A literature review was undertaken in order to compare the gatekeeping forces present in a music radio station and a news organization. Findings were then presented to a radio program director for comments. Results show music radio to be both a leader and a follower of public opinion. Music programmers may choose individual songs to introduce to their audience, but it is the gatekeeping environment that guides the choices a programmer makes.
"I make all the music decisions myself".
The above quote was given by the program director of a country music radio station who participated in an interview intended to offer insight in the pressures he encounters programming new music on his radio station. On the surface, it is a true statement. The choice of which songs will be played rests in this one person's hands. He has delegated his employees no power to reverse his decisions nor augment them in any way.
Still, it cannot be ignored that this program director does not make decisions within a vacuum. Forces are at work molding the decisions he makes.
The purpose of this paper is two fold. The first is to outline the academic research conducted regarding gatekeeping, namely the research regarding the choice of songs for a music radio station. And secondly, to offer the comments of two music radio programmers regarding what academe has written about their position.1 Results of this study offer insight into what will be termed the program director's "environment of choice."
An environment of outside forces helping to define what choices are made by a gatekeeper is not a new concept (Shoemaker, 1991). Lewin (1947), the originator of the word "gatekeeping", wrote that to understand how a gate works is to understand the forces that help to determine the decisions of...