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NorthEast Radio 9/23: More NAB Thoughts

--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                            September 23, 2000


*CALIFORNIA: Parting Shots from the NAB Radio Show

-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------

SAN FRANCISCO -- "What do you worry about?"  

That was the question former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs posed to Clear
Channel chairman Lowry Mays as the two chatted in front of a room
filled with hundreds of broadcasters here at the NAB Radio Show.

"Yesterday afternoon," drawled the man who owns more radio stations
than anyone else in history, "I was worried about whether that German
brown trout was going to grab that fly."

Mays was joking -- we hope -- but the point remains clear: the big
guys here at NAB still believe their business has a future.  

The trouble is, the big guys are about the only ones here this year.
Walk the convention floor and you'll see very few badges from
small-market stations, and fewer still from the big group-owned
stations, many of which declined to send individual station managers
to San Francisco this year.

Who's left?  Lots of "e-this" and "i-that" and "whatever.com," to be
sure, and many of the streaming audio booths remained packed
throughout the week.  One we couldn't even get near for a while was
Kerbango, that 40s-style net-radio appliance that's supposed to make
it as easy to tune in your favorite Webcaster as it is to tune WBZ
from Nantasket Beach.  

The equipment makers were out in force, of course, and the smiles were
especially wide on the faces of the transmitter and antenna guys.
They, of course, will get to sell new equipment to pretty much every
radio station in America if IBOC digital becomes a reality, and there
were plenty of prototypes ready to be gawked at.

Speaking of IBOC, we did spend a few minutes at the iBiquity bOoth,
where a prototype receiver offered a chance to listen to San
Francisco's KLLC (97.3) in IBOC digital, compared with several other
locals in mono.

To untrained ears, the difference was a bit short of stunning.  No
multipath (which is a big deal in this terrain-challenged town), but
it's hard to see how the extra few dB of dynamic range and slightly
better frequency response will make much difference in the real world,
where we listen to radio in the car with the windows open and
Freckles, the NERW Wonder Dog, barking her head off over the music.

And yes, there were some real radio folk here too.  A Friday afternoon
session on local news in small markets warmed the heart of this former
small-market radio newsguy.  Listen to a guy named Jay Fisher, from a
little station in Missouri called KTKS:

"Whenever anything happens, we have someone there to report on it.  No
matter how insignificant it seems, those are the things people want to
hear about."

An interesting concept, isn't it?  


And with that, we head off to a few more sessions, a big plate of
sushi, and tonight's Marconi Awards banquet. 

We'll be back at NERW Central on Monday, with all the latest on WHCD
(Auburn-Syracuse)'s change to urban, the new calls on Portland's 99.9
(seems "Mix" belongs to someone else!), and the rest of the week's
developments.  See you then!

---------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
                     (c)2000 Scott Fybush

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