Friday, 8 February 2019

558 AM, Radio's sea of controversy?

558 AM 

- radio's hotbed of controversy!

558 is a  much coveted readio frequency at the bottom of the Medium Wave Band. For those whose radio dials are marked in Metres, then 558 kHz is the same as 538 Metres.  Originally the ITU allocated the channel to stations in Egypt, Switzerland and Finland; in those days it was 557kHz, or 539 metres.

The channel came to prominence in Western Europe in September 1972 when the muchj loved North Sea station, Radio Veronica moved to it, after a high power Swiss mouth made it impossible to hear its programmes on 192.

After 12 years on 192 meters, at the top of the AM band, Radio  Veronica moved to 538 on BBC Radio One's fifth birthday at the end of September in 1972. It was also the day that transmissions were heard from Radio Caroline after a four year hiatus. The new frequency gave Veronica coverage well into neighbouring countries, including Belgium and the UK.

 The Battle Commences
All was fine until the following year when the UK's IBA decided to use the channel for Capital Radio in London. although only low power, this made reception of Veron ica difficult over a big chunk of its area.

Radio Veronica closed in 1974 and later,  Radio Caroline tried using the frequency for a short time, but the mast on the Mi Amigo was inadequate for the type of antenna they had in the mid 70s.  The IBA had meanwhile relinquished its use of 558KHz, whose long wavelength gave very wide area coverage.  The BBC thought it might be useful for one of their "local" stations and began a lengthy 'clearance' process to have it assigned to them for use in Essex, even though they had no firm plans to open such a station at that time.

In early 1984 another offshore radio station, LASER, opened up on 558 from an anchorage close to radio caroline, just off the mouth of the Thames. Laser 558 achieved huge coverage from the radio ship the Communicator, despite using only about 12 kilowatts power.

Laser 558 was hugely successful; accoridng to the official listener figures (RAJAR it attracted just under 5 million listeners in the UK alone, and probably more than that on the near continent, inc ourntriues like Hoilland, Blegium and France.  You can read more about Laser's success in  Laser Radio Programming, a book I published in 2017.  Click Here for details.

When Laser's crew decided to sail the ship into the UK,  Radio Caroline quickly moved onto the frequency.  They operated successfully on it for a few years; it probabbly gave them the widest coverage they had ever had, despite only a modest few kilowatts of power.

In 1990 the UK authorities tried to force Radio Caroline off the frequency and awarded it to a new multi-ethnic station, Spectrum Radio.  Eventually Radio Caroline capitulated as they had only low power available and a hurriedly built partial aerial system.

Spectrum continued on 558 KHz until 2017 when the frequency was taken over by Kelvin McKenzie, who operated TalkSport for many years.  He launched a new station called LOVESPORT on 558 in March 2018.  Depsite its name (and licence conditions) most of the output is general speech and very little of the content is sport.  Many believe it IS a sport station however, and this certainly is a deterrent to many prospective listeners who dont want to hear non-stop sport commentaries and sport.

Kelvin clearly now thinks that the future for Lovesport is DAB and online and he has decided to relinquish the frequwncy.  He has reached agreement with a Punjabi station which will see Lovesport move to 1584, at the opposite end of the Medium Wave dial (and with a much smaller footprint).  Panjab Radio meanwhile will take over 558 kHz with a capital-wide station in Punjabi and English.   The move required approval from OFCOM who are now seeking the views of affected listeners.


Why has Lovesport decided to abandon 
the coveted 558 frequency?  

Perhaps not enough listeners have chosen to access Lovesport on 558 Medium Wave? If so, the situation bears some careful examination.  Less than a year's operations seems a very short period to arrive at a decision to shut off the use of one platform for any radio station.

The market for local sport coverage in London is not at all crowded.  In the commercial radio sector, only national station TalkSport makes any attempt to cover sport.  It also competes with BBC Radio Five Live, but neither of these stations cater for local sport interest and must cover the whole of the UK.  The BBC national station is operated from its new base in Manchester.
BBC Radio london pays only marginal lip service to sport in the capital - so LovePSort has a wide open market to serve and ought to be able to attract an audience.

In similar markets, sport radio stations do very well.  In New York, the leading station is WFAN in terms of advertising turnover (its $76m is far higher than any UK station, even national ones).  WFAN is also down at the bottom end of the AM band, and despite AM being regarded as 'old hat' by many, it is still capable of producing handsome returns for its investors.

All things considered, one can only assume that the main reasons for the rapid take off that Kelvin had expected for LoveSport haven't materialised.  That however, must be a result of the dire lack of promotion by LoveSport for the 558 frequency and, perhaps, the word 'sport' being in the name which probably deters the majority of the potential audience.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

"Stay out of Court" guide for Radio station staff

Stay out of court

with this "more than useful" 
new book 

"Essential reading if you work in radio"
Paul Rusling 

Many people running radio stations think their biggest legal danger comes from journalists, and what they might put into a news bulletin.   The reality is, however that it is their presenters and DJs who are the biggest potential danger to the station - they are the ones more likely to get a radio station into trouble. 
“At least journalists usually have some legal training in college and read off pre-prepared scripts. However presenters ad lib their links and are untrained in media law," says Paul Chantler.  "It is no coincidence that the two biggest legal catastrophes in commercial radio in the last 20 years were caused by presenters rather than journalists.
“The next big legal problem in radio will probably be caused by Johnny Jock on Radio Nowhere’s breakfast show commenting on allegations he read on Twitter about the local mayor – Very dangerous.”
Paul Chantler has worked as a journalist, presenter, producer and PD in British radio for over 30 years.  His co-author, Paul Hollins, who currently presents on Smooth Radio, has worked on stations all over the UK including Key 103, BRMB, Capital London and Heart London. 
This is an easy-to-understand guide to the laws of defamation and contempt for radio broadcasters, podcasters and social media users.  It is  illustrated with lots of real-life examples of when things have gone wrong and what to do to ensure you... keep it legal.   At £ 9.99 it is FAR cheaper than a lwyer, and way cheaper than the cost of going to court. 

Your can find KEEP IT LEGAL at Amazon 

- full details HERE.

For more useful books on radio - Programming and Production, 
see the World of Radio web pages about Radio Books 

Monday, 23 July 2018

Gooooooooood Bye Adrian Cronauer, RIP


Adrian Cronauer!

(Well, thats how HE would have said it!)

ADRIAN CRONAUER, the man whose military radio antics inspired the character played by Robin Williams in the film 'Good Morning, Vietnam', has died. He was 79.  He died of age related problems at home.  

While broadcasting in Vietnam in the sixties Adrian started his AFN shows with the phrase, "Goooooood morning, Vietnam!" By way of Robin William's portaying of him in the film he inspired a generation of new DJs and influenced many to be more adventurous.
 The radio world owes him a great debt. RIP Adrian Cronauer.

One of the best known radio names the world over, Adrian began his own radio career aged just 12 years old on his school radio station in his home town Pittsburgh, Pa.  After getting a Masters Degree in Media Studies in New York he worked in radio, including a stint as morning DJ at Classical Music station in Virginia.  Adrian then trained as a lawyer before his military service, in Crete (Greece) and Vietnam.  

In the 1970s Adiran touted the idea for a TV SItcom that was to be a cross between MASH and WKRP in Cincinatti.  The result was Good Morning Vietnam.
In the brief presentation on the video link below, you can hear Adrian explain how the cry  
Goooooooooooooooooood Morning Vietnam!  
actually came about. And why it resonates so much with radio people.  Many of us have foluindered around at 6am wondering how the hell we are going to start a radio station's breakfast programme, when we only got out of bed minutes before!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Three Lions gets 4th period at Number One

Three Lions brings home a Fourth Period  at Number One

Looking very at home and celebrating their number one smash hit, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. Their "Three Lions" single sold 80,000 copies this week which gives it a Number 1 position, just as it enjoyed 22 years ago when last released.

The single also features the Lightning Seeds and has been a perenniel favourite, though never as appropriate as last weekend.

The England World Cup team's Russian Adventure

Three Lions on a flag ENGLAND's 2018 LOGO 
It was last wekend, when the England team were through to the Semi Finals and everyone hoped that they might make the Grand Final, that interest in the song was highest.  Instead, that tie will be between Croatia and France.  Despite holding their early 1-nil  lead throughout the game, England conceded just before the ninety minute whistle to give the Croatian team an extra 30 minutes, which they used to slot home another goal and win their place in the final.

Fourth Spell at Number One 

This is the first time in the chart's 66 year history that a song has spent FOUR spells at Number One with the same artist and line up.  Three Lions spent two  one-week spells at Number One in 1996 on its release,  and two years later had a three week stay at the top of the chart. The recent exploits of the England team in Russia in the World Cup made it the single's fourth period at the top.

It is one of the best selling singles in the UK of all time, having shifted over 1.5 million copies now (the total excludes streams).  The campaign to get Green Day's "American Idiot" up the charts has failed to make much impression, with a measly #25 position being reached.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Top DJs earn up to $50m a year

Top Disc Jockeys earn up to $50 million a year!


Figures published by Forbes magazine this month show that the top earning DJs are now nearning tens of millions of dollars, simply for mixing and scratching. 

Well, mostly from their turntable skills:  some of them have topped up their earnings by producing records too and its these recordings that have boosted earnings over the past year (the figures are for one year, from July 2016 to June 2017). 

01.   Calvin Harris ($48.5m)
02.   Tiesto ($39m)
03.   The Chainsmokers ($38m)
04.   Skrillex ($30m)
05.   Steve Aoki ($29.5m)
06.   Diplo ($28.5m)
07.   David Guetta ($25m)
08.   Marshmello ($21m)
09.   Martin Garrix ($19.5m)
10.   Zedd ($19m)

These figures are their GROSS earnings and do not allow fo the hefty cut that managers (20-40%) and agents (15%) take from a DJs earnings, or the other expenses. Presumable accountanst and tax -experts will be taking a healthy cut too?

There is a good feature on DJ earnings on World of Radio's Club DJ page here, that explains in a bit more depth how much DJs earn. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

TWR boosts AM signal to 450 kW

TWR boosts power 
of its AM signal to 450,000 watts

After a three year campaign to raise $300,000, Trans World Radio has announced it is going ahead with its reconstruction at the MW facility on Boanire in the Caribbean. 

Announcing the major development in July 2017, TWR's CEO Lauren Libby said: "I am overjoyed to announce that the financial needs that we had,  to upgrade the station from 100,000 watts to 450,000 watts,  has now been met!” 

 “The higher power transmitter has now been ordered, the antenna array will be retuned in early July and the sign-on probably happen by the end of January 2018."

TWR made a last push on fourteen local radio stations in the USA to raise the final $80,000 for the Caribbean station  With changes to the antenna, the signal is expected to blanket two major area: First, the signal over Cuba and the east coast of Mexico will be considerably enhanced, and secondly a much improved signal will be possible, reaching well down in to the Amazon basin and other parts of Brazil.   

Previously the 100kW signal on 800 kHz AM covered a roughly omni-directional pattern, with a lot of power being wasted over the eastern Windward islands and out into the Atlantic - the signal was  often regularly heard in Spain and Morocco after dark with just 100kW!  

The extra areas covered taises the potential audience for the station to over 100 million people.

The increase in power will make TWR Bonaire the most powerful Christian radio station in the western hemisphere.  “Over 220 volunteers have visited Bonaire to work on the project. U.S. churches have been involved," said Mr Libby.  "Large donors have given generously and thousands of people have given toward the project.”

TWR is now plann ing a further campaign called Gifts Beyond the Goal, to help pay for the extra electricity needed to feed the 450kW station. 


Broadcasting on the Short Waves

(1945 to today)  by Jerome Berg 

The beginnings of Short Wave radio can be traced back to the mid 1920s, when radio amateurs in the UK and the USA, found that the higher frequencies would 'skip' across the Atlantic at certain times of the day enabling them to be heard far beyond their local area.

Radio stations used this new phenomenum to rech listeners in other far flung countries, especially those countries which had an empire of countries around the world, such as the UK, Germany, France and Portugal.

`This book takesup the story of Short Wave broadcasting after World War II, The heart of the book is a comprehensive account of the shortwave bands and activity in each year since. 

 It is written from an  American listener's point of view (ear?)  and covers the new  stations and looks at several important short wave events. The book also describes the various types opf broadcasters--international, domestic, religious, clandestine and pirate.  It covers in some details the various private shortwave broadcasting stations that were particularly active in the United States.  The book looks at the purpose of relay stations and how  frequencies are  managed.  It also explains the concep0t of jamming, and describes some of the new and most promising broadcast technologies.

Since the end of the cold war in the late 1980s, Short Wve broadcastinmg has considerably reducied it improtance. This has been partl;y due to the spread of reliable television, thanks to the proliferation of satellite.  There are many illustrations and a comprehensive index as well as a bibliography and notes to help with additional research.    Available HERE for just £32. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Denmark to shut down FM broadcasts?

Danes next to
 close down 
the FM band?

Rumours abound among European media commentators that the Danish government will soon suggest closing FM transmitters; they previously said they would once digital radio share reached 50%. This is expected to happen in late 2018. Digital radio share is growing but still only at 33%., a 50% increase in two years over the previopus level of 21%.

Denmark's national DAB+ network operator Teracom has also announced that it will transmit the commercial radio stations Nova FM, Pop FM and Radio 100 with space now becoming available for other stations. 

Elsewhere in Denmark, several new community radio stations are about to launch on various AM frequencies with a few hundred watts of power. 

A much sought after book about the BBC's Danish Service has been republished and is now available.   

British Broadcasting and the Danish Resistance Movement 1940-1945: A Study of the Wartime Broadcasts of the BBC Danish Service

This book tells the story of how the BBC's European Service played a huge role in danish lives during World War II, and immediately aftwards.  The book was first published in 1966, almost a generation after the Second World War.  

The BBC and its various overseas services played a very important role in many countries, diseminating vital information and messages of moral support. It's  unboubted that without this vital life line the war would have been prolonged.  The BBC's Danish Service was a particularly effective example. 

Most of the transmissions to Denmark came from the giant BBC transmitter at Ottringham in East Yorkshire, which was so powerfuil that it could be heard during the day in Berlin! The power of those transmission can never be over-stated; to the rest of the world, this WAS Britain broadcasting. Quite unlike the world's impressions of the BBC today which sound both in presentation, accent and content not like the UK hardly British at all. 

The BBC also broadcast special programmes in the appropriate native language for the Netherlands, Franjce, Poland and Norway.  After the end of the war these merged to become the BBC European service, which continued until the 1990s.  The BBC's German service was the most listened to of the language streams. 

The book's author, Jeremy Bennett, uncovers the relationship between the stance taken by the BBC and the sometimes dramatic effects of the broadcasts in Denmark, particularly their effects on the Danish Resistance. The 288 page softback is available HERE (via Amazon) for £14.99, post free for Prime users.  Its a Cambridge University Press publication and is one of the few books about that era of Danish broadcasting.