Still Waiting for the HD Payday

There’s been a slew of news about HD Radio uptake, but as usual, not a lot of meat on the bones. Rather, it’s the continuation of a yearly practice of demonstrating signs of life. These are designed not so much for the radio industry or listening public as much as they are for investors waiting to see a return for subsidizing the system’s development and promotion. 15 years on from the founding of iBiquity Digital Corporation, they’re still waiting.

The most notable announcement is the (re)launch of an advertising camapaign to agitate listener interest in radio-via-smartphones. It’s based primarily around NextRadio, the Emmis-developed FM receiver application available on select Android devices. Until last month, the “Free Radio on My Phone” campaign generally advocated the benefits of having an FM chip enabled on mobile devices, but the new iteration directly promotes NextRadio itself, according to the campaign materials available online. Read More

Hanging Out With Radio Survivor

Last week I had the honor of being Radio Survivor‘s inaugural guest on their first Google Hangout. Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel and I have known each other for more than a decade; I was a frequent guest on his Mediageek radio show, so in many respects for me it was like traveling back in time to simpler days.

That said, our 90-minute conversation went deep into two major projects: my ongoing tribulations with the Federal Communications Commission regarding its crazy foray into defining journalism, and my new book, Radio’s Digital Dilemma. Read More

Documentaries Give Props to Pirate Radio

My pal Paul Riismandel over at Radio Survivor recently wrote about a new pirate radio-based mockumentary that’s airing on the BBC. People Just Do Nothing profiles the principals behind “Kurupt FM,” a fictitious Garage-format pirate station in the London area.

People Just Do Nothing found its roots in (and lampoons) another pirate radio documentary, Tower Block Dreams. Aired in 2004 on BBC Three, this flick profiled the booming pirate scene in the London area, with special attention on how pirate radio stations helped disenfranchised youth do something more creative with their lives than “thieving and grass dealing.”

People Just Do Nothing‘s main characters, MC Sniper and DJ Beats, are spot-on caricatures of the folks found in Tower Block Dreams. Relatively accurate with regard to the conditions under which pirate radio stations operate, the funny comes when you realize that Sniper and Beats have no real idea what the f*ck they’re doing. It’s a send-up that really drives home the differences between the U.K. and U.S. pirate scenes. Read More

FCC: LPFM a Tiny Fish in Big Pond

The FCC has released its long-awaited economic assessment of the LPFM radio service. Although the need for such a study was initially dismissed as unnecessary more than eight years ago, the commercial broadcast lobby forced the agency to conduct the research as part of the compromise which allowed for the passage of the Local Community Radio Act last year.

Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has a good overview of the report and its findings. More detail below on salient points: Read More

Pirate Radio: A Natural Part of the Airwaves Since 1912

There’s a running debate taking place between the collaborative blog Radio Survivor and the industry trade newspaper Radio World about the “merits” of pirate radio. You’d think, after 20+ years of organized unlicensed broadcasting (and the resultant creation of an LPFM service), that this argument would have been settled long ago.

It all began in July with a tongue-in-cheek piece penned by Matthew Lasar. In mockery of a National Association of Broadcasters “analysis” which attempted to (inflatedly) quantify the importance of the radio industry to the national economy, Lasar conducted a “guesstimate study” which suggested that pirate radio generates some $576 million annually in jobs and services.

Radio World editor Paul McLane took Lasar’s piece a bit too seriously and filed commentary asserting the premise that any positive implication of pirate radio – economic or otherwise – was simply illegitimate. Read More