Is Terrestrial Radio Going Rebel Radio?

Today it was announced that right-wing talker Bob Grant is returning to WABC. Grant was fired from WABC in 1995 following derogatory comments on the death of former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Don Imus, who was fired for making racially insensitive remark, was all but cleared for re-entry to talk radio a few weeks ago. Craig Carton, who will be teaming with Boomer Esiason to take the old Imus CBS Radio spot, got into hot water with then-New Jersey Governor Richard Cody in 1995 for disparaging on-air remarks about the postpartum depression his wife suffered. Amid all of this high-testosterone media clutter, the Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda backed GreenStone Media went defunct amid charges of stiffing employees.

What gives?

At what point did terrestrial radio turn feral? Terrestrial radio, facing unprecedented challenges from all manner of audio distractions including iPod’s and satellite radio, is increasingly trending towards what former ”FreeFM” Program Director John Mainelli calls ”Rebel Radio.” He described this phenomenon to Daily News staff writer David Hinkley in June:

”Many radio executives, says Mainelli, think of FM talk as ‘all beer and babes.’ But done properly, he says, it goes beyond that: ‘It’s honest, candid talk that is aggressively anti-PC, funny as hell and even a little bit subversive.’

”The format offers a ‘huge payoff,’ he says, because it gives radio a unique replacement for the music he thinks will be swallowed by competition like iPods.

”’The tombstone for music on conventional radio has arrived,’ he says. ‘I say three years, tops.”’