Broadcast History - November 23

Broadcast History - November 23

Postby jon » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:43 pm

A quiet day in Western Canadian Broadcast History today, so we feature some U.S. Radio articles that were published on this day in history.

From 1935, two articles from Science News Letter:


High-speed radio transmission of complete facsimiles of any written, typed, or printed material will be inaugurated on an experimental, non-commercial service between New York and Philadelphia before the end of the year, General James G. Harbord, chairman of the board of the Radio Corporation of America, indicated in an address at Princeton University.

The facsimile service and television are linked hand-in-hand, declared General Harbord, for research in one aids the other because of the similar problems.

Television is nearer today, he added, than was the possibility of sending a telegram across the ocean with wires on the eve of Marconi's first transatlantic wireless test.


Scientific experiments performed at world's-record altitudes brought smiles to the faces of the scientists gathered at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society during the successful ascension of the balloon Explorer II on Nov. 11 to a new record height of over 74,000 feet.

By radio the scientists not only heard what was going on in the balloon but were able to act as "cerebral screwdrivers or pliers," as one of them put it. Dr. W.F.G. Swann, member of the scientific advisory committee of the flight, who had valuable cosmic ray apparatus automatically working aboard the balloon, so characterized himself in a two-way conversation with Capt. Albert Stevens. Dr. Swann was in New York City and Capt. Stevens was 12 miles up in the stratosphere over the now barren, winter-touched Nebraska countryside.


In 1991, the New York Times published the following article:

Mining Solid Gold on the Radio


Just after 9 A.M. a man in a yellow sweatshirt spins his chair around in a Manhattan studio, pulls his headphones on and shoves a tape into a cassette player. "Hello, Luv," he booms into a microphone. "Good morning, everybody, this is Ron Lundy at CBS-FM, and I got a song for ya. Oh, 'Baby, I Love Ya.' "

As that 60's tune fills the studio on West 52d Street, the more subdued co-anchors one floor below at WCBS-AM preach the commuter gospel -- news reports from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut peppered with traffic and weather updates.

A flip of the dial to the right finds a Spanish-language station and Gospel music. To the left is WXRK's Howard Stern, the nation's foremost "shock jock," who recently asked Wilt Chamberlain, a guest, to explain his claim that he'd had sex with 20,000 women.

This is New York radio.

No question it is big. With more than 18 million listeners, New York-area stations have the largest reach in the nation; they took nine of the top 10 slots in a recent poll of America's most-listened-to stations by the Arbitron Company, which measures radio audiences.

New York radio can also be quite profitable. A Money-Making Proposition

Though its gross revenues are only a third of newspaper and television revenues, even the smallest stations can be profitable, says Elliot B. Evers, a partner in Media Venture Partners, a radio and television brokerage firm.

"In a market the size of New York, there are a lot of people making a hell of a lot of money," he said, adding that the region's top 10 stations will take in $18 million to $30 million this year.

The secret of radio's success, industry experts say, is that in the heat of the cable television revolution and recent recession that have scalded network television and newspapers, radio has been able to make the most of its biggest assets: low production costs and the ability to appeal to specialized audiences.

Like the region itself, New York-area frequencies are a smorgasbord of languages and subcultures -- from sermons at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church on WRKS-FM to "Memories of Lithuania" on WSOU-FM to "Ruby, the Intergalactic Gumshoe," a weekly science-fiction serial on WBAI-FM.

"There are so many choices that it is a very competitive market for both listeners and advertisers," says Chris J. Witting Jr., general manager of WCBS Newsradio 88, the all-news AM station.

Though New York radio has always been eclectic, much has changed since the days when a handful of large stations dominated the region's AM airwaves, broadcasting live shows cross-country from Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. The arrival of television brought an identity crisis for the medium that once monopolized in-home electronic entertainment. The industry then underwent a further transformation with the advent of the technologically superior FM band, where high fidelity music would sparkle.

Now regional listeners can choose from as many as 100 stations -- urban and suburban -- based in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and beyond.

They have turned from "broadcasting" to "narrowcasting." No more Madonna bumping up against Metallica on dozens of stations. Today, even playing "rock" isn't specialized enough. Now there is "lite rock" (WLTW-FM), "classic rock" (WXRK-FM), "adult contemporary rock" (WNSR-FM), "heavy metal rock" (WZRC-AM) and "rock-and-roll" (WNEW-FM) -- just to name a few.

"There is so much out there -- some of it is almost subterranean," said Jo Maeder, a disk jockey for WXRK who is known as the "Rock-and-Roll Madam."

In suburban areas, narrowcasting has allowed local stations to be even more local. "We're not New York, not Philadelphia. Proud to be New Jersey 101.5 FM," is a refrain repeated regularly on WKXW-FM in Trenton.

Many listeners say they prefer narrowcasting because they can tune in to specific stations for specific things. Jeffrey Nichols of Hackensack, N.J., for example, listens to New York City's WXRK classic rock as he drives to and from his job as a delivery man with United Parcel Service in Secaucus, N.J. At other times, he says, he listens to New Jersey talk shows, which he likens to "the regional section of your local newspaper."

Advertisers say that narrowcasting offers an efficient and accurate way to target consumers. A case in point is WCBS-FM. Having grown steadily in popularity since the early 1970's, WCBS-FM last spring did what radio experts thought impossible. Playing a "golden oldies" format with a cast of disk jockeys who had appeared on WABC-AM in the 1960's, the FM station struck a chord with baby boomers and became New York's top-ranked station in the spring and summer Arbitron ratings.

Advertisers, who covet 25-to-54-year-old listeners and who funneled more than $325 million into New York radio last year, were ecstatic.

James Duncan Jr., editor and publisher of a trade publication, Duncan's Radio Market Guide, predicts that WCBS-FM will be the third-biggest money-maker in the nation this year, with total advertising revenues of about $29 million, right after top-ranked WGN-AM in Chicago, which plays adult contemporary music, and KABC-AM in Los Angeles, a talk-radio station.

"This has been a soft year for radio revenue," said Mr. Duncan, adding that revenues were off by 3 percent from last year. "But radio has done better than television and newspapers because of its low costs and because it efficiently targets audiences."

This has also been a bad year for the Top-40 stations -- not only because there are fewer teen-agers listening, but also because of heightened competition in an increasingly fragmented market.

For example, Top-40 playing WHTZ-FM, known as Z100, was No. 1 in its market from 1987 through the summer of 1989, three times earning a 6.2 share, or percentage of the listening audience, based on Arbitron data. By last summer, Z100 was hovering at 3.8 percent, having been surpassed by stations specializing in oldies (WCBS-FM, with a 5.1 share), rhythm and blues (WRKS-FM and WBLS-FM, with 4.8 and 4.2, respectively), "lite" music (WLTW-FM, with 4.9) and six others.

"The Top-40 format has just gotten so narrow," said Rick Sklar, a radio consultant, former vice president of programming for ABC's radio division and now a vice president of Interep Radio Store in New York, which sells radio advertising. "It appeals to young people, particularly young women, and it's no longer the mass appeal format that it once was," said Mr. Sklar, the author of a book about New York radio entitled "Rocking America," (St. Martins Press, 1984). Old Loyalties Persist

Other Top-40 stations have struggled as well, in the region and elsewhere, buttressing two themes voiced frequently these days by radio experts: narrowcasting works, and New York radio, though multifaceted, is more conservative these days than one might think. According to Arbitron, for example, the top two stations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties play adult contemporary rock (Phil Collins, say, or Billy Joel) and golden oldies, respectively.

Though most listeners and radio professionals say that the predictability of narrowcasting is an important radio quality these days, there are exceptions.

The most notable among them are the "shock jocks," Don Imus of WFAN-AM and Howard Stern, whose irreverent often controversial talk show on WXRK (which also calls itself K-Rock) is beamed to radio stations in three other cities.

But for listeners, finding a station that suits them is, after all, what matters.

"I have to admit, I love Howard Stern," said Robin Brooks, a 32-year-old housewife in Toms River, N.J. "I don't know why. I guess I just can't believe what he gets away with."

Ali Breland, 19, a student at Nassau Community College, prefers WBLS-FM and WRKS-FM (known as KISS-FM), which play rhythm and blues and some Jamaican music. "Rap and Jamaican is hot," he says.

And for Rick Sandri, 39, a business executive who lives in Glen Rock, N.J., in Bergen County, it is the golden oldies that have his loyalty.

"When I'm at home with the kids I tend to turn on 'oldies but goodies,' " he said. "I've got a 3-year-old and a 9-year-old, and I dance with them. I want them to hear the music I grew up with."

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