Should I renew my free subscription to Radio World?

When I left my former place of employment and set out as a contractor, I also left my Radio World subscription behind. After I was let go, or quit or whatever it was, I was thinking that my days in radio were over or at least winding down and I had bigger things to worry about that trade magazine subscriptions.

I have been checking the Radio World web site and find that it gets updated from time to time, usually several weeks behind the magazine.  So the question is, what am I missing?  As one commenter on the radio info board put it, the magazine keeps getting smaller and smaller, soon they’ll have to rename it Radio Pamphlet.

I’d like to stay abreast of things in the technical end of the radio business, but is Radio World the way?  There was a time when it was a technical magazine full of good timely articles well written by fellow engineers.  Occasionally I still find something interesting to read, that is true.  Interspersed with that are lots of advertisements, useless information and many pro HD radio articles.  Is it worth the price?  I don’t know, I am still pondering that one.

9 thoughts on “Should I renew my free subscription to Radio World?”

  1. RADIO WORLD has always been free as far as I know to qualified people in the business. As a contract engineer it should be available under the same terms. RADIO GUIDE is another, but seems somewhat stingy as to free subscriptions. Of the two publications, I like RADIO WORLD a little better as it seems to promote discussion and is more interactive.
    I believe a free subscription request would be answered in the affirmative.

  2. I think you might like the Radio World Engineering Extra which is edited by Michael LeClair of WBUR Boston. This gets into much more heavy technical stuff. It is a stuffer inside Radio World I think monthly.

  3. Hi, and thanks for the thoughtful post. As editor of Radio World I think about the same questions you raise every day. I aim to provide thoughtful, relative content for technical managers and engineers; demand for subscriptions seems to suggest we do it well. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve, so this discussion is important to me.

    Our website is updated frequently with news that is not in the print edition; see the News Box or Top Stories links. Our print edition is intended for analysis, commentary and tech tips; those are less time sensitive but also are posted around the time the print edition reaches your mailbox.

    You mentioned useless information. Our topics seem to parallel the same ones your blog explores… things like tech tips, avoiding copper theft, “how engineers can improve their skills in non-technical areas,” whether HD Radio is relevant (we do not publish only pro-IBOC pieces; for instance see Barry McLarnon or Bob Savage’s recent articles, or the letters page of any issue), plenty of tech tips (John Bisset’s SBE-honored Workbench column), humor, FCC, business… these are areas you also explore on your blog.

    Recent or pending articles have explored topics like “what’s the deal with Channel 6 ‘Franken’ FMs,” profiles of NAB engineering award winners and “what does the industry think about the digital power hike, including interference implications?” Our radio history articles by James O’Neal are very popular.

    If there is one question I hear most, it is “There was a time when RW was all tech content, why isn’t it anymore?” But as your blog notes elsewhere, technical execs today need to think beyond the workbench and breadboard. They need to know how to ask for a raise, talk to investors about trends, business, regulation; they need certification, they need to understand why a programmer or promotions person is making their latest “ridiculous” demand.

    I believe our content mix is better, and the columnists are better, than in any other radio techical trade publication. To me, if you can get all this through a free subscription … it’s a no-brainer.

    Without question, these times are challenging for publications; all publications face questions about how to remain relevant in an era when infinite information is available online. That’s generally a good thing, so I am not embarrassed to say that we, like other media, confront tough choices as a result. We try to make them wisely; and I believe we deliver great value. Radio World remains a strong, relevant brand in print and online. Top radio engineering executives read it; field engineers read it; FCC staff read it; manufacturers read it. (That includes the advertisements. The industry needs a vibrant supplier community if engineers are to do their jobs well.) Our publication held up *very* well during the recent harsh business downturn, when other publications were scaling back the number of times they publish.

    You quoted someone online commenting on the size of our publication; but at least our publication *has* a print edition and supports it. Many readers tell me, “Online stuff is fine; but there’s still a place for a good, physical print publication, and I prefer it that way.”

    My goal is to support a working engineer or technical manager with content to help them do their jobs better. We want to help engineers stay abreast of news and trends. If you have ideas about how I can do that better, do let me know … and drop me a note with an idea for an article. I’d be happy to consider it for publication. Check out Radio World Engineering Extra, too. We launched that version to give engineers a much deeper technical discussion. It is six times a year and also comes out in print and digital edition.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post, and for your interesting blog.

    Paul

  4. Paul,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and gracious reply. Perhaps I could have phased a few things better; such as useless information might better be described as “things that don’t interest me.” The fact that you are in still in print when many others have failed is a testimony to your brand and I’d hate to see you stop publishing. I do read the website and when I have time, the online version of the magazine.

    I’d would have to say that the recent HD articles by Savage and McLarnon are welcome and point out some of the inherent problems that IBOC has as a broadcast medium. Up until that time, however, most of your content has been pro HD radio, not counting reader letters, which is not content developed by you or your staff.

    In the end, there are vast differences between writing a blog and publishing a trade magazine. You have, as you acknowledged, many readers in all facets of the industry and thus need to publish content that will inform and keep them interested in your product. I am just a hack typing snarky bog posts which are colored by recent experiences.

  5. You’re welcome. And although our editorial stance has always been one of cautious support for HD Radio, it’s also my strict policy to cover news about HD Radio without bias, to acknowledge its critics and to provide editorial space for dissenting viewpoints. Those are very important goals for me. So even though we don’t write the letters, for instance, I hope we get credit for publishing them, which is by no means what all trade publications do. I find many sources of opinion, online and in print, who tend to only present one side or the other.

    Thanks for asking thoughtful questions. I hope you’ll keep on readin’ … and keep on bloggin’!

  6. Well, it just goes to show the national (and international) scope of blogs and the Internet! I am curious as to who actually reads the posts on this blog. There are software tools available to show “who” is on-line, and other statistics, but this would require registration which is restrictive in itself. Is the FCC staff looking over this blog?? If they aren’t, they should, and would gain much practical information as to actual problems and viewpoints within the industry. It would make them better regulators, I believe.

  7. John, I do have an IP tracking application installed as part of a stat counter program. This gives me general information such as landing page and city/country. I don’t check it too often, but when I do I am often surprised to see that readership is growing. As far as the FCC reading this blog, I don’t know, I say some pretty mean things about them, I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings…

  8. Radio World should be renamed HD Radio World. I have let my free subscription expire because I am tired of all the dishonest promotion of this flawed, destructive technology of IBOC. Now, RW is only good for the Readers Forum where some bashing of HD Radio is allowed.

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