A recent paper (PDF) from the Society of Broadcast Engineers paints a stark picture for the vocation of broadcast engineering.
The SBE notes that the number of broadcast engineers (especially those employed full-time) has been in a steady decline since the 1980s. This is when the FCC began getting rid of rules that required engineers to hold specific (and often multiple) qualifications to work at radio and television stations. Broadcasters could thus get by with fewer engineers, and many jobs which engineers used to do could now be done by lesser-qualified staff. Continue reading “Broadcast Engineers: A Dying Breed?”
Radio World recently published a long Q&A-style feature with Caroline Beasley, Executive Vice President of the Beasley Broadcast Group. A family affair, Beasley owns more than 40 stations in 11 markets around the country.
Among the many topics covered in the conversation, Beasley revealed that the National Association of Broadcasters has been quietly working on an engineering study that “outlines a number of different options regarding the future of the AM band.”
We have formed an AM Task Force that will be reviewing this study, along with the Radio Technology Committee. That committee is made up of engineers from the various groups around the country. So the AM Task Force, along with the Radio Technology Committee, will review the study and then report back…with the options that they feel that we should go with regard[ing] AM. Continue reading “NAB Plots Future of AM Broadcasting”
This week, Clear Channel (#1 in national radio station ownership) and Cumulus (#2) inked an agreement intimately linking their online broadcast strategies.
Cumulus will integrate the webcasts from its ~560 radio stations under Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio streaming platform, and will actively promote it on-air. In exchange, Clear Channel will cross-promote Cumulus’ SweetJack service, a Groupon-style business the broadcaster is developing in markets where it has stations, both on-air and online. Continue reading “Broadcast Conglomerates Consolidate in Cyberspace”
Clear Channel-owned radio stations in small to medium-sized markets were decimated last week as the company laid off dozens – if not hundreds – of on-air talent. This means that, at some Clear Channel station-clusters, there is literally no local presence on the airwaves anymore.
Clear Channel says it’ll take remaining talent and syndicate their shows across markets, using “custom breaks” and “localized content” to provide a patina of localism on affected stations – a practice otherwise known as voice tracking. The company has also appointed two dozen “Brand Managers” to oversee 11 national station formats. Continue reading “Killing the Human Element”
Exactly six months ago, I filed a complaint with the FCC regarding Madison right-wing radio harpy Vicki McKenna’s violation of broadcast law by playing a recorded phone call without the permission of the caller. Since then, McKenna’s employer, the Clear Channel-owned WIBA-AM, pulled McKenna’s podcasts from the station web site and McKenna claimed that she and her employer were being unjustly persecuted. (Her podcasts have been restored during the last month – including the show that landed her in hot water in the first place.)
Nothing could be further from the truth: the more speech the better, but use of the public airwaves comes with some responsibilities. So I called the FCC’s consumer help-line to inquire about the status of my “case.” Continue reading “Justice Takes A While”
The New York Times recently ran a canonizing profile on the afternoon-drive DJ at WRIP-FM, a locally-owned Top 40-format commercial radio station in Windham, New York. He conducted a 13-hour broadcast marathon during the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene last month, taking phone calls and disseminating emergency information the old fashioned way – listener by listener.
The Times piece is but the latest in a long string of articles that have justifiably recognized the outstanding local service broadcasters have provided in the wake of this year’s natural disasters. Continue reading “"Heroic" Localism”
Last week, Madison’s reactionary radio harpy, Vicki McKenna, sent out a curious communique to her listeners.
Due to “harassment” she and her employer, Clear Channel Communications, have allegedly suffered at the hands of “enemies,” WIBA-AM has “temporarily removed” McKenna’s podcasts from the station web site. Continue reading “Clear Channel Pulls McKenna Podcasts”
A lightly-edited version of this article was re-published on the Isthmus Daily Page.
The ongoing protests in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s plans to corporatize the state still resonate in Madison’s media environment. Unsurprisingly, the active involvement of unions in an issue that directly affects their future relevancy has been fodder galore for right-wing media pundits.
One of those pundits is Vicki McKenna, the host of some shrill demagoguery on Clear Channel-owned WIBA-AM, Madison’s bastion of reactionary talk radio. Last week, Vicki thought she had a sure thing in hand to punk organized labor – but it turns out she’s the one more likely to get stung. Continue reading “Nailed 'Em: Station Flaunts FCC in Pursuit of Partisan Politics”
This spring sees the beginning of the FCC’s license-renewal cycle for radio stations. Stations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia must begin running license-renewal announcements next month, and file their formal paperwork to renew station licenses by June. (Other states will follow in batches through the next three years – find out the license-renewal deadlines for radio stations in your state in this FCC document.).
Although the license-renewal process has long been pretty much a pro forma exercise, it does provide an opportunity for the listening public to examine and critique the performance of their local radio stations. Continue reading “Radio Station License Renewals Ahoy”
From the didn’t-have-time-to-mention-last-year department: Radio World reports that more than 400 FM translator stations are now on the air simulcasting AM radio programming.
This is the result of a 2009 FCC decision allowing AM stations to apply for FM repeaters in a quest to find “relief” from the increasing noise floor on the AM dial. Spectrally, it’s a duplicative waste. Continue reading “AM-to-FM Simulcasters Top 400”