Radio used to make money through advertising. Radio stations had a motive to engage the public in order to sell their ratings to the advertisers. ”We sold the advertiser [an] audience,” says veteran broadcaster Dick Fatherley. Here capitalism works because the station makes money by being relevant to the audience.
Nowadays radio, like many other industries, makes its money through high finance gamesmanship instead of what it broadcasts or by how many people like it. The worth is in the asset of a tied up market that can not be threatened by outside competition from other radio stations because there are no other transmitters in the market to challenge them.
Private Equity firms are not afraid to overpay for a radio station because the consequences of that overpayment will be directed to the countless employees that are fired in the name of “efficiency” (not themselves). This puts undue pressures on non-Private Equity companies to trim the same amount of staff because overpayment by private equity artificially balloons the price of the spectrum for everyone else.
Meanwhile, the people who have been fired are left with excuses like “oh we must not be able to compete with the internet.” That is exactly what they want everyone to believe.