A Few Notes on the Radio

Note No. 1…

KCCL

Click on the logo to open the KCCL website in a new browser tab.

Earlier this year, the small California conglomerate, Results Radio, moved KCCL from its previous 92.1 MHz license in Placerville to 101.5 MHz coming officially out of Woodland.  This gave “K-Hits” a much better signal in Sacramento, always a good move especially when the staff includes local legends Joey Mitchell and Big Jim Hall.  Since I last briefly touched on this station, it has also changed from a 60s-70s oldies format to “classic hits” (fewer if any 60s hits, much more from the later 70s into the 80s).  While this gave me an opportunity to finally act on replacing what was previously the only “classic hits” station I had on my Radio page, WKQK in the Memphis market, I have decided to keep both for now.  That sad fact is that the “classic hits” format is designed to be nothing but cheap.  This means that almost any station with that format goes into automation for at least part of its schedule.  In keeping both, I retain KCCL for superior on-air talent for those times when it does have live jocks and WKQK for having a slightly better overall playlist (thanks to being in Memphis where, apparently, people still demand that older artists not be left behind).  The frequency change for KCCL also brought a Web address change, and this has been updated on my Radio page.

ADDENDUM 2014.09.26: Sadly, Entercom dropped the classic hits format on WKQK and turned it into a country station.

Note No. 2…

KYEN

KYEN about to be sent to heaven.

The great radio news site RadioInsight reported very sad news back on August 1st that the automated but still highly unique “deep tracks” classic rocker KYEN serving the Fort Collins, Colorado market (with a “rimshot” of Denver) had been bought by the Educational Media Foundation (EMF).  With a name like that, sounds like it’s going to turn into some sort of public station, right?  Wrong.  EMF is the terribly deceptive name of the company that spews out the K-LOVE contemporary Christian music stations in the United States, all while never offering any significant local programming.  Losing KYEN is not a surprise in today’s radio world but to have it go away in favor of this useless trash where the “non-profit” CEO makes almost $500,000 a year makes me sick.  KYEN has not yet made the switch to K-LOVE so it will remain on my Radio page until that happens.  After that, for very similar programming — actually a sort of sister station to KYEN — try KCDX in the Globe, Arizona market.

ADDENDUM: 2014.04.23: I cannot confirm that KYEN has left the airwaves but it has definitely disappeared from the Internet. The station’s web address now redirects to the similar station I mentioned above, KCDX.

Note No. 3…

WGAG - Little Buddy Radio

Click on the logo to open up WGAG – Little Buddy Radio in a new browser tab.

Just a small item…oldies/variety station WGAG in Princeton, West Virginia has moved its webpage to a more simplified address: http://www.bobdenver.com/radio/.  This change has also been reflected on my Radio page.  While yet another station in this post that does not always have a live host…yeah, upon seeing the name Bob Denver in the address and the ID of Little Buddy Radio, it should be apparent how this one could be special.  For those that don’t recall, I featured this station back on October 30, 2010 in a post titled, The Professor Must Have Built It.

Note No. 4…

Maid setting the table

Time to set the table again!

There might be some changes soon to this site’s Radio page.  The WP-Table Reloaded plugin I have been using for that feature to make it easy for readers to to sort and search has been replaced by a new one called TablePress.  My hope is that this transition will go smoothly as TablePress is programmed by the same person that created WP-Table Reloaded with which I have been very satisfied and seems to have worked well for almost everybody that has ever commented about it.  I also plan on using this coming change as an excuse to go through my entire list again as there are probably other items that need to be updated and maybe even a few stations that need to be removed…such is the turbulent world of North American radio these days.

Note No. 5…

 

Pacifica Radio

Pacifica Radio: How to improperly organize a one-man run to a two-hole shit-house.

I cannot leave this post without saying something about the utter chaos being reported from many sources about Pacifica Radio.  Basically, each of its five stations has gone broke or is on the brink of it.  WBAI in New York City is laying off almost its entire paid staff, WPFW in Washington, DC and KPFT in Houston, Texas might be about to do the same, and the California anchors of KPFA in Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles are also a mess.  Each of these stations is now in an almost constant pledge drive just to keep the transmitters and lights running.

Both individually and as a whole, they only have themselves to blame.  This is what happens when there are too many cooks in the kitchen screwing around with programming, the already small potential audience is alienated by such changes, people are allowed on the air that have no idea how to put on a reasonably professional-sounding program, popular music programs are abandoned or shoved into terrible time slots, and too many people try to prove they can be more hardcore “progressive” than some other group all while claiming they are the “true” Pacifica.  In the case of KPFK in Los Angeles, they have added so many Spanish-language programs trying to cater to the laughably small Aztlán separatist movement that many English-speaking listeners no longer know when to tune in beyond the morning shows to hear something they can understand.

I covered a lot of this in a post I made back on June 6, 2011 titled, The Problem with Pacifica.  The warnings given in that post by the man who inspired it, Ian Masters, along with what I wrote are dangerously close to coming to pass — the main one being is that Pacifica could well be on the brink of having to sell its extremely valuable radio licenses.  While I have never fully bought into Pacifica’s version of the left-wing agenda even in its better days, it’s loss would be felt not only in its five home cities but all over the country as their programming is a staple on many non-commercial stations.  Worst of all, this terribly destructive infighting and possible collapse of the network does nothing but please The Man.  The Man would love nothing more than to get his hands on these licenses and have one less outlet of people sticking it to him.  Most of all, The Man would love nothing more than to show how progressives can’t be trusted to run anything.

Yes, that would be your legacy, Pacifica — the ultimate proof that your ideals on how an organization can be run in a more collective manner cannot be realized.  It is now up to all at Pacifica to realize that compromise is good and having strong leadership in regard to programming is not fascism.  It’s also a good idea to remember that this is broadcasting so it’s not a bad idea to spend some of that time putting out what the audience wants to hear, not what you want to force upon them.

The most critical thing for you, Pacifica…you have to show that you are getting your house in order.  Until then, most of your audience isn’t going to spend another dime on trying to save your sinking ship when, right now, your crew can’t even agree on what bucket to use to bail it out.

6 thoughts on “A Few Notes on the Radio

  1. Your comment is the kind of racist, sexist, capitalist, imperialist, white male heterosexual privileged screed that is manifestly discredited by the very technology used to disseminate it.

    Pacifica was not–sorry, IS not–about “giving” and “audience” what it “wants” to “hear”. It is about creating a new cultural paradigm. There is no reason why “leadership” should have any say in who gets to be heard. You cannot buy a FREQUENCY, can you? Can you “buy”, say, 91.7? Even if you manage to hijack that frequency, Kenneth, from the workers who produce it, does that mean YOUR signal is more significant and truthful? And what does that even matter, in a country where both the transmitter and the receiver are powered by FRACKING??

    If Pacifica manages to “sell” its “licenses”, what does that prove? Only that pirates are the new black! And you don’t even know what that means! (Neither do I–but at least I admit it, whereas you are not even being honest with yourself.)

    My eyes were opened when I recently contributed to WBAI. In return, I got a premium consisting of 5 DVDs that explained to me that my sex life was not good because society does not even discuss 911 and chemtrails, and so no wonder my sex partners could not be authentic with me in the bed. Now my sex life is authentic and my orgasms are genuine. Or, they will be as soon as I meet someone who shares my authenticity. I accept in advance that she will have hairy pits. I would not have it any other way.

    So THERE! People have been predicting the demise of WBAI for as long as they have been predicting the demise of Detroit. And in the last few decades, nothing has changed. WBAI has not changed. Neither should you. So cut it out.

  2. Brad, even though you disagree with my take on Pacifica and WBAI in particular, I appreciate your you leaving such an enthusiastic comment. There is a lot in there to which I could respond but I’ll stick to just one area. I hope you will take this in the friendly spirit in which it is intended all the way down to the last sentence.

    Just so you know, I have been following the various travails of Pacifica ever since 1977 when I first moved into an area where I could hear one of their O&O stations. You are absolutely correct that there have been many times when people have predicted the demise of a particular station or the network as a whole and they have indeed never come to pass.

    However, none of those times came to a point where a Pacifica station had so little money that it was forced to lay off almost its entire staff. With Pacifica as a whole unable to choose a direction due to so many factions and at a point when it is about to be unable to hold board elections because it cannot afford to send out ballots, this is truly serious…although, note that I did not say it WOULD happen, only that it is very close. Thinking otherwise is just putting your head in the sand just because WBAI helped you get a better boner. ;-)

  3. Burying my head in the sand? Well, at least I would be burying it somewhere.

    They can’t hold board elections because they cannot afford to send out ballots? That sounds pretty serious.

    I have only been listening to WBAI for the last few months. An old community organizer, elderly even, told me that it used to be a major pillar of the progressive community in NYC, a long time ago. That got me interested. So I listened. And, as you can tell by my being here, I wanted to learn more about the phenomenon.

    I found a station that appears to be on its last legs. A station that made the news recently when its two “Life Coaches” who had a show “The Pursuit of Happiness” just threw in the towel and killed themselves. Ironic, and sad. A station whose programming was mostly not to my taste: a lot of it just sounded like boring infomercials; some of it was probably from a progressive slant that was so extreme that (while there is a place for it in the public discourse), it appeals only to a narrow potential audience that does not happen to include me; some programs whose tone was just condescending to the listener; some programs just struck me as having a political point of view that beggars belief (eg., “only the government should be allowed to produce food and beverage, because then we could save money by firing all the government food inspectors; eg. “the thing that is holding back NYC feom serving the underclass is that there are lots of tycoons abroad who are eager to pay millions of dollars for new ultra-luxury condos here and then only visit them once in a while”; REALLY? Well, in the words of “A Fist Full of Yen”. “Send them to Detroit!” Detroit’s managers would view that as a strength.)

    I found WBAI’s website, which does not get high scores for user experience. I found no discussion boards, no way for listeners to connect with other listeners or express their opinion. (Contrast to WFMU, where listening to a show is a fully-enriched social experience.) I am guessing that WBAI does not want to allow listeners to voice their opinions, because they can do without the hassle.

    I found that WBAI received accolades for a unique show called “Weaponry”. Oddly, I have tried and failed to find any archived podcasts of Weaponry, either on WBAI.org or on iTunes or anywhere else. I have failed to find any information about it at all. Maybe I am not giving good Google. Still, very strange for the second decade of the 21st century.

    As far as I can tell, this is what happened to WBAI: the culture of the station was that any decision making was “dominance”, or something like that. So they created a board that was overly-inclusive (too many members), and that cooperation and collaboration became dirty words, like “compromise”. So the people who got their way were the least compromising, the ones quickest to fling accusations of racism or sexism or whatever at the whoever did not give them what they wanted.

    In a way, those people have accomplished what they wanted: an over-abundance of resources so that everyone could have as much as they wanted, without anyone having to make allocation decisions that would live out others. In this case, the scarce resource is air-time. Everyone wanted some air time, for their own views. Now, WBAI has lots of air time available to it, much more than it has any programming that is worth listening to.

    Would you agree / disagree with any of the above?

  4. And..another point..I have notice some call-in programs, but most of the shows on WBAI do not seem to allow this sort of listener participation either.

    On the one hand, I find that ironic. Isn’t this station all about being non-authoritarian? about making room for unpopular views?

    On the other hand, of course WBAI does not take many listener calls on the air. WBAI is a collective, it seems, of people who demand that their own voice be heard, and can’t stand being questioned.

    Or maybe I am being unfair.

  5. Sorry for the delay…busy, busy, busy lately.

    On your first comment below mine, I don’t think I would disagree with anything major there. What you wrote is pretty much backed up by the latest story from the New York Times (free account with NYT required to view this link).

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/business/media/democracy-may-prove-the-doom-of-wbai.html

    The only “contrary” point I have is that I do see ways to leave WBAI feedback although I admit not everybody would be happy with the options. They do have a Facebook page but I would not touch that with a 60-foot pole. They have a Twitter account @WBAI but, even if you are OK with them as I am, I think we all know how easy it is to ignore responses on that service. They also have a blog running on WordPress.com (this site runs on their software but not their domain) but it appears that activity as well as response is sparse.

    Then again, even if you or anybody else leaves feedback, which faction is going to look at it? In addition, it’s not like they haven’t been getting the same types of advice — mine included — for a long time now. Then it goes in front of the station’s board where…well, let me quote from the NYT article.

    “Despite the layoffs just days before, the first 25 minutes [of the board meeting] were devoted to a procedural debate about the night’s agenda, with frequent mentions of Robert’s Rules of Order. Occasional shouts of ‘fascist!’ and ‘go back to the N.S.A.!’ rang out from listeners in attendance.”

    Not exactly a good environment in which to save one’s ass, is it?

    As for not having a lot of listener call-in shows, I believe there are multiple reasons for that. I’ve heard Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles struggle for years when trying to get _scheduled_ guests to call in to have it all work correctly for years so one has to wonder if they are truly equipped to get the job done. There is also a mindset in the progressive community that call-in shows don’t really work on that side of the political spectrum especially in the wake of Air America’s demise. There is also the fact that many programs on Pacifica are pre-recorded so there’s no realistic way to do such a show as the callers have no way to hear previous comments and react to them. Finally, there probably is fear on the part of both the potential hosts and management that such a program would become nothing but a troll-fest originated by either those disgruntled by Pacifica or right-wingers…and the Pacifica people might be the worst…look at the comments under any Pacifica-related story over at Radio Survivor (linked here in the right-hand column under Radio).

    While you might or might not not like my particular take on how to solve the problem or that I advocate holding back donations until they chart a different course, do understand that I don’t want to see Pacifica die or sell off its licenses. I also don’t want Pacifica to tone back so much even during prime drive-time hours that it becomes a clone of NPR. Still, they have to do _some_ things that are common sense when it comes to radio and business (even as a non-profit) or the dire predictions of license sales will come true.

    According to the NYT article, WBAI’s membership is down to 14,000 people. No non-commercial station with the strongest part of its signal covering such a huge amount of people…

    http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/pat?call=WBAI&service=FM&status=L&hours=U

    …should have a number of donators that incredibly miniscule. There’s only one way they got to a number that hideously low and that’s by pushing listeners away with unwanted programming. After all, it’s certainly not a demographics change because nobody can tell me that there will ever be a shortage of liberals in New York. :-D

    It’s a shame because the niche audiences DO need to be served. It just has to be done with some cohesion and common sense…AND with better off-air access as with the “Weaponry” program you mentioned.

    Pacifica still has a huge amount of potential. The question is, will they pull back from the name-calling and power trips in time to come together save it? I’d be glad to be wrong but, having watched them for so long, I have very strong doubts.

  6. Just read the article, as well as some typical WBAI-troll style comments anywhere anyone tries to discuss anything about WBAI. Beware! Having an opinion may make you a bad person!

    So typical is the woman quoted in the NYT, who says “we are not a niche, we are it.”

    Ok, Ms. It. In that case, cough up $50,000 for the transmitter rent for next month.

    Or at least learn how to have a civil discussion. It is a dysfunctional world in which a person who is trying to negotiate a process for discussion, so everyone can be heard, is the authoritarian bad guy, and the people who shout him down with accusations are the believers in democracy. It is a dysfunctional world in which rules that are meant to facilitate civic life are oppression. The end of that thinking is that no one listens to anyone else–and why should they? That would be immoral. So we might as well all be channelling gibberish from entities on Venus.

    Whatever the root cause of BAI’s dysfunction, I feel it is probably too late to make the world safe for drive-time First Voices Indigenous Radio. A $45 million broadcasting license and a 50kW transmitter are capital assets, a hard reality no matter what anyone thinks of it. Sooner or later, either those assets are employed in a way that serves the most listeners, or economic value is lost forever.

    When I google “WBAI sinking ship”, I find the same old complaints about the station going back 15 years.

    I am watching the beginning of the end of the end of the end of WBAI. It won’t be long now…

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