FOSTER A RADIO REVOLUTION
I couldn’t agree more with Dan Slentz’s LPFM blog for Radio World (“Looking at LPFM,” radioworld.com).
While I can appreciate the passion of people who are joining the micropower radio movement, I have, on more than one occasion, been the “victim” of their passion on Facebook.
iStockphoto/aleksandr-mansurov-ru What’s my crime? I work full time in commercial radio and often suggest ideas that come out of commercial radio, but can also apply to micropower broadcasting … such as designing your station around a central idea or format, then allowing for other programming and creativity in shorter one or two hour blocks that are used as spice for your programming. Yes, I also believe in a focused playlist, which many in the LPFM movement will assume (incorrectly) as advocating a 300-song playlist.
I get that micropower stations should, by their nature, be “different” from commercial broadcasting. But if people can easily understand what service your station provides and delivers in a professional manner and plays the songs they expect to hear (and then gets a dose of spice for the “Oh Wow” effect), you stand a better chance of gaining an audience that will tune back than if they hear a haphazard mishmash of programming delivered by an announcer with a mouthful of marbles and dead air.
All I know is, we’ve taken a municipally owned station from 12 underwriters to 114 in 3 years. Our station covers its expenses and has a little left over to turn back into the station. The company I am associated with is the program provider for this station … and we have added a second station in a nearby community, for which we also provide programing, and 10 percent of our underwriting revenue is now going to a building fund to build a permanent structure and studio facility for the new station (which currently resides, literally, in an Airstream trailer shell at the tower). I act as program director for both.
I am also consulting a third LPFM that is about to go on the air as the only locally programmed station in a small southwest Ohio town. Its licensee has already gotten a deal with the local college and high school to provide interns, is already streaming online and is within a matter of dollars away from being able to purchase its transmitter. (By the time you read this, that goal may have been achieved.)
As much as I appreciate the desire of the people who volunteer in the LPFM movement to be creative and different from the commercial ranks (and believe that element should be present), I also know too many of these licenses get granted and the stations fail within 3 to 5 years. In my honest opinion, the culprit is usually either poor programing or engineering, or stations whose operators act as though they know better than the audience what the audience should like and are bound and determine to educate them on what “good music” is. I believe in finding out what people within 3 to 5 miles of the tower want to hear and give it to them … whatever it is.
To me, some forget that the clientele is the listener and the underwriters. They’re the boss if you want to stay on the air. And yes, LPFMs are a business. They have bills just like the big boys do. While you can have a creative goal, your main goal should be to stay in business. Too many people get into this for the creative aspects and don’t consider the other side of things … or don’t until they’re in over their heads.
That’s where I think people such as myself can help. I know there are way too many good radio people out of work who could help some of these stations be successful in their own ways — and, in so doing, could just help foster that radio revolution that LPFM hopes to achieve.
That having been said, though, I am encouraged by some of the LPFM operators I see. Some are really taking the idea to heart that even an LPFM can be a big fish in a small town. An LPFM can be a major community voice for a town too small to support a commercial station, but plenty big enough to support a small station that can survive on smaller dollar underwriting packages; I would expect the majority of those stations to be around for a long time.
Gray Fox Broadcasting — WRPO(LP)/WOHP(LP)
Russells Point/Huntsville, Ohio
Cox Media Group/Dayton
“THE” JOSEPH HENRY
I was recently rummaging through some old family papers and came across the notes my great-great-grandfather Samuel Reese Frierson made in 1838 in his class in natural history at Princeton — it was taught by Professor Joseph Henry!
My g-g-grandfather was a great proponent of women’s education long before such was popular. I came across a whole series of chap books that he made for the further education of his three daughters based on many of the subjects he learned while at Princeton. I particularly remember a three “volume” set elucidating the mathematical principals underlying perspective. Apparently, he believed a young woman should not only know how to draw or paint but be able to explain exactly why it works!
Gray Frierson Haertig
Gray Frierson Haertig & Assoc.
Most articles on digital-only medium wave broadcasting carry an apocalyptic but misguided warning: The potential for digital only interference must be studied before widespread operations may be authorized!
The warnings are due to a fundamental misunderstanding of spectrum occupancy of the HD Radio MA-3 and DRM30 digital-only systems, which are very different from the interference-causing hybrid HD Radio MA-1 system. The strong digital signals from MA-3 broadcasts, and all signals from DRM30 broadcasts stay entirely within the AM channel (+/-5 kHz). The MA-3 first adjacent sidebands are at the reduced level that an MA-1 hybrid system dumps on nearby second adjacent channel stations, while first adjacent stations don’t have overlapping service areas, so no interference can occur.
Edward Schober, PE
Radiotechniques Engineering, LLC
Haddon Heights, N.J.