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Long Story Short

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As a kid in upstate New York, the closest thing I had to an iPhone was my beloved portable FM radio/cassette recorder.

For me, this technological wonder was a dream come true: Recording directly from its built-in receiver, I could tape local college stations and even the distant sounds of New York City's WNEW, whose weekly import show I followed religiously.

Come to think of it, that's something I still can't do easily on my iPhone. Nor would I necessarily want to. Thanks to streaming radio, I can pull in overseas and Internet stations that cater to every musical niche this side of Tuvan throat singing (give it time) — meaning there's not a single radio to be found in the comfortably extravagant mansion I now call home. And while I can still get my local radio fix in the limo, even there the lure of plugging in the iPhone is becoming tough to resist.

So if a dedicated follower of musical fashion isn't tuning in, what's a lonely radio station to do? Can Rush Limbaugh single-handedly carry both the Republican Party and broadcast radio into the future?

In this week's cover story (which begins on p. 15), we talk to local DJs about the financial and technological changes that have begun to signal serious trouble in Radio Land.

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