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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

Venue Set for 2010 Radio Show

The next Radio Show — a joint effort of the NAB and the RAB — will be held in Washington, DC, Sep 29 – Oct 1. It was recently announced at an NAB board meeting that the Grand Hyatt will be the host site.

At the 2009 NAB Radio Show, it was suggested that the 2010 event would integrate sessions and exhibits more closely. There are still no specifics being offered on this idea. It was even suggested that there would be no exhibit floor of its own, only table-top exhibits around the session rooms. That didn’t sit well with exhibitors at the 2009 show.

In the meantime, we still wait for details.

Wi-fi Use on the Rise

AT&T released data saying that usage at its 20,000 Wi-fi hotspots reached 85.5 million in 2009. This is more than 4 times the use in 2008. It was also noted that most of this access was via some form of smartphone. We already know the world is connected. As cell carriers compete for better coverage, Wi-fi still ranks high in usage. This is good for the wireless carriers because a Wi-fi user is not using the wireless network and stealing from the data capacity.

New devices want more bandwidth all the time. Streaming radio is no exception. How long will it be until Wi-fi and Wimax is everywhere?

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Recording the radio

I received a product release today for a stand-alone radio that includes 1GB of storage and a timer interface to record up to 70 hours of radio programming. I wasn’t sure what to make of the idea.

The idea is that the unit can be set to record favorite programs for later playback. It’s a radio Tivo. This is not a new idea. There have also been similar functions offered in HD Radio receivers.

I looked at a few syndicated show sites to see if they all offered archives of their shows. They do. Some provided an easy way to save the shows or transfer them to a media player. Others were a little more difficult to navigate.

Regardless, the tools are there, although it might not be intuitive for some listeners.

Is there a need for this radio Tivo? For certain radio listeners it makes sense. It’s a self-contained system, although I have no idea how easy it is to use.

I then turned to some local station sites to see if the morning shows were offered as archives. In most cases, they had archives of clips. A few sites did not, which surprised me. Why would a station not offer its prime content online somehow? Even if that content is behind a registration wall (which also provides some info about the listener) it’s something.

A National EAS Test?

The FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking to modify the rules and establisha method for an national EAS test has been issued. Do we need a national test? If we are going to keep the EAS as it is, a national test is a good idea. Such a test has never been conducted.

The recent EAN test in Alaska showed that the system seems to work, at least in that state. If the system were ever needed across the country, would it work as well?

It seems the FCC is still focused on the daisy-chain idea behind EAS, however. I know many plans kept this idea in place from EBS, but it’s an outdated idea and should be replaced if it’s still being used. That’s another issue than what the NPRM seeks, but it is worth noting in comments that the daisy chain should not be perpetuated.

Because the FCC sees broadcast as such a major part of the EAN, it’s important for stations to express their views on how such a test should be implemented.

Trouble for the PPM

Now that Michael P. Skarzynski has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Arbitron, flags are being raised about the PPM. Apparently, the Skarzynski’s poor conduct issue was lying to the House Oversight Committee at a Dec. 2, 2009, hearing. He lied about personally participating in a PPM training visit in November 2009.

Oops.

The PPM has already come under fire from minority broadcast groups who question the system’s accuracy. The PPM was recently denied accreditation in 20 markets by the Media Ratings Council. Now, Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) is calling for a full investigation of the ratings measurement system.

Not good times for Arbitron.

It’s no secret that the paper diary system is not perfect. Stations have played the weaknesses (which they should do) to their advantage. The PPM has the potential to level the playing field in ratings accuracy if it can ever get off the ground.

Back in the Swing

The holidays are over. The deep freeze is subsiding. It’s time to get back into the full swing of things.

You can help us at Radio magazine as well. We provide information to help you do you job better, and you can help us help others by sharing your ideas. We always need Field Reports, Facility Showcase articles and Tech Tips. Be sure to share your ideas with us. You’ll ear SBE recertification points in the process, and you’ll likely be compensated for your contribution.

Send your ideas to radio@penton.com.

All OK After Alaska EAN Test

The EAS test in Alaska using an EAN code seems to have not brought the broadcast system to its knees. Alaska has natural isolation from other states, which is why it was chosen. The test was held some 30 minutes ago as I write this, and so far I have not heard of any problems.

New Year’s Resolution: Attend a Convention

Is it on your resolution list to attend a conference or convention this year? If not, why not?

I’ve said it many times before: Attending a conference or convention is an ideal way to see and learn about our industry and its technology. Conferences and conventions also provide an ideal opportunity to network professionally.

The 2010 NAB Show is three months away. While that sounds like a long time off, it’s really not. In about 100 days, the largest broadcast event will take place. Why wait until the end of March to consider attending? Start planning now. Start building the plan to present to your manager.

And if the NAB Show is too far or too expensive, there are plenty of regional conferences to consider.

Congress Tries to Tackle TV Loudness

Perhaps you saw the news that Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has introduced a bill (H.R. 1084) to try to control the loudness of ads on TV. What a great idea. Her bill has passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate (S.2847).

The House version has been kicked around for some time. You may have heard it called the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act.

I reread the legislation because I was concerned that it would be phrased to address the maximum level and not loudness. We all know that loudness and level are different. (Level refers to a maximum peak; loudness refers to an average energy level.) Fortunately, the House version refers to loudness.

It’s unfortunate that legislation will likely be passed to address this. The audio in a TV signal (oh, wait; the TV guys call it sound) has always been an afterthought. If the audio meter moves, all is well. Who cares what it sounds like? (You should hear the locally inserted ads on my cable provider. Ouch!)

Of course radio will probably never have this problem. Many stations squish all the dynamic range down to less than 1dB. Nothing has a chance to be too loud.

Promoting and Demoting HD Radio

I was listening to a Jack-formatted staton the other day, and one of the smart-alec, prevoiced liners came on to tout that the station was transmiting an HD Radio signal. Like most stations, promoting the technology — even just saying “HD Radio” — is a step to inform listeners about it.

Unfortunately, the liner destroyed its purpose as it continued. After saying “HD Radio,” the slacker voice added, “What does that mean? It means you have to go out and buy a really expensive radio.”

Well that’s great. That liner just says that HD Radio is expensive for the listener.

Great message.

Pull that liner, please.

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