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Thread: Main Studio Rule...

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Travis View Post

    I most certainly blame the people blatantly lying about this. Come out and be honest. Say you want to cut it from your expenses. But don't go telling me it will result in some grand reinvestments in localism. It won't. And it never has.
    They're just doing whatever the FCC allows. That's why I say don't blame them. Blame the FCC. All of the problems with radio were caused by rule changes made by the FCC. This is the same FCC that thinks they're reviving AM by giving licensees FM translators. I still haven't seen how it revives AM. But that's how the FCC talks.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Travis View Post
    I most certainly blame the people blatantly lying about this. Come out and be honest. Say you want to cut it from your expenses. But don't go telling me it will result in some grand reinvestments in localism. It won't. And it never has. No one who is for the removal of this requirement can explain why it won't lead to exactly what a certain "non profit" has consistently done. Operating stations in markets like Hartford, CT from over 2,000 miles west. If you think this is a good thing for commercial radio, innovation and localism, you're wrong.
    Radio lost 40% of its revenue at the time of the recession. The economic model that supported consolidation (done when it was shown that half of US stations did not have a profit) could not be recovered due to changes in the economy, new media and even, in the bigger markets, the introduction of the PPM.

    Add to that the fact that most larger market AMs do not fully cover their market and Docket 80-90 moved in many more stations in most locations and you have a whole change in the industry. The FCC created the Docket 80-90 disaster and destroyed many smaller markets with signal overpopulation. But since then, the FCC has done little to change antiquated rules written, in many cases, back when there was no FM and there were less than 1000 radio stations.
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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by b-turner View Post
    I'm not saying anything about localism. I'm saying it never existed anyway. I think we're both saying that.
    I agree. Back in the 30s, when most of these rules were written, most stations ran programming from the radio networks, and we look back and consider that the Golden Age of Radio!

    Regarding localism, where are all the laws requiring stores to be locally owned? I go into a town, and all the stores are national chains. Even the barber shops have become Sport Cuts and the pizza is Papa John. There is no "local" anymore. So why try to force radio to play by those rules?

  4. #24
    I'm not suggesting there be a law requiring local ownership. Nor am I suggesting the 30s were the "good old days." I'm not arguing for regression, I'm arguing for local relevance.

    I'm pointing out that there is already a waiver system that has been abused on the non commercial side. Why not reform the process before instituting another dramatic change?

    Given the track record of dramatic changes from the FCC and how they impacted radio (in my view, for the worse) (and this includes ones the radio industry wanted) I'm of the view a more considered waiver process would be acceptable - removing all requirements of a local presence will lead to distorted market value and less local service.

    And the rules have been stable enough that the wise operators prepared for them. No one buying a CP in decades should have failed to account for a local studio cost in their business plan, and then turn around and complain that they can't build the station because of that. The AM owner Pai cited is making excuses for sitting on a license, and I also believe that should have been addressed before loosening rules further.

    If you think there is no impact on a community or no decline in local service or awareness when you're running off a server in Sacramento, you're free to have that opinion. I disagree.

  5. #25

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    The point I'm making is there is no localism anyway. It won't go away because it had already left. I know stations that have the dual offices to abide by the rules but they have not done any local programming for their city of license. So, I don't see the main studio rule going away changing how those stations are already running except that they can give up the city of license office/studio. The whole objective of having an office/studio elsewhere is to reach and be involved with that market. As for values, you can bet anybody looking at buying a station is looking at it's potential.

    My boss was looking at a distressed AM/FM combo and our first consideration was the FM could move a little closer to a major market and have decent coverage there. In fact the guy that bought the station ended up doing just that and became a big city rimshot.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Travis View Post

    If you think there is no impact on a community or no decline in local service or awareness when you're running off a server in Sacramento, you're free to have that opinion. I disagree.
    I never said there's no impact. My point is who cares? Some of those non-commercial stations you mention are getting great ratings, so obviously they're relevant for the people who listen. Same with the NPR stations who mainly run programming from satellite. My only point is that this idea is not being promoted by the big owners, and I have no expectation that iHeart or CBS or any of the big guys are looking to close down their main studios.

    This idea is being put forward by the FCC. They're taking comments at their web site. You're welcome to file a comment if you feel its important to you. But they will make the decision, and it won't be put to a popular vote. So if you feel its a problem, let them know. But if your point is to impose more antiquated rules for the sake of forcing stations to do something that's unimportant, don't be surprised if your opinion is overlooked.

  7. #27

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    I apparently imagined that two local radio personalities raised thousands for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this past month. Obviously since there is no local radio anywhere, and every single radio station is programmed from a single computer in Texas, that can't possibly have happened. Not to mention the money raised for wildfire relief by radio stations. Didn't happen because there is absolutely, positively, no local radio. I can't see the local talk and sports personalities do their shows from sponsors because they must not actually be there, because, after all, there's absolutely no local radio anywhere, and you only hear voice trackers who are 1000 miles away (are all voice trackers automatically 1000 miles away from any radio station?). The local DJs I know apparently aren't really working either because, after all, there's absolutely no local radio.

    The trope gets tiring. How much "public service" was really being done by a jock screaming over the intro of an Alice Cooper record?

  8. #28

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    Does anyone besides me realize the current rules require no programming to actually be originated from the "main studio"? In the 80s there was something like 4 hours a week, which meant a minimum wage board op trudged to the COL to play American Top 40 for four hours.

  9. #29

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    Great post gr8oldies. There seems to be some thinking that if a station targets the largest town in the area versus the city of license it destroys localism. I get what the comments are based on. Their thinking is a bunch of small town stations could have no local presence and run from one centralized location. I get that but I have to question if that has any negative consequences for the community of license. Such decisions are typically economic as in the community of license just can't produce the income for a fully staffed station but combining makes it possible. I get the small town station next to the larger city focusing on the larger city. After all, most in that small town likely commute to the larger city and it just makes economic sense.

    All of this is happening now. It has been happening. And those stations that must have a local office/studio as well simply have an extra expense. For the FCC to remove the rule, all that happens is the extra office/studio is not required. As far as programming and the station's focus, it is unchanged.

    Talking to a fellow radio guy, he recalled a group of 5 stations separated by about 100 miles over very rural Texas. They all operate from the largest town. They maintain offices/studios in the three other small towns because FCC rules require it. They send salespeople out to these towns to sell. He said they acquired one station because it had gone dark...best sales it had was $4,500 a month. I remember that station under the prior ownership and the guy did a good job although it was completely automated. In the next town it was on satellite with local commercials for local content, run by a husband and wife who barely scraped by when it was bought. Before satellite delivered formats, it had been automated and shut down at 7 pm claiming financial hardship...if they had a commercial or two an hour, it was a good day based on my listening in the past. The third town was the same, satellite delivered but the owner managed to gather some local news amid sales calls.

    They came in and bought the stations, are live 24/7, can afford to do some local news and literally provide a better service to these towns than they had because they could share staff. If the rule on the office/studios goes away they can do more. In fact, he thinks, based on the sales he gets from these towns, all of these stations would be dark by now if locally owned and operated. As he put it, they've lost a little population and people are more apt to shop out of town than they did about a decade ago. Plus, chains like Dollar General and others that go in to smaller towns skim off some local dollars, the mini-Walmart syndrome. I've never heard Dollar General or the other chains that you find in such towns utilizing local radio buys. By the way, they get calls and they are in contact with officials in these towns pretty much daily. Their PSAs are typically emailed to them. I wonder if anyone in these towns mind that the local programming comes from the biggest town around instead of down the street?

    There is a company I need to learn more about that began building a network of stations serving the 'oil patch' in Texas. The format is perfect and I understand they are well liked by radio listeners and I understand they do quite well. Their stations were once either dark or greatly distressed stations mostly. From what I can gather most did under $50,000 a year in billing. I don't have any insight in to this radio group but I understand they provide programming from a centralized location.

    The current oil patch was very depressed in prior years. You almost had to be a one man operation to keep a station on the air in some of these towns. In fact, in one town a local non-profit ran a station and they only did about $14,000 a year in Underwriting and donations.

    A guy I worked with ran a station in Cotulla. It went dark. His best billing months were around $6,000 because he worked so hard and accepted any cash, going to San Antonio and Laredo weekly to sell anybody to get revenue. As he put it, his rate was $3 but if they'd buy $20 in spots at 25 cents a spot, he took the money and ran because he needed $8,000 to break even. He said he would try to get at least $500 in cash and checks on each trip to the big city. In his mind he couldn't let his minimum wage two jocks down by not meeting payroll. I asked if he did any local news and he said he never had the chance to cultivate that because they were bleeding money every month. He did say the morning jock would get the weather forecast off the cable TV at the motel room where he lived so the station could do the forecast in morning drive.

    If you had a string of stations such as the above example, you could do something with them and serve the community better but a required local studio would sure limit what you could do.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by gr8oldies View Post

    The trope gets tiring. How much "public service" was really being done by a jock screaming over the intro of an Alice Cooper record?
    Exactly, and how much public service is required of all the other media? I read that 80 million people use Pandora. Are they using it because of local service? And how much money does Pandora raise for local charity? I read that they're losing money, but do absolutely nothing for anyone, even nationally. All of their revenue goes to themselves and the record labels. Same with Sirius. Same with Spotify. Yet these are the companies we're told we compete with. Doesn't anyone see something unfair in that competition?


    Quote Originally Posted by gr8oldies View Post
    Does anyone besides me realize the current rules require no programming to actually be originated from the "main studio"? In the 80s there was something like 4 hours a week, which meant a minimum wage board op trudged to the COL to play American Top 40 for four hours.
    Exactly. For many years, stations were just repeaters for the radio networks. At one time, hundreds of radio stations did no local programming other than playing reel to reel tapes from national programming service like Bonneville and Schulke. Just having a "main studio" doesn't mean it gets used, and there are lots of stations that operate with unmanned studios just to comply with the law. How dumb is that?

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