RadioDiscussions Killed By Greed

It certainly hasn’t been a kind year for online radio discussion sites.
For more than a decade, one of the most vibrant sites online to talk about U.S. broadcasting of all stripes was It began in the late 1990s when three radio enthusiasts merged their own bulletin boards into a common site called Radio-Info, providing an outlet for discussion about dozens of speficic radio markets, boards for every state, as well as specialty forums for things like community radio, digital radio, engineering, and FCC policy.
In 2005, one of the principals behind Radio-Info, Doug Fleming, died during a cycling trip; he was just 28 years old. Fleming’s family took over the site, fired the two other co-founders and hired a bevy of moderators and writers to "popularize" the dialogue. A controversial move at the time, the vibrancy and quality of the discussions remained high, and things rolled along pretty smoothly until last year.
The Flemings finally decided to jettison their son’s legacy, so they sold the site to the proprietors of Talkers magazine last year. As part of the change, the site was renamed from Radio-Info to RadioDiscussions. However, the sheer scope of the site pretty much overwhelmed the specialty publication, who sold RadioDiscussions to Florida-based Streamline Publishing this May.
Streamline is perhaps best known for two of the publications it produces: Radio Ink and Radio & Television Business Report. Both are B-grade outlets: no real reportage, more content-aggregation and fluff than anything else. Streamline’s founder, Eric Rhoads, also has a reputation for hucksterism. He’s perhaps best known for spending a lot of words and money trying to sell his own brand of HD Radio receivers, and earlier this year breathlessly (and erroneously) claimed that auto manufacturers were preparing to dump radios from new cars. Quality journalism, it’s not: how could such a company handle maintaining one of the internet’s largest broadcast-forums?
Turns out it couldn’t. After implementing a disastrous site "upgrade/redesign" a few months ago, Streamline unceremoniously unplugged RadioDiscussions on Tuesday. According to some stoolie at the company, "This was an economic decision. Our intention was to offer Radio Discussions as an option to our advertisers but we found there was no interest and though we respect what Doug Fleming originally built it simply does not make sense to pour cash into something with no prospect of revenue."
That sounds familiar. It’s the same mentality that has decimated the radio industry itself over the last 20-odd years. Profit uber alles: the notion of intangible goods and a meaningful duty to the public interest falls on the deaf ears of bean-counters. RadioDiscussions wasn’t valuable for its eyeballs, it was valuable for its dialogue. Adding insult to injury, all of that dialogue—nearly 15 years’ worth—has disappeared from the ‘net just because some hackneyed mofos couldn’t turn a dime on it.
If the folks at Streamline had any dignity, and any respect for the community it just squelched, they’d at the very least leave up a static read-only archive of the site. Folks looking for other forums might be inclined to check out RadioInsight (run by Radio-Info’s two other co-founders), The Virtual Engineer, and the recently-launched boards over at Radio Survivor.

3 thoughts on “RadioDiscussions Killed By Greed”

  1. ” because some hackneyed mofos…”
    John, tell us what you really think 🙂
    It is a shame to see radiodiscussions go by the wayside. I briefly thought about putting a discussion forum up on my site, but then somebody has already done that. I would rather devote my time to telling the story of radio engineering than administering a web forum.

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