July 24, 2007

Radio is your friend

I couldn't put it any better. Radio has always been the music promotion machine, and has a future to continue to do so, alongside the internet and online music services. Radio is as collaborative as online community portals. Radio is clever. Radio gives you free stuff, it's live and topical. Radio starts and follows trends. Radio is a culture tracker and developer.

I've always thought that radio will take a smaller slice of our 'media pie', and perhaps a more accurate way to decipher how, is to consider content. We have more content than we are able to work with. We need the internet to manage this. New media like the internet has become another 'staple', alongside old media like radio, television and newsprint. The content is forever growing - we just have more pages to pick from.

That's why we have 'mediums' like radio, to deliver the best and worst of it all.

Now a separate argument, is the music industry, and how radio has been presented (quite ridiculously I might add) as a medium that has hurt the music industry!??

This is far from true. Radio has been instrumental for the last 60 or so years, in developing a record industry. Radio has been the ultimate promotional tool. How we "digest the music" beyond radio, should be the music industry's concern, not that of radio. Radio needs to be separated from any equations relating to sales. Radio is PROMO! Listeners/Consumers are SALES!

Steven Van Zandt wrote a great piece about this recently. He reacts to the US economical slide, and how all forms of logic have started to slide with it:

The latest evidence of this sad loss of logic, pride and integrity comes in the form of a feverish obsession by virtually everyone to make all those greedy, evil radio stations pay for the privilege of playing our precious records.

How dare they!

The free dance is over, buddy, it's time to pay the piper!

It's perfectly obvious that this has been the problem with the record industry all along.

[ read more ]

July 10, 2007

MPFM & the Radio Shuffle

VHF-FM licenses are up for renewal in 2011. If you're a regular reader of this blog, chances are you know about this already.

I've seen the FM License offers paper, put together by MED in May. It looks like some people will be shuffling a little bit on the dial, while others will need to packing their marketing team up and move them to a completely different end of the dial. Further down the page I have detailed a few interesting moves...

I've also read the proposed draft for the allocation of new MPFM frequencies and their dependency on the kind of two way interference between aeonautical radio band just above 108FM - just next door to music and talk stations. There looks to be a crunching of available LPFM frequencies in the the upper band - likely to be reduced to 107.4 - 108.0FM.

The MPFM community frequencies will sit just below the LPFM crowd from 106.6 - 107.4FM. Everything below that is good to go for high powered stations (FMBC).

Points of note include:
7.5 The location of new medium and high power FMBC services in the 100 to 108 MHz band anywhere in the Auckland area will require careful coordination to optimise use of the band and the maintenance of airport landing safety margins.

11.6 There are particular coordination issues with the establishment of new FMBC stations above 100 MHz at Auckland and Wellington, and their establishment in other areas of New Zealand will also require care.
I also found this interesting:
2.6 In regard to low power and GURL FMBC stations, experience has indicated that occasionally operators have raised transmit power levels above the licensed limit. Where such cases have been discovered, appropriate compliance action has been taken. However, such illegal action in or near ILS/VOR Designated Operational Coverage (DOC) areas can lead to a reduction in the safety margins of the ILS/VOR services before regulatory action can be taken and may allow possibly dangerous situations develop. Other actions are therefore needed to ensure that operators in those low power bands clearly understand their responsibilities and associated consequences.
It's been known for a while that the frequencies around the 96FM mark are usually smaller area ones that are designed for "in-between" markets, or secondary frequencies that are sheltered by NZ's famous geography. Recently these 96FM frequencies have been slyly re-engineered as de-facto high power broadcasts over time, and as a result, has affected market frequency rastering. These have turned into "frequencies that shouldn't exist but do".

It's become apparent that this small slice of spectrum needs a clean out. As a result, the re-rastering of the 96FM frequencies (96.0 - 96.9) are all getting 'reset'. Some broadcasters will be able to continue to use their frequency, while others will need to move to the left, to the left. Others will need to move up a bit, or a LOT. Some are getting moved way up the dial to the new 106FM zone.

Here are a few highlights I found from the paper:

96.1 - Currently TRN's "Flava". This license will be moved to 95.8 (Skytower).
95.8 - Currently World TV's "Real Good Life FM". They will vacate 95.8 and move to 104.2 (Pukekohe Hill)
96.8 - Currently Waatea's "George FM". No word yet on this.
My guess is they will move to 96.6fm (Skytower)
96.5 - Currently Tainui FM's Pukekohe frequency. This will move to 105.8fm (Pukekohe Hill)
96.6 - Currently Canwest's "Times FM". This will move to 97.8fm (Lochamber)
95.4 - Currently an unused Mai Media frequency. This will move to 100.2fm (Shakespeare Regional Park)
96.3 - Currently registered as a TRN frequency for Albany.
This might get disbanded, as it already is a very low powered license.

others of interest nearby:
- Currently Canwest's "Coromandel FM". This will move to 97.2 (Lower Rataroa)
96.6 - Raglan Community Radio. This will move to 98.1fm (Raglan)

- Currently TRN's "Radio Hauraki" Waikato. This will move to 96.2 (Ruru).
This one is interesting, as there will need to be a co-ordinated effort between TRN and Canwest for this one. Those Coromandel FM listeners currently enjoying the program on 96.2 will suddenly be hearing the opposition's Radio Hauraki!

92.0 - Currently Canwest's "92 More FM" Waikato. This will shuffle up to 92.2 (Ruru)
This is also interesting for listeners in the Hauraki Plains and the Coromandel, as Nga Iwi FM's listeners currently enjoy their iwi station locally on 92.2 - then on April 1, 2011, 92 More FM will suddenly appear, and their iwi station will have moved to an as-yet undefined frequency.

92.5 - Currently an unused TRN frequency in the South Waikato, will move to 105.2 (Te Kawa). Maybe they'll put Radio Sport onto this FM frequency? They are on 792AM in the Waikato.

All of these are the offers from MED. You can read everything here. [pdf]

July 5, 2007

MPFM - Local Commercial Radio in NZ

Is this feasible?

Okay, I'm not sure about the whole concept of local commercial radio to be honest. I'd like to offer a point of view which may reflect the view of the big corporates. Consider these points:

TRN decided to keep local breakfast shows (like Classic Hits) in every region, because there must be some value in that for them - commercially and for local presence. A well funded company like themselves managed to quantify paying a small team of staff to sell and promote the station locally - albeit only in breakfast. Would you think that they are delivering a good case to say that 'local' radio already exists?

Before you answer - what if TRN's Classic Hits, decided to invest more money into really improving their local radio services by say, opening up more airtime like Drivetime - and putting more resources into local news services and community connection - especially ethnically in cities like Auckland and Wellington or rurally in Gore, Christchurch or the Waikato. More FM already is live and local everywhere - they'd just invest in more community coordinators and promotional content. Their parent has already shown interest in local events and making money from it. The two big networks would likely outperform a MPFM operator, because they are better resourced, and have a stronger financial base. What if the monster known as Newstalk ZB launched local breakfasts in every market as well to counter MPFM?

It's a chess game where it is becoming more apparent the big guys already have the upper hand.

Be honest with your thoughts about this, because if you want to try and take them on in this "local radio market", it could be a crippling reality check for you, and ultimately a dream-shattering waste of energy, money, stress and time.

I'm not saying give up - nor am I offering incentive for you to "take them on" - I'm just saying, if the big monopolies decided to step-up their local presence against you - would you stand a chance? They know what they're doing. They already have the advantage of consistency in local breakfast, and it wouldn't take much for them to develop their local presence in every market across the country. Their big network brands already make a fortune outside of local advertising - so they have the funds. This wouldn't hurt them much at all.

LPFM has been successful so far because it's livelihood DEPENDS on the large shadows that the giants create. LPFM excels in servicing the small niche pockets that are not feasible for bigtime operators to invest in. They're more interested in making big money. If MPFM spells enough cash-reward for them, they will invest.

July 4, 2007

Happy July 4 - America!

The whitehouse is celebrating today!

Bruce Springsteen - This Hard Land [ download ]

July 2, 2007

The almighty cassette

Call me a backward prat, but I still prefer putting together mixtapes (to my partners delight!)

Technology is great, but when you try and fit. it. with. old. ways... the ways you like to do things, it falls short.

Take a mixtape for example. Hands up if you know how to send a friend your mixtape, to their ipod? Oh, but Phelps, haven't you heard of Last.fm? Yes, but not really. Here in NZ, we just got iTunes, and digital downloading is just starting to filter through to our subconscious. The marketing of which ain't even splashing me.

It's been painfully slow thanks to Telecom's draconian approach to REAL broadband, and the joys it can bring (at an afforable speed & price). So Last.fm really ain't on the map here.

After reading the iPod vs Cassette tests by No Name No Slogan, and a test of the iTrip undertaken 3 years ago by gadgetophile - it's still clear that the cassette tape still has it's charms.

I have a poster on the wall here at work, that explains such charms, an iPod could perhaps never garner. Click the picture or go make your own!