You've gotta be f----n kidding me!

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Owen Smith

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Actually you've pretty much nailed the main problem in the first sentence. The main FM market isn't a bunch of geezers listening to their 70s boat anchor receivers in their homes but rather drivers on their daily commutes. In fact that demographic is so large it keeps the FM band profitable here in the states (unlike the majority of Europe where analog FM is dead).
Analogue FM is doing fine in the UK, there is as much broadcast on it as there ever was. Independent (as in not the BBC) radio has always struggled to be commercially viable in the UK, but it's no worse now that it has been for decades. And as in the US, a lot of that listening is in cars. I don't know if it is the majority, there are plenty of people in the UK listen to radio elsewhere. And newer cars have dual DAB/FM tuners, but unlike what you describe for the US there is no automatic switch from FM to DAB and the user knows when they're listening to it. The different reception issues give the game away for a start.
 

Soundfield

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unlike the majority of Europe where analog FM is dead.
I'm not sure in which countries you have found that to be the case. It is not my experience and only Norway ever went fully digital (for particular reasons). It is certainly not true in the UK as Owen Smith mentions above. And I think the US, Canada and Mexico are the only countries to have adopted HDFM (because of the wide channel spacing requirements of that curious hybrid system). But various flavours of DAB are in use in parallel with FM in Europe (with varying degrees of success and popularity - low bitrate DAB in the UK is of particularly awful quality).
 
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gvl_guy

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Actually you've pretty much nailed the main problem in the first sentence. The main FM market isn't a bunch of geezers listening to their 70s boat anchor receivers in their homes but rather drivers on their daily commutes. In fact that demographic is so large it keeps the FM band profitable here in the states (unlike the majority of Europe where analog FM is dead). Considering the large fleet of cars still carrying non HDFM tuners broadcasters need to advertise to the lowest common denominator/largest market share. FM here is in no danger becoming extinct compared to AM and its digital offspring.
100% of the problem with radio in the US is that major corporations bought up so many of the stations. You might have a group of 5 or 6 stations in one market and maybe 5-6 people total in the building at any given time. Nights and weekends, no one is there. It's really sad. Companies like iHeart, Audacy (formerly Entercom and CBS,) and Cumulus have turned potentially awesome radio stations into music boxes...and not very good ones. They at the same 200 songs over and over because "research." There's no personality on the stations other than syndicated morning shows. The rest of the day is likely voice tracked. The day Paul McCartney dies, every AC and Rock station should alter their programming. But they won't. Because they can't. There's no one there to do it. It might not even get a mention, no less play some extra Beatles and McCartney tunes.

Local radio used to be plugged into the community, raising money for local charities, doing live remote broadcasts from local businesses with giveaways. Now, zip. Nothing. You're lucky if the jocks mention something local or pronounce the names correctly because they are possibly hundreds of miles away and have never stepped foot in the town.

And as far as the "music box" goes, I'll choose a streaming station that has almost no commercials (and likely no DJs) over some voice tracked station with 9 minutes worth of commercials every hour everytime.

Oh, sorry. Rant over. I'll get off my soapbox now. 😁
 

Soundfield

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100% of the problem with radio in the US is that major corporations bought up so many of the stations. You might have a group of 5 or 6 stations in one market and maybe 5-6 people total in the building at any given time. Nights and weekends, no one is there. It's really sad. Companies like iHeart, Audacy (formerly Entercom and CBS,) and Cumulus have turned potentially awesome radio stations into music boxes...and not very good ones. They at the same 200 songs over and over because "research." There's no personality on the stations other than syndicated morning shows. The rest of the day is likely voice tracked. The day Paul McCartney dies, every AC and Rock station should alter their programming. But they won't. Because they can't. There's no one there to do it. It might not even get a mention, no less play some extra Beatles and McCartney tunes.

Local radio used to be plugged into the community, raising money for local charities, doing live remote broadcasts from local businesses with giveaways. Now, zip. Nothing. You're lucky if the jocks mention something local or pronounce the names correctly because they are possibly hundreds of miles away and have never stepped foot in the town.

And as far as the "music box" goes, I'll choose a streaming station that has almost no commercials (and likely no DJs) over some voice tracked station with 9 minutes worth of commercials every hour everytime.

Oh, sorry. Rant over. I'll get off my soapbox now. 😁
I'm sorry for you guys - it all sounds truly ghastly. But a predictable outcome of unrestrained capitalism! You'll just have one robot mega-station soon, probably owned by Amazon.
 

Owen Smith

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I'm sorry for you guys - it all sounds truly ghastly. But a predictable outcome of unrestrained capitalism! You'll just have one robot mega-station soon, probably owned by Amazon.
The UK is going the same way, we're just 20 years behind. Most UK governments feel the need to have a go at the BBC, it's death by a thousand cuts and eventually there will be nothing left.
 

JonUrban

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100% of the problem with radio in the US is that major corporations bought up so many of the stations. You might have a group of 5 or 6 stations in one market and maybe 5-6 people total in the building at any given time. Nights and weekends, no one is there. It's really sad. Companies like iHeart, Audacy (formerly Entercom and CBS,) and Cumulus have turned potentially awesome radio stations into music boxes...and not very good ones. They at the same 200 songs over and over because "research." There's no personality on the stations other than syndicated morning shows. The rest of the day is likely voice tracked. The day Paul McCartney dies, every AC and Rock station should alter their programming. But they won't. Because they can't. There's no one there to do it. It might not even get a mention, no less play some extra Beatles and McCartney tunes.

Local radio used to be plugged into the community, raising money for local charities, doing live remote broadcasts from local businesses with giveaways. Now, zip. Nothing. You're lucky if the jocks mention something local or pronounce the names correctly because they are possibly hundreds of miles away and have never stepped foot in the town.

And as far as the "music box" goes, I'll choose a streaming station that has almost no commercials (and likely no DJs) over some voice tracked station with 9 minutes worth of commercials every hour everytime.

Oh, sorry. Rant over. I'll get off my soapbox now. 😁
This exactly. The state of radio today, other than talk, is totally national with only small college stations doing anything out of the box. I haven't listened to music radio in decades
 

Soundfield

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The UK is going the same way, we're just 20 years behind. Most UK governments feel the need to have a go at the BBC, it's death by a thousand cuts and eventually there will be nothing left.
I'm slightly more optimistic - as you said earlier, commercial radio has never been a great success here, and there'd be rioting in the streets if anyone tries to kill off The Archers!
 

LuvMyQuad

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I know this might be unpopular here, but I almost totally listen to Sirius radio in the car. I know it doesn't have the best fidelity. I know its not free (beyond the 1st year on a new vehicle, but I'm still only paying $5.99/month). But it does have real disk jockeys and no commercials (other than to promote other Sirius channels). Listening to Jim Ladd on the Deep Tracks channel is a favorite, as is Peter Asher on the Beatles channel. The overall content offered is wide and deep.

Now if they would only install a Prog channel....
 

kap'n krunch

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don't know if it's a digital station but I NEVER listen to anything else but WWOZ-FM or .org in my car...best station in this UNIVERSE!
 

gvl_guy

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don't know if it's a digital station but I NEVER listen to anything else but WWOZ-FM or .org in my car...best station in this UNIVERSE!
They are in HD. That means that if you listen on an HD radio, you're hearing it in digital. (There are not many separate HD radios out there. But if you have a late model car, you might have one built in.)
 

Soundfield

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I NEVER listen to anything else but WWOZ-FM
I understand the historical background to the use of geographically based licencing call signs in the US. But these random collection of letters always seem particularly unmemorable to me – can’t a licenced station call itself anything it likes these days? I think I read somewhere that all stations had to announce their call sign and city of licence every hour - is that still true, and if so, what is the point?
 
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Owen Smith

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Call signs seem to be deeply ingrained in North America. From 2000 to 2005 I worked on some EPG software for Canadian telco spinoff iMagicTV, they sold a system to allow telcos to compete with cable TV companies (which was a terrible business idea as the cable companies just dropped prices until they killed the competition). Anyway, the field you and I would think of as the Channel Name eg. "BBC 2", "Channel 4" was named Call Letters and was restricted to 10 characters because that's the maximum length that call signs can be in North America. It caused loads of problems trying to sell the system to European telcos, who had channel names longer than 10 characters and/or were baffled at the name for the field. I spent about 2 hours once on the phone to some executives in Canada trying to explain the problem, and they had a mental block. All they could say was "But why don't they use Call Letters? How can it work without them?".
 

gvl_guy

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I understand the historical background to the use of geographically based licencing call signs in the US. But these random collection of letters always seem particularly unmemorable to me – can’t a licenced station call itself anything it likes these days? I think I read somewhere that all stations had to announce their call sign and city of licence every hour - is that still true, and if so, what is the point?
Every radio station is licensed with call letters. Each station must, near the top of each hour, say those call letters and city of license. Most stations never mention those letters any other time. Their "brand" is Kiss 100, Magic 98.9, Rock 101, Kicks 96, etc. Very few use those call letters as their brand. The ones that do are usually heritage stations that have used the letters forever. WSB. 1010 WINS. KYW. And most of those tend to be talk. Some stations even "lie" about their letters. I worked for WWMX in Baltimore and, other than the top of the hour, always said "WMIX, Mix 106.5."

I think the point is that you will know exactly what you are listening to my listening at the top of the hour. Some stations may be licensed to one community but their signal makes it into another one, so the fudge it. With the call letters and city of license, you'll always know exactly who and where they are.
 

mlrocker

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I know this might be unpopular here, but I almost totally listen to Sirius radio in the car. I know it doesn't have the best fidelity. I know its not free (beyond the 1st year on a new vehicle, but I'm still only paying $5.99/month). But it does have real disk jockeys and no commercials (other than to promote other Sirius channels). Listening to Jim Ladd on the Deep Tracks channel is a favorite, as is Peter Asher on the Beatles channel. The overall content offered is wide and deep.

Now if they would only install a Prog channel....
The SiriusXM app is awesome, bluetooth in the car, so great! I'm loving Eddie Trunk and Rodney Bingenheimer shows
 

surround.sound.enthusiast

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Every radio station is licensed with call letters. Each station must, near the top of each hour, say those call letters and city of license. Most stations never mention those letters any other time. Their "brand" is Kiss 100, Magic 98.9, Rock 101, Kicks 96, etc. Very few use those call letters as their brand. The ones that do are usually heritage stations that have used the letters forever. WSB. 1010 WINS. KYW. And most of those tend to be talk. Some stations even "lie" about their letters. I worked for WWMX in Baltimore and, other than the top of the hour, always said "WMIX, Mix 106.5."

I think the point is that you will know exactly what you are listening to my listening at the top of the hour. Some stations may be licensed to one community but their signal makes it into another one, so the fudge it. With the call letters and city of license, you'll always know exactly who and where they are.
The smaller college and community radio stations are often less flashy about their call letters and frequency numbers, and will often bring them up more frequently than required by federal rules. And the call letters sometimes still make sense. I listen to or stream 90.9 WMPG (W "Maine, Portland-Gorham", possibly), 91.3 WUNH (W "University of New Hampshire" definitely), and 103.5 WXGR (W... I have no idea...)
 

par4ken

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I understand the historical background to the use of geographically based licencing call signs in the US. But these random collection of letters always seem particularly unmemorable to me – can’t a licenced station call itself anything it likes these days? I think I read somewhere that all stations had to announce their call sign and city of licence every hour - is that still true, and if so, what is the point?
I don't believe that to be true anymore. Most FM stations at least in Canada rarely mention their call letters but use nicknames instead, a practice that I despise. In the good old days radio stations mostly AM (but FM as well) identified themselves almost exclusively by call letters. The jingles (sung call letters) were played between almost every song, I loved it! Some combinations sounded very cool CKLW, CKFH, CKPR, CFRW, WDGY, WLS, KAAY, KOMA, CKRC just to name some of my favourites. At least CITI-FM (city) still uses their call sign as their nickname. Most of the now nicknamed stations are totally forgettable to me as is largely their content.

As I recall stations used to have to broadcast a news cast at least once an hour as well, now you can listen to some stations all day without ever hearing even a brief newscast.

As others have mentioned I hate listening to a station that is obviously in autopilot mode, stations used to have real people spinning records, day and night. Now you're much better off listening to your own collection of music, nothing worth listening to on the radio anymore.
 

Owen Smith

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Does radio play still count towards chart positions for songs in the US? (it never did in the UK).
 

halbroome

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Oddly enough, here in South Mississippi we have a local university FM station that is actually really, really good! Not only streaming as well, but you can pull up setlists. When it does go on automatic, you can still text in requests that get played on the hour, so it is like having fellow listeners take turns on a jukebox 8').

It's the only way I can keep up with current music . . . however, on Sundays there are hours of jazz before noon, and hours of blues (of course, look where it is) after mid-day:

 

par4ken

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Does radio play still count towards chart positions for songs in the US? (it never did in the UK).
I would have to say no. When one of our local stations was formatted with current music they ran a syndicated show on weekend hosted by that boring guy that used to be on MTV. I think the show was "America's Top Forty", anyway they counted down the top songs but they didn't change much from week to week or month to month.
 

mlrocker

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if you have a smart phone, and a bluetooth ready radio in your car, you are pretty much free of listening to the terrestrial radio.
you have downloadable player apps like Pandora, Youtube, Spotify, on and on.
 
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