Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Radio Waves Podcast #111

The holiday season brought a grinch of sorts to internet radio station webcasters: an increase in the cost of licensing fees for the music they play.

In a decision announced in December, new rates were developed as they have been every five years and taking effect as of January 1st. Unlike previous years, the rates did not include a special provision for small to medium-sized webcasters that allowed them to pay a percentage of revenue rather than a royalty per song, per listener. Considering that most small webcasters make no money, this was a huge cost-savings.

And the difference between allowing their hobby to continue or having to let it go. Island Classic Hits, for example, claims on its website that its fees are increasing from roughly $900 per year to more than $30,000 annually. And this is typical, according to other webcasters to whom I have spoken.

So as of January 1st, hundreds of webcasters nationwide have shut down their streams completely or are playing loops of music or messages asking listeners to lobby Congress for help. The royalty rates are set by a three-member panel of judges known as the Copyright Royalty Board, and there is still a chance that the Board will work something out.

Interestingly, while radio stations streams pay these royalties (and of course have advertising to back them up unlike most small webcasters) stations themselves pay no fees for their on-air broadcasts, as the music industry recognizes the place radio exposure has in the sales of music ... without exposure, there are no sales.

Which is why I find it not only ironic but stupid anbd shortsighted that small (it actually should be all) webcasters are not totally exempt from the royalty fees ... radio does a lousy job of exposing new music and new acts; without the internet and webcasters many songs would never be heard at all ... and music sales would suffer more.

Celebration Time

A celebration of the 30th anniversary of the launch of the "Pure Rock" format on KNAC (now KBUE, 105.5 FM) in Long Beach will take place January 8th at 4 p.m. The webcast will be hosted by former KNAC-FM morning man, Thrasher, who will be joined by many of the former Pure Rock personalities to reminisce and share stories about the station. The show will also include recorded airchecks from the nine years that the Pure Rock format existed at the station.

You can experience this event on your computer or mobile device at the following location:

• Via the LA Radio Studio website:http://laradiostudio.com/CamChat/cam.html or with chatroom at http://laradiostudio.com/CamChat/


• Via Shoutcast.com at: http://209.95.50.189:8034/listen.pls(winamp or realplayer) (audio only)

According to my Pure Rock historian and former Pure Rock Talkback host, Michael Stark, some streams may not always work due to internet bandwidth problems, so if one doesn’t work, try another. 

Then, ffter listening on Friday, come out Saturday night and party with the staff - in person - as the KNAC 30th Anniversary Party continues from 8 p.m. to closing time at Saint Rocke, 142 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

Changes Down South

I grew up in San Pedro, which due to its location near the coast was a near ideal place to hear radio stations from San Diego. So besides the great local stations, I grew up listening to San Diego’s KCBQ (1170 AM) and others as well.

One of my favorites was B-100 (KFMB-FM, 100.7), San Diego’s first FM top-40 station. Programmed by Bobby Rich, the station included some amazing talent, many of whom came from KCBQ and KGB (now KLSD, 1360 AM) : Gene Knight, Dave Conley, and our own transplant, Shotgun Tom Kelly (now heard on KRTH 101.1 FM weekends).

In more recent years the excitement of B-100 was lost as the station evolved into first Star 100.7 and then Jack-FM (not to be confused with our own Jack). Ratings were decent, but it was certainly not the same.

Now the station is trying something new, and personally I’m kind of excited that they have the foresight -- and the guts to go against modern brand-think -- and are using the actual call letters, saying them much as they did during the B-100 era: “K-F-M, B-F-M”

The new 100.7 KFMB-FM is basically an alternative-leaning classic rock station playing songs similar to KGB-FM (101.5 FM). Or the former Jack format, for that matter. “We play whatever we want, whenever we want” (note to programmers - you should be playing what listeners want) is the new slogan ... not far removed from the Jack concept of “playing what we want.” As I write this. Oingo Boingo’s “Just Another Day” is coming out of the speakers; the launch song on Monday, January 4th at about 10:10 a.m. was “The Spirit of Radio” by Rush.

The new launch wrapped up a week of stunting, in which there was a different format each day after the Christmas music stopped.

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