1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

The Wacky World of Radio: Record Reps



Wacky World of Radio Logo

Wacky World of Radio Logo

Graphic Credit: © Corey Deitz
The Crappy Song Pipeline

For years radio stations have played music and record companies have gleefully sought airplay in order to familiarize the listening public with the songs they want to sell. The liaison between the record companies and the radio stations has traditionally been someone called the "Record Rep."

The "Record" portion of the name "Record Rep" used to refer to the list of crimes associated with this person as noted at the police department. Of course, not all Record Reps had criminal records. Why, it is quite possible many of the best ones skated free from the long arm of the law because they were so good at "talking up" stuff. A good Record Rep could sell food stamps to Mitt Romney.

Lest you get the wrong idea, let me state for the record (not the criminal one the Rep's have) but the rhetorical record, that many of the unseemly Record Reps who dominated the business years ago were actually forced out. They went into other honorable professions like managers at quick-pay loan offices, used car salesmen, and attorneys for Columbian Drug Cartel bosses.

When Bribe Was Just a Five Letter Word

Today's Record Rep has the moral high ground, which is especially harder than it was decades ago. Back in the day, the most notable "high ground" was the floor of any Program Director's office where a Record Rep was trying to get airplay through drug bribes.

But, that's all gone now thanks to government.

These days it's highly illegal for Record Reps to try and convince radio stations to play crappy songs by promising drugs or cash. This kind of activity is called Payola and it was investigated by Congress in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, Congress decided that the only people in the country who could be bribed to do something was Congress itself. That's why we have lobbyists - and God bless them! How else could our elected representatives ever get anything done if they did not have a real incentive beside the public good?

Even though a lot of people thought the Payola activities of the past were over long ago, the practice has reared its ugly head during the last 10 years with radio companies and record companies all getting fines and having to sign lengthy agreements written up by lawyers. Some of those lawyers may have formerly been Record Reps as noted above.

The former Attorney General for New York State, Eliot Spitzer, was a key player in confronting record companies and radio stations who were involved in recent "pay for play" scandals. Spitzer forced some big players into agreements to never again do anything bad. Spitzer's crusade against "pay for play" was so successful, he eventually became Governor of New York where he demonstrated his own impeccable moral

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.