Controversy Over Radio Spin Programs

Published: 2004-06-16
Years ago thousands of DJs became involved in a scandal known as payola. Record officials were paying DJs to play certain songs; thus ensuring the songs would be heard on the radio. Payola was and is illegal. Today record officials have found a legal way to re-enact payola. Record companies are "buying" ad space on overnight segments of radio stations in certain markets. Instead of advertising a band or song in these spots the record companies are playing the actual song sometimes several times in one night. Executives aren't concerned whether anyone hears the songs as long as the song gets recorded by the airplay monitoring systems. The monitoring systems determine the rankings on Billboard Top 40 charts. While the practice is not illegal, there is an issue of whether it is ethical. This ethical question has thus far kept "Spin Buys" out of the largest markets. Critics of the practice compare it to an athlete on steroids. For example one station played the new single by Avril Lavigne 18 times between 12 and 6am.

While the spin program does not violate payola laws as long as a disclaimer is played stating the time was bought; the record companies are once again under scrutiny for their practices.

Writer: Sherrill Fulghum



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