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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 March, 2010

Streaming vs. Broadcasting

Listeners can receive an audio stream through many means. Terrestrial radio is obviously a popular method, but streaming continues to gain ground. What surprises me is the reluctance for some broadcasters to embrace distribution methods other than the legacy terrestrial transmission.

The reluctance is not a cost issue. That’s obviously an important consideration, but the arguments I hear against streaming or delivery via a cell phone network are not based on costs, but on service during an emergency.

It’s been proven many times with recent tragic events (earthquakes are the most notable right now) that radio is often the best source for public information. That can’t be denied. But to discredit delivering an audio stream solely on the grounds that it won’t work well during an emergency is short-sighted.

The decision to provide an Internet stream is rarely an either/or situation of broadcast or streaming. Streaming is in addition to the broadcast signal.

And while it’s important to serve the public interest and deliver information during an emergency, how much of a station’s time is really taken up by emergency operations? When a crisis occurs, the terrestrial signal will prevail. The rest of the time, use all the available methods of delivery to make the business succeed.

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Getting technical at the FCC

In December 2009, the “FCC Commissioners Technical Resource Act” (Senate bill 2881) was introduced. The bill was introduced by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and was in direct agreement with one of the SBE’s legislative goals: “To promote the maintenance or increase of technical expertise within the FCC to ensure that decision making by the FCC is based on technical investigation, studies and evaluation rather than political expenditures.”

In mid-March, Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to S.2881, which would authorize an engineering staff person for each of the five FCC commissioners. With a House bill now introduced, the legislation can move through the committee process of both chambers of Congress.

McNerney’s introduction of the bill comes after representatives of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met with his legislative staff in Washington the week prior. SBE’s Government Relations Committee Chairman Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT, and General Counsel Chris Imlay visited offices of several members of the House to garner support for a companion to the Senate bill.

Now that the issue is in front of both houses of Congress, it’s time for broadcasters and broadcast engineers to speak up. Now is the time to contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to join Rep. McNerney as a co-sponsor or at least support HR.4809.

Contact information for U.S. Representatives: www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html

And also contact your U.S. Senators to urge their support for S.2881. Contact information for U.S. Senators: www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Countdown to Vegas

The NAB Show is about one month away now. For the exhibitors and for us covering the industry, our planning began some time ago. In January we began gathering information on new products that will be unveiled. We also started gathering information about the sessions and assembling the data for our exhibit floor map.

By February, most of the pieces were in place for our March issue, although we still had to add last-minute updates until the end of the month.

It’s now March, and we’re working on the April issue while we make appointments for the convention. My hotel and airline reservations are made. I am making final arrangements on meetings rooms. Up until I arrive in Las Vegas I will be making constant updates to my daily schedule. I’ll make a few adjustments on site as well.

Then, for one week, I’ll be a blur. I’ll spend most of my time on the exhibit floor. I’ll pop in a few sessions when I can, but unfortunately I can’t spend as much time there as I would like. In the evenings, I head back to my room not to relax, but to process all the information I gathered during the day, including news and photos of the day. Some I’ll post online myself, some I’ll pass to the staff minding the fort at home. In the morning I get to do it all again.

I have never calculated all the time I spend preparing for the NAB Show. I don’t think I really want to know. Of course once the show is over, I’m still working on it for our Pick Hits and post-show review.

Who says it’s only one week a year?

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