Rant from Riverton: Is there a market for "otaku radio" terrestrially in the USA?
On the "I Love AM Radio" Facebook group, a member posted a poll about whether a format consisting of "anime soundtracks" and video game music would work on AM or FM radio. For the uninitiated, anime music is from Japanese animation. Tracks can consist of mainstream pop releases that make the charts, artists like Megumi Hayashibara, GRANRODEO and May'n who record tracks mainly exclusively for anime and game as well as background music (BGM) that is used in anime series and video games. A 20-year project of REC Networks is operating internet-only broadcast streams that partially consist of music that would fit this genre. The following was my response to that question that could not get posted because the original message was deleted:
As a format, probably not. The problem is that anime/game has an extremely niche appeal to a very small otaku minority. Some who are into the genres are mislead into thinking this is the music that is played widely in Japan. I think I can say with authority that about 98% of american otaku (anime/Japan fans) has never heard domestic radio in Japan to have an understanding of what is popular there. Even in a large city like Los Angeles, a 24/7 J-pop or anime format would never fly. A K-pop format would hold more promise as the Korean population is significantly larger and the cross-culture exposure of Korean pop artists in the American marketplace (as well as the fact that the Korean music industry is much more open to the world than the Japanese).
Most Japanese in the USA are either descendants of the sansei population (those who can trace their roots to the internment camps), those who marry Americans and those who are temporarily in the USA on work assignments from Japanese corporations.
In the #2 market, we lost our only over the air 24/7 Japanese TV programming (UTB) last year, radio is relegated to TJS, a brokered block on an Orange County FM station for a couple of hours a day, mostly talk. The major Japanese newspaper, the Rafu Shimpo is barely surviving.
If the genre was extended past anime/game but to current and classic JPOP with a sprinkle of enka and a lot of significant talk in a market like the Bay Area, Los Angeles (South Bay) or Austin, perhaps a Japanese format would work on a small AM station but like all Japanese media in the USA, it is sustained by a very small base of advertisers (and that base is dwindling fast)..
But to this question, based on my 20+ year experience with the genre, I must answer "no".
Founder: REC Networks
Founder: J1 Radio https://j1fm.tokyo