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My Favorite Radio Station Essay

Radio Stations and the Public Good

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Radio Stations and the Public Good

For my final project on public interest I chose to view the public inspection files of the local radio station. I have been working at radio stations all of my life and had never seen or heard of a public inspection file until this class. In order to prepare the station for my arrival I called in advance to make an appointment. The receptionist answered the phone and I told her that I needed to see the files, this created a great deal of suspicion and I was directed to Dave Andrews the Vice President of Regent Broadcasting. Right away I knew that it was not a regular request due to the manor of which he explained the rules, it was as if he was reading them of an F.C.C handout. “ Any member of the public can view the files between Monday and Friday during normal business hours”, he recited. I made an appointment, and I was very interested in viewing something that deserved the attention of the Vice President. I had no idea that this visit would be so rewarding and life changing.

I arrived at the local radio station in time for my appointment. The receptionist asked to see identification, I gave my driver’s license which she photo copied. I felt as if I was in a secret area of the Government where I needed clearance to view the top-secret files. After my information was taken I met Mary-Jo Beach the General Manager who would assist me in viewing the public inspection files. I was disappointed when I first saw the standard gray file cabinet, because in my head I pictured a mission impossible type setting with gadgets and locks. Mary-Jo sat with me in her office as I viewed the files. She was very suspicious at first and very interested in my objective.

Before I was actually able to review the public inspection file, Mary-Jo asked me what exactly I wanted to see and why I was interested in their station. I explained that I was a student and as our final project we had to visit a station, view the files and then report our experience and determine if they were broadcasting in the public interest. Mary-Jo’s whole manner changed, she seemed to be relieved. After I had explained the main reason she helped me work through the files and was very helpful in answering my questions.

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It was very easy to obtain the information I was looking for, Mary-Jo brought the files inside her office and one at a time we went through the piles of folders. The files were complete and very orderly. Each document that was supposed to be in the files were there. I am very grateful that I was helped because I could have spent many hours looking through documents that I need not see. Even though it was posted that a ten-cent charge would apply for copies I did not have to pay for anything.

The first file that I wanted to see was the license. I was very interested in what exactly was required to own a station. In this file I saw the application for call letters, technical information on towers and frequency. I was amazed at the amount of forms that are required to own a station. Even though this file did not pertain to this paper, my interest in the radio business could not pass up an opportunity to review the root of the radio station.

The political file at W.O.D.Z, listed all the political candidates that had purchased time. Mary-Jo explained that they do not give free airtime to candidates, then she let me see the rates for the candidates. She also showed me the documentation of each spot, what time and day they were aired. Any time a political candidate’s spot is aired it must be properly documented and kept in the public file. I was disappointed when I asked to see the names of the candidates and the sheets they completed, because Mary-Jo told me that I could not view these particular files due to the fact that personal information on each candidate along with a copy of their check was personal information and not for public access. However she did read some name of political candidates that had purchased time, but I could not read them with my own eyes.

As a student I thought the file of letters and e-mails from the public was a rule that was not followed. The idea that each comment must be kept in the file for three years seemed a waste of space. At W.O.D.Z, I could not have been more wrong. This file is massive each comment good and bad are present in the folder. I took some time to read a few bad comments and skimmed a few positive comments. Mary-Jo explained that the task of compiling comments is one of the most tidious jobs, but to comply with the F.C.C, it is necessary to follow the rules. For a small radio station they had an entire bottom draw filled with comments, I took this file lightly when I determined weather or not they serve the public interest because they are able to stack such a file with positive comments.

The radio time brokerage agreements were interesting. Every commercial spot that had been sold. I asked Mary-Jo about the local businesses and whether or not they advertised on the station. She told me that the advertising rates were the same for all business, however the radio station helps the local business by on site broadcasting and promotional events. This file was very interesting. It documented each commercial air spot and how often it was aired. I was very interested in the contents because the companies listed were the reason the station was in business.

The most vital file for the purposes of determining whether or not this station is serving in the public interest is the program list file. This file contains documentation of the programming geared toward local issues and public announcements. At W.O.D.Z, they publish a quarterly issue where they list time allotted to local news and weather. As stated in the issues, “ The station runs local news twice per hour Monday through Friday from 5:30am to 8:30am. In addition the station runs local weather four times per hour between 5:30am and 8:30am and once per hour from 9am till 5:30am.”

Public service announcements ,“PSA’s”, are also listed in the quarterly. For the July 1st through September 30th issue, these P.S.A’s ran at least 25 times during this period are (Unemployment, Alzheimer’s, NYS Broadcasters Assoc., Utica City Octoberfest, Harren Golf Classic, Utica Monday night, Drums along the Mohawk, Rome Chamber of Commerce, Central NY Camping Reports, RCIL, Food service program, Camping Reports and Pediatric Brain tumor.). Each of these P.S.A’s are documented in the affidavit of services rendered, which in detail documents the date, time, length, rate and amount of each announcement.

I questioned Mary-Jo about the community and what programs if any are directed towards local events and issues. She showed me the Public affairs programming sheet that documents the date and topic of each show and a brief description of the topic discussed. W.O.D.Z, broadcasts a weekly public affairs program that is aired Sundays from 6am to 7am and repeated Sundays from 11pm to midnight. The first half of the program is the radio health journal and the second half is locally produced with local issues being discussed. The documentation, which I received demonstrated how local issues were being discussed, and all the guest were from the community discussing issues important to the local community.

After I had completed the inspection file, I started to talk to with Mary-Jo about radio and her experiences. I told her about my desire to work in radio, and about my experience in radio and what I was going to school for. She told me that she was amazed at the amount of passion I had for radio as well as my experience and drive at such a young age. She then called Dave Andrews to her office to meet me; he then showed me around the station and introduced me to the on-air jocks, program directors and newsroom employees of the four Regent Broadcasting stations. Dave Andrews talked to me about the public inspection file and told me that if I needed anymore information to call him and he would see to it that I received what I needed.

After the long conversation on public interest and the F.C.C, Dave asked if I would be interested in going to an interview to work for the station. I was excited and overwhelmed with the thought that I would be an on-air jock for a commercial station and actually get paid. I agreed to meet with him later that day when Don Christi, the program director, was available. Dave also pointed out the fact that Don would be able to give more information on types of programming.

I went to meet with Don; I gave him my resume and demo tape. He listened to the tape and introduced me to the station managers. We talked about F.C.C standards and regulations. It was a great opportunity to be able to talk with a person involved everyday with the topics we read about in class. After, the talk he decided to hire me as an on-air personality for all four stations.

The experience of W.O.D.Z, was a positive look into radio. I was able to see the files and talk with people who are radio. I was treated well and given the opportunity to ask questions and learn from experience. The staff bent over backwards to ensure I was taken care of and given the information that I needed.

The information which I received about the station and the documents that I viewed are the base of weather or not they are serving the public interest. Despite the fact they gave me a job, I do not feel as if they are serving the interest of the public. I believe they are doing the minimum requirements without going above and beyond F.C.C regulations. This is not serving the public. W.O.D.Z, underneath the comments and documentation is still a commercial station that falls short of what I consider serving the public.

I have a difficult time with the manner in which the local news is handled. Sundays from 6 to 7am and then again from 11pm to midnight is ridiculous. They serve the public on a day and a time where people are not interested in radio and at a time on a day of rest. In order to find out what is happening locally you have to wake up early or stay up late, this is only convient for a profit driven commercial station. This type of doing is what they need to fulfil their quota. It is not in the true spirit of the law in a time slot that dead air would never be noticed is a injustice to the community.

Public service announcements are required to be played. Mary-Jo tried to base the generosity of the station in giving time to 30 sec. announcements as serving the public. As a citizen the free airtime they so generously give out and base their helping the community front, belongs to all of us. I feel that my interests are not being taken into consideration at six in the morning on Sunday. W.O.D.Z, does not take it’s media power to help and inform the people, I would change my opinion if they took time out of the prime air spots to serve it’s community, instead they do what they have to in order to be in regulation with the main focus on money instead of their obligation to the public’s needs.

While doing this paper and visiting the station, I was enlightened to many things. The radio despite the obligation to serve and inform the public does so in order to keep making a profit. The ideal radio is dead. We are being neglected of what is our right because it is not profitable to take valuable time to serve the public. Rules are made to give an outline of what needs to be done, in the case of W.O.D.Z, the rules are used to find the bare minimum and the minimum does not serve the public.

Why listening to the radio gives us more pleasure than watching TV or using a laptop

By Liz Thomas
Updated: 15:56 GMT, 29 June 2011

The rise of new technology was predicted to spell the end of traditional media.

But despite the nation’s fascination with the latest gadgets, it seems the simple pleasure of listening to the radio is what makes Britons happiest.  

The Media And The Mood Of The Nation study found that people who regularly watched television, used the computer, or listened to the radio were happier and had more energy than those that did not.

Uplifting: The survey found that radio listeners had increased happiness and energy levels

But it found that radio had the most mood-enhancing effect, with listeners saying that it lifted their happiness levels 100 per cent and energy levels by 300 per cent, compared to those not using any media at all.

The report said: ‘Radio is chosen as a lifestyle support system, to help people feel better as they go about their daily lives. Rather than the peaks and troughs that people have claimed to experience with TV and the internet, radio provides a consistent environment themed and shaped to suit the listener’s needs  at any given time of day, and one that is generally upbeat in tone.’

Viewers said TVs boosted their happiness by 62 per cent and energy by 180 per cent, while those using the internet said their happiness was increased by more than two thirds and energy levels leapt by 220 per cent,  when compared against people consuming no media.

Morning boost: Broadcasters such as Chris Evans improve our mood and provide companionship, the survey found

The research, which was based on interviews with more than 1,000 people, commissioned by the Radio Advertising Bureau in a bid to establish whether media influenced the way people feel.

Respondents were asked to detail what media they were using and rate their mood on a scale between -5 and 5 at different points during the day across one week, before giving more detailed interviews.

Those that did not use any media at all averaged a score of 0.5 on the energy scale and 1.3 on the happiness scale, while those that listened to the radio had an average happiness score of 2.6 and energy rating of 2.1.

TV viewers averaged a happiness and energy score of 2.1 and 1.4 and those using the internet rated 2.2 and 1.6 on the same scale.

The research found that the biggest mood enhancer for people was listening to the radio while surfing the web, because they were able to enjoy the 'company' of the wireless while achieving more practical things online.

A spokesman for RAB said: ‘With consumer confidence affecting both national mood and economy, these findings illustrate how powerful a boost media, and radio in particular, can be to both.’

The findings come at a time when radio listening in Britain has reached a record high.

The latest Rajar audience measurement figures show that 91.6 per cent of the population tune in each week.

Brits listened to a total of more than 1.058 billion hours of radio a week in the first quarter of the year.

A spokesman said: ‘Radio listening reached its highest level ever recorded in the first quarter as 47.3 million adults or 91.6 per cent of people aged 15 or above tuned in to their favourite radio stations each week. This is the highest since audience measurement began in 1982.


Old-fashioned entertainment: many radio enthusiasts oppose plans to switch radio broadcasts from analogue to digital

While new media options – such as listening to stations online, via mobile phones, or through digital televisions – have helped boost radio listening figures, most consumers still prefer their traditional analogue set.

It had been hoped that, as with the move to digital television, Britain would switch over to digital radio by 2015, but this plan has been delayed by at least another two years according to a leaked government document.

The technology has failed to grip the public’s imagination and there is opposition from FM loyalists who cannot see the point of moving the major stations off the analogue service.

The document, understood to have been written by civil servant John Mottram, says that the radio industry is unlikely to be able to meet the infrastructure costs linked to building transmitters, before 2017.

It also says that the loss of analogue services to digital would probably have to be phased in by region rather than on a single day. This means the process is likely to take three years to complete – not ending until 2020.

Part of the problem is the need to ‘build-out’ local digital radio to the same level of coverage as on FM.

The cost of this between 2013 and 2017 is expected to be £25million, shared by the Government, BBC and the commercial radio sector.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has said switchover will begin once at least 50 per cent of radio listening is via digital and the technology matched the 99 per cent coverage of FM.

About 130million analogue radios in homes and cars must be replaced.

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