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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for May, 2008

Surround for radio — kind of quiet

The discussion of surround sound for radio broadcasts has dwindled over the past few months. The technology is still there, but we have not heard much if anything from stations who are using the technology for analog or digital radio.

I heard it mentioned a few times at the 2008 NAB Show, but even then it was a low-key discussion.

Is surround for radio worthwhile? What would you do to promote the technology?

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When amateur challenges professional

As technology evolves, it becomes more accessible to the masses. I’m not just talking about smaller media players and the ability to access media on just about any electronic device, I’m talking about creation of this media.

It used to be that publishing printed materials, producing songs and distributing entertainment were expensive projects. There were high costs in creating the material, and high costs in distributing it. Then the world changed. Desktop publishing, home recording and the great pipe — the Internet — made all of these project accessible to the masses. The ability to create is ubiquitous now. It extends far beyond publishing and recording, but those are just two examples.

Projects are created and exchanged all over the Internet. Some are so bad I can’t believe someone completed it and then sat back with pride and thought, “This is really good.” I would show some of those to anyone. I wouldn’t have even saved it if I created it. But the world accepts mediocrity now.

Just making the effort appears to be sufficient. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stick figure or the Mona Lisa. Society is losing the distinction between a quality work and just showing up for work. Everyone gets a participant ribbon.

What does this have to do with radio? I received an e-mail message that touted that the newest hobby is to be a DJ at home. This is a new hobby? I think everyone who works in radio played DJ at home at some point. Regardless, the message showed that anyone can purchase some basic equipment and be a DJ at home.

If consumers can create their own entertainment, why do they need radio? Well, for one, people are lazy. We like to have other people do things for us. This includes entertaining us. Still, if the average Joe can provide a jukebox listening experience, why should the radio station?

The level of quality available to the consumer continues to rise. As this happens, established media (radio in this case) needs to stay ahead and remain a better product. Professional should always be better than consumer or amateur. Radio stations need to continue to raise the bar to maintain a higher level of quality and service than what consumers can create. Consumers are learning how to make radio on their own. We already know how, but we have to continue to do it better.

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Earned Recognition

Did you see the note that Clear Channel has recognized three of its engineers? This is part of the company’s annual tradition now. The move is a smart one, and it’s one that I have seen other companies take as well, although some companies don’t publicize it as widely.

Read the news at this link.

It’s sometimes hard to quantify an engineer’s value to a company. Sales people have revenue goals. Managers have budgets. Many engineers are responsible for a budget as well, but it’s not as simple to compare.

The SBE has honored its members for many years as well. Several Radio magazine contributors have received SBE honors for the best article award, including John Battison, Doug Irwin and Roz Clark.

We all appreciate a good pat on the back for a job well done. I hope you’re giving those pats once in a while. I also hope you’re giving them publicly. I have seen too many compliments given when no one is looking. A back-room compliment is worthless.

Have you accomplished something? Make it known. Be sure your boss knows. If you are recognized, ask that the news be shared beyond the tight quarters of someone’s office. Be sure to tell us about it as well. We’ll help spread the word.

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Sat Radio – Still Waiting

The FCC is taking its time in completing the satellite radio merger deal. While it’s anyone’s guess as to which way the decision will go, the feud continues about the pros and cons of the deal. Once the deal passed the DOJ, Radio magazine posted a survey question asking you to vote on your thought about the possiblie conditions the FCC might include with the deal. I think it’s likely that the deal will be approved by the FCC, and it will include a conditions. A few days ago, two congressmen sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin echoing the idea. The congressmen said that they do not support or oppose the merger, but urge the FCC to include some requirements if the deal is approved. I wonder which lobbying group got them to do that.

Of course this is how politics work. There’s always a deal and a compromise. The Congressional letter doesn’t get any closer to completing the deal, but keeping it at the top of the discussion list will prevent it from being ignored.

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