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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 September, 2009

Video in Print

Here’s something interesting:
Video ads in print.

Think of having a video demo in the next print issue of Radio magazine.

I’ll bet the green folks will have a fun with this one, too. All that stuff ending up in a land fill.

This is How Rumors are Started

I recently saw an example of cyclical reporting. One news source reported on an event. Another news source had a story on the same event, with most (if not all) of the second story’s info being cited from the first.

Then the first source runs a follow-up article on the story citing the second source.

Will #2 have a similar follow-up to cite #1? Has this created a perpetual motion machine?

And we wonder how bad information is created and spread. The first source is mostly reliable in this instance. The second source tried to be reliable, but I know it has a tendency to interpret things a little differently. It becomes the game of telephone from there.

With this practice of newsgathering, why run any news at all?

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More on the Zune HD

I’m not impressed by the Zune software. However, I was able to put some audio and video files in it so I could toy with the device.

The unit itself operates well. It’s not an Ipod, so forget the Ipod-like interface. Still, it’s easy to navigate.

I turned on the radio side, and once I tuned to a station I heard audio. Then I heard it switch to the digital stream. (This station does not have its analog and digital time aligned.)

I tuned to another station in the market that runs HD1 and HD2. The display shows the frequency with an HD1 under it. There’s an HD2 to the right of that. Touching HD2 brings it up.

Sliding across the face scans to the next station up or down.

Operationally, it’s easy to manipulate. It sounds decent. Digital reception in the interior of my office building was dicey. The radio switched to analog several times.

I’ll take it around with me and experiment with the radio more.

Testing the Zune HD

I have a Zune HD. I’ll be honest and tell you that I did not buy it; it was a given to me for trial and review.

The box is attractive. It’s all black with some bright lettering. It’s almost the opposite of an Ipod package, which is mostly white with some gray.

The packaging is fine. Everything came out of the package without a hitch.

Before using it, I supposed to download the Zune setup software online. I went to the URL and selected install. It downlaods. It starts. Then I get an error. I am told I have to update my Windows installer before the Zune software can install.

I follow the instructions on how to install the update. Windows Vista says my system is up to date as of a few hours ago. No updates are needed. The Zune installer disagrees.

In Windows Update I select “check for updates.” Oh look, there is an update for Windows Update. How confusing is that? I install the updated updater for the Update. (Huh?) WIndows now says everything is up to date. I try to run the Zune setup again. This time it starts.

The installer uses the same flourescent colors on a dark background as the box. It’s attractive, I’ll admit.

The software loaded, I plug in the Zune device. It syncs fine. Now it’s charging and beckoning me to explore the device.

More later as I dive in.

WhAt’S tHe DeAl wItH MiXeD cApS?

I’m really tired of the mixed caps being used everywhere. I received a press today that has every company and product mention listed with all sorts of wacky upper and lower case letters.

I may as well join in: I’Ll jUsT wRiTe EvErYtHiNg iN mIxEd CaPs AlL ThE TiMe.

Yeah, that looks so much better.

The style we use at Radio magazine is to normalize all company and product names. Many respected national publications include this practice as well. It may seem trivial that we print Ibiquity instead of iBiquity, and Ipod instead of iPod, but it serves two purposes: It puts everything on equal footing, and it makes it easier for us to edit and post material.

I admit the second reason is purely personal, but having to remember that a product has a capital U in the middle and capital Z at the end is tedious. I would rather focus on the content, not the ridiculous marketing decision. The first reason is the most important. No one gets special treatment. We owe that to you, the reader. We’re being fair and unbiased.

Some companies insist that their name is to be published in all capital letters. Why? Is the company that insecure it feels its name must be shouted at all times? PERHAPS I SHOULD JUST USE ALL CAPS WHEN I TYPE.

Some companies have told me they use the caps to make it easier to read the name of the product. Here’s an idea: Give it a better name and don’t rely on gratuitous capitalization to differentiate it. And put some spaces in there, too, instead of running it all together.

If you’re interested, you can find the style guidelines we follow on the Radio magazine website. Read that and you’ll see how we rationalize the irrational uses. By normalizing all the names we maintain an unbiased position with all companies. That’s only fair to you.

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FM Comes to the Ipod Nano

Ipod Nano with FM radioThe Microsoft Zune HD made a recent splash by announcing it will include an FM HD Radio tuner. Microsoft included an analog FM tuner with RBDS in the previous version of the Zune. An FM radio receiver was one point that separate the Zune from the Ipod family.

Until now.

The latest Apple Ipod Nano includes an FM radio receiver. The radio also supports Itunes tagging and a feature called Live Pause, which allows the user to effectively pause the radio stream by buffering it for up to 15 minutes. (It even includes a camera, too.)

The good news is that there is now an FM receiver in the most popular portable media player brand. I recently remarked that radio was missing the mark in this area, but this covers some new ground. Now I wonder how long it will take until an HD Radio receiver is built in to the Ipod.

You call that a sig?

I get a lot of e-mail. I mean a lot. Perhaps you do, too. There are three e-mail boxes I check regularly, with a handful of others that I access on occasion. Personally, I still prefer basic text e-mail messages most of the time. The colors, backgrounds and images look fancy, but e-mail is a communication tool for me. I don’t really care what it looks like, I just want the message.

Some e-mail users go to extremes in decorating their messages. Forget the unnecessary window treatments, however, and look at the end. The last item in a message is often the sig (signature) line. Ideally, this provides the necessary contact information for the sender. My office sig line has my name, SBE Certifications, phone, fax, Radio magazine URL and Facebook and Twitter URLs. I think it’s a little long, but it includes the info that I am most often asked for. Mine also include a reference for the Radio magazine general e-mail address. There are no graphics in my sig line. The text says it best.

Some people’s sig lines are out of control. Some look like a Nascar vehicle there are so many logos. Some look like the cover for an inspirational book with flowery graphics. The worst is when someone places logos that link to something unrelated. (I know of one person’s sig line that has a logo that links to a larger version of that same logo. That’s really helpful. This same person has all the logos so large it detracts from his messages, and makes it confusing to know where he works or what he represents.)

Other sig lines include some supposedly thought-provoking sentence. I can accept a company tagline in a business message, but I don’t really need the inspirational thought or cute quip.

I also don’t see the need to include a sign line on every reply. In a back-and-forth exchange, I often see the same sig line repeated over and over. Enough already, I know who you are and how to contact you.

Let’s apply the same e-mail etiquette to the sig lines. Make them short and simple. Take out the fluff.

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“There’s just not enough time…”

How often do you hear that? I was talking to someone today about attending training courses and SBE Certification, and he said he wanted to attend more and add another certification, but there just isn’t enough time.

It’s easy to think that. I know I do sometimes. It really comes down to deciding what’s most important. When 5 o’clock rolls around, you probably just want to go home — if you can. Getting outside the regular or irregular routine isn’t easy. Setting aside an hour or two to attend even on online webinar seems like a loss of a large chunk of time.

But what’s the return for the time? With SBE Certification, if the formal exam windows aren’t convenient, ask for private proctoring. That can be scheduled at any time. As far as the webinar, can you eat lunch during the presentation? You have to eat anyway. I don’t recommend you try to check logs during the webinar; that takes the focus away from the lesson.

I’m as guilty as you are about making the excuse. Why not find one item to attend and make it a point to complete it. Put it on your schedule. If someone requests a meeting, ask for a different time. (Obviously if you’re off the air, take care of that.)

Do one thing to improve yourself and not only will you benefit, but so will your employer.

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