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Re: voice-tracking is the symptom, but it's not the disease-- re send

On Sun, 24 Dec 2000, Donna Halper wrote:

> Ah yes, voice tracking... We have a company that eliminates local d.j.'s
> and replaces them with voice-tracking from a city hundreds of miles
> away, even in prime dayparts.  

Yes, but...

The town of New Shoreham, RI, a community of 800 people, separated from
the rest of the state by twelve miles of ocean, has a full-time classical
FM AND a full-time big band/swing FM. That couldn't have happened ten
years ago.

The new technology can be used very creatively. If the people who are
running most radio stations today aren't taking full advantage of it, I
think that's because they're not really broadcasters. They're not in the
business of running radio stations but of trading them like baseball
cards. That's going to change soon, I think.

> I'm not even sure I could run the equipment at some of the stations I
> consult-- what with AudioVault and all the fancy shmancy state of the
> art digital whatever, the old hands-on feel of radio has been replaced
> by the high-tech version. 

That seems to be a frequent complaint among programmers, at least among
those who grew up before the computer age. 

When hard disk audio systems first appeared, I was struck by the
difference between my friends at WHRB, for whom working with a keyboard
and monitor was almost second nature, and some of my colleagues at WCRB
who seemed very uncomfortable with these machines and tended to panic if
the slightest thing went wrong (but had always dealt easily with things
like jammed carts or skipping LP's).

>  It was presented as a good thing, because new technology often leads to
> an easier time for those doing the day to day jobs... except in this
> case, the new technology was created to eliminate all traces of
> individuality or personality, and make it possible to do without the
> people in question. 

It was in fact created for purposes having little to do with radio, such
as word processing and accounting work, and only afterwards adapted to
radio -- and imperfectly at that (I *loathe* Windows!).

I am not using this technology "to eliminate... individuality or
personality"; I am using it to so our people can more fully apply their
talents and abilities. Why have someone sit in a studio all night watching
records go around and around when that person could instead be working
normal daytime hours, doing production work, greeting people at a
sponsor's place of business, and helping to program the station?

> I am sure I will get flamed, but as I listen across the country, I hear
> less and less that is unique, less and less that stands out. 

I daresay you're right, but that's not the fault of the technology; it's
the people using it who are making it sound that way.

> Few people on this list mentioned the other problem I see as the year 2000 
> ends:  media consolidation has led to a monopoly of the way news is 
> done.  In one of life's stranger pairings, NPR and the NAB have united to 
> defeat Low Power FM, but that isn't what concerns me. The fact that the 
> story was not covered to any extent by ANY of the print or broadcast 
> journalism outlets concerns me greatly, as do a number of the consumer 
> stories the media now miss because an advertiser might pull their ads.  And 
> what worries me most of all is Lowry Mays, who owns over 900 stations and 
> was the #1 contributor to George W. Bush's campaign (with Rupert Murdoch of 
> the Fox Channel right up there in the top 5).  No, I have never met Mr 
> Mays, and I have nothing against him personally.  But having one company 
> control so much of my industry makes me very nervous.

This is the phenomenon I have chosen to call "mediocracy", by which I mean
both the rule of the media and that of the mediocre.

As they used to say in the former U.S.S.R, "there is no truth (Russian
'pravda') in The News (Russian 'izvestiya'), nor any news in The Truth." 
We are rapidly approching a point where the only real source of news is
the Internet, and the stuff of the mainstream media is largely hyperbole
and sensationalism. 

> Years ago, stations were owned by broadcasters.  There was an investment
> in the community as well as an investment in making a profit.  Are there
> still stations that have the freedom to be unique and to carve out their
> own niche?  Yes, a few, but we truly need more if radio is to remain
> important in the years to come.


Rob Landry