Monday, November 28, 2011

Engaging Your Audience - Holiday Greeting Line and Listener Calendar Contests

Today I've got two ways you can engage your audience; get them to be more active participants in your station and, both directly and by example, increase your fundraising totals as engaged listeners are more likely to be donating listeners.
  1. On-Air Holiday "Shout Outs" or Greetings.
  2. Listener Calendar Contests.
More, after the break...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

EAS and Anonymous

The timing is undoubtedly due to the publicity given the National EAS Test earlier this month, but now the hacker group Anonymous is claiming that they plan to "take over" radio stations via EAS, by exploiting the lack of security inherent to the system.   The attitude seems to be half showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movements, half trying to call attention to a glaring security hole.

FEMA is responding that the system is secure enough, thank you very much.

Who's correct?  Read on...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Out of Bounds with Tish Pearlman

Just a little reminder to my readers that in my spare time I also serve as "syndication lackey" for the weekly arts-and-culture public radio show: Out of Bounds with Tish Pearlman and if you're interested in carrying the show on your station, it's available for free via the Public Radio Exchange here:

On a related note, you may also be interested in reading my articles about:

More about the show, after the jump...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Play Ball! Remote Tech Options for Sportscasts

While I'm specifically talking about radio remote broadcasting options for sports, most of this info can be used for any remote broadcast.  And I do recommend that for most college radio stations: don't stay hiding in the studio - get out and do a weekly live broadcast from the student center for a few's totally worth it.

Note: this is a written version of a presentation I often give at the annual fall CBI Conference.

This article is going to cover several topics surrounding remote broadcasts both on- and off-campus.  Read on, after the jump...

Friday, November 11, 2011

EAS: Politics vs. Engineering

Was the November 9th National EAS Test a qualified success or a total failure?

Like most things in life, it kinda depends on your point of view.

First, the system itself did indeed fail during the test.  The final tally will take weeks, but there are tons of anecdotal reports that most stations did receive the data tones, but did not receive proper audio.   Early reports indicate that a loop of the audio (including the data tones) played over itself, delayed by several seconds.   The second airing of the data tones caused many stations' EAS encoders/decoders (aka "endecs") to stop outright and mute the test audio until the "End of Message" (EOM) data tones were sent at the end of the test, 30 seconds later.   Other endecs just played the whole thing, looped audio playing over the main audio like a bizarre version of "row-row-row your boat".   Given the widespread nature of this effect, the thinking is that it must've happened at the national level (FEMA) somehow.

The TV side of things, including satellite TV, may have had a similar issue in play, just with different effects: namely a Lady Gaga video playing across DirecTV, for example.

There's also reports that some stations didn't get anything at all due to equipment failures at the state and local levels.  Fortunately these seem relatively uncommon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Three Lies of College Radio

Especially the Lies.

Bashir: What I want to know is, out of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?

Garak: My dear doctor...they're all true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.

(I admit it, I'm an incurable Trekkie)

Much like my hairline, I'm going to go a little bald with this post:  I think it's time that college radio stations stop lying to themselves.  How so?  Let me give you three statements I often hear about college radio that are simply just no longer true, if they ever were:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Power of FM over AM

Wow. This article from the Boston Globe really brings it home.

We've all known for a few years now that AM Radio, as a medium, was slipping badly. Traditional cornerstones of AM formats...sports and talk...were losing market share, and several major AM signals were electing to simulcast on an FM station and seeing positive results. At the same time, we're also seeing a lot of traditional AM formats bypassing AM altogether and starting on FM, also with positive results.

One place near and dear to my heart where this has been playing out is Boston, where many, many years of market dominance by WEEI 850AM (sports) and WBZ 1030AM (news) are radically shifting. WBZ still has a killer signal; one of the best AM signals in the USA, actually...famous for being heard in 38 states...and able to hurl almost 100,000 watts across an AM-friendly saltwater path right into Boston. Even so, WBZ has seen increasing competition from local (and national) NPR powerhouse WBUR and, more recently, WGBH's flip to mostly-NPR-news, too.

But it's WEEI that's the most eye-opening. After two years of losing substantial market share to upstart SportsHub 98.5 (aka WBZ-FM) despite WEEI having the Red Sox games...Entercom finally killed off Mike 93.7FM and simulcast WEEI on the 93.7 signal.