. Jeff Hillery
    Jeff Hillery says:

    How cool was it when we could afford our own subscription and didn’t have to wait to see the one at the station (with the good gigs already cut out by someone)?

  10. Renee Revett
    Renee Revett says:

    I will never forget the first day I got the call that we were an R&R reporting station! We were official. There are few days in a 30 year radio career that I remember so vividly and with such fondness. R&R will be missed.

  11. chuck knapp
    chuck knapp says:

    What a paper. Bob Wilson did me a big favor in 1974 when Knapp & Bush were cranking up mornings in Minneapolis. The entire front cover. Our sales department loved it. Sad to see bean counters ruining great radio & now R & R. We had a softball team here in Minny with radio guys and record guys. We had uniforms that simply said “R&R.” Long live the memories. Knapper.

  12. Charlie Cook
    Charlie Cook says:

    Remember how important you felt when you were mentioned in R&R? or heaven forbid, had a picture printed. If you werem’t one of those at least you knew the person mentioned.
    Hell, the paper made stars out of some people…insert Ed Salamon’s name.
    Mybe your call letters were mentioned and you felt the pride of ownership that goes with that. I was fornunate to know many of the players from Bob Wilson down to chart takers in the old days.
    I was particularly close tp a few of the players. Married for a while to Erica and best friends with Lon. I knew how important the job was to these people. How significant the position was and how seriously they took it.
    I haven’t held the paper in my hands in 10 years probably…just like I don’t drive a GM car, but I want to know that I could if I wanted to.

  13. mark dylan
    mark dylan says:

    GREAT Read my friend!
    YOU, Dana Hall,Walt Love,Erica Farber and the ENTIRE
    Radio & Records family have ALWAYS been a crucial read for me and many others over the decades..
    The trade was a “force of habit” for me from age 15
    years old, on…
    ALWAYS the best music research, format research
    and snapshots of great markets/stations and talent…
    Best networking and conferences as well..
    You guys built a DYNASTY that hopefully
    Can/WILL return someday soon.

  14. Jim LaMarca
    Jim LaMarca says:

    Waiting for the mail and seeing R and R each week was worth the time because it was where programming was king and the stars lived. Like Charlie said if you were mentioned or your photo was in R & R you had made it. The first time I was featured was in a full article done by….Sean Ross on my San Diego/LA Oldies station. I was on cloud 9. The NY TImes did a feature on us (border radio) not too long after that and it was no big deal compared to being in R & R. All the radio news that’s fit to print.

  15. Jason Steiner
    Jason Steiner says:

    Your Gold column was one of the many things I loved about R&R. I remember an article from the summer of 1986 where you mentioned some of the new hits had recycled song titles from older songs. For example a new song at the time “Baby Love” by Regina had the title of the Supremes classic. That’s just one of the many, many things I read back then in R&R that has stuck with me all this time.

  16. Dan Halyburton
    Dan Halyburton says:

    NICE piece Sean. We all have so many memories of this groundbreaking publication. Working as a part timer and trying find a month old copy to read cover to cover. R and R was more than stats and charts. It was TRUE COMMUNITY. You belonged to something bigger than yourself when you read R and R. There were so many great people who made it a must read. On a more personal note, I hope those 1970 era black and white photos of my remote at a South Florida Nudist Camp were LOST. Our memories of a great publication will NOT.

  17. Patty Martin
    Patty Martin says:

    My standard line when in a kamakazi taxi with other radio or record folk (or musicians) has been “if we crash and die at least we’ll make the cover of R&R”
    Now what? This is a real loss. My 3 beautiful blue R&R Industry Achievement Awards remain proudly displayed in my office, as a reminder of the trade that was considered the bible throughout my career.

  18. Ted the Bear Richards
    Ted the Bear Richards says:

    Everyone has summed up the true value of RnR.
    I echo their sentiments and I wish you and the staff
    who are now doing what a lot of air personalities
    are currently going through, including myself.
    May the good Lord bless you and keep you in His
    eternal love and care.

  19. Dana Lundon
    Dana Lundon says:

    I remember when I first got into radio and heard about this R&R magazine everyone was talking about. I just had to get my hands on one and look through it. One day in the radio station I worked part-time at, I saw an old one sitting in the PD’s office and I read it while I waited for him to get off the phone. I was amazed how I could read about radio stations I heard about in other markets and see pictures of their events. It made my passion for the business grow even more fierce. I never thought I would see the day the doors of this industry legend would close. My best to you all and my tears too.
    Dana Lundon

  20. Ralph Allen
    Ralph Allen says:

    I met Erika Farber in an elevator in Minneapolis at the Marriott two years ago as we both attended a programmer’s conference called The Conclave. I looked at her, and said simply, “You are a HUGE star!”…she looked at me, and said, “Have we met?”
    Oh my have we met! She asked about me, what I did, I uttered “I own a production company”. “I’m a radio guy”.
    Yes she IS that pretty up close and she did a wonderful job at R&R. I was saddened to hear of her departure and soon the demise of a great magazine.
    R&R was a monster good magazine in it’s time.
    Ralph Allen

  21. Joel Denver
    Joel Denver says:

    Sean …
    You are truly one of the better writers and industry historians, and have warmly captured what R&R was, when you and I had the priviledge of being part of that great staff.
    Much of what I know today, I learned from Bob Wilson … the experience and education about radio and the music business learned at R&R was priceless.
    Thanks for honoring R&R’s memory, so eloquently.

  22. David Gariano
    David Gariano says:

    I always felt a special kinship to R&R, beginning my radio career in Jan 1973 and having R&R born later that year in October –
    I remember getting my first subscription to R&R in 1974 and feeling like I was a member of a very special fraternity – the magical world of radio!
    Long live all the great people who made R&R, Thee Industry’s Newspaper!

  23. Dennis wharton
    Dennis wharton says:

    Great yarn, Sean. As a one-time reporter turned PR guy, it pains me to see legacy publications like an R&R just disappear. I learned so much about the radio business from reading R&R, and value the friendships of Erica and her team
    I just hope the carnage in the trade press stops soon, and that great reporters like Jeffrey Yorke, Paul Heine and others at R&R will re-surface in another publication.
    Dennis Wharton — NAB

  24. Dennis Constantine
    Dennis Constantine says:

    Sean – Great memories. Your writing brings back memories of what R&R did for all of us in radio. It was a well-written dialogue between radio and records. It was “The Industry’s Newspaper.” We all learned from it. When it became a slick magazine, it lost its soul. I have about three months worth of R&R’s sitting in my office in a pile, still unopened. I haven’t been inspired to even open it lately. I miss that Friday morning rush when the mail came in and we put the routing sticker on the one copy of R&R received at the station. Throughout the day, it was routed through the building. Each person sat with it for 30-60 minutes and then passed it on (sometimes with comments). Those are memories we’ll always cherish.
    Thank you for your contribution to making R&R great!

  25. al Wyntor
    al Wyntor says:

    sean, well done. and so the other comments I’ve read. Many of the sentiments I share but I prefer to remember r and R as an icon of when radio was fun, when the industry was so big I couldn’t get my mind around it and when I knew I was a part of something really wonderful. . It spurred me on. to all of the great people who made it great (Dan O’Day), thank you and may it rise again
    Al wyntor

  26. Bill Klapoth
    Bill Klapoth says:

    Sean, nicely done. I still have articles that I cut out of R&R that I used for reference throughout my career. R&R was my education on radio as well as I worked my way up. Sadly many a young PD will not benefit from it as we did.
    Thanks R&R.
    Bill Klaproth

  27. Cary Pall
    Cary Pall says:

    R&R and I started our careers at about the same time in 1973.
    I remember when your byline started appearing in R&R in the 80s. “Hey! I remember when Sean Ross used to call the radio station in Toledo and talk records with me!” I was really glad to “know somebody” at R&R! (Sean went to school within earshot of my first PD job.)
    My best wishes to you and everyone for whom R&R was an important part of their lives. Witnessing the end of a business you’ve been involved with is emotional, whether admitted or not. I had my personal ups and downs with the magazine’s editorial stance over the years, but it was always anticipated on Fridays for most of my years in radio. Hard to imagine it not being there.

  28. Frank Bell
    Frank Bell says:

    Kudos, Sean. That’s one of the finest pieces you’ve ever written, a fitting eulogy to a dearly departed friend.

  29. Jim Pastrick
    Jim Pastrick says:

    Sean, It was a good ride and the efforts and hard work of the staff will be missed. R&R was for many years, the yardstick by which other radio publications were measured and for many years, none measured up as well. In my archives, I have a few issues, one of which contains your byline when WHTT Buffalo was profiled as one of the top Classic Hits stations in America. It was 1987. As Steely Dan sang in the Royal Scam, “…those days are gone forever…” To the staff of R&R, Godspeed and good luck. -Jim Pastrick

  30. Rick Welke
    Rick Welke says:

    Thanks Sean – as a former R&R staffer my memories are also positive. I learned a ton while there … got to launch a new section for a little known format for most within the industry at the time … and lived the dream of working with a group of people where radio and the record industry truly mattered. It oozed out of people’s work ethic and by the very late nights to land that last interview for one of the masterpiece columns they put out each week.
    Cindy Maxwell, Erika Farber, and so many more were supportive and encouraging back in the day while getting the Christian music section off the ground.
    Learning on Weds. of R&R’s downfall was heart breaking, but at the same time regrettably understandable. The timing of it came as a shock. But the reverberations throughout the industry of it’s exit will leave a large hole that I fear no other publication nor group of people can ever fill. I hope long term I am wrong.
    The industry has definitely turned a corner this week. A corner that looks bare and cold.
    A far cry from the joy this young boy would experience while rushing to the local music store to pick up the latest copy of R&R … if he had the money.
    We will miss it even more than we now realize.

  31. Bill Sherard
    Bill Sherard says:

    I still have the R and R Commemoration Issues of the History of Top 50 and others. It’s a sad day, and my thanks and best wishes to Erica and all those fine staffers who gave radio a center, and a culture all its own.
    Bill Sherard

  32. Jon Guynn
    Jon Guynn says:

    I just want to know how we can salvage the wreckage….isn’t there an opportunity for someone under a different cost structure to make a go of a radio industry trade? Or has that ship sailed?

  33. Clark Smidt
    Clark Smidt says:

    Bob Wilson was a visionary. R&R was a constant MUST Read that connected all of us in Radio and Records. Look at the graduates, including Mike Harrison. Erica Farber is the Great Lady of Broadcasting who brought it to new heights. Big Radio and Big Records lost touch and killed themselves…and our industry. It’s all about the people, the artists, the listeners and the local connects. And the folks who made the businesses what they were. Thanks for all those great issues. From the ashes, let’s rebuild, starting with real radio. And too bad if they can’t take a joke. Best to all, Clark

  34. Ron Fell
    Ron Fell says:

    Well said, Sean. I can tell you appreciated having a chance to work there and contribute there. R&R was one of a few publications that fought the good fight. I was always impressed with its apparent standards and ethics. And as hard as it must have been to maintain them, R&R did it.
    You’ve gone on to bigger and even better things since you left there, but your class and enthusiasm has never failed you. I know how it can be to feel discouraged and defeated in such a selfish, greedy business.
    Stay well.
    Ron Fell

  35. Stu Evans
    Stu Evans says:

    It always amazed my radio friends that I had my own subscription to R&R – my own personal copy that nobody could swipe, or cut up, or borrow and never return. It was so wonderful not to beg the PD or GM to see it. It was so cool to have an occasional 45 or special issue tumble out of the envelope. I always wondered how those bits of vinyl survived the mailling; heck I wondered how it always showed up on Friday (not in the last ten years or so, but there was a good streak for awhile).
    Does anyone agree that the beginning of the end was that horrible too slick remake a couple of years back? Somebody (forgive me if it was whomever is reading this comment – Erica?) decided that R&R should look more like Billboard, Jr. mixed with Newsweek and Us magazines. At least one good thing came out of it – I realized that I might need reading glasses. The type was as small as the disclaimer on our DirectTV junk mail.
    Biggest thrill of my baby jock life? Being identified in a group photo in R&R with Gene Simmons and the amazing staff of WLAC-AM, Nashville in 1978. As so many have commented, getting your name or PICTURE in R&R, or a mention in Rollye’s VoxJox in Billboard was a sign you had “made it”. Thanks Lon, Joel, Walt, Erica, Bob, RJ, Donna, Hurricane, and soooo many others! And thank you Sean – I agree with Bobby Rich – this is the best “online wake” I’ve ever been part of. Far too many people just entering the business have no idea how much fun and craziness “the industry’s newspaper” gave us.
    Warmest wishes,
    Stu Evans

  36. Larry LeKool Hollowell
    Larry LeKool Hollowell says:

    Sean, actually I’m not up to my elbows is R&R tributes. I’m still stunned over the demise of our sacred insiders guide. Your fabulous editorial on this sad, sad subject helped greatly to put the whole sordid affair in perspective. In radio, I first reported to Bill Speed who was handling the jazz page, then later on it was Walt Baby Love. In recent years, I reported to Carol Archer, editor of the Smooth Jazz section. R&R was truly a programmer’s guidepost. The news was always valuable: the pictures, the charts, the classifieds (though I don’t know anyone who ever scored a gig from any of those ads.) Radio was the chips, R&R was the salsa. Something very valuable to me in my professional life is missing, and I’m saddened by that. I wish I could be at a cluster with all the passionate radio and records professionals who have chimed in on this forum. Their passion and dedication would surely transfer into market success, wherever that may be.

  37. Hurricane Heeran
    Hurricane Heeran says:

    A very good tribute without gettting “too inside” about things. R&R was a radio station that was any format at any minute even if the final product in newspaper form. And those were there know exactly what I mean.
    I’d say let’s go to Martoni’s for a drink and a salute to the Good Old Days, but that’s been long gone.

  38. Mike Lane
    Mike Lane says:

    Sean, thanks for the nice eulogy. Having worked at R&R for 14 years, and working my way up from the mailroom to starting/running the Information Services department (we delivered the airplay tracking/R&R Online services), I had R&R in my blood. I made so many great friends at R&R — friendships (including yours) that continue to this day. I wish the best for those staffers who are now looking for work. One thing I can say is that R&R was great at finding, training, and developing excellent talent. And Bob Wilson & Dick Krizman definitely expected great things from their employees. You can find an ex-R&R staffer in all areas of our industry. We’re a resilient bunch, and I know the last group to exit will do just fine.

  39. turi ryder
    turi ryder says:

    Somewhere, in a box, in a closet, in the basement, there’s a clipping…..of the first time I was mentioned in R&R. I don’t think I’d have been more thrilled to have won an Oscar. R&R was the real deal. Thanks, Sean, for bringing it back to life for a moment.

  40. Ed Hill
    Ed Hill says:

    Thank you Sean. Great piece. I’ll miss R and R and all of the great “Street Talk” stuff. I fondly remember the gossip about “What was so in so” doing in the Dallas airport and “was that so in so” in the lobby of the St Francis in San Francisco. I always said that you never were in radio until you made the pages opf R and R and I still believe that. To all of you who never did I truly feel for you. I was one of the lucky ones.

  41. RIck "RJ" Jordan
    RIck "RJ" Jordan says:

    Many a part timer risked his job, breaking into the PD’s office on the weekend, just to get his hands on that week’s copy of R&R. And for PD’s who kept a stack of past issues piled on a file cabinet in their office, overnight jocks always had endless reading material far more compelling than the episode of Hogan’s Heroes airing on the old B&W in the break room. R&R was as much a part of my radio upbringing as burnt coffee, cue burn, Koss Pro 4AA’s & splicing tape. I still have a zeroxed copy of the first time my name appeared in Street Talk, 21 years ago. You will be missed, old friend.

  42. Jeff Axelrod
    Jeff Axelrod says:

    I don’t think anyone who was either affiliated with or affected by R&R in some way over the years should keep from sharing their feelings just because they’re part of such a large group. The fact that it is such a large group makes each and every reminiscence special in its own way.
    Personally, I devoted nearly 8 years of my life to the paper as an employee, but I’d been an avid reader for 9 years before I answered their ad in the Opportunities section.
    As a fan, and then as a player, I always admired the fact that the R&R team’s personality and attitude were a direct reflection of the businesses it covered. Unfortunately, that might have been its downfall as well. Back in the old days, radio, records, and R&R were all brash, cocky, and fun. The individuals who made up the team were like a great radio station — they all had different personalities, yet were able to contribute their strengths and skills toward building a product that was ultimately cohesive, entertaining and informative.
    But as the radio and records industries became more corporate entities, increasingly driven by the bottom line, so did R&R. When I was Street Talk editor, I managed to score a fun little investigative scoop about some dirty politics in a major radio war, only to have the story killed at the highest levels of management, out of fear that the company being exposed would pull its advertising.
    In the old days, I believe R&R would have run the story, the company would have said, “Fair enough, you caught us with our pants down,” and eventually, everyone would have had a good laugh about it. But R&R — and the industry — had changed, and we all had to walk on eggshells.
    Just as “playing it safe” has not been a great formula for success in the radio arena in recent years, it didn’t work well for R&R either. A lot of the paper’s uniquely talented voices were silenced through layoffs and attrition, and their replacements — often less experienced (read: less costly) — sought only to fit in with an established format, rather than trying to push and redefine its boundaries.
    In the end, R&R’s slick, glossy pages bore little resemblance to the newspaper Bob Wilson had started. Even though I could see the end coming, it doesn’t make the death any less painful. I was a part of R&R; R&R was a part of me. Just as “Philadelphia Freedom” took Elton John from knee-high to a man, R&R was a constant companion on my 27-year journey from teenage radio station intern to industry veteran.
    RIP R&R. What you’ve done for me, and thousands of others like me, can never be replaced.

  43. Kevin Koolin Fox
    Kevin Koolin Fox says:

    I remember working as a part timer at KRNB in Memphis (back in the 80’s) hoping that someone left a copy of R & R in the studio for me to ABSORB! Charts, interviews, analysis…it had it all. It nourished my desire to succeed in this business. I will miss it but, hopefully, this will be an opportunity for someone to create another publication that’s really “by radio people, for radio people”!

  44. Bob McKay
    Bob McKay says:

    What an absolutely wonderful piece. You stand alone as one of the great thinkers/writer’s in the industry. I also, go back to Hamilton Report, Fred, Cashbox, Gavin and others; nothing came close to R & R. Great memories of a time gone by. I understand the why, but doesn’t make it any easier. Thanks again for your insight, and a masterpiece of a eulogy.
    Bob McKay

  45. bob duckman
    bob duckman says:

    Wonderful recollections in your R&R piece. It certainly
    was a important vehicle for me as an AC reporter in
    my WASH days and, fondly remember our conversations when you were the GOLD editor and I was at XTRA 104. Some good friends just got laid off
    with the closing and I wish them well. As an old GM of mine once said,,,,”the beat goes on.”

  46. Tim Moore
    Tim Moore says:

    Sean, you wrote a terrific tribute to the industry Bible that energized everyone in the business for so many years. The true radio addicts remember what it was like to FINALLY get each week’s issue! If you were on the low end of the totem pole, you got your grubby mitts on the dog-eared publication after the PD, MD, Morning team, etc.etc…..but you STILL read it from cover to cover.
    You revered the icons who shared their ideas, pored over the charts and CHERISHED any time that you or your call letters actually made it into the mag! There was a time that if you wanted a radio gig, this was the only place to see an opening (when there WERE actual openings in radio)
    You copied great promotions done in other markets and scoured the paper for names of people you knew. This was a community-and we were delighted to be a part of the exclusive club called “radio”–R&R was our collective voice-and will be sorely missed….
    I hope that someone else who is still passionate about radio–like, say, Eric Rhoads–will transform his “management only” focus in Radio Ink–to one that embraces the entire industry at a time when it is so badly needed.
    I could go on, but, like you said, I have a sales promotion meeting to go to….thanks for a terrific article Sean!
    Tim Moore
    Portland, Maine

  47. Clint Marsh
    Clint Marsh says:

    Ditto to all the above
    As a young DJ I tore through each and every issue of R&R. It was like a college course for me for the entire 26 years I was on the air.
    Now as a GM, I continued to read R&R for thye radio business news, managment articlles, sales tipos and more.
    Billboard will never be able to replace R&R. I feel badly for new young air talent who’ll never have the advantage.
    Thanks for the article Sean.

  48. Clark Smidt
    Clark Smidt says:

    Bob Wilson was a visonary. R & R was always a MUST read. Great alums like Mike Harrison. Erica Farber is The Great Broadcast Media Lady who brought R&R to new heights and connections and graduated at the right time. Big Radio and Big records lost touch. Time to re-build from the ashes and connect with the real audience and artists with passion. Local, Local. Be real and these great two industries will win again.
    Sean, always excellent. Thank you for your expert recording of history. Best, Clark

  49. Broadway Bill Lee
    Broadway Bill Lee says:

    When I finally made it to New York in 1986, I treated myself to my own ‘tax write-off” subscription to R&R.
    Everybody knew I had arrived. My saving grace was passing on my copy to all the guys “on the way up”.
    I can’t tell you how many of them have come up to me, since those days, with warmest regards!
    R&R, the industry standard for decades…You will be missed! And Kevin Carter should be writing for Rolling Stone anyway!

  50. Bob Wood
    Bob Wood says:

    I go back a bit. To me, RnR was like Claude Hall’s Billboard stuff expanded to the nth degree.
    In those early (for me) days, I would have anxiety as I read about all the moves people were making. I felt trapped wherever i was, with adrenal rushes to GET AHEAD. RnR was an addiction. Thanks to all for the juice!

  51. Thom McGinty
    Thom McGinty says:

    Great article … just opening R&R magazine put us in the world we always dreamed of … being in R&R was like winning the best award, it gave a sense of achievement, credibility, inspiration and confidence to so many over the years. THANKS!

  52. Chris Huff
    Chris Huff says:

    There’s nothing I can write about R&R that has not already been echoed in the posts above… the thrill of being a kid getting my hands on the latest copy of R&R, getting my name in it for the first time, seeing my picture in it for the first time! Those are yardsticks we all shared growing up in this biz.
    To answer one of the earlier questions: in my years of radio research, the most complete repository of Radio & Record magazines I’ve yet to find exists at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. The library is not open to the general public, but appointments can be made to view materials there. The hours vary and complete info can be found on their website. They also have most all of the indespensible R&R Directories, of which I have accumulated a rather large collection of myself over the years!

  53. Jeff Scott
    Jeff Scott says:

    R&R was truly one of the touchstones of radio’s “golden days.” For many of us, those days were at apogee in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Prior to the “efficiency” of consolidation, the application of “pure science” and before “art” became mere lip-service, R&R represented the hopes and dreams of thousands of radio people, myself included. Being highlighted in R&R could make a career, and it made many.
    Great writer that you are, I wasn’t surprised to read your a beautiful epilogue about R&R. I was, however, saddened to have to read it so soon. I guess I always thought the paper would make it somehow. The “sudden” folding of R&R may be a sign of the times, but it should also serve as a warning. As radio changes, the dialogue surrounding it must change in response. Thanks for keeping the dialogue alive on your blogs.

  54. Keith Attarian
    Keith Attarian says:

    Sean, thanks for your thoughts. has had a lot of chatter about the closing as well. My thoughts and memories of working at R&R have always been fond ones. Thanks for your thoughts. I ran into Bob Wilson and Dick Krizman at Bill Drakes memorial service a few months back and it was great to see them and remember some of those exciting days at R&R.

  55. Lee Zapis
    Lee Zapis says:

    Being mentioned in R&R or being featured in a story meant that you part of the biz. Sorry to see it go.

  56. Blake Lawrence
    Blake Lawrence says:

    R&R meant information, inspiration, and validation…three very important things to those of us who performed on radio.
    I can now confess to having nicked more than a few copies of R&R from the PD’s mail slot. It was either that or I might not get to see it at all. Then came the day when I became a PD and I had my karma returned big time when I had to ransack the station to find the copy of R&R that should have been delivered to me!
    Lately I’ve been writing a satirical blog about the goofiness of radio (post the link if you dare:, and the influence of the R&R book of style must be obvious in every entry.
    R&R’s impact was profound, professionally and personally. Let’s just hope that a new way of getting information, inspiration, and validation comes together to unify us and help us survive…even though that medium probably won’t look anything like R&R.

  57. Barry J. O'Brien
    Barry J. O'Brien says:

    Sean… is amazing to see how emotionally attached readers were to R&R. I was in ad sales for R&R for almost 20 years out of the DC office. So I worked with Jonathon Hall and Joel Denver there in 1980, along with Pat Clawson, Randall Bloomquist, Jeffrey Yorke, and a whole host of others. If I don’t mention Lauren Belcher, she’ll make my life miserable!
    I wish I had all of these comments when I was selling ads! But it’s true…..R&R readers were quite addicted to the paper. I used to sell all the ads to the NY radio networks, and it was frustrating back in 1983 when I found out that they did not receive their copies of R&R until Monday, when some of their peers had the paper on Wednesday in Los Angeles. So I convinced Bob Wilson to let me hire a doorman from the apartment building where Gerry Green lived to hand deliver the papers in Manhattan on Thursdays. I was a hero! We eventually switched to a real newspaper delivery service, but it was that kind of customer service that made us special.
    And talk about taking care of our customers! Another time, I convinced Wilson to let me take over the bar car of an Amtrak train from NY to Boston on the night before the NEBA St. Patrick’s Day party. To this day, Herb McCord and I can only remember that each of us was on the train. But I’m sure there were others, considering the grief I got when I submitted that on my expense report!
    R&R changed my life. There is no way I would know as many people in the business if I had not worked there. John Hare moved me to DC to work at Q-107, and that brought me to R&R’s attention. So thank you Bob Wilson, Jonathon Hall, Dick Krizman, and Bill Clark, for having faith in me. Dwight Case (who I have not seen mentioned) taught me as much about sales as anyone in my career. And of course Erica.
    I hope that all of us who worked at R&R will have a chance to get together for one last celebration.

  58. daniel anderson
    daniel anderson says:

    it is very sad to see radio and records go, i practically lived on that website! i always depended heavily on their charts.
    now where do i go?

  59. Rick Lubin
    Rick Lubin says:

    Sean, the loss of R&R is heartbreaking, for all the reasons you and so many others have enumerated here.
    That said, I can’t imagine a better consolation prize from a reader’s point of view than the fact that the undisputed king of radio-programming essayists — Sean Ross — is still churning them out!
    I endured a kind of withdrawal when you moved from Billboard to Airplay Monitor, which I didn’t have access to. But then it was “glory hallelujah” when your fascinating new pieces started turning up on the web awhile back.

  60. Adam Jacobson
    Adam Jacobson says:

    The death of R&R has generated more reaction than the end of WAVA as a Top 40 radio station, and perhaps more than the announcement that Howard Stern would be leaving terrestrial radio for Sirius – a story that I covered for R&R at 3am after closing the issue the night before.
    R&R was 10 1/2 years of my life. The story of how I got the job would take 10 1/2 years to tell in its entirety. But I would first like to salute Randall Bloomquist and Ron Rodrigues for taking a chance on a radio geek with a journalism degree and moving me out from DC to L.A. with little cash and no car.
    Yeah, I lived in L.A. without a car for 16 months so I could work at R&R. Talk about passion!
    I honed my craft as a journalist under Ron, Gail Mitchell, Don Waller and many others behind the scenes, including the amazing Julie Gidlow, who was there on the final day of R&R.
    I’ve made lifelong friends with Anthony Acampora, Jeff Axelrod, Tony Novia and Mark Brower. I am honored to have worked with Brida Connolly, Joe Howard, Margo Tone in the newsroom on a daily basis.
    Robbie Sparago provided great entertainment.
    Jose de Leon saved my computer and it’s lasted 9 years!!
    And then there are the format editors.
    And Cyndee, Erica and The Kevins.
    And Al Peterson.
    And Roger and Kent and Hurricane and Carol and …
    See what I mean? Nowhere else did I ever get the chance to work with so many uniquely talented individuals that gave R&R its very personality.
    And once those personalities left, so did the nature of R&R in many ways.
    I departed when Nielsen acquired R&R and I have been covering Hispanic media and marketing for the last few years. We’ve had plenty of challenges too.
    In my office is a framed R&R cover announcing what would become my final promotion, to Management/Marketing/Sales editor.
    I am proud to have it on display and tears welled up in my eyes upon hearing the news of R&R’s demise.

  61. Jimi Bruce
    Jimi Bruce says:

    I still have MANY, now yellowed, editions of R&R from the ’70s, ’80s, and early 1990s in various boxes of “stuff”…the pictures of radio people (some gone from the physical world), stories, columnists like Walt Love, and even the music charts provide a bittersweet
    reminiscence of a medium’s potential as we watch it apparently on its deathbed.

  62. WTK
    WTK says:

    So here’s the 67th person to post a comment. No matter. R&R’s demise is sad for all who helped make it such a beloved and respected communications medium, and for all who followed it so avidly. And sadder still is the realization that much of the world it chronicled had already vanished long before R&R did. But I second Mr. Lubin’s (#65) emotions.

  63. Rob Frankel
    Rob Frankel says:

    I remember when I was first coming up in the business, living in L.A. and starving while looking for that first great gig. There was a newsstand at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Cahuenga that had the new issue every Wednesday night, while most of the rest of the industry got theirs on Fridays. I was there every Wednesday as the new issue arrived, so I could get a jump on the new job listings before anyone else. More importantly, it was through R&R that I learned the names of all the major players, and every upcoming trend in radio…not to mention the latest format renamings (AOR, CHR, A/C, etc.). In the seventies and eighties, I learned more about radio from R&R than from all the other trade publications combined. I’m sorry to see it go, but feel sorrier to see so many talented and dedicated people out on the street as a result.

  64. Steve Allan
    Steve Allan says:

    As always, Sean, a well crafted tribute. R&R defined the radio business. It showed what we aspired to. It taught us how to be better broadcasters. Or, it gave us great ideas to steal. Either way it was what connected us to the business we love. And, if you were lucky enough to get mentioned – you had arrived.
    One of the highlights of my radio career was when I was asked to write guest columns in R&R. I still have the yellowing newsprint.
    R&R defined our industry. To all the people who made it happen over the years – thank you.

  65. Buck McWilliams
    Buck McWilliams says:

    What was great about R & R was the way radio people used to migrate in and out of that place. One day Steve Feinstein is writing great stuff and the next day he is programming KFOG. One day the awesome Sky Daniels is doing great airchecks on The LOOP and the next he is in charge of the rock dept. Gave it great street cred. No one can believe it is now a memory. Thanks for the tribute.
    Buck McWilliams

  66. brianCarter
    brianCarter says:

    Great Job as always ,Sean.
    I remember those baby dj days in the small markets,asking for a sample copy and getting one hoping one day to earn enough money to subscribe.
    Or getting to the station and there was a copy in the studio that you read from cover to cover,
    I freaked when i finally saw my name and picture i knew i had made it. SEE YA R&R!

  67. Kent Burkhart
    Kent Burkhart says:

    Bob Wilson should be given a medal for creating R and R… was a wonderful boost for both industries. Kent Burkhart.

  68. Hal Widsten
    Hal Widsten says:

    Sean, et al:
    All that has been said here about R & R reveals how much the publication meant to Radio people and how much closer it brought all of us before the age of “social networking.”
    When it was announced that Billboard was taking over the magazine, the writing was on the wall. One would not survive and the winner always calls the shots.
    It hasn’t even been two weeks yet, and I already miss the blue and white masthead sticking out of the incoming mail.
    To all who labored to give us the first real weekly news of the Radio business……you did good.

  69. MWilson
    MWilson says:

    Thanks for the insider’s point of view and the tribute!
    I won’t forget the people, faces and the talent at R & R!
    I still hold on to the June 23, 1993 edition. Walt “Baby” Love’s celebration of the “Legends of Black Radio” Or thumbing the pages for romors, street talk and rumbles. My most exciting R&R moment was reading about myself in Carol Archer’s NAC column!
    All the best to you Sean and everyone who worked for R & R!

  70. anne gress
    anne gress says:

    It’s with a laugh that I recall I made my big time R&R debut in…”Pros on the Loose”! No matter, I DID feel like I had finally made it when R&R put my name in print–even if it was to say that I’d been fired.
    R&R was invaluable to me when I decided to make radio my career…where else could I learn from the greatest PDs of all time? Over time I got wonderful support from the various columnists, most notably Carol Archer.
    I’m truly bummed to lose R&R and the people who made it great. But I’m so glad that I was able to learn so much from it while I could.

  71. Willis Damalt
    Willis Damalt says:

    Terrific piece!
    As a radio and records vet, it always amazed me how relevant R&R was to both sides of the fence.
    When I worked for E/A, there were 2 things that mattered to our artists;
    1 A billboard on Sunset
    2 How many full page ads in R&R for their new record?
    It was a sad day when it closed.

  72. Josh Hosler
    Josh Hosler says:

    Starting in the summer of 1986, when I was 13, I would wander down to WMKC-FM in St. Ignace, MI, and bug them to give me their back issues of R&R. I was a Billboard/American Top 40 follower myself, but the station didn’t subscribe to Billboard. And R&R gave me a whole new perspective (and a look at what Rick Dees was counting down). I would pore over the New & Active lists and all the other charts for hours. Au revoir, R&R.

  73. Dale Turner
    Dale Turner says:

    Sean, thanks for your wonderful thoughts on R&R. I was young enough in radio to transition from Claude Hall’s column VOX JOX to R&R . After moving from Radio to Records, I always kept an eye out each week to see if I was included the “5 years ago. 10 years ago, or 25 years ago.” I bounced around in radio like a pinball machine and now both R&R and pinball machines are both great career and childhood memories.

  74. Jeff MacFarlane
    Jeff MacFarlane says:

    When R&R recognized and added a respectable amount of space to the contemporary Christian format, it meant “instant” credibility. What powerful encouragement R&R gave: by and to so many gifted people. Thanks to everyone.

  75. Frank Walsh
    Frank Walsh says:

    WOW! Two weeks have gone by and still feel the shock, surprise, and disappointment of the end of R&R. Regardless of the loss of value within the pages in recent years, it still hurts to lose something that was so important to an industry that I have been a part of my entire adult life. R&R is gone, thousands of radio jobs around the country are gone, and despite that and so much more, my good radio friends, we must fight everyday to keep good radio alve and well. It is still worth the time and effort…and as always, great job Sean.

  76. Brian Allen
    Brian Allen says:

    From someone from outside of the radio industry who has a strong interest in the inter workings of the industry, I remember buying my first copy of R&R in 1995 (I still have it…wish I had copies from the 80’s) Then, going to college, the library had a subscription to R&R. I went to that library each week to read the latest issue of R&R! I learned a lot about the radio and record industry from reading that magazine. From then on till it’s closure, I continued to consume the information and news, and especially the charts. This magazine will be missed by me and everyone else with a passion for radio and music.

  77. Brian
    Brian says:

    I, like you Sean used to always try to get a free copy of R&R…PD’s used to tell me no, only to find out later how few PD’s I’ve worked for even opened it anyway!
    When i first started in radio, I used to read trades all day Monday (we only got about 7 in the mail). Now all except Billboard are gone. Interesting that Billboard itself has so few ad’s it would not shock me if it went totally on line, or out of business.

  78. Don R. Crawley
    Don R. Crawley says:

    R&R represented authenticity. It was the steak in a world often filled with sizzle and Lon Helton was often the voice of reason when some of us were absent reason and rational thought. Great piece, Sean.

  79. Frank Roth
    Frank Roth says:

    I was a radio junkie as a youngster and actually still love radio from the 60’s to the 80’s and the music of that time. I truly cared about radio, music and the charts when I was hired by Drake-Chenault as music director after a stint as an intern there. After 23 years in the business that included other positions at Radio Arts, Premiere, Mediabase, Cutler Productions and R&R, I lost my passion and respect for working in radio after going through the harsh business side of an industry run by a majority of people who are more interested in money and fame that anything about the true art form of radio. Radio & Records was probably the biggest culprit here – a businees run by corporate types who acted like they cared about radio – typical Hollywood smoozers. After years of working for these ‘Hollywood Actors’ I am much happier and healthier living in Vero Beach, Fl out of the industry rat race. R&R – I will not miss you!

  80. Jeff Davis
    Jeff Davis says:

    In the early days of my broadcasting career I was fortunate to also become music director of an A/C in Providence RI. My boss David Paul McNamee helped me to become an air personality, but it was though the pages of Radio & Records that I learned to be a music
    director and it served throughout my 17 year career. Since first hearing about its demise, I’ve read all the stories about how R&R never really was the effective tool it claimed to me, but in truth it was the best most effective tool radio has ever had. As anyone who truly loves radio will agree, R&R truly was one of a kind.
    Apparently never to be again.


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