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Thread: Pacifica disintegrating?

  1. #21

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    What other shows can Pacifica air that can be as successful as Democracy Now! I bet most people don't even pay attention to Pacifica outside of Democracy Now! I know that KPFK Los Angeles simulcasts the KPFA evening news at 6pm. But its not as big though and is aimed at a Bay Area audience though.

  2. #22
    @Freddy, it may be their facility, but the license may be revoked by the FCC if the use of the frequency is not in the public interest. I may not agree with the viewpoints broadcast by Pacifica, but I certainly don't begrudge them broadcasting it. However, with an increasingly crowded FM spectrum, should that section of spectrum be reserved for something so few listen to?

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by umfan View Post
    @Freddy, it may be their facility, but the license may be revoked by the FCC if the use of the frequency is not in the public interest.
    When was the last time that happened? I can't think of any. It would open a huge legal battle.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by umfan View Post
    @Freddy, it may be their facility, but the license may be revoked by the FCC if the use of the frequency is not in the public interest. I may not agree with the viewpoints broadcast by Pacifica, but I certainly don't begrudge them broadcasting it. However, with an increasingly crowded FM spectrum, should that section of spectrum be reserved for something so few listen to?
    Do you really want to kill off stations "so few" listen to? Where are you going to draw the line between "so few" and "enough?" 2 share? 1 share? .5 share? .1 share?
    And if you are going to be even-handed about this, you have to dump religious broadcasters, contemporary Christian, classical, jazz, acoustic, Salem ... as well as Pacifica.

    Keep in mind that Pacifica got commercial FM licenses back when established broadcasters weren't interested, when the FCC was begging people to take FM licenses, when AM station owners who got FM licenses did nothing but simulcast. Love it or hate it, Pacifica put original and often innovative programming on FM back when the noncommercial band was preachers and educational stations were playing a hodge-podge of classical music, lectures by professors and farm reports.

  5. #25

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    Although Pacifica is not my cup of tea, Oscar is right. It has a right to it's piece of the spectrum. Just as it is right for any other station with a handful of listeners serving their niche has. There are many AM stations with tiny audiences, perhaps serving small ethic segments or special interest groups. The remove that right would be to dictate programming from a Federal level. Under the current scenario, a format survives by it's ability to produce revenue, even if from a sister station or other venture, in order to survive. In rare instances, a station has been programmed as a personal preference of the licensee, a hobby, if you will, yet that station has a small but loyal group of like minded individuals that are loyal listeners. As a side note, there are some Low Power FMs that certainly have fewer than 100 regular listeners.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post

    Keep in mind that Pacifica got commercial FM licenses back when established broadcasters weren't interested, when the FCC was begging people to take FM licenses, when AM station owners who got FM licenses did nothing but simulcast. Love it or hate it, Pacifica put original and often innovative programming on FM back when the noncommercial band was preachers and educational stations were playing a hodge-podge of classical music, lectures by professors and farm reports.
    Bad history. The FCC never begged anyone to take licenses. The truth is that FM hit a peak of over 1000 stations in 1950, but faded to around 700 by 1960. Many of the independent FMs had closed, and quite a few of the AM/FM combos had either closed the FM or started simulcasting.

    Established broadcasters had been very interested in FM in the late 40's and into the early 50's. They built many, many FM sister stations, and all of them failed to generate revenue with independent formats.

    Much of the issue with FM in the 50's had to do with the patent and personality battles with RCA. And the lack of AFC circuitry for receivers, making them notably unstable.

    Commercial FMs tried all sorts of things, such as a significant group of stations doing "buscasting" through deals with local transit companies.

    Pacifica simply applied for cancelled licenses or new ones. There were plenty to be had, and there were very low costs to get a basic FM licensed.
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  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post


    Bad history. The FCC never begged anyone to take licenses. The truth is that FM hit a peak of over 1000 stations in 1950, but faded to around 700 by 1960. Many of the independent FMs had closed, and quite a few of the AM/FM combos had either closed the FM or started simulcasting.

    Established broadcasters had been very interested in FM in the late 40's and into the early 50's. They built many, many FM sister stations, and all of them failed to generate revenue with independent formats.

    Much of the issue with FM in the 50's had to do with the patent and personality battles with RCA. And the lack of AFC circuitry for receivers, making them notably unstable.

    Commercial FMs tried all sorts of things, such as a significant group of stations doing "buscasting" through deals with local transit companies.

    Pacifica simply applied for cancelled licenses or new ones. There were plenty to be had, and there were very low costs to get a basic FM licensed.
    Talk about bad history. Yes, there were licenses to be had because few wanted them. Many established broadcasters did not bother applying and lived to regret it years later. Funny to claim broadcasters tried independent formats (a few did; most did not) and could not generate revenue and therefore resorted to simulcasting. When the FCC forced stations to do independent formats, all of a sudden they found they could generate revenue after all.

    People buy content. They buy FM radios when there's something they want to hear. They buy what they want to hear, not the receiver. So what happened to those stations that tried independent formats early? Either bad programming, bad selling or both. Broadcasters always find excuses to draw attention from their own incompetence. Note that some FM stations not connected with AM stations did OK with formats such as classical and beautiful music. But AM was to FM as training wheels are to bicycles; you don't really learn to ride as long as the training wheels are there.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    Broadcasters always find excuses to draw attention from their own incompetence. Note that some FM stations not connected with AM stations did OK with formats such as classical and beautiful music. But AM was to FM as training wheels are to bicycles; you don't really learn to ride as long as the training wheels are there.
    What does all this have to do with the current situation at Pacifica?

  9. #29

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    Oscar Madison says: Broadcasters always find excuses to draw attention from their own incompetence.

    Cite examples please

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Madison View Post
    Talk about bad history. Yes, there were licenses to be had because few wanted them. Many established broadcasters did not bother applying and lived to regret it years later. Funny to claim broadcasters tried independent formats (a few did; most did not)
    A huge number of broadcasters with AM stations got FM licenses in the period from 1946 to 1952, to the point that nearly half the AMs in the US had an FM. Most tried different independent formats, but as neither listenership nor revenues developed, some turned in their licenses and others resorted to simulcasting "just in case this thing is ever worth something".

    and could not generate revenue and therefore resorted to simulcasting.
    Between the mid 50's and 1960, a third of all FM licenses were surrendered. Many more began simulcasting. Only in a few larger markets did we see any remaining independent FMs or FMs owned by an AM that were separately programmed still. I began my career at one of those combos with separate FM programming... back in 1959.

    When the FCC forced stations to do independent formats, all of a sudden they found they could generate revenue after all.
    Oversimplification. The FCC did not force stations to do "separate" formats, just end fulltime simulcasting in markets of a specific size or more and where the AM was not a daytimer. There were waivers (such as WHOM) and there were even cases of the same programming running on the FM, just an hour or two later... a way to end simulcasting and comply with the rule.

    The result was that AM station owners put on the air formats that were far removed from what was on their AM. Some of those formats worked, some did not. And the most successful was an updating of "good music" to "Beautiful Music", a mainstay FM format in the 60's that was updated to the late 60's by folks like Marlin Taylor and Jim Schulke.

    People buy content. They buy FM radios when there's something they want to hear. They buy what they want to hear, not the receiver. So what happened to those stations that tried independent formats early? Either bad programming, bad selling or both.
    There was good programming, but radios were very expensive and, as stated, drifted like mad. America's tastes were very homogenized at the time, and there was not really a need for additional formats. For example, in what was a top 10 market at the end of the 50's, Cleveland, there were 8 AM stations in the ratings... 2 r&b stations, three Top 40's and three MOR stations. Each had a bit of a different flavor, but you essentially had three formats in one of the top 10 markets in the US.

    When FM was obligated to end full simulcasting, music was fragmenting. Top 40 was breaking into oldies, Top 40 and "chicken rock" which was the early term for AC. Talk was evolving from MOR at stations like KABC and WOR. Country became viable in more markets, as did other ethnic formats. So, suddenly the good AMs in a market could not cover all the bases, and FM had fuel for growth.

    Broadcasters always find excuses to draw attention from their own incompetence. Note that some FM stations not connected with AM stations did OK with formats such as classical and beautiful music.
    Very, very few in very, very large markets. And all became successful after 1960. Stations like WDVR in Philly, Sol's station in LA, and a number of partially listener supported (via a "guild" with a magazine, etc.) classicals like WCLV in Cleveland. Most of the independents did not begin to get any traction until the late 60's and very few before the FCC's action of 1/1/67 and the serendipitous fragmentation of music tastes.

    But AM was to FM as training wheels are to bicycles; you don't really learn to ride as long as the training wheels are there.
    This was not an "if you build it they will come" situation. It was a confluence in changing musical tastes, technical improvements in FM receivers (AFC), the end of the Armstrong patents and the general health of radio more than a decade after the "death of radio" was predicted after the Freeze was lifted in 1953.

    As an early owner of about a dozen FM licenses (all granted in 1966) I was both a keen observer of what was going on with the band and what could be done formatically. Fortunately, I looked at Europe, where governments had built and promoted FM early one, resulting in far more FM radios being in the market. And I saw things such as the first independent FM Top 40 in Spain doing well in 1965 and thought that, given my market's high number of European radios with FMs, I could do it too.
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