While moving my site over to the WordPress platform, I had several trips down memory lane regarding past stories I’ve told. One of them, published 10 years ago this month, broke down just how lucrative it is to run a religious broadcast syndicate.
Back then, the explosion in FM translators was a relatively new development, and the millions of dollars harvested unethically from the public airwaves was yet but a pipe dream in many minds.
Even so, in 2004 salaries for religious broadcast executives were pretty damn lucrative, ranging from $117,000 to $250,000 per year. How have those numbers changed over the course of a decade, with the windfall of FM translators extending their business-models? Turns out it’s been a rocket ride (data courtesy of Charity Navigator). Continue reading “Religious Broadcast Executive Pay: 10 Years Later”
Eleven years ago, one wily guy made a spectrum-grab on the FM dial of unprecedented proportions. Using a custom program and a bank of computers, Clark Parrish filed for more than 4,000 FM translator construction permits during a short application window for translators in 2003.
Operating under two corporate identities, Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministry, Parrish put the permits on the market. In fact, his gambit created an entirely new market for FM translator stations. Over the last decade, that’s netted RAM/EB and other religious broadcasters who got in on the game millons of dollars from hundreds of sales, many involving the nation’s largest broadcasters, who deploy FM translators as automated outlets typically fed by out-of-market or HD2/3 programming. Since translator stations are considered a secondary broadcast service, they don’t count against the FCC’s radio ownership caps. Continue reading “Translator-mongers Brag About Gaming System”
The market for FM translators reached a new peak recently when a two-watt translator sited on the Willis Tower in Chicago sold for $4.6 million. Who made the killing? Calvary Radio Network, the de facto Midwest representative of the Calvary Chapel godcast franchise. Continue reading “FM Translator Market in Bubble Mode”
For several years now, there’s been a growing tension between broadcasters, online radio services, and the music industry over the issue of royalties. Current law requires streaming media services to pay performance royalties on the music they stream, while historically broadcasters have been exempt from these fees (everyone pays royalties to songwriters and publishers). Continue reading “New HD Radio Loophole: Royalty-Evasion?”
More evidence that the market in FM translator stations is maturing quickly.
Saga Communications, a radio conglomerate that specializes in mid-market acquisitions, owns 91 stations across the country. Of these, some three dozen are FM translators: second-class radio stations limited to a power of 250 watts or less that rebroadcast the signals of other stations.
Saga is an aggressive player in the practice of using FM-HD Radio signals to feed programming to analog translators. Since very few people actually listen to HD Radio, these mini-signals appear to be "new" stations, though in most cases they’re completely canned programming of a format that wouldn’t otherwise be profitable on a real full-power FM station. Continue reading “Deceptive Advertising: Translators as "Metro Stations"”
Every so often, iBiquity Digital Corporation CEO Robert Struble pens a column on iBiquity’s corporate website. His latest missive actually (and unintentionally) puts a very fine point on the malaise that is the U.S. digital radio transition.
"The one constant for all successful media transitions has been the passage of time, and that patient strategy is working for HD Radio Technology as well," writes Struble. He claims that HD receiver penetration is on a strong upward trend, with a new digital radio sold "every six seconds." Continue reading “iBiquity CEO: The Future of Digital Radio is Analog”
With what seems like increasing frequency, media-pundits are dropping rhetorical bombs riffing on the notion that radio is dying. This inevitably sets off a tizzy within the radio industry itself. But there are still strong signs of life, especially if one steps back and looks at the big picture.
Every quarter, the Federal Communications Commission issues a report on the number of licensed broadcast radio stations in the United States. The graph at right compiles the last 21 years of these reports (from 1992 to 2013).
These FCC reports are available here. I used the agency’s mid-year totals, released every June 30th, for year-to-year consistency. (2000 and 2007 are asterisked because there was no June 30th report archived for those years; these figures come from the FCC’s third quarter (September 30th) report.) Continue reading “The Health of Radio: By the Numbers”
Playing end-of semester catchup: the Clear Channel-owned trade publication Inside Radio recently published an article quoting a station-appraiser who likens the booming market for FM translators to the birth of the Internet. Documents for more than three dozen translator sales have been filed with the FCC this year, compared to just three at this time in 2012. Continue reading “Translator Market Comes Out of the Shadows”
In 2009, the Federal Communications Commission promulgated rules allowing AM radio stations to utilize FM translators to supplement their coverage areas. The original intent was to help "beleaguered" stations, like those that must dramatically reduce their power at night, or suffer from increased interference (from a variety of causes, including consumer electronics, traffic signals, and HD Radio sidebands).
As of today, many AM stations have taken advantage of this rule to supplement their signals with some 400 FM translator simulcasts.
But some broadcasters that are far from "beleaguered" have hopped on the translator bandwagon. These include WLW, a 50,000-watt station in Cincinnati owned by Clear Channel Communications, the nation’s largest broadcast conglomerate. Continue reading “Do AM Blowtorches Really Need FM Translators?”
We’re going into HD Radio‘s 11th year on the air. So far, the technology’s proliferation has been underwhelming, to put it mildly. However, proponents of HD are working on several projects which they hope will break it into the mainstream. They are: Continue reading “HD Radio's Multifaceted Search for Traction”