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Friday, March 18, 2016

Radio

It's been a while since I whined about the state of radio...

I was in the car just after 1 AM Wednesday.  I really wanted to catch some news about the presidential primaries.  I'd just missed the top of the hour news from the two local stations near me that actually run it.  WBBM 780 from Chicago and KYW 1060 from Philadelphia occasionally boom in (more about that later), but this was not my lucky night.  There was plenty of talk about conspiracy theories, little green men, and the NCAA basketball tournament up and down the dial-- a lot of the same stuff in different locations.  No news.  The guys on the syndicated Red Eye Radio, carried by WTRW were talking politics, a little, and that was the best I could do.  If you're up all night, Red Eye and Ben Maller's FOX Sports Radio are the best of the lot.  Red Eye usually hits the newsy topics, and Maller is always great fun.

As noted here before, the FCC is in the process of trying to save AM radio.  One aspect is to cut down on the reach of those big blowtorch signals, like WBBM, KYW, WGY, WABC, WLS, WJR, KDKA, KMOX, etc.  The reasoning is it gives opportunities for smaller, local signals to stay powered up.  Bad idea.  Big stations usually have a live body or two, even in the middle of the night.  Little local stations?  All computerized, all the time.  I've read most of the FCC's AM recovery plan.  I haven't seen such flawed thinking since PennDOT's love of roundabouts.

CBS is considering selling its radio stations, and it brought a tear to my eye.  CBS is the last of the gold standard operators.  ABC's stations were legendary-- until they were sold off.  The same goes for NBC.  CBS still puts out a fantastic news product in several cities.  No one expects that continue under new ownership.  News is expensive but it does attract an upper socioeconomic demographic.  The head of CBS says radio is a slow growth industry.  Hey, at least there's growth.  Be happy.  Keep them.

Here's something frightening that was reported in Tom Taylor's morning radio newsletter.  21 per cent of American homes don't have radios.  Are you kidding me?  I know cell phones have become the information and entertainment appliance of choice, even taking the role of nightstand alarm clock.

Me?  I own a bunch.  Bedroom, kitchen, home office, and even the bath room.  I can't do without them.  I even own two internet radios, making listening to distant stations a breeze.  Some of my radios even get weather band, because good luck getting a local forecast when you want one.

Radio is a great medium.  It hurts to see and hear the neglect.