That Filthy Lucre...

John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, formerly of the Sex Pistols) did a three-hour interview last week on 91X. According to 91X program director Kevin Stapleford, the station paid Lydon to record promotional announcements three months ago. Was Lydon paid for his March 15 appearance? Stapleford did not return a request for comment.

A source at competing modern-rock station FM-94/9 contends that Lydon was paid for the interview. Regarding the promotional announcements, the source contends that "if you have to pay someone to endorse your radio station, it's nothing to be proud of."

Lydon's decision to back 91X over FM-94/9 is questionable, considering that the Sex Pistols' music gets more airplay on 94/9. According to Mediabase, a radio monitoring service, 91X has played "God Save the Queen" 184 times since Mediabase began in 1998; since it signed on in November 2002, 94/9 has played the song 388 times. "Anarchy in the U.K." has been played more on 94/9 (482 spins) than on 91X (293 times).

Three major cities (New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia) have no modern-rock stations while San Diego has two. A radio insider says that if there were one modern-rock station in San Diego, it would bring in between $10 million and $12 million in ad income. The two stations now split $13 million.

According to Arbitron ratings, 91X is doing slightly better among listeners aged 18 to 34; 94/9 does better in the 25-to-54 demographic. Stapleford of 91X says, "I don't think it was ever feasible [to have two modern-rock stations in San Diego]. I think the competitor will go away and 91X will remain."

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