Public Radio?

Seems to me they have completely lost sight of the audience Public Radio was created to serve. The fact that programming appeals to more people undermines the need for such programming on public radio, created to serve under-served audiences. Programming with broad commercial appeal belongs in the commercial market. Am I right about this?  Public radio was created to serve under-served markets and audiences, correct? This seems such a basic argument, I can’t believe they can “step in it” so blatantly.

—Aggravated Austinite

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Minnesota Public Radio Doubles Down on HD Radio

It’s not just Corporation for Public Broadcasting money that’s being shunted off to HD radio scams… “Think back to the 2008 campaign. Among the images of Minnesota lakes and forests, or even arts endeavors, did you read or hear anything about using public taxes to expand a radio station’s programming? Much less, programming specifically for a high-end piece of equipment that many Minnesotans might not even have? Be honest.” All kinds of the public’s money is being funneled into the pockets of monopoly iBiquity and its troubled HD radio service. The whole story is here.

Reuters on HD

At the end of last year, HD radio appears to be teetering on eight-trackdom. According to Reuters, the Big Three automakers, for one, are holding off on putting any more money in iBiquity’s pocket. And this from diymedia.net:

12/21/09 – HD Radio Ends Year On Slide

Although the marketplace doesn’t seem to have made up its mind on the fate of HD Radio just yet, the trends do not look positive. To wit:

1. “Smilin’ Bob” Struble, CEO of iBiquity, has apparently stopped tweeting after his globe-trotting jaunt this fall.

2. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest staff cuts at iBiquity are deeper than publicly known. (This would not be surprising given iBiquity is still a private company.) If true, it is always troubling when a developing technology cuts its tech support before it has a coherent, stable user-base.

3. Within the last month, Clear Channel has registered a domain name for, and established, a mirror-site to iBiquity’s main consumer portal. (Run a WHOIS search and note the difference.) There is no logical reason for this, unless one expects the main portal to “go away,” for some unspecified reason. Given that Clear Channel is the primary sponsor of the HD Radio Alliance (the consortium of mega-broadcasters most-supportive of HD Radio), one may draw their own conclusions.

4. Perhaps most damning, Bridge Ratings released a report this month on listening trends for Americans across all mediums. It notes that people reporting an intent to listen to more HD Radio has dropped. For 2009, only 1% of Bridge Ratings’ survey sample (3,000 people, all age 13+) report listening to HD Radio on a daily basis. Note that expected listening trajectories for satellite radio and MP3 players are also falling, while the intent-to-listen figures for “terrestrial” [analog] radio listenership are trending higher.

2010 could very well be HD Radio (or, at the very least, iBiquity)’s make-or-break year. The implications remain hazy, yet tantalizing.

Jeff Boudreau:

Q: Does the WETS-FM programming change follow a national trend among public radio stations?

A. Yes. Although we made the changes for other reasons as well, we know that, for the past decade, public radio stations around the country have been switching to mostly news and public affairs programming on their primary channels. In fact, by 2000, the number of public radio stations broadcasting news and public affairs programs exceeded those with mixed news-music programming.

News-talk radio programming has become most preferred among listeners of all radio formats around the nation, outranking country music for the first time, according to the latest Arbitron report. Recently, stations in Nashville, Winston-Salem, Fort Myers, Birmingham, Hartford, and Vermont have made this change.

Most stations make the switch because it boosts listenership, membership, and revenues. Typically, stations see an increase in the number of listeners as well as contributions and underwriting revenues.

KCSN in LA

AAA format 1, classical music 0 in LA as of today. KCSN just made the switch too. Another AAA station? Initial comments aren’t positive…

WILL in Urbana-Champaign

Jazz and folk music are taking the hit in Illinois as well. Funny, but the arguments all sound the same… And the locals aren’t happy. Read it here.

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