Heroes and Villains

Yesterday a correspondent sent this along via the message box in the left column:

Re: a recent op-ed in the Washington Post by the CEO of New York Public Radio, ending with what is obviously a cut-and-paste from the “170 Million for public media” people.

“At its core, public broadcasting belongs to the American people; it stands as a testament to our generosity and curiosity. In the midst of cynicism, public media organizations firmly believe that learning is a lifelong and joyful pursuit. Democrats, Republicans and independents must consider all of this when trying to determine whether public media’s unique commitment to local communities and learning is worth the cost.”

Huh — since when did replacing local programming with canned NPR crap and destroying college stations equal a “commitment to local communities and learning”?

The aforementioned Washington Post piece is rife with comments following the article bewailing the supposed left-wing bias of NPR (who’d have thought so many conservatives followed the Post?) — contrary to the sites such as NPR Check (link on right) quoted herein on occasion, which cite examples of its pro-business/government bent.

More germane to this site is the expansionist policies of organizations such as the CPB, PRC, and SRG (Station Resource Group) and their effects on local free-form and college radio stations. In that vein, recent developments at Rice University’s KTRU — soon to be the University of Houston’s — require further examination. As a Feb. 5 post on the KTRU website, here, says of student feelings in the matter:

“HD radio is better than no radio,” said KTRU Station Manager Joey Yang, “but is orders of magnitude less viable than our current FM broadcast.”

Potential and actual listenership of HD radio is a fraction of that of conventional FM radio, and reception of HD radio broadcasts requires the purchase of a specialized receiver, putting it out of the reach of those with limited financial means.

Joey refers to deal cut with KPFT to broadcast KTRU on its HD channel . . . A “fraction” of conventional radios is putting it mildly, as conservative estimates of HD ownership put that number at 1.5 million, as opposed to 700 million+ analogue radios — after eight years of hard sell. Of course, Bob Struble of iBiquity, HD’s monopoly overlord, is ecstatic that anybody might be forced to broadcast on IBOC, given the legal woes that have beset the company and the underwhelming consumer response to the junk science.

The wags on the radio-info.com discussion board, as noted by Jack Hannold, have little good to say about Rice President Leebron’s face-saving attempt to salvage demi-hero status out of the debacle, in a thread entitled “KTRU/Houston Goes to HD Radio to Die.” (The prez ventured that some of the money from the looting of the student-run station would be used to help pay for the seven-year lease of the HD channel from KPFT.):

DtoTheJ: Rice University’s student-run radio station will remain on the air after all. The university said Saturday that KTRU will broadcast over a high-definition channel assigned to radio station KPFT, beginning Feb. 14.

In other words, KTRU is basically leaving the air, void of any visibility whatsoever.

Chuck: Nobody but an occasional radio geek or two is going to go out of their way to buy an HD radio without something interesting to listen to. The real problem would come down the road if HD actually gained some traction, and the host station decided they wanted the sub channel back. That could get very sticky. Get a good contract up front.

Greg Smith sent along a post from the Houston Press blog, which carried a story describing the deal, yielding several less-than-complimentary comments:

drod: F*** James Lebron and f*** Kantor UH, who the hell has HD radio?

And this ominous note:

ribalding: May be speaking too soon, as the CEOs of KUHF and HUHT were just fired . . . with cause.

The Houston Chronicle blog, here, carried some humorous asides:

“Many people would still rather have the 50,000-watt signal, but I think this is a very good outcome,” Leebron said. “It shows our students’ entrepreneurial spirit and shows their maturity,” he said.

As opposed to the ordure of the original backroom deal that precipitated this whole mess? And this, a deft heave of a bone to the dog:

UH also agreed to provide paid internships for six Rice students a year for three years, according to documents filed with the FCC.

How magnanimous of them. And this postmark from the Houston section of the radio-info.com discussion board:

FilioScotia: So KTRU fans will get their programming on KPFT HD channel 2. Ho hum.

As one who worked at KUHF for nearly 18 years, and watched the enormously expensive addition of HD capability, I can testify that, so far, HD has not been worth the investment for KUHF.

For several years now, KUHF HD2 has carried NPR’s daily lineup of talk and information programs. Over the past two years, KUHF has learned that almost no one is listening on an HD radio, because almost no one is buying them. People who DO own them complain constantly about the spotty reception.

Here’s the cold hard truth: The vast majority of people who listen to KUHF’s HD schedule are listening ON THE INTERNET. KTRU’s owners and managers are going to have the same experience and learn the same lesson: HD radio is not worth the expense. They’ll find that most of their audience will be listening Online. Just as it is with KUHF HD2, and HD3, the audience for KPFT’s HD2 broadcasts will be so small they won’t be able to measure it.

This is why KUHF is buying another radio station for pete sakes.

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One Response

  1. There is a term for copying and pasting boilerplate for political causes: ASTROTURFING!

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