Archive for Overmodulation

Not the middle of nowhere

We’re talking far off to the edge. This was just another item from RadioInsight, but it led me to other stuff. Prepare for Major Tangent Exploration:

Gambell, AK is located on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait closer to the Russian mainland than North America. The Nome Seventh-Day Adventist Church has applied to bring the first radio station to Gambell operating with 90 watts at 9 meters on 89.3. The new station would operate as a satellite of 89.3 KQQN Nome (Coverage Map).

Wikipedia reports on the town:

St. Lawrence Island has been inhabited sporadically for the past 2,000 years by both Alaskan Yup’ik and Siberian Yupik people. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the island had a population of about 4,000.

Between 1878 and 1880 a famine decimated the island’s population. Many who did not starve left. The remaining population of St. Lawrence Island was nearly all Siberian Yupik.

Checking out the island itself (current population about 1,300):

The island contains two villages: Savoonga and Gambell. The two villages were given title to most of the land on St. Lawrence Island by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. As a result of having title to the land, the Yupik are legally able to sell the fossilized ivory and other artifacts found on St. Lawrence Island.

Savoonga, you should know, is the Walrus Capital of the World. But this story from Gambell tore at the old heartstrings:

In 1982, George Guthridge brought his wife and two young daughters to Gambell, Alaska, a small village on the edge of the remote blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, one of the harshest and most remote places in Alaska. Guthridge was there to teach at a Siberian-Yupik school — a school so troubled it was under threat of closure.

For its own reasons, the school district enters the students into one of the most difficult academic competitions in the nation. The school has no computers and very few books. The students lack world knowledge and speak English as a second language. Still, George resolves to coach them to a state championship. But the students have an even greater goal of their own.

And I have to grin at Guthridge’s bio:

I have published over 70 short stories and five novels, and have been a finalist for the Hugo Award and twice for the Nebula Award, for science fiction and fantasy. In 1998 my coauthor, Janet Berliner, and I won the Bram Stoker Award for the year’s best horror novel.

I am probably best known for having coached ten students from the Siberian-Yupik (Eskimo) village of Gambell, on blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, to national championships in academics. They became the only Native American team ever to do that — and they did it twice.

Oh, and this is what they did.

If you’re curious, Guthridge and Berliner won that Bram Stoker award for Children of the Dusk, the third and final novel in the Madagascar Manifesto series.

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All static, all the time

Two years from now, there will be no FM radio in Norway:

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio. It’s the end of an era.

As Radio.no notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

The US can be expected to lag behind, mostly because the three major commercial radio formats — Rascal Flatts, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Sports Guys Yelling — aren’t willing to give up their existing playgrounds.

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420 on your dial

Well, actually, they’re at 1580, but you know what I mean:

Listeners of KREL in Colorado Springs might have wondered if someone had spread cannabutter on their morning toast Monday when they tuned in and got marijuana programming instead of the radio station’s usual sports news and talk shows.

Unlike some towns I could name, Colorado Springs is not groaning under the weight of all that sports talk.

Southern Colorado Radio — SoCo Radio for short — has launched the nation’s first radio station dedicated to talk and news coverage of the legal marijuana industry, and it’s attracted dispensaries as advertisers and hundreds of followers on social media.

SoCo Radio leased the former KREL-AM 1580 from Vero Beach, Fla.-based Pilgrim Communications on April 1 and began broadcasting Monday under the call letters KHIG.

K-HIGH, get it?

(Via Fark.)

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Air waived

You might recognize this as a page from TV Guide, circa 1970:

TV Guide 1 April 1970

Now: which edition of TV Guide? The person who posted this on Facebook was from Philadelphia, but these channels don’t match up with Philly then or with Philly now. I resolved to find out without actually having to ask the guy.

The key, it turns out, is that NBC affiliate on channel 79. And while there were a few stations on 79, generally translators, only one fits with the rest of the scheme:

WVIT 30 Hartford once operated W79AI, a repeater in Torrington, Connecticut which is now abandoned.

And sure enough, 30 and 79 are carrying the same programs. So this is around Hartford, probably Springfield, and very likely Boston. The other NBC stations: WBZ-TV 4 Boston (now a CBS station); WATR-TV 20 Waterbury (now WCCT-TV, the CW); WWLP 22 Springfield; WRLP 32 Greenfield (now defunct).

I very likely would not have known any of this had I not been sojourning in central Massachusetts in the 1970s at the behest of Uncle Sam.

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EssentialVision

“Fifty-seven channels,” mused Bruce Springsteen, “and nothin’ on.” And that was 1992. Today, there are more like 157 channels and still nothin’ on, or at least certainly nothin’ like this:

If I had a very large amount of money I wanted to possibly throw away — because I have no idea if anyone other than I would want this — I would start up two new cable channels: “Simply Weather” and “Simply News.” They would be as advertised. “Simply Weather” would be 24-hour-a-day weather forecasts. Each region of the country would get its own forecast at least once an hour (so it could be, for example: New England at the top of the hour, Mid-Atlantic at 10 after, Great Lakes at 20 after) and just repeat it, with the small variations needed as the weather changes, around the clock. And “Simply News” would be just that — half-hour broadcasts of world news. No commentators, no extended programs speculating on missing persons or forensics and no stupid celebrity news. (If a famous person died, that would be mentioned, but there wouldn’t be the idiotic, breathless, “BREAKING NEWS: Kim Kardashian changed her hair color!” stuff). Again, I don’t know if anyone else wants a channel like that but when it’s 8 pm and I kind of want to know what’s going on in the world, I have to go to the computer for that because, as far as I can tell, all the news channels have gone to either commentary programs or something like “Forensic Files.”

In other news, Kim Kardashian changed her hair color. Again.

I suspect, though, that the most effective way to end up with a small fortune in cable television is to start with a large one.

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Narrowish broadcasting

The FCC will put 131 vacant FM allocations up for auction on the 23rd of July, including four in small Oklahoma towns.

Minimum bid is $1,000 for a class-A (6,000 watts maximum) slot in Clayton (Pushmataha County) on 100.3. It will cost you at least $5,000 for a class-A slot in Hennessey (Kingfisher County) on 97.9. (Don’t even think of trying to move it to OKC.) Twenty-five thou might bring a class-A in Waukomis (Garfield County) on 106.3, or even a class-C2 (25,000 watts maximum) in Millerton (McCurtain County) on 100.9.

Elsewhere, minimum bids of as low as $750 are sought; a handful will command $75,000 or more.

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And that’s the way it is

Though Cronkite would never, ever have said so:

Like the national product is any better?

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Not necessarily frequency response

Joni Mitchell once sang “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” This might have been one of her better metaphors of the day, though she admitted later on that what motivated her was not so much good old primitive lust as the desire to present her record label with a hit single so they’d quit pestering her. (This makes it the moral equivalent of, say, “Elenore” by the Turtles.)

Jack Baruth retunes that particular phrasing:

I’ve often said that female emotion is not FM, it’s AM. In other words, if you want to sleep with a woman, it doesn’t particularly matter whether she loves or hates you. What’s important is the strength of that emotion. If a woman tells you that you are the worst person on earth and that she prays for your violent death twice a day, you might as well start filing another notch on your guitar. If, on the other hand, she tells her friends that you “seem like a nice guy, I guess,” chances are you’ll be available for your nightly guild meeting in WoW after all.

I would contrast this with my own experience, except that no one listens to shortwave anymore.

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More music in north Texas

In most of the nation, actual classical music is something you hear on noncommercial radio, if then. However, WRR, a commercial station owned by the city of Dallas, is not only still alive, it’s playing more music than ever:

Beginning Monday, the station will go to two commercial breaks per hour, allowing for longer classical pieces to receive airplay… the station will add four hours of music programming each week. In an interesting move, non-music programming — including traffic reports, as well as financial reports — will be dropped.

Says WRR program director Mike Oakes:

No jobs were cut. We still believe very much in live and local programming. In fact, at the same time we are adding Performance Today and Exploring Music, we are also dropping roughly 15 hours a week of syndicated programming. We consider it a strong upgrade to the very best programming available.

The discarded syndicated programs will be replaced by more locally originated programming, says Oakes.

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Meanwhile on Channel 37

The FCC will not give you a construction permit for a television station on channel 37; that particular frequency band (608-614 MHz) is reserved for radioastronomy use, and has been since the early 1960s.

This is not to say that no one has ever applied for one:

[T]he only one who ever received a construction permit for channel 37 … was Eurith Dickenson “Dee” Rivers Jr., son of the former governor (1937-1941) of Georgia, hence the call letters for his WGOV/950. Rivers was one of the early filers when the FCC began accepting post-freeze applications in July, 1952, and received one of 19 CP grants (the most ever issued on a single day) on February 26, 1953. The senior Rivers was also interested in UHF broadcasting; he was 50% owner of the CP for WMIE-TV/27 Miami FL, which was used by George B. Storer to put WGBS-TV/23 on the air at the end of 1954.

Dee Rivers had enough of a commitment to television that he took co-owned WGOV-FM/92.5 off the air and surrendered its license one month after receiving the WGOV-TV permit, on March 23, and successfully petitioned the FCC in 1954 to change the channel 23 allocation at nearby Fitzgerald GA to channel 53 in order to eliminate spacing “taboos” that hindered his ability to find a usable transmitter site. Despite those efforts, he surrendered the WGOV-TV CP on November 9, 1954 after missing several announced start-up dates. At the time, Rivers told the Commission he was surrendering the permit “because it was not economically feasible to operate an independent non-network UHF station in Valdosta” (unfortunately, a not uncommon conclusion drawn by many early permittees).

There were applicants between the time of Rivers’ withdrawal and 1963, when the FCC issued a ten-year moratorium — later made permanent by treaty — on applications for channel 37, but none were granted construction permits.

Other channels have gone empty over the years. The FCC has never allocated channels 75, 76, 78 and 82 to anywhere at all, and following the reallocation of channels 52 and up to other broadcast services, they presumably never will.

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Half an anchor

Lett’s reply: “Look! I have no legs.”

This has to be a first: a female television anchor with no legs.

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It’s not even Scottish

The nation is awash in sports radio stations with silly names. In this market alone, we have to deal with the Sports Animal, the Ref, the Game, the Franchise, and the Pro. I assure you, this sort of naming is not required:

There are lots of sports stations called The Fan, The Ticket, The Score, and tons of those ESPN stations, but there’s only one station that’s Talking Sports KRAP 24 hours a day. It’s Sports KRAP.

Yeah, we know what you’re saying. “Dude, is this for real? A radio station named KRAP? You’re probably some internet-only station broadcasting from the basement of some guy’s Mom’s house.”

No, we’re for real. We’re an FCC licensed radio station broadcasting at 1350 Kilohertz pounding out a whopping 500,000 milliwatts. But we do realize that we’re KRAP. In fact, our transmitter is KRAP. Our signal is KRAP. Our studios are KRAP. Even our staff is KRAP.

KRAP is in Washington, Missouri, the Corncob Pipe Capital of the World, about halfway between St. Louis and Jefferson City. Those 500 watts (yes, we do the math around here) reach to within about ten miles of each, suggesting that the FCC knew what it was doing when it approved this facility. (At night, they drop to 84 watts, which barely gets out of town.)

Station owner Brad Hildebrand speaks:

Hildebrand tells the Post-Dispatch that it’s a set of call letters he’s wanted since he was 12 years old. But to get KRAP he first needed to wait until the call sign was released from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. “When I tell people my call letters are KRAP, nobody forgets that,” he says.

Twelve. Yeah. Sounds about right. (He’s pushing 60 now.)

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Sports shortage alleviated

RadioInsight reports on recent sales:

Fred & Evelyn Morton sell 96.5 K243BJ Oklahoma City to Tyler Media for $100. The translator is currently operated by Tyler as CHR “Now 96.5″ rebroadcasting 107.7 KRXO-HD2, however the application states Sports “The Franchise 2″ 1560 KEBC Del City will be the originating station.

Because, you know, there just aren’t enough spots on the dial where you can get sports in this town.

The Now 96.5 programming seems to have landed on K225BN, at 92.9, where it will at least have 200 watts to play with instead of 120. It won’t be interfering with KBEZ Tulsa, also on 92.9, though it’s going to be a mess where fringe-reception areas meet.

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Texoma bailing

There are exactly two commercial radio stations in Durant, Oklahoma, population 17,000 or so, and they and a nearby sister are changing hands:

Texoma Broadcasting sells AC “B99.7″ KBBC-FM Tishomingo, Country 106.3 KLBC Durant, and Oldies 750 KSEO/94.1 K231CE Durant, OK to Mid-Continental Communications for $2.45 million.

On the one hand, that’s a fair chunk of change for two FMs and an AM daytimer with a low-power FM translator outside any major metropolitan area. Then again, the buyer, Kinion E. Whittington, is a gynecologist in private practice in Durant, which suggests to me that he’s probably going to be keeping those stations right where they are, rather than apply for relicensing to somewhere across the Red River and then moving into north Dallas, as I might have expected.

As long as I’m mentioning Durant radio, I probably should bring up KSSU Power92FM, actually at 91.9, operated by, and presumably for, students at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Their Web page is, to be charitable, a work in progress.

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Where the girl singers are

Duane Doobie of RadioInfo, on the present-day It Girl:

I think Taylor Swift is a lovely and talented young woman who makes appealing pop music in the long tradition of a seemingly endless string of similar artists that goes all the way back to the silly-but-effective teenage love songs that triggered the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll. She is every bit as good as Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John in their heydays. Well, maybe.

Minor differences: Swift, until recently, wrote or co-wrote almost all of her own stuff: Gore had the peerless Quincy Jones producing her; Francis covered a much wider range of material, though I suspect this was her record company (MGM) throwing everything against the wall in the hopes of seeing something stick; weirdly, Newton-John was informed of her big break — her role in Grease — while at a party at Reddy’s house.

However, there is no way that I believe she or so many of the other big pop artists of today are truly resonating with the zeitgeist of the millions of young people presently coming of age.

I don’t give a damn how many “spins” these artists are getting on the centrally-controlled robotic radio stations of America. These numbers do not necessarily represent an organic, street level, grassroots reality. And THAT’S what has ALWAYS determined REAL success in radio — resonating with what large masses of people are really feeling in their day-to-day existence and deep inside their souls and psyches.

Except that large masses of people aren’t tuning into the same things. Take a look at the summer ratings book. Stations with ten, even eight shares are few and far between; where I live, even a seven is practically unheard of.

Of course, this was the plan all along for the centrally-controlled robotic radio stations of America: surround and control, engulf and devour. Want to snatch 0.2 away from your two competitors in the market? Put something obscure, or at least somewhat less overplayed, on your HD channel that no one listens to anyway, and then simulcast it on a hundred-watt translator somewhere in the middle of the dial.

The usual excuse is that Gen Y has a short attention span and can’t deal with anything more complex than chirpy girl singers. It ain’t necessarily so:

If Millennials are so riddled with ADD and limited by shallow concentration — why have they triggered the phenomenon of binge watching on the television side of media things?

And if they are so dumb — as implied by every attempt at music and radio geared by corporate media in the past couple of decades to attract their attention — that it would be considered suicidal to serve them up helpings of meaningful stuff, how do you explain the fact that successful television shows that have earned their loyalty are, in fact, complex as hell? Shows with multiple story lines and long arches that unfold over multiple seasons!

When TV is smarter and hipper than radio, something is very wrong with the world.

Still, winning the hearts and minds of Gen Y is not going to return us to those wonderful days of Top 40: there are too many niches, and niches within niches, and they are never, ever getting back together. Like, ever.

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Y? Because we have to

Oklahoma City lost its Radio Disney affiliate quite a while back. Now just about the entire radio network is going dark:

Disney has revealed plans to sell all but one of its remaining Radio Disney stations as it moves the brand to digital delivery. Broadcasting & Cable reports the stations will go dark around September 26 with the exception of 1110 KDIS Los Angeles, which will remain with the Disney brand.

The reason? Most listeners aren’t actually listening to those radio stations, but through other sources:

B&C’s report states that Disney’s internal research finds among Radio Disney listeners six years old and up, 37% of the their listeners listen via SiriusXM, 35% via desktop streaming, 31% via mobile streaming, and 18% via over-the-air broadcasts.

All the stations are on the AM band except WRDZ-FM Plainfield, Indiana.

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WISH for something new

Indianapolis’ WISH-TV, channel 8, is that market’s CBS affiliate — until the end of the year. Beginning in 2015, CBS will move to WTTV, channel 4, bumping WTTV’s current affiliation with the CW to a subchannel, leaving WISH-TV with, well, nothing actually.

Why would CBS do this?

SNL Kagan senior research analyst Justin Nielson notes that CBS’s new deal with the NFL for Thursday Night Football may have prompted more aggressive affiliate renewal talks.

“Fox and CBS were the first ones to start extracting [reverse retrans] money, primarily because they are spending a lot of money on sports rights,” says Nielson. “Thursday Night Football is quite costly for CBS. They want to make sure they’re getting compensated for that.”

Fox’s affiliate in Indy is WXIN, channel 59, owned by Tribune Media, which also owns, um, WTTV. No other changes have been announced for Indianapolis television — yet.

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You’re listening to Carrousel

“They said they liked the ‘young’ sound,” sang Harry Chapin in WOLD, “when they let me go.” And Harry wasn’t even working in India:

India’s national public radio broadcaster appears to have sacked around 100 presenters for being over its new age limit of 35.

All India Radio says it had to bring in the new age rules because the station needed to “infuse freshness in presentation of programmes”. The Kolkata-based broadcaster initially set the cut-off at 30 years — but then raised it to 35. The measure was then put on hold by an employment tribunal until 8 August — but the journalists in question were dropped the day after the freeze expired, the Hindu daily reports.

There is, however, a faint ray of hope for these senile, wizened over-35s:

All India Radio has responded by saying it will allow presenters to stay on if they pass a test to prove they don’t sound “too mature and boring”, according [to] the Kolkata paper The Telegraph.

(Via WFMU.)

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The point being gotten to

Back in ought-seven, I did a brief writeup of something called Short Attention Span System Radio, which sought to compensate for listeners wandering away by cramming twice as much music into the same space. The results were curious:

I sampled some SASS, and I think I’d notice that they’d boiled down Manfred Mann’s take on Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light,” which runs around 7:05 in its LP incarnation and 3:48 as a single, to a startling 1:45 — but it would take probably half a minute for it to sink in, and by then they’re a third of the way through the next song.

Truly revved up like a douche, as the kids used to say. I imagined there might be a place for such a format, but I couldn’t imagine where.

The answer, it turns out, is Calgary:

Top 40 station 90.3 Amp Radio has started to cut off the songs played on air halfway through, allowing for twice the number of songs to be played each hour in a bid to cater to their listeners’ ever-shortening attention spans.

“We’ve got so much more choice, we’ve got less time (and) our attention spans are shorter,” Amp Radio’s Paul Kaye told CTV Calgary. “We are observing people with their iPods, playing their favourite songs and skipping them before the end because they get bored.”

The station used to play about 12 songs an hour, but the new “QuickHitz” format allows for 24 songs each hour by re-editing the tracks.

It was a lot easier to do 24 songs an hour, I submit, when (1) songs were barely over two minutes and (2) you didn’t have to sell 15 minutes of ad space.

Still, having created what I think is the definitive two-minute edit of “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” which runs seventeen minutes if you don’t put your foot down, I’m probably the wrong person to complain about this.

Admittedly, I’ve gone the other direction as well. Once upon a time, after listening to the Gentrys’ 1965 version of “Keep On Dancing,” which came out of the studio running barely 90 seconds, prompting the producer to start the song over and run just enough of it to break the two-minute mark, I hacked up a 3:42 extended version in which I did the same thing the producer did, only twice. Amp Radio wouldn’t play it, of course, but at least they’d have an obvious place (or two) to edit it.

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Your weekly dose of Hinky

Hinky Dinky Time with Uncle Michael

And this is why you ought to know about it this week, in my semi-humble opinion:

At 9:00 AM (Eastern time) on Friday, July 18th, 2014, please join Uncle Michael in a six-hour odyssey celebrating the history of the Warner Brothers “Loss Leaders.”

Beginning in 1969, Warner Brothers began selling samplers of music by artists on Warner Brothers, Reprise and other, associated labels. These samplers were comprised of a diverse array of artists and styles and were generally presented as double albums which sold for $2. They advertised on the inner sleeves of normal catalog product, in magazine ads, in promotional flyers and at point of sale displays. If you’re of a certain age, these come-ons were ubiquitous.

Listing and classifying these albums has been a side project of this site since the late 20th century. Uncle Michael and I had a longish discussion on what is, and what may not be, a Loss Leader in this context; be it known that I fully support his selections for the playlist, because the guy knows as least as much as I do on the subject, and maybe more.

If you’re not within broadcast distance of the Oranges — WFMU is licensed to East Orange, New Jersey, and its transmitter is located in West Orange — the stream is pretty much always available at wfmu.org.

Update: A darn good show, it was. This was the playlist.

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Evidently not a fan

I normally don’t like to quote an entire article, but this is so short, and so lacking in obvious break points, that I’m just going to do it and urge you to read his Other Stuff:

So apparently Rosie O’Donnell is returning to The View.

This is going to be a big problem for me in the event that my coffin is placed upright in cement in front of a television set tuned to the only frequency remaining after a strange phenomenon wiped out the entire electromagnetic spectrum other than ABC’s signal and the off-switch was sealed with a gallon of Shelob’s webbing.

See what I mean?

Now go read, oh, let’s say this, from his Younger Days.

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Meatcam!

Arby’s has just wrapped up its first 13-hour commercial, which is intended to remind you that the brisket in their Brisket Sandwich is actually smoked in a proper smoker for exactly that length of time. It’s not, admittedly, particularly scintillating, unless you get off on watching meat:

In the dialogue-free commercial, a brisket is placed in a smoker that has been fitted with a glass window and internal light, and it cooks on the screen in one uncut shot. Finally, the brisket is removed from the smoker and Neville Craw, Arby’s corporate executive chef (only his arms and apron-clad torso are seen), slices off some and assembles the sandwich, which includes smoked Gouda cheese, crispy fried onions and barbecue sauce.

The live-TV airing on channel 6.2 in Duluth — Guinness insisted it be carried somewhere on actual television to qualify for Longest Commercial honors — will be followed by a Webcast at www.13hourbrisket.com on Wednesday, starting 8 am Central.

How this compares in excitement level to, say, the Yule-log broadcasts at Christmas, remains to be seen.

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Also available in HD

Which, often as not, stands for “Horrible Detail.” Did you ever notice that A&E, for instance, has very little E and nothing resembling A? This is how it happens:

Maybe there’s some kind of evolutionary arms-race thing in there: a channel starts out with high intentions, it’s going to show smart programming. But then, to get ad-revenue dollars, they find they have to get eyeballs. And by and large in our culture, the way to get eyeballs is either to have really good programming (which is hard to do and expensive, and often really good programming doesn’t capture audience) or to have something sensationalistic — either the aforementioned freak show, or a show with lots of people shouting at each other and barely-bleeped four-letter-words. And so, the channel goes, “Okay. We’ll put on a show following this particular subculture and see how it does. Maybe we can even claim it’s ‘educational,’ seeing as people mostly don’t know about this subculture…” and so on. And then they decide they need a show about tattoo artists. And one about the Amish. And one involving either a pawn shop or antiques pickers. And a weird medical show. And a cooking competition show. And a show about the supernatural. And slowly, this channel that once planned on being different becomes oh, so much the same as the others.

I thought we got cable to have diversity of programming?

As in most areas of the culture, “diversity” is primarily a numbers racket: if you have 106 channels, hey, it’s got to be diverse, right? In the cable context, “diversity” means that on each “topic” you have four largely indistinguishable channels, usually one owned by NBC Universal, one by Disney, one by Viacom, and one by Fox. Smaller players occasionally bob to the surface, but are quickly slapped back down. And since the bigger players control the largest number of eyeballs, they can enforce their will: if you want Obscure Disney Toons, you have to take at least three flavors of ESPN.

Fortunately, this is the sort of thing that can’t go on forever, and, as Herb Stein assures us, it won’t.

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Out there in the audio radiance

KCSC, the classical-music station at the University of Central Oklahoma, changed its call letters to KUCO a couple of weeks ago; I’m frankly surprised they’d stuck with the old calls for so long, inasmuch as the school hasn’t actually been Central State College since the early 1970s. However, the RDS display still reads “KCSC@UCO.”

This should tell you that Gwendolyn had a spa day today — the dreaded MIL, attention to which has never, ever cost me less than $600 — and that they turned me loose in a ’13 G37, a competent handler with a fairly dumb seven-speed automatic and, yes, an RDS display. And I had plenty of time to enjoy the radio, since traffic on the Lake Hefner Parkway was moving at around 15-20 mph. Southbound. This, of course, is impossible, since the Hef’s main purpose in life is to provide an alternative to the Broadway Distention, three miles east, which funnels people out of downtown and into Edmond at that time of day; hardly anyone ever goes south on the Hef during the evening rush.

Near Britton Road — I’d come on at 122nd — I saw the issue. A flat slab of yellow plastic, maybe the size of the similarly colored rack where my dishes dry by evaporation, had been dropped on the line between the center and right lanes. Every swinging Ricardito for two miles had slowed down to get a good look at it. This, I decided, was the first really good argument for self-driving cars, which can’t engage in rubbernecking unless it’s part of their program. (What’s the over/under on them programming them to do exactly that?)

Spa day continues until Nissan can find an EGR valve.

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Some renaissance this is

The Friar drops in at Norman’s Medieval Faire, and spots a rolling anachronism:

A local TV station’s “storm chaser” truck and weather frou-frou display, because heaven knows we don’t have enough reminders that we’re entering storm season in Oklahoma and that if we watch some other channel we’re all going to die.

The least they could do is give the guy — they never seem to send the women for some reason — a proper broadsword.

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U can’t watch this

One of the great mysteries of contemporary life is how, as Springsteen put it, there seems to be 57 channels and nothing on. This is explained, I think, by the concept that they seek to cover every conceivable demographic except yours:

[T]here’s the “channel for men” (or so it used to be called), the channel for teens/twentysomethings, the LGBT channel, a couple kids’ channels, a tween channel. I wish there were a “middle aged spinster channel,” but I suppose we don’t count demographically. And anyway, what would they show? Programs about cats? (Maybe Hallmark is actually the middle-aged spinster channel, now that I think of it). I just wish there were still a channel that actually showed educational programming that was actually educational. PBS does sometimes, though most of the daily block here is taken up with kids’ educational shows rather than ones aimed at adults. I also wish HGTV still occasionally showed quilting or crafts shows, instead of just the “couples arguing over what home they want to buy” programs. (Why are so many programs now about conflict? I have enough conflict and arguing in my day-to-day life that I want something just kind of soothing for my entertainment.)

And of course you have to pay for all 57 of them, even the ones you wouldn’t watch if you were stuck on a desert island and nothing else was within range. Beyond that, there are additional tiers of service, presumably called that because when you see what they do to your bill you will weep.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember A&E as the Arts & Entertainment Network, which occasionally provided entertainment and once in a while some actual arts. And nobody would dare program like this anymore:

Among the programs broadcast on SPN were Video Concert Hall, an early music-video show (before the launch of MTV); News from Home, a program for Canadians in the US, hosted by early CNN news anchor Don Miller; The Shopping Game, a Nicholson-Muir game show produced in Nashville and hosted by Art James; The Susan Noon Show, featuring celebrity interviews; Nutrition Dialogue, hosted by Dr. Betty Kamen; Sewing with Nancy; and Moscow Meridian, a current-affairs program produced by Soviet authorities and hosted by Vladimir Posner. Reruns of old situation comedies and movies, mostly from low-budget studios, rounded out the schedule.

The Satellite Program Network, to give it its full name, was born in 1979; its rotting corpse is still operating as CNBC.

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One of those “weird tricks”

You may even have heard this on the radio. Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News certainly has:

It’s a simple ad. No music or special effects. Just an announcer talking. But he speaks with an urgency that grabs your attention:

“If you’re a baby boomer or a senior, please listen closely to this important message. Politicians in Washington are quietly plotting to decrease your Social Security payments drastically. And they want to do it soon.”

This is consistent with current Washington policy, which is to beggar the middle class, buy off the proles, and enrich the elites; but Social Security’s third-rail status tends to insulate it from the worst governmental ideas.

Also current Washington policy: the War of All Against All. From that same radio spot:

“In fact, despite rising prices at the gas pump, grocery store and doctor’s office, retirees have received a mere 1.3 percent annual increase to their Social Security checks. Meanwhile, food stamp recipients have seen their payouts increase over 30 percent under the Obama administration. That’s shocking.”

Which latter was part of the dubious “stimulus package,” long since expired; SNAP has since been trimmed back a bit. But that’s not what they came to tell you:

“So when we stumbled upon a weird trick that could add up to $1,000 to your monthly Social Security checks, we knew we had to share it with you. To get started, simply go to [link redacted].”

And if you go there?

If you go, you’ll discover this is just a come-on to get your credit card number for a trial subscription to financial newsletters. And those newsletters tout even more government freebies.

Of course, those terrible people in Washington can take away those freebies more easily than they can cut Social Security, but you’re not supposed to know that.

And if you’re supposed to resent all those freeloaders on food stamps, yet you send away for all this stuff to get your very own government cheese — well, what does that say about you?

(Via this Jeff Greenfield tweet.)

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The nearest faraway news

Champlin’s KZLS 1640 — not to be confused with Champlin’s KZLS 99.7, once the True Oldies Channel, now classic-country outlet KNAH (is Serutan sponsoring?) — is moving to a news/talk format, and they’ve hired KTOK expat Reid Mullins to do the morning show.

I’m not quite sure how well this is going to work out. The KZLS tower, east of Hennessey, reaches the Oklahoma City metro decently in the daytime, what with 10,000 watts to work with; however, they have only 1,000 watts at night, which barely gets them to the middle of Guthrie. Then again, who listens to news/talk at night? I suspect KZLS will have far more listeners to their Internet stream than to their actual radio signal.

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Air apparent

Welch, Oklahoma, not so hard by the Kansas border north of Vinita, is about to get a low-power community radio station:

Voice of Welch Communications, Inc. (VOW) has been granted a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a low-power FM (LPFM) radio station serving the Welch and Bluejacket areas.

VOW president, Tyson Wynn, said, “Providing radio service to my hometown area has long been a dream of mine. Since first working at Vinita’s KITO during high school, I have been in love with the medium of radio and its ability to provide immediate coverage of local news and events. I’m also thrilled that LPFM is designed to be a very local operation. Welchkins, including Welch school students, will have the opportunity to learn the craft of radio. Dave Boyd trained me and put me on the air at KITO when I was 16 years old, and we’re going to give another generation of young people that same opportunity.”

I’ve met Tyson Wynn, and his enthusiasm is genuine. And I’m definitely pleased that radio service, which has been migrating from small towns to big cities for many years, is showing up in a community of 600.

The Welch facility will broadcast on 94.7 MHz with 100 watts. It will not quite reach Vinita or Miami, the two nearest cities. (And in case you’re wondering, KITO, while still licensed to Vinita, broadcasts nothing of particular interest to Vinita; it’s now just a relay for the Sports Animal’s Tulsa — actually Muskogee — facility.)

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Hanging off the edge of the dial

I was glancing down the news listings at RadioInsight, and this little bit of broadcast history caught my eye:

WLFM-LP [Cleveland] debuted the locally oriented “Sound” format in July 2012, as one of the so-called Franken-FM’s. These are low-powered analog television signals operating on Channel 6 using the fact that its audio signal on 87.75 is able to be tuned by many radios. These signals are required to convert to digital operation by September 1, 2015 at which point they will no longer be able to operate as a radio station.

“Are there any more of these?” I wondered. More than a dozen, in fact, including WNYZ-LP in New York, about which an “out of date” Wikipedia article says:

During most of its life, the station has been operated more as a radio station than a television station; though WNYZ-LP broadcasts video, it is usually silent movies that are repeated throughout the day, and only to fulfill the Federal Communications Commission requirement that some sort of video be broadcast on the frequency. Since the digital transition, WNYZ broadcast color bars, a legal ID, and a message telling viewers to listen to 87.7 MHz, the audio of the digital channel. It is the last remaining analog television station in New York City.

So what’s on? It’s Danu Radio, billed as “The Only Russian-Speaking Radio Station in North America.” At least, that’s what it is Monday through Friday, according to the schedule; presumably something else (Caribbean?) fills up the weekend.

And at some point, we’re supposed to hear, maybe, the lovely Tatyana Rodos:

Tatyana Rodos of Danu Radio NYC

She has Twitter and Facebook presences, but hasn’t done anything with either of them lately.

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