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News Archive: April 2005

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4/28/05 - Press Corrections: Pod/Godcasting [link to this story]

A couple of noteworthy but skewed articles published this week. USA Today picked up on the FM translator spectrum trafficking scandal and, like the caricature of journalism that it is, talked with "both sides" for "equal time." This allowed Radio Assist Ministry/Edgewater Broadcasting president Clark Parrish the chance to tell some tall tales unchallenged.

Parrish claims the call for an investigation into his trafficking operation is "sour grapes." He says he plans to start a new nationwide religious broadcast network via FM translator, which may rebroadcast American Family Radio (another translator-monger). And, most importantly, the small number of construction permits he's sold to others (for $800,000+) were just chaff - leftover permits he's since decided not to build as part of his network.

Just one sentence on the Radio Assist Ministry web site mentions building "a network in Michigan," hardly a national endeavor. That means at the very least that the thousands of other construction permit applications RAM/EB filed were filed so they could later be sold. Several facts support this conclusion: the timing of RAM/EB's incorporation (RAM in late 2002, EB during the 2003 translator filing window itself) and the market-positioning Parrish et al. engaged in - including the marketing of permits before they were actually in hand - are but the two reddest flags in the pile.

Perhaps the worst error in Paul Davidson's story was the statement that the FCC is investigating Clark Parrish and his deals. While the FCC has imposed a six-month freeze on further application-processing from the 2003 translator window, it makes no mention of the petition that invoked it, and expresses no concern about the behavior of certain applicants that initially provoked the petitioners. To press the FCC to investigate this problem is what filing comments now with the agency is all about (Use 99-25 for the Proceeding number).

Secondly: futurist-about-town Xeni Jardin writes about the impending launch of "open source radio" station KYOU (1550 AM) in San Francisco. The first-blush wow factor is pretty obvious: "new media" arrives to supplant the old, how cool is that? Pretty cool, so long as you ignore how KYOU (Infinity/Viacom) perverts the podcast model.

Podcasting is cool because it allows individuals to completely circumvent the middleman and potentially serve large audiences with amazingly uncomplicated syndication technology; KYOU will have a stable of producers to screen all podcasts for airplay approval. Podcasting is cool because it's content-rich and advert-lite; KYOU's format boils down to: podcasts with advertising. Podcasting is cool because it encourages the distribution of content outside the bounds of traditional copyright schemes; KYOU's terms of use give Infinity/Viacom "the royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right (including any moral rights)" to use and profit from anything uploaded to the station while waiving the rights of the creator.

Oh, and if you'd like to listen to KYOU online, that's only possible through Radiomat, Viacom's streaming hub for its news/talk stations. Radiomat requires you to supply a name, e-mail address, and zip code to listen, and then in Windows Media Player format only. None of it sounds very "open source" to me.

In the end, Infinity may have figured out how to make money of a weak-signal station with basement ratings - think of how much it will save by using free programming.

4/25/05 - Skidmark Bob Remixes Outfoxed; Making Waves Premieres in NY [link to this story]

Skidmark Bob's Mega Media Illusion Mix (6:56, 6.4 MB) takes the doc's theme song, blends it with Beale, Byrne, Chomsky, and McChesney, and sprinkles that mix with infotainment detritus. Takes the critiques leveled by KGB-TV and Scott Walmsley to the next level.

For those in New York on Wednesday, you'd be crazy to miss the premiere of Michael Lahey's excellent microradio documentary Making Waves. It happens at 8pm at the Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue (at Second Street). free103point9 will be on hand to conduct a Radio 4x4 performance, which should most definitely set the mood.

4/22/05 - Audio Content-Sharing as Business Model [link to this story]

There's a couple of interesting non-profit ventures trying to master the business of connecting audio content providers with broadcasters and/or the listening masses. Using the internet as distribution platform to circumvent traditional radio network models is not new, but making a marketplace out of it is fairly so.

Public Radio Exchange has been working at it the longest. The service came of age in 2004; users of the system pay a yearly fee to upload and market their work. Broadcasters purchase rights to air pieces via a system of points, which are redeemed for cash, paid out by PRX on a quarterly basis. The system's gotten some limited but favorable press and seems to be enjoying fairly wide adoption among those who work in or on contract to public radio.

Newer to the scene is Boulder, Colorado-based Real Public Radio Network. RPRN employs a similar model - with a lower annual usage fee and a lower points-to-cash ratio. Some self-effacingly chintzy flash toons ("The Adventures of Trax") hype RPRN's flexible rights-sharing model, but since it's brand-new there's nothing really there to review yet.

PRX has adoption, archives, and (quite critically) foundation and institutional support. RPRN seems to have come out of nowhere, the creation of a motley cast involving a media executive, university entrepreneurship program, and some comp-sci students. I admire both of their missions but it still remains to be seen whether the economic models the two are promoting are sustainable on the content creator's side of the equation.

Especially when there's no lack of those who share for sharing's sake, like, Ourmedia, and the IMC Radio Network, and all things podcasting aside. You could easily fill one 24-hour channel with material and still have gigabytes go unaired.

4/18/05 - Dutch Ex-Radio/TV Fort Heading for Deconstruction? [link to this story]

The home of Radio and TV Noordzee, built for more than $5 million in 1964, 10km off the Netherlands coast, is slated for demolition. The stations operated for just four months before changes in the territorial waters limit expanded Dutch jurisdiction to the offshore platform and led to its forced closure.

All was not lost, however: Radio-TV Noordzee helped spawn what has become one of the Netherlands' largest public broadcast foundations. According to Radio Netherlands, there is a small chance "REM Island" could be saved:

There is a shortage of suitable sites in the Netherlands where broadcast transmitters can be installed without falling foul of planning and environmental regulations. The imminent availability of REM Island has sparked considerable interest amongst those interested in using it for broadcasting once again. The authorities have indicated that they would consider selling it to a suitable bidder.

No minimum bid price has been announced, although yearly maintenance for the structure's estimated to cost between $600,000 and $900,000. The massive mast is already gone.

4/17/05 - More Audio Online [link to this story]

As the Truthful Translations counter up top shows, there's now one cut online for every day of the year. Central to this particular update is the prolific Scott Walmsley, who's also done up a Celebrity Speech collage on everybody's favorite TV blowhard, Bill O'Reilly (described by Walmsley as "a major f*ck head").

There's also new free media-themed music online: Brooklyn-based Gun Street Radio pays homage to Radio Caroline while SD punks Cheap Sex screams foul about the FCC's ongoing anti-indecency crusade.

4/15/05 - Be the Media! Blog Resurrected [link to this story]

In preparation for the second National Conference for Media Reform, the Be the Media! blog is back online. The blog served as a venue which provided attendees of the first NCMR a chance to report critically on the proceedings. The 2003 Be the Media! blog archives have been re-established (though all the comments were lost, sorry).

Although I may be biased, I think the blog did a better job of covering the '03 proceedings than any of the mainstream media reportage that surfaced, although it was kind of a last-minute project and admittedly catch-as-catch-can. This time around it would be great to have more attendees participating: if you're going to NCMR '05 and would like to help create an independent archive of coverage about it, contact Paul@Mediageek for details.

4/12/05 - St. Petersburg's Pirate Radio Network Down But Not Out [link to this story]

Bob Noxious has two brass ones: after a scant two months on the air and scads of publicity to show for it, the FCC showed up the day before April Fool's and told him to shut up. He has complied - for now -

Although we will have to endure a short time of static on the radio, we won't be silenced for long. Thanks to modern technology...when the PIRATE RADIO NETWORK returns, [the station] will be broadcast from MULTIPLE transmitters in numerous locations throughout the area. Not only will that expand the listening area, but it will be with a much crisper and cleaner signal. Lets see how many transmitters the F.C.C. can shut down at one time!

It's almost as if he's channeling L.D. Brewer. A benefit concert for the station is in the works for later this month.

4/8/05 - Aural Injections [link to this story]

New Truthful Translations put the project over the 350 mark while ushering in some fresh collage targets like Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Douglas Feith, neocon warmonger extraordinaire. Also online are a couple of more songs paying homage to pirate radio, both of them good and punkish; thanks to Skidmark Bob for sending them along.

4/6/05 - Summer of Media Conferences [link to this story]

Looks like a busy May and June, for sure. The same week of the National Conference for Media Reform there will be two other events: Can Freedom of the Press Survive Media Consolidation? will be held May 10-11 on the U of I campus and features a progressive mega-star-studded lineup of speakers and the like. This event is free and open to all.

On the day before the NCMR starts in St. Louis, scads of academics will be stuffed into a single room to form the Academic Brain Trust, the goal of which is to build "an organization that will encourage and mobilize academic talent and resources to the cause of increasing informed public participation in the media policymaking process."

I am ambivalent about being at ground zero for all of this, which is why I'm really looking forward to June, when the Allied Media Conference goes down in Bowling Green, Ohio. While the shindigs in May will talk big about media activism (and only then in the context of policy debates), the AMC is all about doing independent media. In this sense, the AMC is the largest national conference of its kind.

The Allied Media Conference would be an excellent opportunity for a microradio convergence - something that's never really happened before, unless you count Seattle's Mosquito Fleet (2002) and the East Coast Microbroadcasters Conference (1998). Given that the AMC is all about DIY, such a convergence would be welcomed with open arms there. I'm going to submit a proposal for a microradio workshop, covering the current scene, FCC and related legal issues, and station operations.

4/1/05 - Neighborhood Public Radio Hits the Road [link to this story]

After several successful runs in San Francisco Neighborhood Public Radio now plans to play out. Way out: the station will broadcast from Version in Chicago later this month. This is apparently the start of a "process of realizing the dream we have always had of bringing NPR to cities all over the world." NPR's latest thematic run involved indecency and ran through most of February. Interestingly, they are not the only traveling microstation in circulation at the moment.