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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 of the Industry Category

The RIAA Gets Smart on Pirates

After years of bad publicity for suing teenagers and hapless Internet users, the Recording Industry Association of America is trying a new approach. Its going to work with the Internet service providers to impede the illegal activity.

Based on a plan being developed in France, a user gets three chances to illegally share a file. At that point, the RIAA tells the ISP, which can then forward the warning or directly as the user to stop. If the user continues, the warnings continue. The RIAA wants the ISP to reduce the user’s data rate the practice continues, eventually stopping the service altogether.

This sounds like a gentler approach, and it makes the ISP look like the bad guy, not the RIAA. Almost any change will help the RIAA at this point.

Regardless, thwarting efforts to stop song piracy will always make the record label or the RIAA look bad. For the individual, it’s a petty crime worth a few cents. I understand the RIAA plan so for. Lot and lots of pennies here and pennies there add up to big bucks. I believe artists are due to receive their share for their work. Taking single moms and teenagers to court makes them an example to discourage others from doing it, but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference.

It also does not help that the royalty process in general has bruises of its own with artists reporting that they never received royalties that were negotiated on their behalf.

I expect this debate to continue for some time. And as the Internet continues to grow and online social networking becomes more common than actually putting on shoes and socks and engaging in face-to-face interaction, enforcing copyright laws and collecting on royalties is only going to become more challenging.

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Prolific? Yes. Profitable? No.

I receive regular updates from Media Monitors about top radio advertisers. We don’t post the info at Radio magazine because it’s not really tech related. It’s also covered just fine in the management outlets.
Some companies purchase a great deal of radio advertising. Walmart and Geico are two that come to mind. A recent Media Monitors list ranked the biggest radio advertisers of 2008, and the names aren’t really surprising, although there is some false hope in one. Here’s the list:

Rank Advertiser # spots (millions)
1. HD Digital Radio Alliance 1.69
2. Walmart 1.64
3. Geico 1.56
4. Verizon 1.24
5. Home Depot 1.22

It’s good to see HD Radio being promoted so heavily, but at the same time, there’s no money changing hands for these ads. Stations are committed to running the spots, but the volume of unsold inventory also raises a flag for our struggling economy.
The news is a mixed message. Good for HD Radio. Telling for radio advertising.

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Activate EAS: I have a hangnail!

I don’t really have a hangnail, but read on and you’ll see that something that silly could be in an upcoming EAS message.

We posted a news item in the Radio Currents today. The following message was sent on Dec. 4, 2008, in the Lubbock, TX, area:

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
Civil Emergency Message
Texas Emergency Management Agency Lubbock Texas
Relayed By National Weather Service Lubbock TX
531 PM CST Thu Dec 4 2008
The following message is transmitted at the request of the Childress Office of Emergency Management.
At 530 PM this evening officials with the Childress Office of Emergency Management and the Childress Banking Center are advising bank customers to be aware of a telephone scam being conducted in the Childress area. The scam involves either a recorded telephone message or a live person calling who represents them self as an employee of either the Childress Banking Center or Wellington State Bank. The scam requests specific information about your personal accounts. You are advised to be very wary of any calls requesting information about your personal accounts. The banks do not make calls such as these. If you have given out any information that may have compromised your accounts you should contact your bank immediately.

Civil emergency? Really? When life is at risk — even a single life — it makes sense to use EAS. When property is involved, it becomes a problem to decide if an activiation is warranted. To me, this was an inapprorpiate use of EAS. This should have been run on the local news stations, not as an EAS mesasge.

What’s next? Attention citizens: there are bad people in the world! Don’t talk to strangers. Lock your doors when you leave the house. Brush and floss twice daily.

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Radio on demand

I’ve received several announcements about new Internet radio services coming online. Some are juke boxes, some offer customized playlists, all of them have a variety of set channels or formats available.

Why don’t hear about local stations providing an on-demand service of their own? I’m not talking simply streaming the signal online. I know some stations offer alternate juke box channels with formats related to the station’s format. But if I’m a fan of a certain rock station, why shouldn’t I be able to go that site and access all the Rush (the Canadian trio, not the talker) or Joe Satriani I want?

We all know that Internet radio knows no borders while a local station caters to its signal coverage area. Some of the local flair of Kansas City will be lost to someone in Cincinnati, but national advertisers could find an engaged audience.

If your station is providing an online service beyond some fixed channels tell me about it.

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Back into the swing

It’s November, and now the AES Convention, SBE National Meeting and a vacation are behind me. Maybe now I can start posting again.

Between NAB Radio, AES and the SBE meeting at the Broadcasters Clinic, I saw lots of people and had a chance to catch up. Did you attend any of the fall conferences or conventions? If so, which ones?

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NAB Radio: Day Two

The second day of the convention is also the last day of exhibits, which is where I will spend most of my time today.

I have not seen attendance numbers yet, and when I asked I was told that they should be released on Friday. I expect to see a decrease from last year; possibly a significant one. The sessions have fewer attendees. The show floor is fairly quiet. Even the show Daily is pretty thin.

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Tagging with Zune

I ran into Jeff Littlejohn of Clear Channel this morning. After the initial hellos he asked if I had seen the Zune media player with song tagging. (Read about the idea in the Radio Currents.) I had not seen it firsthand yet, so the demo began. First, he tuned one of the Clear Channel station here in Austin and tagged the song that was playing. Then we walked back to the newsroom where there is an open Wi-fi connection, where he accessed his tagged songs and then purchased the one he just tagged. Within a minute or so, he had the song and album art on his Zune ready to play again. His credit card was automatically billed for the transaction in the background.

Talk about instant gratification.

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NAB Radio: Day One

The NAB Radio Show starts today. I dropped into a few sessions already, and I’m on my way to another. The first observation: The show looks smaller than ever. The exhibit floor is a decent size, but I know I’ll easily be able to cover it in the 11 hours or so of exhibit time.

The size can’t be blamed on any storms. The location was picked more than a year ago. The storms might affect attendance, and we’ll see if that’s the case.

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On the way to the NAB Radio Show

I’m about to board a plane for Austin. When Ike was heading toward Texas I wondered if it would affect the convention, but from what I see, Austin is ok. I wish we could say the same for Galveston and Houston.

Not to ignore their situation, but looking on to the convention, I’m looking forward to some of the sessons — particularly on revenue generation from AM towers and copper theft — as well as seeing some of the new products being shown.

What are you looking for at the convention?

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On the road in Oklahoma City

I am in Oklahoma City today moderating the Society of Broadcast Engineers Ennes Workshop for SBE chapter 85. There are nearly 50 attendees here for the one-day conference. The chapter also arranged an exhibits area with about eight exhibitors.

The workshop sessions covered career advice, disaster planning, HD Radio, audio routing and more. It was a good mix of topics.

If a regional or local event such as this takes place near you, I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity and attend. They’re informative. The SBE is careful to screen an presentations that are sales pitches. (If a sales presentation is made, that presenter is not invited back.)

Not all road shows are the same.
You have probably seen other travelling events making their way around the country. These range in quality and substance. Don’t be fooled by those that claim to be educational events with lots of glitzy prizes. Just because someone does not mention the cost of a piece of equipment does not mean it’s not a sales pitch.

While those marathon sales pitches claim to offer a taste of something (a bad taste), they at least offer one benefit: they bring broadcast engineers together. There is an advantage to the networking opportunity.

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