Friday, April 28, 2017


Which music radio format talks the most about taking drugs and drinking way too much alcohol? You might have guessed Rap or Hard Rock but a new study has found that it is actually Country music. For every God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood, there is a world of cheatin’, drinkin’, druggin’ and rehabin’ goin’ on with Country music folks. News of the survey was recently published in Newsweek [link].  

That was the conclusion of a new study published by They are a for-profit business that specializes in matching the addicted with treatment centers, for a fee, of course. does not provide the methodology of the study but someone spent a lot of time listening to several popular music formats counting the references to drugs and heavy drinking.

According to their research, the type of music that mentioned drugs the most is Country, followed by Jazz, Pop, Electronic, Rock, Folk and Rap respectively.   

The first chart on the right is from the study. Without knowing the survey methodology, it is hard to know what exactly it means.

If you are wondering about the relatively low mention of drug references in the Rap genre, Logan Freedman, a data scientist at, said more research needed to be done to determine why rappers aren’t talking about drugs as it seems they used to.

KEN SAYS: From my unofficial observation, the people who talk the most about drugs are people that don’t have them.  Conversely, people who seldom talk about drugs are the ones who have the best stuff.

Marijuana is the most frequently mentioned drug, as you can see in the second chart on the right. Researcher Freedman explains why this may be true:

"It’s really amazing, I think because marijuana has become more normalized in our culture, a lot of country artists are singing about it more often than ever. 

We did this study to raise awareness about how drug references in music on the radio may interact with addiction, and to alert people in case they want to avoid hearing about drugs in their everyday music."


This coming October 1st, I will have been working, in one-way or another, in the radio biz. Fifty years earlier, on October 1, 1967 at Midnight, I became a “KISD Good Guy.” KISD-AM, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was a hot Top 40 station that sounded much bigger than the market. 

I quickly moved up to a full-time gig, 7pm – Midnight. This was a great place to start a career.

I’ve been very fortunate to have a career that almost never has seemed like work. From time to time I will be sharing pages from my career as October approaches.  Today I have two short YouTube films:

The first is I’m Getting Kissed in Siouxland, which tells the true story of how I started in the biz, the people I worked with, changes in society and when I met my first love.

The second is The Wayward Wind, how I first got interested in radio. It all started with my mom when I was a little kid.  She always had the radio on.  The film is based on a memory of the first time a voice on the radio took me away and I never returned to earth.

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