Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Music, Technology, Radio
Matt Seinberg

New York City, the largest market in the USA, is without a Country Music radio station. Country Music fans are forgotten listeners. Corporate programmers, also known as beanies; consultants, also known as vampires, and advertising agencies won't acknowledge Country Music as a worthwhile format.

The Country Music is quirky. The format accumulates its daily audience (cumes), quickly. Those who listen to Country Music turn the station on, early in the morning, and don't change stations, often.

The fast cume rate suggests Country Music fans are loyal. They're loyal to the music. They're loyal to radio stations that play their music.

Loyalty is why radio chains avoid the Country Music format. Advertisers need buy fewer spots on this format than on, say, an Adult Contemporary (AC) format. Listeners to AC radio change stations, often, and turn the radio off and on throughout the day.

AC listeners are harder to catch than those who listen to Country Music radio. This means advertisers must spend more money on AC radio than on Country Music radio. This is the theory radio chains embrace, with no consideration for listeners.

I thought I had my Country Music appetite sated. I trade air checks with other people, across the country. I quickly discovered a couple of problems involved with my plan to hear Country Music radio.

The first problem is what we all face, when downloading from the Internet. When I traded with Internet storage sites, I saved the files somewhere on my computer. I intended to burn a CD, later.

When I decided to burn the CD, I had to remember where I saved the file, what folder or hard drive. Good luck with that idea, as I sometimes forgot what I named the file, too.

If burned, the CD then sat in a pile of other CDs, waiting for me to listen. I have a pile of CDs, from a Las Vegas station, which a friend sent in 2006. I'm 4 years behind on "current" Country Music.

Mostly I listen to CDs in the car on the way to work. The problem is I only work 10 or 15 minutes from home. It takes me four or five days to listen to one CD.

My first solution was to get a High Definition (HD) radio. I needed a new car stereo. Now, I can listen to either of two Country Music radio stations. WLTW-FM HD2, which airs the Clear Channels Premium Choice Country Music format, using voice tracked DJs.

WALK-FM HD2 runs a fully automated Country Format, with no DJs. The station runs sweepers claiming it's, "Long Island's Country Station." This is a boring radio station.

HD radio has no advertising. This is good. The downside of HD radio is the signal.

If your HD radio isn't in a good-line-of-site, of the transmitter, the station doesn't fade, but vanishes. HD stations vanish for a few seconds or a few minutes. This is annoying.

HD radio is a great idea, but it rolled out long before solving many important problems, such as line-of-sight transmission. iBiquity developed HD radio. Did it sell radio a bill-of-goods, as did Kahn and Motorola for AM Stereo radio?

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raised the power limit on HD signals. I noticed the difference on WLTW-FM HD2 almost immediately. Maybe HD radio has promise; maybe it will find a niche?

My appetite for Country Music is now sated in the car. What do I do at home? I discovered the Internet Radio Adapter (IRA). It connects me to any WiFi signal, any station streaming on the Internet and programmed into IRA; that's about 11,000 radio stations.

The fun part is searching for a station. I can search by type of music, country or state. I can store forty of my favourite stations.

In my first search, I found these major radio market Country Music stations: WUSN-FM, in Chicago; WKIS-FM, in Fort Lauderdale; KMLE-FM and KNIX-FM, both in Phoenix; KSCS-FM, in Dallas; KBWF-FM, in San Francisco, and KASE-FM, in Austin. For Classic Rock music, I found these stations: KLOS-FM, in Los Angeles, and WLUP-FM, in Chicago. Two Soft Rock radio stations I like are WLYF-FM, in Miami, and KOST-FM, in Los Angeles.

There are so many radio stations streaming on the Internet, local radio isn't local, anymore. Here is an interesting question; can a station gear itself towards both a local audience and nationwide or even worldwide one?

My answer is no. I am a believer of live and local radio, and stations need to concentrate on their local audiences, and not try to entertain those who listen from out of town on the Internet. There already too many syndicated and voice tracked shows around; why add more.

If the vampires and beanies had their way, most, if not all stations would be automated or voice tracked. To me, listening to a radio station stream is just for entertainment. I want to hear music I can't hear locally and DJ's that I enjoy, too.

My friend Jeffrey T. Mason does afternoon drive at KMLE-FM, in Phoenix. He's a talented DJ that has been on the air in many markets. It's nice to hear him and Country Music.

I am not your average radio listener. I'm not only an air check collector or writer about radio. I'm a man who likes good radio, which is getting harder and harder to find. For me, it's not just about the music, but the DJ who helps bring it to life.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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