Tag Archives: amateur radio

Streaming & Podcasting

computers streaming & podcastingI’ve been thinking about these two forms of audio for some time now. With each new article published about streaming, we see how more and more people are listening to music in this way. The smart speaker has certainly contributed to the growth of music listening via streams, and the smart speaker growth is exploding.

I know with my own experience by getting my first smart speaker as a gift, to now owning three of them, how it’s totally changed how I listen to music.

And then there’s podcasting, a way for the spoken word to be communicated.

Radio versus Streaming & Podcasting

Radio for most of my life was a way to hear both music and the spoken word. It was curated and delivered in fresh and exciting ways by a variety of radio stations across the country.

Unfortunately, radio delivered programming on its timetable, not the listeners.

As VCRs came into the television world, I remember hearing, why isn’t there a device like that for radio? There actually was, I owned one, but it never really caught on like the video devices did.

The VCRs and DVRs changed how people consumed their television programs, and essentially did away with the concept of “Must See TV” turning it into “must record TV.”

Netflix

Then along comes Netflix, and the concept of On Demand TV viewing was born.

One might argue that Blockbuster started it with video rentals, but it still really didn’t impact American viewing habits like streaming video did.

Again, Netflix disrupted people’s viewing habits when it would release an entire season of a TV series all at once. Gone was the need to come back week-after-week to see a program. Now, a new type of TV consumption was created, the binge-watch.

Broadcast versus Streaming

What’s really changed in our consumption of TV and radio is our ability to control what we see and hear, and when we want to see and hear it. In other words, On Demand is the media consumption process of the 21st Century.

I stream 100% of my television viewing. I can watch a program live, or start the show from the beginning if I arrive late, or just view it whenever I want, at another time through On Demand viewing.

Streaming TV has trained us, and now the smart speaker is taking our new media consumption habit and making audio listening just as easy to consume in this manner.

Alexa is ready, willing and able to play any genre of music that I want to hear, on a moment’s notice. She has more song selections than my own personal CD library and it’s so much easier to ask Alexa to play a song for me than try and find the CD that a song is on, and then load it into my CD player.

Podcasts

Complete honesty here, I’m not a fan of podcasts. I don’t know why, I’m just not. The only one I ever listened to in its entirety was the first season of the podcast Serial, and that was mainly due to a long 13-hour car drive, and my ability to download all the episodes onto my iPod to play in my car.

However, I do know that younger folks are really getting into podcasts and this segment will only grow as the spoken word genre finds a way to promote its wares.

The Looming Audio Battle

What I do see on the horizon is radio being drawn and quartered by streaming audio for music, and podcast audio for the spoken word. Both types of audio programming are easily called up via smart speakers and available On Demand.

Curated programming, as has been the staple of broadcast radio, will be challenged to compete.

Professional Radio & Amateur Radio

Radio won’t die, it has a future, but I see it bifurcating in the following ways:

  • There will be professional broadcasters and amateur broadcasters.
  • I see the future of radio looking something like the difference between professional and amateur theater. For example, the difference between Broadway and community theater; where the former are professional paid actors, and the latter is made up of talented volunteer locals with an insatiable love of theater.
  • The advent of low power FM radio stations is the first toe-in-the-water that points in this direction for amateur radio personalities who volunteer their time and energy.
  • Some of these volunteers will come from the ranks of retired or “dislocated” professional radio personalities and some will be members of the community that always thought it would be fun to be on-the-air.
  • What seems to be disappearing are local radio stations in the middle, ones that used to be ad-supported by local businesses, who now find themselves displaced by big box stores and online shopping.
  • The newspaper industry is the canary in the coal shaft for ad-supported media. Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charles Munger points out that, “Technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America. The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they’re all dying.” However, Munger does feel that papers like The Wall Street Journal and New York Times will most likely survive.
  • Newspapers have been cutting staff like crazy but it’s done little to turn things around. Radio is following in print industry’s footsteps as “employee dislocations” are occurring at all the major broadcasting companies.

Does any of this make sense to you?

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

Please post your thoughts on comments section of this blog article, so that others may read them and hear different opinions.

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Have We Been Here Before?

19As the clock was approaching midnight and people were anxiously waiting to ring in the New Year, many others were just anxious over the future of their streaming radio stations. Live365 put out a press release titled “Live365, Internet Streaming Leader, Downsizes and Looks to New Options in 2016.”

What Live365 said was that due to the new Copyright Royalty Board rates for 2016-2020 its small to mid-size Internet broadcasters would now be faced with “prohibitively expensive” fees for legally streaming copyrighted musical content. Live365 also said that it was losing the support of its investors as well, forcing it to significantly reduce staff. Live365’s Director of Broadcasting, Dean Kattari, said “The true value of Live365 lies in its diversity of content – it’s a sanctuary where you can hear music and other content that is so unlike the template broadcasting that is heard on most terrestrial radio. It would be a great loss for this to all go away.”

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. –Mark Twain

 I’m sure that Hugo Gernsback and Hiram Percy Maxim could empathize with the plight of Live365. Back before big business and government created the broadcast system we use today, amateur radio operators controlled the airwaves. It was an open medium allowing individual access, little centralized control, not all that different than the way the Internet began.

Early amateur radio operators had this vision for radio and for more than a decade this was the dominant model for the medium. What ended this form of radio was big business and government coming together and crafting a highly centralized, one-way, restricted-access system that became the broadcasting we know today.

The past actually happened. History is what someone took the time to write down.–A. Whiteney Brown

 Early radio was two-way communication. Learned men were invited to give speeches on important issues of the day. People shared information about their community, as well as reported news, sports and weather. The first disc jockeys were amateur radio operators that played records.

The American Radio Relay League (www.arrl.org) published an editorial in its magazine QST in 1921: “Do you realize that our radio provides about the only way by which an individual can communicate intelligence to another beyond the sound of his own voice without paying tribute to a government or a commercial interest?” Hugo and Hiram were making the case for airwaves that belonged to the public and would be minimally controlled, available to every citizen and allow for the two-way exchange of ideas and communication. Good behavior would be enforced by the community of broadcasters using the medium. This is virtually the same way the Internet was conceived by its innovators.

When businessmen saw a commercial, money-making opportunity in radio, things changed.

I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future. –Theodore Roosevelt

 Amateur radio would end the way it had been operating in 1922 when big business and the American government implemented new regulations for radio broadcasting that would benefit the business broadcaster. Among the changes were prohibiting amateur radio operators from broadcasting music, talk, weather, news or sports; the very things amateurs pioneered for over a decade of operation.

It is history that teaches us to hope. –Robert E. Lee

 I never knew the radio of Hugo and Hiram. I also missed the “Golden Age” of radio before the introduction of television. I was a child of the transistor, disc jockey, Top 40 era of radio. To me (and many others of my generation) this was radio’s magic moment.

As we approach 2020 and radio’s 100th birthday, the birthday we are celebrating is that of big business radio and not the radio of Hugo Gernsback and Hiram Percy Maxim. I’m sure they would say there’s nothing to celebrate, only morn.

But I would respectfully disagree.

I love the radio I grew up with. I wish it had never changed. But change is life’s only constant.

My broadcast students are in love with the radio they are learning, will soon take over operating, and make their own. They’re also using all the digital tools available to create it.

If radio is to prosper and continue to play a role in the society of tomorrow, it’s important that the next generation be given a chance to innovate the medium.

Understanding the past is an important part of media mentoring the broadcasters of tomorrow.

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