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Thread: Question: What Am I Actually Listening To?

  1. #1

    Question: What Am I Actually Listening To?

    If I listen to Pandora I am streaming, right? But if I listen to a terrestrial radio station via an Internet stream am I listening to radio (AM or FM) or am I streaming?

    This is not, as it might first appear, a silly question. Discussions on this board have been back and forth about the coming demise of "radio" (meaning OTA transmissions of either AM or FM) and how it might be replaced by online streams. But what if listeners prefer real radio stations which also happen to stream? Shouldn't "radio" (the industry) get credit for those listeners even though most might be out of market?

    Right now there are plenty of real "radio" stations that broadcast OTA and stream with real jocks and great playlists. To pay for an online service seems just plain stupid IMHO so I don't.

    Personally, I have a pretty good sized library but I find myself listening to a classic Oldies station which happens to be an Ohio AM. The shortcomings of distance, signal quality and interference are eliminated by the Internet and it's just like the good old days (except I don't listen in my car due to personal preference not to have a smartphone). There must be many more people like me.

    I understand I am not helping (financially) my favorite station because it is ad-supported and is out of my market however, should it ever become necessary for that station to need out of market support I would subscribe to it rather than any current online music service.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by landtuna View Post
    I understand I am not helping (financially) my favorite station because it is ad-supported and is out of my market however, should it ever become necessary for that station to need out of market support I would subscribe to it rather than any current online music service.
    Great post, and I appreciate you're aware of the royalty situation. We are in the very early days of streaming and internet radio. Clearly the biggest hurdle that needs to be jumped is the financial one. All of us in OTA radio are extremely opposed to putting a paywall up on our service. It's against everything we believe in. We hope that someday the advertising will cover the music royalties. But right now it isn't. So we take a loss for online, and hope the OTA covers it. For that station in Ohio, it probably doesn't. But someday it will. It's going to take a lot of hard work and education of our friends in the music business to understand. We work on that relationship every day. We're a long way from any resolution, but I remain optimistic.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    All of us in OTA radio are extremely opposed to putting a paywall up on our service.
    IIRC there used to be PBS stations that had fund raisers (a subscription in effect) to help them in the expenses department. Not quite a formal paywall but having much the same effect. Why would OTA radio be opposed to something like that?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by landtuna View Post

    IIRC there used to be PBS stations that had fund raisers (a subscription in effect) to help them in the expenses department. Not quite a formal paywall but having much the same effect. Why would OTA radio be opposed to something like that?
    OTA commercial radio. We believe our ad-supported content should be free. Unlike cable or satellite.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    OTA commercial radio. We believe our ad-supported content should be free. Unlike cable or satellite.
    As a commercial broadcaster, I agree that our content should be free. Unfortunately that business model doesn't seem to work if the majority of our audience is streaming. Because of music royalties, it costs much more per listener to stream than it does to broadcast over the air (at least potentially). 98% of our advertisers are local and I suspect that not many of them are willing to spend more, just because a lot of listeners are now on line. I can see this as becoming a big problem for many small broadcasters.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Because of music royalties, it costs much more per listener to stream than it does to broadcast over the air (at least potentially).
    Exactly, which is why it's imperative for broadcasters to negotiate directly with record labels, rather than rely on the Copyright Royalty Board. Some large companies have already begun doing this. It will take time.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    We believe our ad-supported content should be free.
    Even at the risk of going out of business?

    For better or worse, America has gotten used to ad-supported broadcasting which also requires a subscription (think ESPN and the other hundreds of cable services). Before having to turn out the lights wouldn't it be something to consider?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by landtuna View Post

    Even at the risk of going out of business?
    Of course not, and that's why a lot of smaller stations either don't stream, or restrict their streams to ISPs in their market.

    But clearly streaming is getting bigger, and a study released today predicts streaming will eclipse OTA in 6 years.

  9. #9
    Avid Listener
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    I looked up this definition of "radio":

    radio
    Houghton Mifflin
    n.noun

    1. Electromagnetic radiation with lower frequencies and longer wavelengths than those of microwaves, having frequencies lower than 300 megahertz and wavelengths longer than 1 meter.

    2. The transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves within this range, especially when convertible to audible sounds.

    3. A device, such as a walkie-talkie, that transmits or receives such signals.

    4. The system or industry that broadcasts programs of audio content to the public or subscribers by means of radio waves.

    5. Audio content, especially short programs or sets of songs, created for or distributed through such a system.

    6. An electronic device for listening to radio programming, consisting of a tuner and speakers.


    I think this is as good an operative definition as any. In particular, it includes the requirement that the industry that creates broadcast content or the content itself is dependent on being distributed via radio waves (item #1) to be considered "radio".

    Is this somewhat arbitrary? Of course it is. But it does make sense. When cinema came along, those who created entertainment on the live stage, the theater, were among the many participants in the creation of cinema. But live theater was live theater, and cinema/movies/films was something different, despite the similarities. Likewise, vaudeville was vaudeville. When the entertainment of vaudeville was transferred adapted, and adopted by first radio and then television, it ceased to be vaudeville, and became radio and television.

    The newer media available for radio-style content are sufficiently different from the broadcasting of radio waves from a transmission tower that they are a whole new thing. Despite the similarities to the predecessor media, webcasting and podcasting are not radio, they are a new thing.

    Those who adapt to the new thing, recognizing that it is a new thing, with new paradigms, even though they may have a major background in the old thing, have an excellent chance of succeeding in the new thing. Those who insist that the new thing is simply the old thing won't be able to make the adaptations required to shift to the new thing, and will fall by the wayside. The exception are talent who have good and capable staff surrounding them. If their staff handles the changes for them, even though the talent remains slavishly tied to the old, then the talent will succeed.

  10. #10
    Wi-Fi = "radio waves". Cell phone = "radio waves". Problem solved.

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