You can imagine my surprise last Friday night when the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) announced it was moving forward with its plan to help AM radio survive. “Ratchet Rule?” Marconi must have come up with that. Change it. Transmitters that decrease carrier levels when low or no audio is present to save electricity? Sign us up. And FM translators for AM stations! That’s sure to work because a low power FM signal will cause lots of people to switch over to the AM band and ensure its survival.
AM Revitalization? It’s more like “AM Migration.”
Most of these planned fixes are going to cost lots of money. Will struggling AM station owners actually invest in their facilities having the knowledge their chances of getting a return on their investment is low? We’ll see. Rule changes are one thing, opening a check book is another. If it doesn’t make sense financially, these rule changes may simply be words on a document.
Look, I think most of the F.C.C.’s plan is a bandaid being placed on the arm of a leprosy victim. But, to their credit the F.C.C. did something to earn their taxpayer supported pay. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., a city that gets nothing done, they at least wrote a press release.
But, there was something else the F.C.C. did in the last week that should have everyone take notice.
Remember that old movie Network and Howard Beale, the prophetic, delusional news anchor character?
This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers… This tube is the most awesome God-damned force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls in to the hands of the wrong people. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome God-damned propoganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?
The F.C.C., after being successfully lobbied by the National Association of Broadcasters (N.A.B.) representing its largest, “in-debt” consolidator company members, decided it was a good idea to not only grant U.S. citizens the right to be 100% owners of American broadcast stations, but felt it was time to give that right to…well…anyone on planet Earth, as long as they get the government’s wink and nod and have the cash. Cash being the most important part.
Some of this is a result of an earlier decision dealing with Pandora wanting to buy an FM station.
The F.C.C. and its former cable and wireless industry lobbyist, Chairman Thomas Wheeler, already changed those annoying foreign ownership rules for common carriers, industry speak for telephone and wireless companies, so it was time to extend those honors to broadcasters.
I’m not going to go all Howard Beale on you here. Lord knows most of us have had our fill of the shit being peddled on many radio stations. Can’t get a stiffy or pee old man? We’ve got a “natural enhancement” pill for you. Did you know Obama is a Kenyan and it’s time to take our country back? Check. And if that’s not enough to freak you out, the economy sucks too and you need to buy gold and hoard food.
To paraphrase, “Who knows what shit will be peddled on our radio stations?” And I’m not even bringing up the shit that passes for country music today, because “Bro Country” is real shit.
Let’s get right down to it. The business of money is money. It stays in motion and flows like water. And the American broadcast industry, with the huge debt it’s rolled up after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, needs new money or said another way needs foreign money to keep refinancing its debt at higher and higher interest rates. The consolidators have basically talked all the money they are going to get out of American banks and private equity companies. It’s time to talk foreign banks and PE companies out of their pesos, liras, rubles and rupees and keep that money facet flowing.
The private equity companies invested in American radio like Bain Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners and the poor bastards that financed Cumulus Media want out. If they’re down to selling tower sites and land, the little equity remaining for some stations (especially AM stations), what’s left?
I’m not Bernie Sanders and against capitalism. I’m all for it.
But, you can still thank the F.C.C. and the N.A.B. for selling out radio, this time to foreign interests.
To paraphrase another old movie, “Thank you sir. May I have another?”
As usual, Darryl, you nailed it. It is still all about content and not the distribution means. Eventually, radio reception will be much like television. Ask anyone under the age of 50 whether they watch VHF, UHF or cable channels and they would not have a clue as to the question.
Sadly, Darrell, about all you’re saying here is true. I know there are small town AM stations that serve their communities and are still profitable. But the biggest thing you have hit the nail on is the fact that the NAB no longer represents ALL of radio, just the big moneyed interests (the in debt companies to which you refer) that keep lining their pockets. Combine that with a government agency that is trying to make money, and the corrupt politicians from both sides of the aisle, and you have what’s going on not only in radio, but in this country in general…an impending disaster. AM radio is 19th century technology that only about 10 percent of the public is listening to. Some of these big stations the big companies are trying to “save” are falling into disrepair and are not being fixed…and they wonder why the ratings on most all are in the toilet? Yes, content is a part of the equation. But I have heard tell some may not even be operating on full power, because the owners don’t feel the money to fix them is justified.
Why won’t WLW get rid of Sloany and put McConnell back where he belongs ?
They are ruining him with that crappy early show.
It’s all weather, news, and traffic. We never get Mike’s views and calls.
Throw anyone in there are 5:00am and move Mike to 9 !!!!!
I have no dog in that fight, so I can’t answer it. Well, I can if I wanted to. 🙂
Found on YT I agree. Now this is acceptable as real country. You usually gotta go alternative FM to find it, this being an exception.
Comedy Bros 9 months ago (edited)
What REALLY sets me off is that fact that sleezeball idiot “country” singers like “Florida Georgia Line” or “Sam Hunt” highlight today’s “country” music charts when they sound like Eminem trying to rap in a country song….while the REAL talent stays hidden such as Josh Turner who sounds like the way God intended country music to sound. He has always stayed true to their sound! They’re amazing!