It certainly hasn’t been a kind year for online radio discussion sites.
For more than a decade, one of the most vibrant sites online to talk about U.S. broadcasting of all stripes was RadioDiscussions.com. It began in the late 1990s when three radio enthusiasts merged their own bulletin boards into a common site called Radio-Info, providing an outlet for discussion about dozens of speficic radio markets, boards for every state, as well as specialty forums for things like community radio, digital radio, engineering, and FCC policy. Continue reading “RadioDiscussions Killed By Greed”
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”
From the bullsh*t propaganda department: on August 15th, CBS Radio’s Pittsburgh cluster (KDKA-AM, KDKA-FM, WDSY-FM, and WBZZ-FM) will "host" the Marcellus Shale Festival at an outdoor music venue in town.
This is an event wholly designed to put a happy face on the practice of hydraulic fracturing: the messy process of harvesting natural gas that’s spreading throughout the country. The Marcellus Shale Formation extends throughout seven states and is currently one of the most active areas of hydraulic fracturing in the continental United States. In many respects, Pennsylvania has been the ground zero of Marcellus fracking, where wells have been operating since 2005.
The day-long event features "exhibits" such as a screening of FrackNation, a polemical "documentary" from folks with strong ties to climate-change deniers. FrackNation was produced pretty much explicitly to try and impugn two damning actual documentaries about hydraulic fracturing: Gasland and Gasland 2.
There will also be a "town hall" hosted by KDKA-AM midday host Mike Pintek—the reporter who first broke the Three Mile Island meltdown story in 1979—featuring a fracking industry executive who’s admitted using "psychological operations" against opponents (also a regular guest on KDKA’s own frack-pimping show, The Marcellus Shale Hour) and many of the politicians the industry’s already bought and paid for.
The entire shebang closes out with live country music from The Stickers and Phil Vassar, who may be blissfully unaware of their roles in this charade. The list of sponsors for the "festival" reads like a who’s who of companies involved in fracking the Marcellus Shale to oblivion. Continue reading “CBS Radio Shills for Fracking in Pennsylvania”
Today I sent Routledge the manuscript for Radio’s Digital Dilemma: Broadcasting in the 21st Century. 81,221 words over eight chapters, 285 typescript pages in all. The publisher’s new synopsis: Continue reading “Radio's Digital Dilemma Out the Door”
Good news from Madison: Governor Scott Walker used his line-item veto power for good late last month and struck a provision that would have evicted the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from the UW-Madison campus and prohibited journalism faculty from working with it.
Slipped into the state budget in the dead of night by an anonymous Republican lawmaker and the subject of national controversy, Walker killed the item because he didn’t feel it was appropriate to single out one particular group in such a way. Instead, he is asking the UW Board of Regents to review its policies on campus facilities-sharing with outside groups. Continue reading “Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Saved from Eviction”
The Voice of America is set to launch a new communication service on shortwave radio with interesting implications for information flow in crisis situations or under repressive regimes.
Called Radiogram, the service uses digital encoding to transmit text and images via analog shortwave broadcasts. The transmissions themselves sound much like old dial-up modems (at root the technologies are identical, in that both involve the conversion of data to audio), but when decoded on an equipped receiver or computer the text and images appear. Continue reading “VOA's Radiogram Brings New Utility to Shortwave”
On November 26, 1987, Mbanna Kantako founded WTRA, an unlicensed microradio station broadcasting from the John Jay Homes in Springfield, Illinois.
Legally blind and in his twenties at the time, Kantako started the station to protest the imminent destruction of the housing project by the city and the pervasive police abuse that occurred there.
WTRA would later be re-named Human Rights Radio to reflect the Kantako family’s widening concern with issues of social injustice.
Continue reading “Human Rights Radio Turns 25”
Clyde David DeLay died last week of acute respiratory distress, just months after having significant heart surgery. He was 63.
DeLay was better known to the world as “Dave Rabbit,” the slick-tongued DJ behind Radio First Termer, a pirate radio station he ran from a Saigon whorehouse during the Vietnam War. Continue reading “Rest in Peace, Radio First Termer”
This story flew under my radar, probably because it was published in USA Today, which is not necessarily known for its in-depth investigative journalism.
The bottom line: f*cking with your smartphone on an airplane has a clear potential for danger. The report uncovered nearly three dozen incidents of interference from onboard passenger electronic devices last year. The interference affected communications and navigational systems; though none resulted in an accident, critical flight-management systems were compromised. Continue reading “Leaving the Ground? Shut It Down”
Just in time for the start of the latest radio station license-renewal cycle, the FCC opens up for question the notion of abolishing the public file requirement for broadcasters.
This is not a self-imposed initiative: it is a consideration the agency is mandated to make, courtesy of the Paperwork Reduction Act. It requires regulatory agencies to periodically review their rules and justify their existence to the Office of Management and Budget. Continue reading “Public Files on the Chopping Block”