How stupid do you have to be?

I read through the news coverage of the vandalism at the KRKO transmitter site.  Apparently there is some group of idiots people running around insisting that radio towers are bad for the environment and people’s health.  These are the same ones who have torched SUV’s and burned high end housing developments down.  Naturally, no pollution is released into the environment during these acts, else they would be hypocrites.

They make these claims with no merit or scientific basis, instead relying on base fears to make people go crazy, either temporarily or permanent like.  It is actually a pretty good motivator as both political parties and all sorts of fringe truthier, birthier, and others have discovered.  If enough people insist that it is true, than it must be so.

Unfortunately there is always some idiot around who thinks it is his or her duty to take action, to protect the rest of us from some terrible fate.

In the meantime, some security cameras at the transmitter site might be a good investment.  Chances are, these Earth Liberators that sneak around with bolt cutters and hack saws will likely think twice if there is any chance of themselves going to jail.

By the way, those KRKO towers looked like self supporters which would have been very difficult to get down.  Did they rent that excavator, or was that some construction equipment left unattended?

The often misquoted Hunter S. Thompson

I have often heard or read this Hunter S. Thompson piece misquoted as “The Radio business is uglier than most things…”  After a bit of research, I found this directly from his book called Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s (New York: Summit Books, 1988):

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

Phew, thank God I don’t work in TV, that must be really bad.

In the public interest

Once upon a time, usually during a license renewal period, a radio station listener might hear the following on the air:

On May 15, 2001, Radio Station KZZZ (FM) was granted a license by the Federal Communication Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee until December 1, 2005. Our license will expire December 1, 2005. We must file for license renewal with the FCC by August 1, 2005. When filed, a copy of this application will be available for public inspection during our regular business hours. It contains information concerning this station’s performance during the last four years. Individuals who wish to advise the FCC of facts relating to our renewal application and to whether this station has operated in the public interest should file comments and petitions with the FCC by November 1, 2005. Further information concerning the FCC’s broadcast license renewal process is a available at the KZZZ offices, located at 555 Main Street in Smallville, or may be obtained from the Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C. 20554.

So what does “Granted to serve the public interest mean?”  Perhaps having a news department, or sponsoring a debate in the local mayor’s race, perhaps a Sunday morning church service.  Maybe some High School football or even broadcasting emergency information such as tornado warnings or a flood warning.

How about broadcasting a flood warning to your listeners that are taking part in a station promotion?  How about if said station promotion happens to be taking place in a flood plain, and warnings issued several hours before the promotion is scheduled?  No?  You can’t make this stuff up, no one would believe you:

A Clear Channel station in Grand Rapids, MI threw its annual B93 Concert Bash on June 20 in nearby Ionia by the Grand Rapids River, apparently oblivious to flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

No, nothing bad can come of this right? right?  Of course the inevitable happend.  The river overflowed it’s banks, causing concert goers to flee for their lives and flooding the parking area submerging their cars.  Naturally, Clear Channel will pay those who had their cars towed out of the mud right.  Nope, you listeners are on your own, tough shit.

Then there is the now infamous Minot train derailing. For those not familar, a train carring anhydrous ammonia derailed and spilled it’s contents.  When local officials attempted to activate EAS, they couldn’t.  They then attempted to call the LP-1 station on the phone to get the information out, nobody was home.  Clear Channel placed the blame squarely on the local law enforecement agencies stating that they had not installed their EAS equipement properly and had changed frequencies on their radio link without notifying the radio station.  Perhaps, but it seems there is more than enough blame to share.  Were station employees proactive with the local government officials?  I can’t say, but they should have been.  EAS is a team effort.

Not to pile onto Clear Channel too much, Cumulus seems to encourage their listeners to head out doors, enjoy the good weather.  During a tornado warning.  Nice.

By this, It would appear that the public is interested in fleeing for their lives, having their cars flooded, all the while wondering what is going on.

No matter how hard people try, nothing can replace radio’s role in alerting the public.  Mass e-mail systems, Blackberries, and other internet based systems will fail when the power goes out and kills the supporting ethernet infrastructure.  Cellphones, PCS devices, I-phones become unreliable during emergencies because the TELCO system that supports them gets clogged with traffic.  Many cellphone towers do not have backup generators.  During the events of 9/11/2001, I experienced first hand the difficulties trying to use the wired telephone network due to congestion.  Since the HDTV rollout, cable companies have become the backbone for the distribution of TV signals.  Coaxial based cable systems rely on booster amplifiers every mile or two to keep the signal strengths usable.  Those amplifiers need power from the utility grid.  Not to mention, most TVs cannot run on batteries and lack portability.

Almost everyone owns a battery powered portable radio.  When the shit hits the fan, they will turn it on.  What will they hear?

So where is the official outrage?  Why has not the big radio CEO’s,  public trustees each, been dragged before congress to explain themselves?

Theft prevention system

chair chained to work bench
chair chained to work bench

Ever since the new morning show guy started about six months ago, my work bench chair has been frequently migrating into the air studio.  I don’t mind sharing, as long as things are put back where they came.  I requested that the ever so cool, to hip to care DJ return it after use, which was ignored.

On my last trip to the hardware store, I made a purchase:

Behold, a length of 5/16 chain and two master combination locks.  Now, every time I go to sit in my work bench chair, it is there.

If only all problems were this easy.