Thursday, January 22, 2015

RETRO FRIDAY: CLASSICAL WNCN FLIPS TO ROCK WQIV 1974




UPDATE

FCC COMPLAINT ABOUT HD RADIO & THE PULIC INTEREST

THE KEY POINT FROM ERNIE SANCHEZ:

I appreciate that you are trying to stimulate some debate on the broader public interest issues associated with this apparent debacle.  I think your filing could stimulate such a discussion..

The FCC will say they approved the technology for optional use but did not force anyone to use it. I'm sure they will say they cannot be faulted for their role in approving a technology that the marketplace has been unwilling to adopt


WNCN BECOMES QUAD FM WQIV

On November 7, 1974 long-time commercial classical station WNCN in NYC changed owners and format.  The new owners programmed rock n roll. The new WQIV debuted with FM Quad – four signals for that had a surround sound effect.  It was great when you were in the middle of the room stoned on a waterbed.

The WNCN Listener’s Guild filed a complaint with the FCC.  They asked the FCC to force the station’s new owners to change the format back to classical.  The FCC declined to get involved.  The FCC has never gotten involved in format flip since then.

I’ve got the whole story in today’s film:

video

PAST FCC BOONDOGGLES ARE INSTRUCTIVE ABOUT HD RADIO



I received a couple of messages about my HD Radio FCC Complaint saying Give it more time, FM didn’t happen for years. It’s true that FM languished from the 1950s until the late 60s.  Rock n roll saved FM.

That is not as likely to happen with HD Radio.  FM was freeware – not a corporate tollbooth like iBiquity.  The FCC cemented FM’s future in the 60s when they enacted the mandate that AM and FM carry different programming in places of 25,000 people or more.

Recent history gives us a couple of examples when waiting for something to happen wasn’t a wise decision.  Consider:

AM STEREO

In 1980 the FCC selected the Magnavox system and named it the official standard.  The FCC action didn’t sit well with owners of competing AM Stereo systems who were also expecting approval.  Things turned ugly, lawsuits were filed, chargess flew about “sloppy” FCC research

By 1982 the FCC sought a way out when they revoked their 1980 decision and authorized four different AM Stereo systems and said: The market should decide.

Many AM stations added AM Stereo in the mid and late 1980s. Car companies were early champions of AM Stereo – they could charge more for the super-duper radios.  Despite big, big problems with nighttime AM Stereo signals, people said give it time.

But the time was not on their side.  By the 1990’s most music programming had moved to FM.  AM Stereo never revived.


QUADRAPHONIC FM

What’s better than two channels of FM?  How about four channel's -- FM Quad!  Four speakers positioned around your bed vibrating the room with latest hits. 

The concept of FM Quad originated at the BBC. In the early 70s the Dorren Quadraplex System was chosen as the sole standard for FM quadraphonic broadcasting. WIBQ in Detroit was the first station to “go quad.”

FM Quad played a role in a historic FCC change of policy to stay out of format change disputes.  The case involved classical station WNCN, New York and it’s flip to rockin' FM Quad WQIV in November 1974.  WNCN's Cassical listeners took the format change to the FCC.  The FCC said No. That's still the FCC policy today.

FM Quad never panned out, in part because record companies didn’t release much quad product.

Like HD Radio, AM Stereo and FM Quad were cooked up in the lab. Listeners were not at the planning table.  The need was never considered.  These are classic marketing blunders sort of like the New Coke.

I used to heat my house with one of these hot tube babies.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

FCC COMPLAINT ABOUT HD RADIO GAINS MOMENTUM



As many of you know, on January 14, 2015 I filed an informal complaint with the FCC stating iBiquity’s HD Radio scheme is not in the public interest. My complaint is based on the fact that the entire HD Radio platform has not attracted enough listening to be considered a meaningful public service. My complaint is FCC “Ticket No. 83715.”  You can see my earlier posts about this at http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2015/01/memo-to-fcc-review-ibiquity-for-failing.html

Today I received a very informative e-mail from Ernie Sanchez, a DC Communications attorney, who was General Counsel of NPR from 1974 to 1981.  Ernie had heard about my complaint to the FCC and offered these thoughts:

I appreciate that you are trying to stimulate some debate on the broader public interest issues associated with this apparent debacle.  I think your filing could stimulate such a discussion, although I don't see any of the main players taking any responsibility for what has happened--or not happened.
• The FCC did not license Ibiquity but they have blessed the technology as being appropriate for the purpose for which it was intended. Use of the technology is of course optional for the stations that choose to utilize it.
[KEN’S NOTE: I highlighted blessed because that term describes the apparent “nod and wink” agreement between iBiquity and the FCC.]
• Here is how I see the parties defending themselves:
The FCC will say they approved the technology for optional use but did not force anyone to use it. I'm sure they will say they cannot be faulted for their role in approving a technology that the marketplace has been unwilling to adopt.  I'm sure they would say that if someone else has a better technology, they should bring it to the FCC's attention and get it approved for similar potential use.
[KEN’S NOTE: I highlighted the phrase a technology that the marketplace has been unwilling to adopt because it is the core of my argument to review HD Radio for top to bottom.]
 Ibiquity will blame the stations and the hardware makers.  They will probably fault the FCC for not making the implementation of the technology mandatory.
The stations will blame Ibquity, the FCC, and the public – everyone but themselves and their programming.
I look forward to hearing what happens to your comments and what discussion is stimulated.  You should offer to do a panel at the NAB.
THE SANCHEZ LAW FIRM P.C., 1155 F STREET N.W., SUITE 1050, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20004; PHONE: 202-237-2814;  FAX: 202-540-9311; E-MAIL ADDRESS: Ernestsanchez2348@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SCAM OR NOT? “THE RADIO CONNECTION BROADCASTING SCHOOL”



Today I got a message on my voice mail from a person representing The Radio Connection Broadcasting School.  (Scroll down to hear the call)

The caller explained that the school has a student in my area that is interested in learning about radio broadcasting.  He said The Radio Connection is offering $2,000 if I would mentor the student at my station. (The word “intern” was not used but I feel it was implied.)

What could be wrong?  They seem to be offering a “free intern.” Plus, they pay to have the student be mentored.  I enjoy mentoring but what The Radio Connection Broadcasting School is offering doesn’t smell right.

So, I investigated The Radio Connection Broadcasting School online.  The company is located in the North Hollywood area of LA.  The Founder and CEO is James Petulla, who also owns and operates The Recording Connection and The Film Connection.  His bio says he was formerly associated with the Columbia School of Broadcasting.

According to their website, the cheapest course available at The Radio Connection Broadcasting School is $8,800 – more if you let them “loan” you the money for your tuition.  What they offer is an online course with radio basics and the opportunity for the student to be “mentored.”

Maybe these folks are legit – I don’t know enough about them to say one way or the other.  But consider:

• The call I received today (Scroll down to hear it) came from a boiler room call center.  This is never a good sign.

• They have no reason to call me because I have no employees except for occasional contractors.  The Yellow Pages lists me with other “Radio Companies” even though I am not a radio station.

• An internet search turned up quite a few items concerning Mr. Petulla and his schools.  One person described an experience with The Film Connection:

The Film-Connection program I paid $5950 for a few years ago required that I buy several books, which I did, because students were required to do homework. The letter from Film-Connection that accompanied the books had typos in it, and one paragraph was accidentally repeated twice. That seemed very unprofessional to me.

The program pushed an apprenticeship with a director who would be a "mentor." When I met the director, he did not know anything about homework or the books I was required to buy. This director gave me telephone numbers of people involved with films that were being shot in the area. and I would need to go and interview with those people. This was the "one-on-one" time I received from him.

• My search also found MANY posts defending Mr. Petulla’s various businesses.  All of the posts I saw contained the exact same language, including this gem:

The idea that the Recording Connection is certainly being a fraud would come like a great stun to the 72% of the school's graduates whom discover work in the highly aggressive records business after generating the program. The school's success rate should communicate for itself, but graduates are certainly not the sole people raving concerning the Recording Connection. This program may be positively reviewed by high-profile business publications, such as Billboard, Music Connection Magazine, and Mix.

Listen to the call here:
video

Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: “WDIA MEMPHIS ---THE FIRST ALL-BLACK RADIO STATION IN AMERICA




UPDATE ON FCC COMPLAINT

On January 14, 2015 I filed an informal complaint with the FCC stating iBiquity’s HD Radio scheme is not in the public interest. My complaint is based on the fact that the entire HD Radio platform has not attracted enough listening to be a meaningful public service.  After 13 years and millions of dollars of private and public money, the iBiquity system reaches so few people few would miss it if it were gone.

My complaint is FCC “Ticket No. 83715.”

I’ve asked the FCC to conduct an independent evaluation of whether iBiquity aka HD Radio to see if it is “broadcasting in the public interest.”  The evaluation panel can examine why Americans aren’t adapting to HD Radio in its current form.  Is there a better way to serve the public with digital radio?

The Goodwill Station

WDIA, Memphis, is one of my radio heroes.  In 1948 it became the first all-black formatted radio station in America.  It caused a sensation and inspired hundreds of other stations to serve African-American citizens.  In Memphis WDIA was the central information point for black culture and community organization.

Today’s educational video focuses on the creation and early years of WBIA 1948 – 1953.  I found the audio online.  There was no date or production credit. The announcer in the piece sounds familiar.  Please tell me if you know who his is: 

video

BEST BOOK ABOUT WBIA

http://www.amazon.com/Wheelin-Beale-Wdia-Memphis-Nations-All-Black/dp/0886876338