In somewhat surprising news, Bruce Bond has made his triumphant return to the midstate airwaves. Millennials may not know who Bond is (or even what good radio is for that matter), but Bond’s loyal listeners most certainly do. Even though Bond has had an interesting few years since he left Central PA radio, his return proves that there is some hope for traditional radio in our market.
The reason that I’m writing this piece is because of the personal admiration I have for Bond. Back in the mid to late 90s and into the early 2000s, I was one of Bond’s biggest fans. As a teenager, his brash personality along with his cast of characters made for an amazing listen each and every day from 3pm – 7pm on WINK. Even when his new morning show was derailed due to a non-compete, I just knew he’d be back on the air.
Bond provided a great deal of inspiration to me. Back in 1999, I ventured to Slippery Rock University with dreams of being in Computer Science. When I got to Calculus II, I realized quickly that this route was not for me. So I thought to myself, “What is it that I love to do?” Radio was the first thing that came to mind. It was mainly due to my love of the Late Afternoon Show and the art that was radio. I quickly changed my major to Communications and started my own show at 88.1 WRSK FM and the rest is history.
For those of you that may not know me personally, I’m now a Communications and English Professor at Central Penn College. My task is to educate the young people of the region about the glory of mass communications. The unfortunate thing about mass communications involves the corporatization of it, especially in the radio industry. I remember writing one of my greatest papers about the lack of a key concept, “localization”, and how local radio has lost all sense of the word. For those of you that don’t know, a large majority of radio is voice-tracked, a fancy way of saying pre-recorded. As with many Communications related jobs, the internet has caused fewer jobs, but more importantly those that do work in the field are required to do a great deal more work. Radio has lost one of the few things that it had in years gone by, a connection with the local people and the local economy.
Radio has now morphed into a “vast wasteland” of hearing the same songs over and over again, with little or no value to the local community. There are rarely (if ever) any local DJs of any substance that people care about and most avid radio fans have either switched to satellite or abandoned traditional radio all together for a blend of other media. The question, however, still remains: Why is Bond’s return a harbinger of things to come?
The “rat bastards upstairs”, as Bruce famously used to speak of management, need to realize something about radio. In the age of the Internet, the public can find what they want at any time, whether it be in the car, at home, or on the go due to the multitude of options in content, Wi-Fi, and more. People do not want to listen to the same ten songs over and over, they want to hear something of substance. If traditional radio station owners do not do more to give back to the local community in some fashion, they risk losing the entire medium to the internet.
Radio’s future admittedly looks quite bleak, but the return of Bruce Bond allows us to remember what good radio was like, as opposed to this ridiculous example of garbage we constantly hear from KISSFM and HOTFM. One thing about Bond is that he is real. He never kisses up to management, nor does he waste his time giving us bad radio. During his first show, Bruce even admitted, “Don’t expect perfection from me today”. He knew that his loyal listeners would remember the old show and quickly reminded them that everyone will be rusty. One week later, Bond returned a former co-host, Janice Radocha, and immediately returned to form.
So regardless of how you feel about the man himself, you have to at least give him a great deal of credit. Put in a notoriously horrific Saturday morning slot, WTPA is taking little risk by giving Bond a chance. Hopefully, this venture will in some small way return Bond to the Marconi Award Winner that he once was and give him a chance to do what he loves so much full-time. After all, everyone deserves a second chance to do what they love to do.