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‘Terrestrial’ Radio Still Relevant to Many

AM/FM broadcast embraced by older generation of listeners

The author is general manager of KKAY, an AM station in Baton Rouge, La.

I find myself compelled to respond to the letter by Mr. Tim Britt in the March 1 issue of Radio World, “A Dim Radio Outlook.”

Tim, I will agree with you that HD Radio may not gain traction. I do disagree with your assessment that terrestrial radio has no relevance to most people.

I am sure that a great many young people have no use whatsoever for AM or FM radio. I believe this to be a sad fact but times do change.

I have an AM station, mono and only a thousand watts day and 67 watts at night. My station does quite well because we provide what Pandora, MOG and the rest of the tech-na-junk won’t provide: local programming.

We air youth sports, parades, on the spot events, very localized weather. We allow local officials instant access to our programming with the flip of a switch at the EOC, police department, fire department and a few other places.

Our only problem is the systematic destruction of AM radio by the FCC by not allowing standalone AMs first choice on LPFMs or AM translators, and the refusal to drop all other rule making for radio until there is a quick solution to the problem.

You might think my listeners should jump to new technology. This probably will not happen because most of my listeners are elderly. Many don’t even own computers. But they do shop and do business with our clients.

I take issue with the supposedly “free” music on Pandora and the rest. This hurts the economy. Retailers are running out of advertising options. Print is cost-prohibitive for many of them, and in a lot of cases a weekly paper simply doesn’t do.

We stream our audio and this is a help; so not all of the tech-na-junk is bad.

But the corporate giants are pushing for more ownership of stations, which would diminish local radio further. We recently had some bad weather in our area. Out of the 25+ stations in our market only one was on top of the weather situation; we were. The others were too busy cutting costs with satellite programming. I found that even at 67 watts, we had some people who heard our broadcasts about the weather. This is the tragedy and life-threatening situation the FCC has created and continues to ignore.

We operate 24/7 and the phones are answered 24/7. We have announced lost children, way before an Amber alert can even be considered … the elderly who go missing and lost pets. There has been many a night when the phone rings and it is someone who just needs a friend to speak with.

I doubt seriously your Pandora and MOG can provide very much of what I have just mentioned.

We’re not “big city,” just folks who love radio and enjoy being a vital part of our community in spite of the FCC, corporate giants and the tech-na-junk.

I grew up loving radio in the early 1950s with a little crystal set, something foreign to many people. I just pray I don’t live long enough to scan the AM or FM bands and hear silence.