January 29, 2016The Joy Of Semi-Obsolescence
This week, I'm going to try and tie together FM translators, AM "revitalization," cars, and the inevitability of obsolescence. This should be interesting.
All right, then, so, much of my work week was spent tracking down what seemed like an infinite number of sales of FM translators in advance of the window for AM stations to apply to move them up to 250 miles so they can simulcast. This is, on the surface, what I've always wanted: AM stations, mostly, these days, spoken word formats, finally getting to simulcast on FM, where the audience has gone. If I owned an AM station and there was a translator that I could buy for what appears to be the sweet spot price of $25,000-$75,000, I'd do it.
It wouldn't make much of a difference in most cases, though. Sorry to throw a wet blanket on your enthusiasm, AM fans. It just, in the majority of cases, isn't going to save AM radio. I'm gonna speak here not as an engineer and not as a station owner, but as just some guy who observes the market: An FM translator simulcast is of limited benefit. Sure, there are a few examples where it really makes a difference, but there are technical limitations that mean you're not getting what a listener will perceive as a "real" FM station. First, 250 watts isn't going to penetrate too deeply into buildings beyond a very small area. Second, you have to have a mighty small metropolitan area for it to cover even in-car listening to an adequate extent. Third, at certain times during the year, atmospheric conditions will wipe you out. Add that all up and you get a facility that's really good for small-town stations that only need to cover a small area, but not a competitive facility if you need to cover anything more than that. It might add a share to your overall number, but it won't be a cure.
January 22, 2016State of Emergency
You know what to do by now. I'm speaking, of course, about emergencies. As I write this, the mid-Atlantic states are bracing for Winter Storm Whatever Arbitrary Unofficial Name Someone Gave It, with snow of up to, like, 700 feet deep expected. I've checked with some of ...
January 15, 2016Embracing The Fluff
This week, amidst all the Powerball frenzy and the Rams' move back to L.A., a few brave souls stood athwart history yelling stop (and that's the last William F. Buckley allusion I'll make today), taking to social media and comment threads insisting that any news ...
January 8, 2016About Usability
t's time for my annual column from CES, so, naturally, I'm going to start it out with something that happened to me almost a month ago. I bought a car. I'd been driving an old, old car, and it was on its last legs, or wheels, I suppose. I got tired of duct-taping the ...
December 4, 2015Final Episode Of The Season
The year in radio is ending the way it began: uncertainty, financial instability, the promise of growth with new technology tempered with the understanding that it isn't generating enough revenue quite yet. Sure, some of the names have changed, but we're where we were, ...
November 20, 2015La Radio Digitale Terrestre
Okay, I'm back. Anything happen while I was gone? Didn't think so. The thing about vacations is, you're supposed to totally disconnect from work. These last few weeks, I did try to do exactly that. It was, after all, a slightly belated 25th anniversary celebration ...
October 30, 2015So You Think You're Getting Fired!
It's coming up on the Most Wonderful Time of the Year already, and, yes, I mean that time of year when we all experience the real meaning of life, which is, of course, "we're going to have to let you go." Budget time is a time for thanks (for all your years of loyal ...
October 23, 2015A Toast To Radio
It's early. You stagger into the kitchen, trying to shake the sleep out of your head. You slap some Fancy Feast in a bowl and set it down for the cat, you get the coffee going, you grab a couple of slices of store-brand whole grain bread and... Okay, what's missing ...
October 16, 2015Honesty Is The Best, Er, Format
Before we get started here, and in case you missed the announcement, we've started a Podcasting section at AllAccess.com. It'll include news and columns to start and more resources to come, so go to AllAccess.com/podcasts, why dontcha. Also, I have another column there, ...
October 9, 2015Peak Audio, or 25/7
Call it the Twizzler effect. You eat one Twizzler and it's good. You eat a second, and it's also good. You then proceed to eat an entire Costco-sized bag of Twizzlers and end up groaning on the couch.v This is what it feels like to try and keep up with the incredible ...