Saturday, January 12, 2008

Columbus' 3200 Watt Internet Transmitter

Some people make use of personal FM modulators or transmitters to play their iPods, or send Internet radio streaming all around the house.

One Columbus radio station is using it the Internet to, well, provide actual programming content for the station...full-time.

It's been over one month since the liberal talk format returned to the Columbus airwaves, via the facilities of Bernard Radio's WVKO/1580 - which now being LMAed by a group called "Cowtown Communications". That group is headed up by veteran Columbus broadcast/sales executive Gary Richards.

The group felt the need to get on the air quickly from WKVO's new facility on Morse Road, so in early December, the liberal talk format popped up on 1580 with the help of Internet streaming audio.

That's right, WVKO's programming was delivered to the station by way of the official public Internet streams of the various syndicated programs - Air America's shows, Jones Radio's Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz, and the like.

That was late November, and for whatever reason, WVKO -still- uses this method to air programming on that old fashioned 1580 transmitter. We believe this may be related to the inability to properly aim satellite dishes from the station's studio facilities.

The lack of satellite reception equipment for over a month has also caused a temporary programming change at AM 1580 in Columbus.

WVKO has been airing Air America Radio's "The Young Turks" in morning drive recently, since they apparently can't bring up the web stream of Jones' Bill Press. That's right, a web stream has gone down, and it's changed the programming of an actual radio station!

This is ridiculous. Not only are interested listeners to the format in Columbus enduring AM radio static and Internet streaming audio for shows that should sound clearer, but the station actually has to change its schedule due to technical difficulties.

In brief listening to WVKO's web stream earlier, it appeared the station was on autopilot, running the Air America stream with frequent "You're listening on AirAmerica.com" liners. We also confirmed Friday from the station's web feed that "The Young Turks" was indeed being fed in the Press time slot in morning drive.

WVKO is able to insert local legal IDs, if the stream is any indication, and possibly commercial spots...though we didn't hear any in the time we checked in.

Is this any way to run a radio station in a market the size of Columbus? Are the Jones Radio people aware that at least one of their shows is not actually being aired because of this? (Jones' Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz haven't been affected on WVKO.)

Assuming the story we've heard about the station's studio location not being suitable to set up a satellite dish and get the proper view of the southern sky is true - why hasn't the station set up an alternate location for a dish?

We haven't been to the Morse Road transmitter facility since shortly before 1580 returned to the air. But we're pretty sure there's more than enough clearing for a satellite dish to sit there, aiming across Morse Road to the south...

4 comments:

Rusty Blades said...

Ridiculous? Any way to run a radio station? South? Just WTF do you know about it? You have no clue what WVKO is up against. By the way, Jones does know about the programming issues and what business is it of yours anyway? Finally, the AMC8 bird is WEST, not south, genius. Keep writing your BS. Those who can do - those who can't criticize those who do.

Ohio Media Watch said...

"Rusty",

Hmm. Interesting wording. We have "no clue what WVKO is up against"?

Well, you're apparently connected enough with the station to correct us on the satellite facing.

That really doesn't matter. The fact is, you guys can't find a place to drop a satellite dish and somehow get the signal back to the radio station.

South, west, southwest, northeast, whatever, the problem isn't where the satellite is, it's that you guys can't figure out how to tap into it. You're apparently blocked from viewing it at your studio location, and can't figure out how to backhaul or air the signal from a place that CAN receive it.

What WVKO is "up against" is the fact that they apparently don't have either the financial or technical resources to do what tens of thousands of radio stations across America do - use an actual SATELLITE FEED to deliver satellite-delivered programming to the station.

Stations owned by even the smallest, poorest owners or groups in rural America somehow manage to do this. Why didn't WVKO, either before or immediately after its debut? It's been a month and a half now...what is taking so long?

You aren't a station in a small market. You're trying to compete for listeners in a TOP 40 MARKET. This isn't Hooterville, it's COLUMBUS.

And listeners in COLUMBUS expect a certain level of professionalism from their commercial talk radio stations, and they don't expect a station to have to change a promoted morning drive show because the streaming audio hasn't worked for over a week. (Don't believe us? See what happens with your audience if your streaming audio stops working for the Stephanie Miller show!)

And speaking of which, don't try to play the "right wing" card with us. Feel free to search our archives to see us sing the praises of the aforementioned Ms. Miller, one of the most talented and entertaining hosts in any facet of talk radio.

One of WVKO's problems, it would seem to us, is that it is mostly on the air because a group of political activists rallied to return the format to the airwaves after 1230 dumped it.

That's all well and good, but good radio stations aren't built by political activists hoping to influence opinion and reinforce their own. Good radio stations are built by good radio operators who put on programming that listeners want.

Mr. Richards is a long-time sales professional, but unless we're missing something, we don't believe he has engineering or operations experience.

Anyway, seriously - we wish you good luck, and hope you're able to overcome your difficulties soon.

-The Management

Rusty Blades said...

You're putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with 22. I guess it never occurred to you that there might be legitimate reasons for these issues. Rather than arrogantly posting half-baked assumptions, maybe you should try asking those involved what is going on.

Stations in rural areas aren't generally surrounded by tall buildings, are they? And how DARE Cowtown Communications offend you by trying to get on the air so close to the holidays, when key people might be away?

"One of WVKO's problems, it would seem to us, is that it is mostly on the air because a group of political activists rallied to return the format to the airwaves after 1230 dumped it." Maybe it SEEMS that way to you because you are too lazy to get the facts. Political activists had nothing to do with it. An individual seized a limited time opportunity, with a little help from a friend or two. You SEEM to think that he shouldn't have attempted it without having the unlimited resources to do it the way you think it should have been done.

WVKO's listeners don't care about a few technical glitches. They're just happy to have the format back, which no one else was willing or able to make happen.

Johnny Morgan said...

"WVKO's listeners don't care about a few technical glitches. They're just happy to have the format back, which no one else was willing or able to make happen."

How will WVKO's listeners feel when contractual requirements with the syndicators requiring that THEIR SHOWS run in the timeslots the station told the syndicators they would run are found to have been breached by WVKO? And Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, and the like are taken off the air at WVKO because of the ownership's issues?

By the way, syndication contracts have a clause requiring at least a hookup with the satellite or other reasonable audio replication.

And this is all ignoring the spotload required to be run on the local station, or the (nonpayment?) of licensing fees for national ads run on the feed that are NOT subscribed to the Columbus Metro.

Rusty, I suggest that in the future you calm down before firing off missives. Especially when the professionals come out of the readership at OMW and correct you.

Professionals like, oh, I don't know...broadcast lawyers.