Creeping Consolidation

Every week more evidence of airwave assimilation graces the web. Just in the past seven days, the following examples turned up:

  • In Salisbury, Connecticut, station WQQQ switched to all-talk NPR, according to this post on the Litchfield County Times site, entering an alliance with the WSHU Public Radio Group in Fairfield. But owner Dennis Jackson assures the locals: “If they want people to listen to them they will have to focus on the area. They will work with local nonprofits.” And he says he “initially” will retain the staff to aid in the transition. You can take that to the bank — or the food-stamp office. But Jackson says he will help the station manager set up an online presence (who noted, “If advertiser and audience support is strong enough to warrant it, this is a real possibility”).
  • In Odessa, Texas, the fate of station KOCV, run by Odessa College, is up for discussion at a public forum, according to this post on the newswest9.com website. The post adds: “KOCV’S format is primarily news and talk from National Public Radio and locally produced content. A public forum on the issue is also being held on February 15th. Three of the expected bidders will be there to talk to the public.” Expect to see the usual suspects in attendance.
  • How does this all play in Peoria? Well, according to this post on the pjstar.com site, classical music is being thrown under the bus, or at least relegated to a new HD channel after 40 years as station mainstay, to make room for talk-talk (“We’ve had an ongoing demand from our listeners for news programming,” says station manager Tom Hunt). “I’ve been excited about HD radio since day one,” Hunt enthused. “Regarding the success of HD radio, public radio will make it happen.” He did allow, however, “Change comes hard to some people,” and a few of the following comments backed him up on that:

    HD radio has been a complete disappointment so far. I bought one thinking that I could get WGLT’s multicasts from Bloomington, only to find that even with a good antenna, the only two stations I could get in HD were WCBU and WGLO. Last time I was tuning around, WGLO wasn’t even broadcasting in HD.

    Culture? Peoria don’t deserve any stinking culture (lost cause).

    I haven’t sent in my annual contribution yet this year and this news has caused me to seriously consider at what level I support WCBU. I’ve always found WCBU’s programming to be very narrowly focused compared to other public radio stations in the cities where I’ve lived. That focus is now laser sharp. Perhaps it works for them in this market and that is fine. I’m lucky that I can receive both WCBU and WGLT where I live and suspect that I will be turning more often to WGLT. I try to reflect how often I listen to each station by how I split my contribution, so WCBU will probably receive less from me this year. That’s too bad since they are my local station. As far as the HD channel, I don’t own an HD radio and see no need to own one. Regular AM/FM works fine for me and I already have lots of radios to receive those signals. Why not just broadcast on another standard FM channel? I could listen to the classical music online, but I’m near a radio more often then I am near a computer that I can leave streaming music. There are a number of companies that block streaming media (or internet access entirely) for their employees to reduce bandwidth or general web surfing, so the internet wouldn’t be an option for people working at those places.

    This is a very disappointing decision. Those of us involved in local musical organizations rely on WCBU to help us develop our audience. I, too, enjoy the news on NPR and WCBU, but can access that quite easily at work and on my smartphone. I listen to classical music in my car and home . . . not on my computer. This feels like just another nail in the coffin for culture in Peoria . . . another ‘dumbing’ down of the residents of the Peoria area. Our family has been a strong supporter of WCBU for many years. I will have a difficult time maintaining my level of support with this decision. And, no, Tom, it’s not that change comes hard to me. Poor decisions are much more difficult to accept.

    How comes this was done in secret with NO listener input? I think that there is a big donor wanting to fund the station putting out that agenda, or this switch would have been more publicized,

But management reassures listeners with these FAQs extolling the virtues of HD:

    Digital, or HD, radio is an upgrading of the way FM radio signals are transmitted, from analog to digital signals. It allows radio stations to increase the number of frequencies they can use to broadcast programming and allows them to transmit to a high-quality digital receiver. WCBU was awarded a grant to increase the digital power of our transmitter so that we can expand the WCBU HD2 listening area and improve reception in parts of the existing coverage area. For listeners who have an HD radio receiver, the benefits are:

    FM radio with near CD-quality sound

    No more static, pops, crackles or fades.

Feel better already?

  • This comment was added to the Huffington Post article we featured yesterday, reminding us that even when you win, you can end up losing:
  • We fight on at WTJU in Charlottes­ville, VA, under the aegis of the University of Virginia, and have since 1957. We narrowly escaped the axe last summer . . . but the threat remains, especially in light of the probable demise of CPB funding. Currently, we’re presenting our Spring Rock Marathon and Fund Drive (each department­, including Folk, Jazz and Classical do their quarterly part) in drumming up grassroots support from the listeners .­ . . because they not only help shape the programmin­g, but are the major source of our outreach.

    Support local, non-commer­cial radio, folks. It’s your call.

  • As first pointed out to us by Jim Radio, casualties in free-form radio can be found across the northern border as well, as noted here. Some 5,000 folks have already signed the petition supporting the station (here), which has been given a reprieve at this point:
  • Campus-based community radio station CKLN88.1FM is heartened and encouraged by the decision of Her Honour Madam Justice Layden-Stevenson to grant the station a stay of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (the CRTC’s) Decision 2011-56, released January 28th, 2011. This decision revoked CKLN’s broadcast license and would have seen Toronto’s oldest campus-based community radio station go off-air February 12th, 2011. The stay of the decision will allow the station to continue to broadcast until the Federal Court of Appeal considers CKLN’s request for leave to appeal from the CRTC’s decision, under Canada’s Broadcasting Act, s.31 (2).

    CKLN supports CRTC Commissioner Louise Poirier’s dissent which is part of Decision 2011-56 and is available on the CRTC website. This Commissioner criticized the decision as “unwarranted” and “inconsistent.” She cited, among other considerations, the Principle of Gradation, under which the Commission should institute lesser measures before issuing a full revocation. Madame Poirier also stated that “the regulatory measure that has been adopted is disproportionate to the fault” and later that “the decision to revoke the licence at this time is premature, disproportionate and inequitable.”

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One Response

  1. “I’ve been excited about HD radio since day one,” Hunt enthused. “Regarding the success of HD radio, public radio will make it happen.”

    That sentence says it all! A technology that virtually no one wanted, is being forced down our throats by iNiquity, NPR, NAB, and the FCC. Pandora is being pulled in-dash by consumer demand, while Booble Struble has to commit auto fraud to get HD in-dash – LMFAO!

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