Radio’s Believe It Or Not

I love Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

You do, too, from what you tell me because I have adapted the Ripley format to the sideshow currently going on in the business you and I love so much – radio.

On the real Ripley website you can find video of a couple being married by a robot.

A three year old Chinese girl who drinks liquor and smokes after surviving a car accident and a coma.

And a violinist who actually plays the instrument during brain surgery.

But I’ve got all that beat this time with what radio consolidators are up to – real life stories that are hard to believe but true.

In other words, Radio’s Believe It or Not.

• A Station That Requires Recycling Trash Over Programming

It’s not just the three big “C” consolidators who have lost their way, take Millennium Radio, please.

They apparently have serious issues with recyclables going into the wrong cans at their Jersey shore offices. It resulted in the VP of Engineering sending a stern email to the staff recently attaching a Monmouth County (NJ) Planning Board brochure about recycling detailing the rules of dumping trash.

Then the employees who just launched an AM oldies station and had a lot of format-related problems suddenly got a homework assignment:

“All Shore employees will be getting a “project” in their mail boxes, this project IS REQUIRED and will have to be turned in at a REQUIRED meeting next week (time and day TBD)."

As a horrified insider told us, the remote voice tracking is not working and instead of trying to work on doing better shows or fixing the rush job of segue tones, management mandated a recycling project instead.

By the way, the voice tracking is saving a $10 an hour live, local jock for Millennium.

Maybe it’s time for management to be recycled?

Just sayin'.

• Voiced-tracked Hurricane Warnings
From Past Storms

Believe it or not, that is what American-owned Inter-Island Communications “Hott 107.5” in Bermuda (That’s right, two “T”s in HOTT) apparently did. This tip came from the Bermuda Weather Service where recent hurricane Igor brushed the island and had residents on edge.

But all of a sudden the weather service started getting calls from panicked Bermudians about “another” hurricane coming “this weekend” even though the nearest tropical storm was 1,900 miles away and not of immediate concern.

As it turns out, “Hott 107.5” the top rated station in Bermuda was replaying old weather forecasts. In a nation so sensitive to hurricanes, the most popular station on the island apparently let their local listeners down so they could save money and run an automated feature.

I don’t know about you but if owners are so hell bent to do voice tracking (which will eventually kill them off anyway), they can find a way to be responsible for what goes on their air so as not to panic the public.

• HD Programming That Is Off the Air for Weeks At a Time

One of my “repeater reporters” fighting for truth, justice and exposing the sham of consolidation, took a ride within 100 miles of Springfield, MA – in all directions to check out HD radio.

This radio pro held nothing back after buying five HD radios:

“Reception sucked. Programming sucked. I don't know where two of them are. I don't care. I also spent more than a year visiting retailers every month to see what the reaction is. It isn't. I've stopped that since retailers have stopped carrying all but aftermarket stuff for the car. Even those have dwindled and will continue as carmakers integrate everything into a main control center.

“By far the best one is the Sony Tuner. The HD sucks like all of them but the analog is the best I've ever seen. Even as good as the Sony is, technically, it gets used for a few minutes every few months. There's nothing to listen to.

“Did I mention the stations don't care, either? The Clear Channel stations here often have digital down for days, even weeks, at a time”.

The shame of it all is that in spite of questionable technology, HD radio failed because the final system came to market too late and then radio operators showed potential HD listeners what they thought of them by ignoring HD programming.

• Lew Dickey Thanks the Wrong Programming Team

Nobody ever called Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey stupid – maybe dark and uncaring, but stooped? Not Lew.

He sees other major groups dropping formats left and right to switch to tight playlist hit radio formats that the People Meter just eats up. These stations get played in public and PPM wearers pick up encoded signals whether they are listening or not.

So Dickey gets the improved ratings for KCHZ, Kansas City that he was looking for and the first thing he does is issue his team this congratulatory memo:

“Congrats to Jan (Jeffries) and our talented team in KC led by Maurice Devoe on winning this important Top-40 battle in KC through product innovation. Innovation in all aspects of our business is core to our culture of continuous improvement and the only way we will build a sustainable competitive advantage. Our “I” concept is just another example of Cumulus innovation driving success”.


Dickey didn’t get that one past his employees who snagged Uncle Lew on this disingenuous memo.

Turns out Dickey needed to credit CBS for discovering the high cume/high rotation/PPM hit radio format.

They were the innovators – not Cumulus.

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