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Every Radio Music Festival Needs a Billie Joe Armstrong Meltdown



Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day in Cardiff during the American Idiot tour, 2006

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day in Cardiff during the American Idiot tour, 2006

Photography: Lloyd Morgan, Creative Commons
The Radio Establishment

The radio industry is far from perfect. Since 1996 it has become a more difficult place to find work for those who choose it as a career and a more corporate-oriented place than it used to be. Those are the realities. The days of FM jocks who picked their own music and locked studio doors to protest decisions by management are relegated only to a few movies.

Nobody picks their own music, format experimentation is all but non-existent, and innovation comes from people in suits, not people in flip flops.

Program Directors like Andy Travis or morning men Dr. Johnny Fever only exist in old episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati. Oddly, salesmen still seem to be just like Herb Tarlek. Go figure.

I have listened to or read a particular narrative from radio professionals, former ones, and listeners over the years.

"Clear Channel has ruined radio!"

There are a lot of reasons why someone might feel that way from job loss to philosophical differences to just crappy programming. (Fact is, some stations in this country are just kind of crappy. There's should be a bumper sticker that says "Crappy Programming Happens")

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is constantly knocked for providing radio programming in the flavor of "Corporate Radio." Well, radio has changed over the years but not just at Clear Channel. There are many chains that operate with top-down, cost-cutting, homogenized attitudes because radio is a business and the current laws have permitted and fostered this kind of approach. That's life.

Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!

That's why when Billie Joe Armstrong melted down on stage last Friday at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, if I were Clear Channel executives I would have dropped to my knees and thanked the radio Gods for the good PR. Yes, good public relations. Good public relations and outreach to the younger audience and demographic who think everything Clear Channel touches requires a meeting and a memo.

When the lead singer of Green Day, one of the most iconic bands in Modern Rock, has a complete hissy fit during a live concert because he thinks his performance time is being cut short, decorates everyone's vocabulary with more F words than Merriam Webster, insults Justin Bieber, and then proceeds to smash his guitar into kindling across the front of the stage, it makes even the most jaded of us scream, "Yeah! F---KING ROCK AND ROLL!"

If I were the suits at Clear Channel I would take that concert moment from the iHeartRadio Music Festival and create a "thank you video" to everyone who listened or watched online. I'd upload it to YouTube faster than Billie Joe Armstrong can check into rehab, which he did right after his performance.

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