Archive for Overmodulation

Keepers of the sacred tablets

Welcome to Rare Disease Month. (Actually, I think that was February, but no matter.) This should make the producers of the few remaining soap operas very, very happy. Look what it did for ABC’s General Hospital:

A recent plot twist … had one character not just getting any cancer, but polycythemia vera (PV), a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). In other words, a rare form of blood cancer for which the standard treatment is blood-letting and anticoagulants.

The TV patient, not satisfied with this prognosis, demands of the doctor, “This protocol sounds like you are treating the symptoms of this cancer; how do we beat it?” “I have to keep going to bloodlettings for the rest of my life?”

Now that’s the beginning of a story arc for the ages. And there’s technical assistance to be had:

Why is GH highlighting this incredibly specific cancer? It’s ostensibly the culmination of a partnership between a company called the Incyte Corporation and the producers of the show to raise awareness for MPNs as part of rare disease month.

Or, you know, not:

But in an opinion piece published this week in medical journal JAMA, Dr. Sham Mailankody of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health & Science University argue that this is really just stealth advertising for Incyte, which just so happens to make only one FDA-approved product, ruxolitinib, which (you can probably see where this is going) is used to treat MPNs, including PV.

Doesn’t sound like an off-label usage. What’s the problem?

But the fictional circumstances could make it seem like ruxolitinib is a first-line therapy for PV, which it is not, the doctors note.

“Instead it has a precise and narrow indication,” they write, explaining that the drug is approved only for patients with an inadequate response or intolerance to chemotherapy, who are dependent on blood-letting, and who have an enlarged spleen.

“Thus, if PV is rare, appropriate use of ruxolitinib in PV should be rarer still,” the doctors say.

On the other hand, you’re not going to see routine stuff like mere strep on General Hospital, fercrissake. And you don’t want to know how much Jakafi (the brand name under which ruxolitinib is sold) is going to cost.

Oh, you do? I checked prices in my neighborhood, and we’re talking $2,800.

For fourteen tablets.

Two hundred bucks, give or take a dollar or three, per tab. If you’re going to be able to afford that, it probably helps to have a steady gig on an ABC soap.

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Four’s a crowd

First, the jargon:

Sinclair Broadcast Group has set a $3.9 billion cash-and-stock agreement to acquire Tribune Media, a deal that will bring more than 200 TV stations under one roof and vault Sinclair into the big leagues of national TV.

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” said Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”

This is where it gets interesting, at least in this market: Sinclair already owns KOKH-TV (Fox) and KOCB (The CW), while Tribune owns KFOR-TV (NBC) and KAUT-TV (independent). Up to now, the FCC has allowed no more than two stations per owner in a single market:

The rule allows an entity to own up to two TV stations in the same [Designated Market Area] if either (1) the service areas — known as “Grade B signal contours” — of the stations do not overlap; or (2) at least one of the stations is not ranked among the top four stations in the DMA (based on market share), and at least eight independently owned TV stations would remain in the market after the proposed combination.

Condition 2 obtains here: KOCB doesn’t make it to the top four, as you might expect of an affiliate of the fifth-place network, and the Oklahoma City market has 13 full-power TV stations with 11 different owners. The third duopoly, should you want to know, is Griffin Communications’ KWTV-DT (CBS) and KSBI (MyNetworkTV).

Loosening of the FCC ownership rules is an ongoing process, headed by the FCC’s Ajit Pai, nomimated to the Commission by President Obama in 2012, and named Chairman by President Trump in 2017. However, I can’t see them loosening the rules enough to allow one entity to own four full-power stations in a single market; Sinclair, I’m thinking, will sell off one or two. And since KOKH and KOCB are pretty solidly integrated, I don’t expect Sinclair to break up the set; I mean, what would happen to the content verticals?

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Shutting the Fox up

WFXT in Boston, which was but is no longer owned by Fox Broadcasting, has been downplaying its network affiliation, apparently as a matter of branding:

FOX 25 Boston is dropping the FOX affiliation from its newscast names.

The station is switching to “Boston 25 News” starting April 24.

“The perception of what our TV news station does is not what we do. They perceive us to be part of the Fox News family,” said general manager of the Cox-owned station Tom Raponi.

The Fox 25 branding will remain for non-news shows, which presumably don’t embarrass leftish Bostonians the way Fox News apparently does.

(Via Patrick Phillips.)

Addendum: Then there’s this:

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Four channels and nothing on

An artifact from the early days of cable:

What I wanted to know is this: what four channels? Sault Ste. Marie had no TV stations of its own in 1969; WWUP-TV (UP, get it?), channel 10, rebroadcast WWTV, the CBS station in Cadillac, Michigan; WPBN-TV (then owned by the Paul Bunyan Network), channel 7, brought in NBC from Traverse City. There was no ABC affiliate back then, so those two split whatever ABC programs they thought might be worth carrying. (In 1971, WGTU, channel 29, would sign on from Traverse City as a full-time ABC affiliate; five years later they added a satellite on channel 8 in Sault Ste. Marie proper.) Educational TV? Maybe, if you could pick up WCMU-TV from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant — and if you were on the cable, you probably could, even though WCMU was way out on channel 14.

Still, we’ve accounted for only three channels. For the fourth, we must venture northward. In 1955, CJIC-TV signed on from the Ontario side of the river on channel 2; it became a CBC affiliate, closing down in 2002. (It’s now rebroadcasting CBC Toronto.)

As for prices, well, $3.99 a month (we’re extrapolating from “13 cents a day”) for four channels works out to about a buck a channel. Last time I rescanned the TV I was getting 106 channels for $86, 81 cents a channel. If there were economies of scale in the cable industry, they’ve long since faded away.

(I should point out here that I’ve spent maybe half a week of my life in Michigan, and none in the Upper Peninsula; I do have a lot of reference materials, and occasionally, I have time on my hands.)

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Clickbait for the eyes

“It is indeed a goddam noisy box,” Jubal Harshaw said to the Man from Mars. And of course he was right:

I think I’m done with local news. This morning they reported on a string of burglaries a couple counties south of me and spent about a minute on the story, and then lavished five minutes (roughly) on one of those “Florida Man” stories where someone gets themselves in trouble with the law in a highly stupid way and I was like, “I could use more detail about the LOCAL burglaries so I could know what to do to avoid becoming a victim” but of course, entertainment value and the freak-show that modern life has become seems to be more important and probably gets more eyeballs.

Once again, I think of my plan to offer a “Just News” channel that ran the important news stories — no celebrity fluff, no dumb-criminal stories, no oversweetened Human Interest stuff — and repeated it every 15 minutes or so. Or maybe devoted 15 minutes to Europe news, 15 minutes to The Americas, 15 minutes to Asia, and 15 minutes to Africa … and then loop it around. (And yeah: Australia would have to go in with Asia, I suppose.)

“You give us 22 minutes,” says WINS Radio in New York, “and we’ll give you the world.” And they’ve been doing that for over 50 years.

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Sort of a bandwagon

And a short bandwagon at that, but surely no harm is being done:

A Birmingham radio station is taking women hosts off the air and will only play songs by men as part of [today’s] “A Day Without a Woman” protest.

WUHT/Hot 107.7, a Cumulus Media station, said the change reflects the absence of women for the day. Midday host Tasha Simone and station voice Jeannie Johnson will be off air for the day and all songs played during non-syndication hours will feature men only.

“This was an easy decision for us,” said Ken Johnson, Operations Manager, WUHT-FM/Hot 107.7, and Vice President, Urban, Cumulus Media, said. “Women are our core listeners and these women contribute a great deal to our sound. Honoring women by highlighting to the community how important they are is a no-brainer.”

Wonder if DJ Big Sweatt will get his hours extended.

“Plus,” said Johnson, “hearing more Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross is not a bad thing.”

True that.

(Via Kirby McCain.)

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We’ll be Bach, somewhere

Our old friend Lisa let it be known what she was listening to instead of the Trump Show yesterday:

Automotive radio tuned to KDFC in the San Francisco Bay Area

This banged into my forehead, since once upon a time I had memorized the dial position of just about every commercial classical-music station in the nation, and KDFC, so far as I remembered, was at 102.1. (They’d had a crosstown rival, KKHI, at 95.7, but they died about 20 years ago.)

So what happened here? It didn’t take long to find the truth of the matter:

The KDFC-FM call sign and programming were previously assigned to 102.1 FM, from its inception in 1948 until January 2011, when the format and intellectual property moved to the former KUSF. The University of Southern California also acquired the 89.9 FM frequency in Angwin, California and its two translator signals in Eureka and Lakeport. The KDFC call sign was officially assigned to the Angwin station.

But that’s 89.9. This KDFC must therefore be — another translator! And so it is.

Historically, 104.9 has been the location of a lot of small-town signals that didn’t compete with the Big Boys; originally FM Class A was limited to 3,000 watts ERP at 100 meters, and only Class A stations were assigned to 104.9. This is no longer the case, and current Class A stations are allowed 6,000 watts. But KDFC isn’t the only classical station that got shunted off to 104.9; WCLV in Cleveland, formerly on a 30-kw stick at 95.5, not only moved down the dial but out of town, into the city of Lorain to the northwest. I remember dialing in from south of Cleveland and making a turn eastward to see if the new and unimproved signal could reach Severance Hall, on Cleveland’s east side. (Answer: barely, at least with the equipment I had.)

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We got your playlist right here, pal

Were I not actually here and able to tune in 101.7, I’d almost believe this:

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Local Christian radio station 101.7 WSLT “Salt & Light Radio” announced Friday a new programming direction wherein its radio hosts would be instructed to select from a list of nine different songs, up from the usual eight — which was already double the industry standard.

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to add Chris Tomlin’s ‘Good, Good Father’ to the rotation. We know we’ll get some push-back here, but we believe God loves diversity and creativity,” a spokesman for the station said in a statement Friday.

“Of course, we’ll still be playing the other eight songs over and over and over again — we just really wanted to push the boundaries by adding one more to the rotation,” he noted. “But the staples like ‘The God I Know,’ ‘Holy Spirit,’ ‘Oceans,’ and that song where the girl says she’s going to get her worship on aren’t going anywhere.”

Actually, that last song is not bad at all:

And with a nine-song rotation, you probably won’t hear it more than once an hour.

That said, there’s no available space at 101.7 in this market, what with a big Class C FM at 101.9.

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Asleep at the switch

ESPN Radio, bless them, actually provided radio coverage of the first game of the World Series, which suited me fine since they generally go to the trouble to pretend to be unbiased, something that wasn’t going to happen with the Cubs network (WSCR) or the Indians network (WTAM).

Unfortunately, KWPN, the local ESPN Radio affiliate (640 AM), gave an indication of being woefully short of clues. Unable to determine whether to run ESPN’s national spots or their local commercials between innings, they ran both simultaneously. This is the manner of radio stations that aren’t paying attention to their business.

(They finally figured this out in the middle of the fourth; I have no idea whether they saw my none-too-gentle tweet on the subject. Unfortunately, the malpractice resumed half an inning later; eventually I gave up and returned to WTAM.)

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I always miss these things

But I suspect it was fun while it lasted:

MP Media has relaunched its recently acquired 105.1 WVWF Waverly TN and has begun stunting as “Trump 105.1.”

The station is running a brief loop of songs with a brief connection to Trump such as Gloria Estefan’s “Bad Boy” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.” Sweepers include the predictable “Making Radio Great Again” and “Building A Wall Around Other Stations.”

The station is now imaging itself as 105.1 The Wolf. Still, I’m wondering how many songs one could associate with Donald Trump, besides the Beatles’ obvious “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” and your suggestions are welcomed.

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Sound bite, rebitten

It’s 44 years old, more or less, but the memory of this one segue has stuck with me all the while.

Tech Hi-Fi, an electronics retailer that bought tons of radio advertising in those days, had this one spot, which I heard on then-tiny WAAF, stuck at the far end of the dial in Worcester, Massachusetts. I can’t for the life of me remember the words, but they were set to a shortened version (no more than one minute) of “When I Was a Lad” from HMS Pinafore.

They cut off the song with the last line from the chorus, and one of the greatest songs of 1878 was followed by one of the greatest songs of 1972:

To this day, if I hear “When I Was a Lad,” I’ll expect it to be followed by “I’ll Be Around.” And if more people remember Gilbert and Sullivan than Thom Bell, well, life is like that sometimes.

I am also indebted to WAAF for playing the original Move version of “Do Ya,” which charted at a meager #93 in those curious days of 1972. Jeff Lynne, who wrote it, recut it with Electric Light Orchestra in 1976, but as the man1 says, the original’s still the greatest.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A pause to remember

It was a single paragraph in the midst of several others:

Thomas Copenhaver is selling his two stations in Marion VA to CDM Broadcasting. Classic Rock 102.5 WOLD-FM and CHR “Z103.5” WZVA go from TEC2 Broadcasting and TECO Broadcasting respectively to CDM for $651,039. CDM began operating the two stations via Time Brokerage Agreement on August 1.

Wait a minute. WOLD?

Yep. Actually, that call predates the late Harry Chapin’s song by six years; they were a country station at the time and didn’t play it.

From a 1987 tribute to Harry, featuring brothers Tom and Steve, here’s Richie Havens with this song of the DJ who is no longer young:

I was suspecting, though, that like Harry and Richie, WOLD might be dead: their livestream produced nothing, and their Web site had been taken over. Nothing at WZVA either. I left a query at the WOLD Facebook page; they say they’re still around and that the new owners are implementing new Web stuff.

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Clear that channel!

Radio, notes Doc Searls, really isn’t “radio” anymore:

It’s just a name for one legacy-labeled stream among countless others on the Net. Radio’s boat-anchor legacy is called “range” and “coverage.” On AM and FM, those are limited to a city or region, and to legacy receiving devices mostly used in cars, where more and more sources of content (Apple, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, et. al.) are appearing on the dashboard. The quality of legacy radio electronics is also limited to cheap available chipsets and by the fashion of concealing antennas, which makes reception even worse.

This latter, after looking at my car, certainly seems true to me: Bose, or whoever made this auto system for them, might have spent maybe 85 cents on the AM section, and the antenna is more or less hidden among the rear-defroster wires, good for aesthetics, not so good for reception.

But this I did not know, though I shouldn’t have been surprised:

AM won’t even work in all-electric cars, thanks to interference from computing machinery. That’s why it’s not included in Teslas.

Nissan will sell you an AM/FM/CD system for the all-electric Leaf, but then it’s probably got a lot fewer sources of interference than the Tesla.

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Where peacocks once roamed

During a Dodgers/Phillies game, I heard a reference to “NBC News Radio,” and wondered where that came from.

Now I know:

NBC News Radio has been distributed by iHeartMedia and its TTWN Networks since July 2016. It is provided to the network’s 24/7 News Source affiliates and includes a top of the hour newscast along with other audio content which is heard on over 1000 radio stations.

The original NBC Radio Network was purchased by Westwood One in 1987 as General Electric, which acquired NBC’s parent company RCA, divested most properties not pertaining to the NBC television network. NBC Radio’s news operation was merged into the Mutual Broadcasting System, then into Westwood One’s then-corporate sibling CBS Radio, and eventually assimilated into the syndicator itself. Initially just a service limited to one-hour reports from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, on March 5, 2012, Dial Global — who had acquired Westwood One — announced NBC News Radio would expand to a full-time 24-hour radio news network, replacing CNN Radio (that itself replaced both NBC Radio and Mutual in 1999).

Awfully convoluted, this story, but then that was to be expected.

Far as I know, they have no affiliate here in the 405; iHeartMedia’s one news-oriented station in this market is, like many of its corporate sisters, emotionally wedded to Fox.

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Fading into silence

A hint at what radio used to be:

Advertisement for radio station KWK in St Louis, 1947

You’d think an original three-letter call from the 1920s would be worth preserving, but apparently not: starting in 1984, KWK went through a dizzying variety of call letters, ending in 2015 as KXFN. Before it was KWK, it was KFVE, and over the years they moved from 1280 to 1350 to 1380. For a while, there was also an FM, at 106.5. This made for some interesting situations:

Since the AM and FM stations were licensed in different cities, KWK was only allowed to simulcast on both frequencies for a portion of the day. John Hutchinson remembered “when the AM and FM broadcasts were split, the FM jock would play the playlist from the top of the page down and the AM jock would play tunes from the bottom of the page up. When the time came to simulcast we would pick a tune over the intercom and try to begin the tunes at the same time so that we could flip the ‘simulcast’ switch and purportedly no one would detect the merge. Of course this did not always happen smoothly … causing much hilarity amongst the air staff.”

The station has been silent since last December. The Mutual Broadcasting System was killed by Westwood One in 1999; the “Muny,” still in Forest Park, continues.

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The bloom is off

Ad for KVOS-TV featuring Jack Benny

This turned up at the International Jack Benny Fan Club, and yeah, that’s a great picture of Jack, but what puzzled me was the plug for KVOS-TV in “Canada’s Third Market.” Clearly not a Canadian call. I of course had to hunt this station down, and found it in Bellingham, Washington:

In 1955, [owner Rogan] Jones, realizing that most of his audience was across the border, incorporated KVOS in Canada, establishing a subsidiary company in Vancouver. The subsidiary, KVOS-TV Limited, brought in revenue for the station by allowing many Vancouver-area businesses to buy advertising time on the station, which is still the case today. KVOS-TV continued to broadcast from Bellingham, with much of its audience based in southwestern British Columbia.

Eventually, KVOS-TV gave up its CBS affiliation; it now carries MeTV. (Reruns of The Jack Benny Program air weekends on rival Antenna TV.)

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No amplitude to modulate

Québec City has over half a million people, with a quarter-million more nearby. What it doesn’t have is any AM radio service:

Hit SCAN on your radio in the daytime and it’ll stroll nonstop while finding nothing. Hit it at night and it’ll stop at every channel, finding mostly skywave signals bouncing in from U.S. stations. The big ones on relatively clear channels — e.g. WFAN/660, WOR/710, WABC/770 and WCBS/880 from New York — come in like locals. From Canada the only two “clears” still left in Ontario or Quebec, CHWO/740 and CJBC/860 (former English and French CBC landmarks in Toronto) — come in too.

But Canada has pretty much abandoned the AM band. I’m a bit surprised, because only AM skywave can reach radios in Canada’s vast outlying rural and wilderness areas. Alas, the transmitter site for both the 740 and 860 signals turned out to be somewhat farther from Toronto than other AMs, with disadvantaged their signals in town, even though their night signals reached pretty much all of eastern Canada. So the CBC let them go.

When did all this happen? I found a pre-postmortem for the last AM station in the capital:

CHRC started in 1926, and spent most of its life as a talk station, notably the home of André Arthur (who expressed his thoughts to Radio-Canada). In 2005, it became Info 800, a sister station to Info 690 in Montreal. Then it was taken over by the Remparts and Patrick Roy. Its current format is mostly sports talk, with Quebec Remparts (QMHJL) and Laval Rouge et Or university football games (both of those will move to Cogeco’s FM93) and Quebec Capitales baseball games.

It’s not terribly surprising that such a station wouldn’t find a way to work, especially since there’s no other AM radio in the region and so little reason for anyone to even switch over to the AM band.

The last day was 30 September 2012.

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Meanwhile on Channel 1

The FCC officially shut down TV channel 1 in 1948, but somehow a Channel 1 exists today: KAXT-CD in San Jose, California. How this works:

The DTV virtual channels between KAXT-LD’s Channel 22 (physical: 42, formerly 22) and KRCB’s Channel 22 (physical: 23) Cotati, had significant overlap that caused a PSIP conflict, allowing KAXT-CD to move to a new virtual channel, Channel 1. KAXT operates with a PSIP of Channel 1, with 12 different video program streams and one audio-only channels for a total of 13 virtual channels.

These are, yes, virtual channels: the actual KAXT signal is on channel 42, but to tune it in over the air, you’d set your TV to channel 1.

Or that’s what it says, anyway. I can’t seem to pick up their stream.

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Must have been some pitch

What did KLAC (570 AM) in Los Angeles pay for the broadcast rights to Dodgers games? If you’re thinking an arm and a leg, you’re pretty close:

KLAC will be spun into Los Angeles Broadcasting Partners, a new holding company held by the two groups. iHeart [Media] will retain 51% of the ownership of the station as well as control of its day-to-day operations. The Dodgers through its LARadioCo will hold 49% of the station.

In case you weren’t paying attention, iHeartMedia is the group owner formerly known as Clear Channel.

And the Dodgers get one more chip:

As part of the deal, iHeart cannot launch another Sports station in the Los Angeles market for the next fifteen years without the written consent of the Dodgers.

Oh, KLAC is also carrying the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.

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An earful of Bollywood

Bollywood movies — indeed, South Asian cinema is general — can be expected to contain a whole lot of original, in the sense of “written for this picture, anyway,” music.

And with terrestrial radio hard up for programming of late, this was probably inevitable:

Cumulus Media has ended its LMA of Universal Media Access’ 92.3 KSJO San Jose CA.

Universal Media Access has flipped the station to Indian music as “Bolly 92.3”. They had registered Bolly923FM.com anonymously in late January and the site is now live promoting it as “The Bay Area’s Bollywood Station.”

You didn’t think Cumulus would come up with this on their own, did you?

Not much so far on the Web site but a link for livestreaming: the stream has been somewhat erratic, but what I’ve heard has been great fun.

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Not a major market

Most of this is completely inarguable:

Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

Donald Trump isn’t buying TV ads in Super Tuesday states prior to the big day. Doesn’t need to. He’s got all the coverage he needs, and has since June.

New Hampshire TV stations got rich from Jeb Bush and his SuperPac friends.

Well, one New Hampshire TV station: WMUR-TV Manchester, the only actual Big Four network station in the entire state. (It’s ABC, if you care, and why would you?) Everything else is low-power, PBS, or aimed at the Boston market. Still, I’m sure Hearst Television, owner of WMUR, was happy to cash those checks from the Jeb! machine.

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Around the Edge

NOW 92.9, née NOW 96.5, is now THEN 0.0; Tyler, having failed to make any headway with a CHR-ish format against iHeartMedia’s KJYO (KJ103), has reworked this translator into The Edge 92.9, billed as OKC’s Rock Alternative. As before, it’s a side-channel of a big station — KOMA-HD2 — running 200 watts, which isn’t enough to reach the entire metro, though you can always spend a few bucks for an HD Radio receiver, as have at least ten other people in this town, or pick up their audio stream.

KOMA-HD3, in case you were curious, is the Classic Hip-Hop outlet at 103.1, known as V103; I find it amusing that three stations image with 103 in this town, starting with KJ103, which is actually at 102.7; Perry’s KVSP, long the urban (read: “black”) station in town, continues to be “Power 103.5.”

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A future without Bob

Monday, after playing “That’s All” by Genesis — in retrospect, an inspired choice — KQOB (96.9), the former Bob FM, earlier this year stripped of its Bob imaging, began stunting with Christmas music, and no, I don’t know what’s coming up. RadioInsight reports:

Jack Elliot and Ron Williams will slide from Hot AC “98.9 Kiss-FM” KYIS to 96.9 on Monday, December 3. The station will continue with Christmas music until after the holiday season when a new format will debut. Jack and Ron recently celebrated their 21st anniversary at Kiss. The opening at KYIS will be filled by Joey and Heather who are currently at sister CHR “Wild 104.9” KKWD.

The third of December is actually a Thursday, but most of this makes sense, especially since the local Cumulus cluster has been suffering mightily in the ratings of late. (KQOB didn’t even show up in the November numbers.) Jack and Ron didn’t give out any clues in their on-air announcement, but, said Jack, Cumulus is basically building this station around them.

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The Chicken Little Channel

The old newsroom saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Apparently this also works in weather:

Many local broadcast meteorologists say that the national reporting on severe weather is out of control, with sloppy reporting and almost incessant hyping of events. What this is doing, they add, is spreading misinformation that may be desensitizing viewers to actual weather risk.

In terms of my own hometown, I am at the point now where if there are any warnings beyond the most routine, I have to say something on Facebook just to reassure everyone that I am not in fact dead.

One critic, from Birmingham, Alabama:

[James] Spann, for instance, says national TV got the Houston floods story last May wrong by suggesting they were extraordinary, when, in fact, the city has a long history of such flooding.

“The networks just decided that this never happened before. That’s just idiotic,” he says, adding that the destructive flooding was a big enough story that it didn’t need hype.

Another, from a network O&O in Boston:

While indisputably powerful, the devastation caused by Sandy resulted from the storm hitting a heavily populated area rather than its sheer force. That fact was missed in many of the stories, he says.

“It was not a freak of nature,” [Eric] Fisher says. “Not everything has to be the worst, or the biggest or unprecedented.”

I blame global cooling/warming/stasis: it’s necessary to appear to have extreme events to prop up the narrative.

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U can’t watch this

‘Cause I said so:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Hacking your own home tv show?

Since this makes no sense by itself, the follow-up:

I want to learn to hack my home tv satellite and tv so that people cannot watch certain show or program and will change the show or program based on the data that I input

There are, I suspect, exactly two possibilities here:

  • Guy’s never heard of parental controls;
  • Guy’s heard of parental controls, but the Younger Folk know more about them than he does.

The question of whether this would be a violation of the agreement with the satellite company is left as an exercise for the student.

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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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