Archive for February, 2015

I found a zombie!

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Now that I have a more accurate way to know what radio stations you should be able to hear, it was time to test it in the real world.

Back around Christmas time, I sat in a parking lot with a list of nearby radio stations to see if there were any discrepancies. At that time, I mentioned that there was one radio station that appeared to be missing in action – all the rest seem to be there

Previously because I didn’t know how free space signal loss worked, I just set the range to < 35 miles – but some stations can be heard more than 35 miles, in fact most. With the range set to 200 miles, many more radio stations appeared to be within the listening range – and that is true.

But that one radio station – WAGL-AM in Lancaster SC was still not audible in Charlotte, where it should have a clear signal. Time for a road trip!

So I told my iPad where the station tower is, and told Siri – “take me to the tower!” – at the time I started the trip, I was already in a place called Stallings, NC. Siri figured out a route, and started turn by turn instructions. I had the radio to the appropriate frequency, no matter how close I got to Lancaster, no signal. It was plausible that the station might have been running reduced power, but there was nothing. I arrived on the street outside the towers, there they were – and absolutely no signal.

If one were hunting for zombies this is an obvious candidate – the reasons include:

  • It is daytime only AM station
  • It is licensed for 50 kW daytime, which would probably cost $80 a day for electricity
  • It was airing gospel, which probably does not draw a big audience
  • Lancaster is a small town with a struggling economy (9000 people – majority black, and 23% below the poverty line)
  • The license is for a directional antenna array, which requires 4 towers, requiring engineers to check them, and more things to go wrong
  • The ownership contact address is a PO Box
  • the license renewal was not done by an attorney

Upon further review, the owner died in September 2014

The FCC has not been notified that the owner died or that the station is off the air. The web site domain has stopped functioning. The FCC should have been told in 10 days, it has been 6 months.

So what now?

Coming soon – Google Earth Integration

Friday, February 27th, 2015

For years, there have been little tower icons that would launch Google Maps to show you the antenna for a radio station. This morning’s project is to create a wat to launch the 3D and street view of Google Earth if you have the program or app installed.

The key parts are working – just a few items. If I got clever enough, I might be able to add things like the ASRN number and tower height.


New Station Format – Classic Hip-Hop

Friday, February 27th, 2015

It started over the “holiday” season – perhaps a safe way to test a new format. As affluent educated white people abandon radio, Classic Hip Hop is not that illogical to fill the void. Baby Boomer Whites cling to their Classic Rock – at least a few Black people or people who wish they were have survived into their 40s and are now are classic, even though many of the Classic Hip Hop artists are long ago dead or in prison.

Rolling stone picked up on this trend

So move over hoes – its time fo da jamz. Rock ‘n roll is as dead as Trayvon. #rockisdead

Dennis Miller gets the Cumulus heave-ho

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Just two days after Roger Hedgecock sent out the 30 day affiliate notice he’s quitting, Westwood One is shoving Dennis Miller off their talk lineup plank.

So you may be wondering who his replacement will be? Newt Gingrich? Jeb Bush? Pat Buchannon?

Not a chance in hell. Westwood One is replacing him with a Chicago DJ/musician named Jonathon Brandmeier. Johnny B was doing a show when I lived in Chicago in the early 90s – the show was boring and stale then. Like Steve Dahl, his show was mostly narcissistic rambling talking about things that no sane person cares about like the skid marks in his underwear. He most recently was hired by WGN to keep their 80+ year old listeners awake, but failed – and has been amusing himself for the last year by playing “radio on the Internet” listened to by only his mother and Randy Michaels.

Dennis Miller’s advice to Johnny B? “Lotsa luck”

In Chicago itself, Dennis Miller was on Salem Radio’s WIND-AM. The current hosts on WLS-AM from 9-11 CT got the boot. Johnny B will start sometime in March, Dennis Miller’s last day will be March 27th. The Johnny B syndicated show will be two hours (10AM-Noon ET) probably only heard on a handful of Cumulus stations.

Will KLIF-AM in Texas love Johnny B? Not a chance in hell.

Is there a radio engineer in the house?

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

I would like guidance on whether I have the math right. This is a gross oversimplification ignoring antenna gain, non free space signal loss, directional antennas, etc – just distance, transmitter ERP and frequency to derive theoretical receiver dBm


Do those calculations look right? The FCC protects signals until th dBm reaches -60 dBm, I think. The station may or may not be heard further depending on the sensitivity of the receiver.

Am I on the right track?

If you want to play along at home,

Happy First Net Neutrality Day

Thursday, February 26th, 2015


Mignon Clyburn will surely have a smile on her face this morning as she votes to neuter Rush Limbo.

What is a “Reverse Morris Trust”?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

When Disney wanted to unload ABC Radio (selling it to Citadel), they used a Reverse Morris Trust – the same mechanism is probably in play for the CBS Radio spinoff to Cumulus Media if it happens.

This is pretty confusing stuff, but here goes. If ABC Radio was on the books for a lot less than the proceeds from selling the stations and network, the sale would trigger a significant tax liability. A reverse Morris Trust avoids that. Disney contributed its stations to a new hybrid entity that was then given back to the Disney shareholders and the minority “ownership” of the new entity merged with the acquiring company, so in theory Citadel did not actually buy ABC radio, so no taxable event happened. The Citadel stock then could be sold to other parties.

The former ABC radio stations never transferred directly to Citadel, but remain in the Morris Trust entity.

Keep in mind these days that measuring “ownership” by looking at stock is hopelessly out of date and naive. Most companies these days are “owned” by their debt, not their equity.

The Disney/ABC deal was further muddled by the almost immediately bankruptcy of Citadel. My impression, which could be wrong – is that Disney was holding debt owed by the morris trust and their stations secured the debt – meaning that Disney probably retained legal ownership over the stations coming out of Citadel’s bankruptcy.

When Cumulus stepped forward to buy Citadel, they likely incorporated Disney’s security interest in those stations.

If CBS is spun off to Cumulus, they will have to divest those ABC AM Stations. What I’m thinking here is ABC radio is going to revert back to Disney ownership which is why Cumulus doesn’t care if it destroys them. In the last weekend, WLS, WABC and KGO preempted long standing weekend programming in Sunday nights to run colon cleanser infomercials.

The stock markets are starting to behave like this deal is going to happen. It will be so convoluted that the SEC,FTC, FCC and IRS will never unravel what is actually happening

Upheaval at Clear Ch… Err iHeart

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

All the important people that work for iHeart Media were summoned to a meeting with Bob Pittman. They knew it would not be to discuss the Oscar awards. Clear Channel is $20 billion in debt and as sick as Sumner Redstone.

The biggest news is that the guy who has been creating iHeartRadio and the digital media platform was told to walk the plank.

The new direction is to focus more on cutting costs by increasing the amount of centrally controlled automation of programming.

This is happening at the same time the NAB is pushing Congress to pass the Orwellian named “Local Radio Freedom Act”
by the same organization that fought for over 10 years to delay issuing licenses to the Low Power FM radio stations that are local by definition, and the radio monsters unemploying all of the humans that used to work in local radio.

My head hurts.

The CBS rumor is baaaack!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

You may be aware that the vultures are circling around Sumner Redstone, the uber progressive that has a controlling interest in both CBS and Viacom

Les Moonves (who runs CBS) is making his move – hoping to leverage CBS to recombine Viacom and CBS.

Nothing like that is going to happen unless Redstone wants it to happen or he is unable to fight back – he is 91 and has already fought one battle with his daughter over control of his empire.

Sit down before you read any further and pull your car over if you’re web reading while driving.

So the rumor that has been floating around for at least a year is that CBS wants out of the radio business if it can figure out how to transfer ownership to Cumulus Media.

This is a little problematic as the combined company would be way over the FCC ownership caps and face certain rejection by the Antitrust Section of the Department of Justice – unless of course the Ruler of America for life waves his hand and repeals antitrust regulations. Republicans may well support repeal of the Sherman Act and ending the Federal Trade Commission.


Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Eric Holder has announced there is no basis for bringing Federal Charges against White Hispanic George Zimmerman in the self defense shooting of vigilante Trayvon Martin

Case Closed.