Airwaves: October 14, 2016
Budget cuts are a fact of life in these days of corporate radio. But in a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish, the entire metro area of Albuquerque, New Mexico almost lost every television and FM radio station because transmitter sites are no longer manned unless work is being done. And it could happen elsewhere.
KOB Television Channel 4 reported last week that two television engineers just happened to be in the area -- they normally are not -- and noticed an open door at one transmitter building with flickering light inside. They then witnessed an unknown man and, according to KOB, “practically interrupted the male suspect as he lit the first (of a stash) of Molotov cocktails.”
The suspect remains on the loose; his stolen getaway vehicle was later found on fire. But investigators say that there was enough fuel brought to the mountain location to “literally blow every broadcaster off the mountain,” according to KOB’s Kasia Gregorczyk. More Molotov cocktails were found just steps away from dozens of transmitters that also featured backup generators with propane tanks. Officials are considering it an act of domestic terrorism.
As one comment to the story reprinted at AllAccess.Com stated, “not so long ago, the F.C.C. required that all TV transmitter sites be manned whenever the station was on-the-air. This manned presence also helped provide some security. Perhaps station owners need to rethink the unmanned transmitter site paradigm.”
I received quite a few emails regarding my plan to bring AM radio back to life by playing music, the idea being that if you play what people want to hear they may actually consider the band an entertainment choice rather than something to ignore.
I know that it probably won’t happen. At least not overnight. But I once again send this message to owners: what have you got yo lose? No one is listening now anyway. Realistically, though, it will probably take the bankruptcy of the large ownership monopolies before this really happens. Once the stations are under local control again.
Regardless, the emails were mostly in agreement, some offering more suggestions. Such as:
“Nice article on AM stations being dead in LA, with your advice that AM stations should go back to older music formats. However, you left out a format that I and many others care greatly about: Classic Country. For many of us, older country music (i.e., prior to about 1990) is far superior to the newer stuff; I have talked with many older country music fans over the years that lament the fact that Classic Country music cannot be found on either AM or FM stations. Fortunately, SiriusXM does carry a station called Willie’s Roadhouse that plays Classic Country music. But, SiriusXM costs me over $200 per year. I only subscribe to it so I can listen to Classic Country, and I would much prefer an AM or FM station with the same format.” -- Ron Viereck, Long Beach
A few writers mentioned KBOQ (1260 AM, 105.1 HD3) as the one music format that IS on local AM. That was not an oversight as I wanted to specifically mention formats missing from the dial ... I am always happy to mention the station. But of all the letters received, not one person thought it a bad idea.
Shotgun Tom Kelly appeared on Tonight in San Diego recently. Check out the appearance at http://tinyurl.com/ShotgunTomSDT ... Don Barrett of LARadio.Com reports that Jim Meeker, veteran of KEZY, KWIZ and the original KRLA died of prostate cancer last weekend at the age of 78. Meeker’s favorite on-air contest: giving away a real love horse on his afternoon KEZY show during the height of popularity for America’s “Horse With No Name.” This horse was given a name: Amerage ...
KFWB (980 AM) has been sold again, just six months since it was originally bought from CBS for $8 million. Price paid this time by Lotus Communications? $11.2 million ... What does it mean when a company pushes it’s own station to a lower-fidelity HD stream? I’d say it either doesn’t give a darn about the station or it is so desperate for cash it shouldn’t be in the broadcast business. Such is the case with Cumulus’ KABC (790 AM), which pushed its HD simulcast on 95.5 FM to KLOS’s HD3 stream. It had been HD2 with a nice sound. now it just sounds bad. Make of that what you want.