Winter Time on the Ped Mall

Iowa City Pedestrian Mall
Cold, breezy day in winter on the Ped Mall

I used to spend a lot of time around these parts. 8 years in Iowa City, and this is the place that everyone always wanted to hang out. I took this picture yesterday, looking down there at a lot of fond memories.

One 4th of July during Jazz Fest, I was here helping with a full KSUI broadcast from the center of the Ped Mall when the clouds rolled in. I tend to remember saying to someone that “this doesn’t look good,” and suddenly the skies started pouring down. As the winds roared in, someone jumped on the microphone to say a hasty signoff and that we were ending the multi-hour broadcast rather early and quite abruptly.

We moved fast. Everything was piled into a four-door sedan, we crammed in, and were gone within 15 minutes. Not a piece of equipment was left behind or damaged.

Good times.

Going live from a new control room

With my experience in technical side the radio industry, there’s a subtle excitement that you get from setting up, rewiring, or moving studios around. And quite honestly, there are a lot of details to have in place before going live in a new control room for the first time.

This video was that moment for The Beat 94.5 when the mic went hot from its new studio and over the air.

Project’s not done yet, but getting to this point is certainly a relief.

Knocking down radio towers

I never like to pass us an opportunity to see some carnage and destruction, preferably that of the controlled type, but this was a chance that doesn’t come along too often.

In my near 15 years of being involved in the radio industry both in the U.S. and Canada, I have never seen a transmitter site have its towers knocked down first hand. Using my Nikon D90 and a cheap tripod, I thought I’d use the opportunity to take some video such opportunity.

To give a bit of back story, this is the now former home of CKST (TEAM 1040AM). Built in the early 80’s, the five tower site has been replaced with a completely new site, not far from this location. This site was slated for eventual demolition, but recent site inspections discovered some structural problems on the base of two towers that the need to bring them down became extremely urgent. In fact, this information was discovered late last week, and this past Monday’s appointment with experts in knocking down towers like this was bumped up.

As you’ll see in the video below, my video techniques are a little rough, but the sound of each, 240 foot tower hitting the ground was impressive. By the time I captured the third tower coming down, I figured out that static shots of each collapse worked much better on my cheap tripod, hence that annoying crunching sound of sorts. Live and learn.
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They Might Be Giants – the sun

A little something for your Friday, especially if you are enjoying the summer sun like we are (trying to) in Vancouver. I know they say this song is called, “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”, but I’ve always called it “The Sun”.

I used to co-host a weekly morning show at KRUI on Wednesdays called “In The Middle”. Clever, eh? Well, every week at 9:30AM, we poked fun at the surrounding FM, rock stations and their “mandatory Metallica” with our own, “Mandatory They Might Be Giants“. Yes, they are near and dear to my heart.

Forever will be the experience of John and John doing a live, acoustic performance in our little studio be remembered, then throwing on our station t-shirt at their encore that night. If Muffin is watching this post, which you see him perk up here from time to time and was my co-host of said show, he’ll agree about that. Knowing that he was a huge fan, and still is, I got him to do that interview in the studio, if not fulfill a lifetime dream. Rock.

WOXY gets back on the radio dial

The saga of WOXY is a long and interesting tale. For a long time, it was the one radio station that I wanted to have a job at, willing to drop everything to move to Cincinnati, Ohio just to work there. Then it got sold and went internet-only.

Amazingly, WOXY[wiki] is making a return to the airwaves.

That’s right, folks. We’ve been working on this for some time now, but it’s finally time to let the cat out of the bag. Through a unique partnership with Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU, you’ll soon be able to pick up WOXY.com on the second multicast channel of WVXU once it transitions to HD Radio in August!

Once you have an HD Radio receiver, you’ll be able to pick up our live broadcast 24/7 on WVXU HD2 anywhere within WVXU’s coverage area. Yup, WOXY.com will rock your car once again.

We’re all incredibly excited about being back on-the-air in the Tri-State and will be posting more info soon on what to expect and the best places to pick up an HD Radio receiver. [woxy]

This is an amazing bit of history. The operation has had its fair share of struggles to exist up to this point, but the ability for a radio station to hold on after losing its place on the dial is pretty amazing. Now they have a chance to make a triumphant return. Well, there is the whole HD thing to contend with.

It’s true that HD radio[wiki] is struggling with getting off the ground. There are two things that are working for it. At least I would by a radio capable of HD if I lived in the Cincinnati area so I could listen to WOXY anywhere, and the same can be said of other markets because of the extra programming you can put on an HD frequency. The prices of receivers are still on the high end, but that’s beginning to slowly change. That can only help the spread of HD, especially once more vehicles come with HD radios built-in.

Still, it’s way cool to see WOXY make it back on the air. I smell a Rain Man sequel.

Internet Radio Day of Silence

Today marks another day of protest by Internet radio stations around the world, and they are doing it by going silent.

On Tuesday, June 26, thousands of U.S.-based webcasters plan to turn off the music and go silent in a unified effort to draw attention to an impending royalty rate increase that, if implemented, would lead to the virtual shutdown of this country’s Internet radio industry. [rain]

I wrote about this not long ago, and it seems that the fight goes on. More importantly, I’m bummed that I can’t listen to WOXY today. Truly, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Thinking about this some more today, I was pondering the argument of why listen to Internet radio anyway? Well, for myself, I used to listen to it all the time while at work. Yes, while working at a radio station, I listened to another radio station for the simple fact of maintaining some sense of sanity. A little dose here and there goes a long way.

The other element to consider is the growing trend of wi-fi enabled cellphones. Look at the iPhone for instance. True that it’s an iPod and a cellphone, but the wi-fi built into it as well as the ability to develop web based applications for it means streaming media galore. You can get all the YouTube you want, but sometimes you need to let go of the controls to the music.

Streaming into WOXY from a wireless hotspot while I enjoy a non-Starbucks coffee? I am all for it.

Therefore, Save Internet Radio, please.

Find the best FM freq for your iPod transmitter

MyBestFM Courtesy of PC World, I thought this was pretty cool. My Best FM is a website from Belkin that allows you to plug a location in and get the best, dead spot on your radio to tune your FM transmitter to. Handy if you have one of these things for your iPod or various portable MP3 players.

If you’re like me, then you own a FM transmitter that connects to your computer via USB and broadcasts nicely to a two hundred foot radius. Sadly, their database doesn’t cover Canada, and I’ve just been guessing that the freqs that my transmitter sits on is fairly empty. If not, oh well. I hope those poor suckers like what we crank out from here.

The Crazy Canucks #35 – GetConnected interview

As I mentioned previously, The Crazy Canucks were invited to the GetConnected radio show over the past weekend to talk about podcasting on their program. Overall, it was a fairly successful event, but there are always things that could have been differently in hindsight.

We had no idea what to expect from the moment we agreed to be there, so we were just as surprised that the interview was over at the time that it ended. Would have been a lot better to get some perspective from Rebecca on the topic, not to mention to talk about non-tech related aspects to the benefits of podcasting. Such is the time constricted venue that is radio. This recording gives you a more behind the scenes look.

This is an out of the ordinary episode of the podcast. We completely step away from all things hockey to have the GetConnected radio show interview a couple of our crew from TCC on April 28th, 2007. For the most part, this episode is pretty geeky and laced with a lot of tech related topics. GetConnected wanted to talk to us about podcasting in general, how to get started, and what to think about when you have a podcast.

We’ll be back with our regularly filled episodes in the very near future. Hopefully you enjoy this behind the scenes look at what goes into creating a podcast like The Crazy Canucks.

24:38 minutes
The Crazy Canucks

On the radio to talk about podcasting with GetConnected

GetConnected RadioGetConnected contacted The Crazy Canucks about appearing on their radio show this weekend. Well, actually, it’s tomorrow, so you’re getting a completely last minute update about this. Doesn’t help that I’m putting this out late on a Friday night, but something is better than nothing.

I can’t be all to sure as to what they want to talk about or cover, but we’re slated to be on the air around 1:30PM PST. It’s CKNW, AM980 in Vancouver, that runs this program, and they do stream online. Tune into their stream if you can, but I’m taking some recording gear along, of course. We’re hoping to get a copy of the audio to at least archive, if not podcast. That is if the powers that be agree to that being alright. Would hate to get sued, but things like that haven hardly stopped me in the past. At the same time, they podcast the program as well.

Canucks win in Game 2 over DucksLook for myself, Rebecca, and Dave to be on the air tomorrow. About what and for how long, I couldn’t really tell you. It will really help being that the Canucks pulled out a 2-1 win tonight in double overtime. Whew! Truly the “Cardiac Canucks” that we saw earlier this season. Here’s to three more! 🙂

Internet radio is under threat… again

Even though I am an avid fan of podcasting, I do love internet radio. You can only listen to so many podcasts and your own music library so much, so when I need it, it’s there. However, it’s under threat. Get more of the story at Savenetradio.org or the Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN), but I’ll also give a bit of personal back story to my interests in this issue.

In April of 2002, I was the Production and Community Affairs Director at KRUI. A little, 100watt college radio station that I spent nearly six years toiling with, and I became the Operations Director(station engineer) that following month. Just a short time before that, we established the first webcast in the history of the radio station, and it has continued to this day. In fact, I still tune in to hear DJ’s mumble about the music that gets played and hear my voice on the numerous station ID’s that I created while I was there. (By the way, check out my portfolio to hear some of that stuff. Did some updating to that as my job hunt in Vancouver has swung into full gear.)

The DMCA[wiki] set into motion a string of debates as to the copyright royalties that music labels should get from internet radio stations. In 2002, those rates were astronomical, so much that the fees were going to force a huge percentage of streams to turn off, including ours. Basically, the costs calculated out to having internet radio stations to pay a certain amount of money per song, per listener. That means you would have to track not only what songs you played but as to how many people heard it as the time it was played. Combine that cost with the resources it would take to track all that information and the numbers shoot up quick.

These costs were going to be retroactive to a specified time, and if you were webcasting for a few years, then you would have been in severe debt when these rates took hold. For some, that mean six figures in fees. Major ouch, especially for a tiny station like KRUI which, at that time, ran on a yearly budget of nearly $16,000.

Being good little college students that we were, we protested this. We weren’t the only ones. Numerous internet radio stations participated in the “Internet Radio Day of Silence”[rain] where streamers either turned their streams off completely or restreamed a marathon program from Wolf FM, which is what we did.

KRUI - TV Interview for Internet Radio Day of Silence We even worked our connections with the local newspapers and TV stations to spread the word about the issue and our participation in the day of silence. I even showed up on the six o’clock news in my sleep deprived stupor from getting all the equipment in place the night before. I actually wrote papers and did speeches about this topic in some of my college courses because I knew the ins and outs of it so well. In fact, I traveled to the CMJ conference in New York that fall and attended a panel discussion about this. Kurt Hanson from RAIN shared the table with other major players and was a pleasure to meet as well.

Additionally, this latest threat is prompting another “Day of Silence” for internet radio stations. Find out more here.

In the end, the powers that be lost out, internet radio took a sigh of relief, and the royalty rate structure went back to the drawing board. The group in charge of collecting these fees, SoundExchange (which is comprised of a board with heavy influence of the RIAA), are about to unleash an updated royalty rate that is going to choke a lot of streaming stations on the day it takes effect.

By now you’ve likely heard the news about the Copyright Board’s ruling regarding net radio. Simply put, it approximately triples the amount paid to record labels via SoundExchange for streaming Internet radio over the next three years, changes the way the payments are computed (from what is called an “Aggregate Tuning Hour” basis to a straight “per play”), adds a confusing and onerous “per station minimum” fee with no maximum, and extends the new rates back to the beginning of 2006. Many small Webcasters won’t be able to afford this, and you can bet large Webcasters like us are all taking a hard look at the Internet radio business and our products to decide if it’s really worth the cost. Big companies might have more money, but they can’t stay in businesses where they don’t make any profit, a pretty simple business fact.

Compare the implications of this decision to terrestrial radio which pays NOTHING to SoundExchange, or even satellite radio which pays only 3-7% of their revenue to SoundExchange, and it’s hard not to be left scratching your head. The irony of all this, of course, is that this ruling will keep LAUNCHcast, Pandora, and the like out of your living room and push you toward FM, where the labels are paid zero. This decision cuts off a genuine future revenue stream before it has had a chance to grow. [savenetradio]

KRUI - Audio routing for Internet Radio Day of Silence As some one who fought for this before, I can say that there is no dispute that recording artists shouldn’t be credited and payed for the music that they create. However, rates like this that makes the entire medium suffer and puts functionality into the hands of a minority of players that can afford rates like this is appalling. I encourage you to go to Savenetradio.org and find ways to help fight these rates.

Food for thought, if you are an RIAA member or are big enough to strike a deal with them, you wouldn’t have to pay these rates because you would already own the rights to stream the music. There are only a few entities that can afford to make compromises like that, thus killing off those who do internet radio for the soul purpose of doing it for the purpose of making enough revenue to cover costs. Being retroactive, it’s not as easy as going with music that falls outside of these fees starting right now. Amazing how all the bases seemed covered to limit the effectiveness of internet radio as a whole and putting it into the hands of those that have the budget for it.

For a little radio station like KRUI, having a webcast is vital. Students that go to school there can move away and still tune into their beloved college station. It’s also an amazing way to garner more listeners who have no radio access but can still tune in from the computer lab. Plus, mom and dad can listen in, and my parents did a fair share of that during my time there. I can’t forget to mention that WOXY doesn’t need another reason to shut down again. Geez.

Update: Getting caught up on my RSS feeds, I found this article on BoingBoing that has Rusty Hodge from SomaFM speaking about this topic.

Also, Adam Curry interviewed Doc Searls about this topic on Daily Source Code #587. It’s a little over the halfway point in the episode that the conversation starts. Good background to a very complicated story.