Check out this article from the New York Times last week, called Fade-Out: New Rock Is Passé on Radio. (Registration may be required, but it’s free).
Many of the reasons for Alternative’s malaise are discussed, and a few are glossed over.
One item discussed was the mistake (in hindsight, I might add) of moving some Alternative stations all-Male in their research and programming. I think this can honestly be viewed as a “mistake” only in those markets where the Alternative station competes against an Active Rocker, rather than fulfilling both needs simultaneously on one station.
I know I had to clean up the mess caused by one research company who, for a legendary top market Alternative station, focused completely on Men in their research and strategy. The image of that station never had been all-Male and it never would be.
That said, research mistakes, iPods, the dearth of compelling new Alternative music, etc., must all fit beneath the larger explanation: Music tastes are changing fundamentally and ethnic changes are dramatically reshaping what 18-24 means in many American markets.
Twenty years ago there was no such thing as “Alternative.” Had it not been for Grunge there would be almost no Alternative format stations today. Even some of the Left Coast legends aren’t doing what they used to.
Sometimes, the market is trying to tell you it’s over you.