Amazon Prime Day

Need I say more?

Be sure to click the affiliate links!

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Live from Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Where all the secrets are right out in plain sight

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Revision to metro areas

For the most part, this won’t really affect anybody, but in case somebody notices…

Radio and TV and the FCC focus on this term called DMA, which stands for designated market area. It is similar to, but different than, the MSA which is the government’s metropolitan statistical area used by the census department. Both are generally trying to describe a large group of people who live generally in the same area, not constrained by state boundaries or political subdivisions.

A good example would be Saint Louis – the bulk of St Louis is in Missouri, but East St. Louis is in Illinois across the Mississippi River. Radio’s methodology for DMA used by the (RAB Radio Advertising Bureau) is to put counties into one Metro area. However, on the Missouri side the City of st. Louis is actually only a small part of the metro area.

The way things evolved, perhaps a hundred different distinct small communities grew up around the city, each with their own Police departments, fire departments, City governments and speed traps. (Ferguson is an example of this) The lack of precision about where the listeners actually are and where radio signals reach is very effective at manipulating perceptions of audience in order to maximize your advertising revenue. It also facilitates what they call “moving in” radio stations into a metro area. You license your radio station to a small little town way far away from the Central City, after you have the license and pretend to serve that community, then you decide to move the station closer to the big city, but still hearable in your original small town. Then after another five years when people forget why you got the license in the small town, you try to move the radio station even closer to the big city, which is where the big money is, even if your signal doesn’t actually cover more than a small part of the big city.

So in the spirit of creating further confusion and obfuscation, I’ve decided to use an entirely different methodology – based on the post office mail distribution system. As you know, the original ZIP code consists of five digits, the first three of which identify a metro area and the last 2 indicate a specific post office or special use, like a mail drop for utility companies, or IRS service centers. About 1/3 of radio licenses are in small places, some of which are not even places with governments.

So my new methodology (only for stations not already assign) is
– use the license community and state to see if they have a post office
– use the first three of the ZIP code of that post office, and determine which town or city has the largest aggregate population
– if that town or city already is included in a metropolitan area, assign the small town to the same metro area

So for example, Pineville NC is in 28134. The largest place in 281xx is Monroe, NC, which is considered part of Charlotte, hence I consider any place in 281xx as Charlotte metro area, which includes in descending population

and more…

Noticably absent is Gastonia, which is in 280xx, whose largest community is Concord, also considered Charlotte area.

The approach is not perfect, and it creates the situation where I have assigned a station to a metro area where the station cannot be heard in the big city, just the area in between. A case where this does not work is Hawaii. The only metro area in Hawaii is Honolulu, but if you are not on the big island then it doesn’t really make sense to assign your station to Honolulu. But it does help me organize the research to focus on important regions, and pay less attention to really really small places like Eureka Kansas.

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Buh-buy Mapleton

Radio insight story

Back in 2009, I did profiles on each of the major radio station owners, including mapleton.

About mapleton

The good news is they had some awesome parties while it lasted.

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Station Search – new and improved

For several years, the “search for a station” has been much more flexible than it might appear at first. You can search for things like words in the description of the station, the licensee, keywords on their home page, and the community of license.

But having used the search extensively for the past few weeks, it was painfully obvious that what it was doing wasn’t all that useful. Most of the time people are looking for a specific call sign. It was giving equal weight to the key words and description is compared to the call sign. If you typed WAB, you would get stations in Wabash Indiana first, not WABC.

So now as your type in the letters, as long as you are matching some call sign, those stations will be pushed to the front with major markets first. If you get to the point that it is clear you are not typing a call sign, then you will get results you are expecting based on the keyword or city named or whatever. I also added the ability to search on frequency, which was not previously possible.

So for you testing pleasure, a few suggestions:


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The month for grilling

Ants need to eat too!

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Cox sells its radio division to early SiriusXM investor

Cox’s fortune was the result of the work of James M. Cox, a newspaper owner from Dayton Ohio, who ran for President in 1920 for the Democrats, with a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his Vice President. He lost in a landslide to Warren G Harding, following the betrayal of the country by Woodrow Wilson. Wilson ran for re-election in 1916 based on a promise to keep us out of the war in Europe. Cox fully encouraged and supported Woodrow Wilson breaking his promise and entering the war.

Radio was not yet anything but a toy for the rich or the curious young person like my father. By the mid 1930s, the radio was becoming a viable way to reach the masses and influence public opinion. Cox created WHIO in Dayton as a station on NBC’S red Network. A few years later, as FDR was approaching joining the second war in Eurooe, war-monger James Cox acquired WSB in Atlanta, which would become the home of Cox’s media empire. Cox would grow from newspapers, into radio, into TV – and most lucratively – Cable TV systems.

James M. Cox died in 1957, with the empire handed off to James M. Cox Jr – welcome to generation two.

Interestingly, James Cox Jr. supported Richard Nixon in the election over George McGovern in 1968 and required all of the Cox newspapers to endorse Nixon, to the dismay of his editorial people.

James Cox Jr. died in 1971 and had no heirs, so ownership transferred to his two sisters and one brother. When the brother died in 1974, the brother’s share was split between his two sisters.

Mrs Barbara Cox Anthony was living in Hawaii. Mr Anthony was her 4th husband. She was more interested in giving her money away then running a media empire, other than the sitting on the board of directors. She died in 2007 with a net worth estimated at $12 billion.

Anne Cox Chambers, the last surviving member of generation two, turns 100 years old this year. Everyone could see the coming problem. She and her husband stayed at home in Atlanta to run the family media empire. Their only child together turned out to be a dancer and choreographer, so you can imagine the chances of generation three taking over the family business were not good.

Cox was being run by 71 year old James Cox Kennedy, the son of the sister who lived in Hawaii. He is generation three, so time to dismantle the family fortune. He probably misses Hawaii. There are no beaches in Atlanta, just streets named Peachtree. In 2018, the reins were turned over to his much younger cousin Alex Taylor, who enjoys writing books about fly fishing.

More details from Forbes

Apollo Capital Management recently bought Cox’s TV stations, and now is buying the radio stations and their advertising business.

Inside Radio news

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You are worth $67 per year to radio

I had recently read that the most valuable cities are worth $84 per year from radio commercials, or $0.23 a day

This study goes into a lot more detail

This might explain why religious networks who are getting $10 a month from listeners. are drowning in cash. Their operating expenses are much less than commercial stations. I wonder if clear channel ever considered the possibility of converting to a religious non-profit 😁

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The FX explosion

No, not foreign exchange trading – FM Xlators [translators]

Originally, a translator was a lower power transmitter whose intent was to distribute programming in a small area from a primary station, either in an area with bad signals like in the middle of mountains, or programming for non-commercial radio – like statewide NPR networks and satellite fed religious broadcasters. One key requirement for FM translators is that they may not originate their own programming, other than the provision for non-commercial stations to have brief sponsorship messages that are specific to each translator.

Then a very important thing happened – the FCC decided that it was appropriate for an FM translator to retransmit the signal from an AM radio station. This is particularly useful for legacy AM stations in small markets, which previously had to turn off their transmitter when the sun set, or at least lower the power to not interfere with the clear channel AM stations in distant markets.

The results must have been so good that FCC chairman Ajit Pai decided to make this a really big thing – strongly encouraging AM stations to apply. It was believed that adding an FM translator would “save AM radio” stations they were teetering on the brink of going under financially.

Initially, the rules were relaxed to allow existing FX translators (mostly owned by satellite delivered religious broadcasters) to move a significant distance if they were sold between owners. It became apparent that there was much more demand for this than there were available translators, so there was a series of opportunities for AM radio stations to apply for a new license. If granted, the FX license would be married to the AM station for 3 years to prevent a lucrative resale market.

They started with the small-market stations and then worked their way up. Major markets were more difficult, because you had potential to interfere with the full power stations already there. In response, the interference rules were relaxed, and when station owners started filing fallacious complaints from people not even in their protected contour, the FCC largely shut down the complaint process.

In the United States, as of June 2019, there are 4,609 licensed AM stations. There are currently 2,524 FX translators whose programming is coming from an AM station, which is a staggering revolution.

The Call Sign of an FX license is a K or W, followed by a 3 digit channel number, followed by two letters – for example K235AG. Nobody is going to remember that, so many AM stations rebrand themselves as FM 103.5, without mentioning the AM or FX callsign, except during the legal station ID just before the top of the hour. Much of the world already doesn’t use call signs.

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No mas! ESPN Deportes closing

The spanish-language sports Network ESPN Deportes is closing down according to this story

Eventually people in American radio will catch on that Spanish language speaking immigrants have no money to spend, and what they do have they send back home to Mexico.

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