WBUR HD2, put the student station (WTBU) on the HD2 (was Re: WBUR on HD ???)

Aaron Read readaaron@friedbagels.com
Wed Aug 2 11:48:18 EDT 2006

Peter, you know I'm a diehard WTBU alum, and you know I love the way you 
think...but you can't be serious!  :-)

Have you ever LISTENED to WTBU?  There's a reason why it's Part 
15/webcast only...it's mighty unprofessional.   Of course, a large part 
of the reason why it's so unprofessional is because the kids know full 
well that nobody's listening; it's a vicious circle.  But a lot of the 
DJ's on WMBR and WZBC (and WERS for that matter) are unprofessional, 
too...and they're on major signals.

Regardless, WBUR - who's sunk many tens of thousands (nay, 100's of 
thousands) of dollars into HD Radio lately - is not going to just 
summarily hand over a valuable HD-2 channel to a "bunch of snot-nosed 
punk kids".

Overlooking the loss of value, there's also the issue of responsibility; 
WBUR is responsible for everything on their signal...including HD-2, 
HD-3, etc channels.  So if a WTBU kid were to swear up a storm one 
day...WBUR would be held liable.  At $325k a cuss word, I don't think 
that's an attractive proposition to WBUR!

All this said, what I *wouldn't* mind seeing is WTBU become an HD-2 
channel but also see WTBU absorbed more into WBUR as a joint operation 
between WBUR and BU's College of Communication's broadcast journalism 
department.  That dep't is a very good one; the professors are good and 
many of the students have some real talent.  Make the HD-2 (or maybe 
HD-3) channel a more "experimental" one where the stated goal is to 
provide a forum for new talent and new ideas (both music and news).  Get 
the folks at PRX involved, too...hell, they're just across the river in 
Harvard Square.  A lot of it will end up not appealing to stodgy WBUR 
listeners, but I'd wager it WILL appeal to a new niche demo, and who 
knows?  The next "This American Life with Ira Glass" could come out of 
this idea.  Only takes one of those to make up for a 100 other failed 
attempts, ya know?   It's sort of like creating a farm system in 
baseball...get the kids started in the minor leagues, and as they get 
better, bring 'em up to the majors (WBUR's main channel).

Alas, I fear that the suits are so conservative they'd never be 
comfortable "letting go" enough for something like this to happen.  Plus 
there is the issue that the "major league" isn't profitable enough to 
justify the high cost of running the "minor league".  Not when you 
consider what a profit center just running two separate "major leagues" 
could be.


Aaron Read
Boston, MA 02246

Fried Bagels - Broadcast Radio & Web
Engineering & Operations Consultant

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