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Прощаться!

This information is from an occasional reader who wished to remain anonymous.

Another AM station surrenders its license, this time from north of the border. CKSL, London, Ontario, Canada is gone for good.  Current owner, Bell Media, has determined that it would cost more to repair the deficiencies with the antenna system than economically feasible, especially considering it’s low ratings.  Here is their filing with the CRTC:

Bell Media is the licensee of CKSL-AM 1410, assuming stewardship of the station in 2013 as part of the Astral Media acquisition.

A technical review of the transmitter site was recently completed both by Bell Media and contractors, which has resulted in the determination that the AM array poses an unacceptable risk from a health and safety perspective.  The five towers are experiencing serious structural degradation and also require repairs to the aviation safety lighting system. In addition, the building which houses the transmitter has shifted off its foundation (as have several of the individual tower sheds).

Given these problems, Bell Media would need to make a significant financial investment to bring CKSL-AM’s transmitter up to compliance with Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada and NavCanada operational codes and standards, all of which is estimated to exceed $3 million dollars.

From a market perspective, CKSL-AM has consistently ranked last out of all ten commercial stations in the London market, both in audience share and revenue generation, over the last several years.  In fact, since 2013 the London market has seen radio revenues drop 4% and CKSL-AM generates the least amount of revenue of the stations in the market. Even with a significant investment in programming, this trend is unlikely to be reversed. 

In light of the significant capital costs coupled with the absence of revenue and audience share, Bell Media is respectfully requesting the revocation of the CKSL licence.

Well, 24/7 comedy will do that to you.  Somebody in the business said to me recently “The listeners are abandoning radio!”  No, it is the broadcast station owners who are abandoning their listeners and their cities of license.  I have a news flash for all current broadcast station owners; as surprising and radical as this might sound, bland, boring, canned, completely irrelevant, dismal, uninformative, unimaginative, unentertaining, dreary, stale, unenjoyable programming will drive away even the most loyal listeners.  People really want to listen to radio, it is an easy habit and readily accessible.  Radios are ubiquitous; they are in our kitchens, bedrooms, cars, hotel rooms, offices, restaurants, barber shops, etc.  That, however, may not always be the case, as more and more people move Spotify, Pandora, or Apple radio when they are tired of the disappointment.  I was listening to a certain sports radio format the other day and I kept waiting for something interesting to happen.  I waited and waited. I would say to myself; okay, this will be the segment when I will learn something or be entertained.  This upcoming guest will say something interesting.  Sadly, those expectations were never met and I will never tune into that station again. Elevator music would have been better.  Worse than sports radio, 24/7 comedy is the absolute death knell.  This is like saying; we are out of ideas and we do not care.

Here are a few pictures of the former CKSL-AM transmitter site:

CKSL antenna array

CKSL antenna array

CKSL_transmitter

CKSL transmitter building

CKSL_transmission

CKSL transmission line bridge

CKSL_tower

CKSL tower base

Actually does not look too bad, at least the field is mowed. I have seen much, much worse.  Those bolt together towers, though. I would bet that they are the real problem, bolts are deteriorating faster than the tower steel. Very likely all the towers need to be replaced and that is why the license is being surrendered.

If you are a radio geek, get out there and take some pictures of your favorite radio station.  If the current trends continue, eventually they will all be gone.

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8 comments to Прощаться!

  • Larry Doe

    This is actually one of the the best AM sites I’ve ever seen with the exception of WABC-AM. There may be unseen issues which would prevent the tower climbers from doing necessary maintenance. We didn’t get to see inside the transmitter building or the condition of the ATUs. AM transmitter sites in the Hudson Valley of NY are much worse.

    IMHO, the choice of programming is why the audience fled and is the real issue here.

  • Dave Dybas

    It’s all going to be on your 5G Cellphone some day…..and the individual radio/TV transmitters will disappear.

  • Scott Cason

    Over the air broadcasters are surrendering to the internet broadcasters without even realizing it. It’s a sad spectacle to watch. Small broadcasters are still killing it, but the people who are forced to listen to stations owned by the big consolidators are getting the short end of the stick.

  • Adam Wade

    I agree with the lousy programming as the root cause of these stations going silent. AM, FM, they are all the same. I rarely listen to the radio anymore, and when I do it is only because there is something specific that I want to hear and I know what time it will be airing. The local “classic rock” station plays, I swear, the same 5 or 6 songs over and over. Same with the country, rock, hop, etc stations. I could not even tell you the name of a local radio personality anymore. That is mainly because most of the stations now syndicate to some show from out of town.

    Sigh.

    I know I am preaching to the choir, I just wish someone out there in radio land would quit relying on budget reports and focus groups to tell them what is popular. Ask the few listners left out there and they will tell you.

  • Chuck Gennaro

    Having maintained a DA full of those Winchargers, the bolts are a concern. The towers likely are fine despite their age, they’re probably the best-galvanized hunks of steel ever sold, but the bolts were not and do thin out. I had our tower guy periodically remove a few at different locations to keep an eye on them.

    Interesting, the differing standards. That condemned site appears to be in better condition than many, perhaps most AM’s in the US, tower paint excepted. Then again as Larry mentioned, the issues may not be visible in the pics.

  • The Other Rob

    Sad, but you nailed it: crap programming leads to crap ratings, leading to eventual shutdown.

  • Rich

    Automation, syndication, and consolidation are the three evils of broadcasting. They lead to “bottom-line” corporate thinking and lousy program quality. It also eliminated most of the jobs in radio broadcasting.

    610 WIOD Miami is a perfect example of what a big city “local” station was. I used to listen to that station from 6 AM to 6 PM SOLID. All the shows were local, the personalities were fun and entertaining. It was news, talk, and information format. WIOD was the number 1 station in Miami with Rick and Suds, Neil Rodgers, and Phil Hendrie.

    Then the Telecommuncations Act of 1996. It screwed up radio broadcasting, and also parts of Maritime Radio.

    I don’t know anyone who listens to a radio broadcast anymore. Sure, they listen to INTERNET broadcasts, but not radio broadcasts.

  • Radio has to get back to hyper-localized material. Even weaving local news and info in to sat programming would be better than nothing. Our GMs are freaking out about the internet and looking to cut costs vs trying to compete. I still don’t own or have seen a car that doesn’t have an fm radio in it. There’s still a market just need to play to it. Just like you said.

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