Monthly Archives: June 2009

Another Day When The Music Died

We were having dinner with friends when word came of  Elvis Presley’s death.

‘Beyond stunned’ was our reaction.

This was after all ‘The King’.  People like that don’t just up and die.

As I recall we quickly finished dinner and did what all radio geeks do in times of trouble.   We headed to the radio station.

The air staff was already gathering and beginning to get a handle on the enormity of the story.  Elvis dead.

Listeners jammed the phone lines.  Many were crying.  Age didn’t matter.   It covered the entire spectrum from young to old.

This was at 14FEC Harrisburg.  We had a pretty good staff and  a good PD in Dene Hallam.

The team worked throughout the night finding special Elvis songs, audio cuts and anything that would help tell the story.

The same was happening at WHN where Ed Salamon flew into action.  They provided us with a ton of material that night.

Elvis was passed his prime.   But he still had huge appeal with the country audience.

For many of us it felt somewhat like the day JFK died.  The response was that big.

The phones rang though out the night.  I did overnights then and that night was busier any morning drive show I ever did.

We put callers on the air to talk about Elvis and generally grieve.   We grieved  right along with them.

That was one of the toughest nights I’ve ever encountered on radio.  But it showed just how much radio means to the audience.

Radio has a unique ability to comfort while informing and entertaining.

There were other days in recent years  where people needed radio’s shoulder.  The Space Shuttle explosion, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, and of course 911.

This time when the ‘King Of Pop’ died the dial seemed rather quiet.  A few great stations went right into action like CBS FM and KRTH.   But so many others seemed caught at the end of the work day without anything of substance to offer.

People first got the news from Twitter or on line.  Much of their interaction was not with a local dj but instead others of like mind in the social networks.

The news happens so fast and word is around the world in an instant.  Radio can’t wait hours or days to decide its response.

It needs to be the medium of ‘right now’ otherwise it has no purpose anymore.


Posted by on June 29, 2009 in Radio programming


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My Summer Vacation; The Old And New

The temperatures are topping 100 degrees.

I’ve had to stay inside away from the other kids after having sinus surgery.

It was ok.  Not how you’d prefer to spend your time off but,  not the worst way either.  At least my breathing is already improved.

The doctor says my voice might even change finally.  I’ve been waiting for that since age 13.  It’s tough to get good radio work when you sound like me.

So I’ve been catching up on the news using WIFI and shortwave.

The North Koreans are threatening to destroy all of the US.   I wonder if they know how big a place this really is and have calculated enough bombs to do the job?   Their one warhead might not cut it.

Voice Of Korea is an interesting station that begins each day’s news with the latest doings of ‘Dear Leader’.   After all of the announcements of state dinners, and the latest revolutionary accomplishments they get down to the hard news.  The stuff where they talk about how they’ll blow us apart.   Nice guys.

They are a complete throwback to Soviet sounding radio of the 1960s.  There must be a special manual they used to get the language just right.

Meanwhile across the other side of the planet another tyrant is struggling to keep the lid on against modern technology.

They’re not having such an easy time.

The two styles are fascinating to watch as both North Korea and Iran try to stay out of the 21st Century.  How they will do is anyone’s guess.  Mine is they won’t stop progress.

‘Dear Leader’ has a better chance in Korea than the Clerics do in Iran.   Once the social networking revolution takes hold, the old revolution is in serious trouble.

If those ‘tech’ savvy South Koreans ever figure out how to wire North Korea, it will be game over for the old guard.

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Posted by on June 24, 2009 in Uncategorized


Texting Is Mightier Than The Sword

The remarkable events occurring in Iran continue to demonstrate the power of social networks.

Twitter has rescheduled a major maintenance session set for tonight in order to allow the flow of information to continue from Iran.  They made the decision because of requests from inside the country.

Iranian citizens would have been silenced only a few short months ago.  But now with Twitter they continue to communicate to the world.

Despite their best efforts the Iranian Government is unable to stop the flow of information.

Can any rogue government last long once the people have cell phones and internet access?   Dictators around the world certainly must be taking notice.

Accuracy is certainly one concern with so much material coming out.  Misinformation and rumor is another.   But news organizations seem able to sift through the material to give a balanced picture of things.

Perhaps instead of using bombs and bullets to bring democracy to these countries we should drop millions of cell phones.   There appears to be no stopping the momentum once the people can communicate with each other.

The pen, or text message is mightier than the sword.

Check the blogs on Huffington Post and The Atlantic for minute by minute updates.

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Posted by on June 16, 2009 in Radio History


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A Little Twit Calls Out A Tyrant

The way the world uses media can change on a dime.

The events around the election in Iran is a startling example of just how things have changed.

Most of the the world’s major networks have been tossed out of the country.

Reporters have been arrested, their cameras confiscated.   Yet word of riots and unrest continue to get out of the country.

Twitter is the reason.

Iran has closed down most all of the social networking sites.  Somehow, Twitter continues to operate.

Much of the news reports are not from the networks but from bloggers and apparently Iran has many of them.

Network reporters still in the country are shooting scenes with their cellphones.

Twitter is the ultimate weapon in creating democracy.  No wonder North Korea keeps cellphones and the internet out.

The Voice Of The Iranian Revolution can be heard in the US at 1:30-2:30 GMT on 7235 and 9495 shortwave.

The BBC World Service available on XM/Sirius and via the web will likely have the best coverage from overseas.

There is no telling how things will play out in Iran.  But every indication is the Revolution is back on and this time the people are in charge.

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Posted by on June 14, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Where War Is Peace

The propagation for shortwave signals was very good during my morning walk this week.    At times it is difficult to pull out stations from Australia,  Korea and Japan during the early morning hours here.

The Voice Of Korea was loud and clear on 11710 KHZ  on the small hand radio I to use while walking.

Most days I opt for a little news from China, or the Voice Of America.

Recent activity on the Korean Peninsula had me trying  for the sometimes elusive signal of The Voice Of Korea.

Glenn Hauser is the world’s leading authority on shortwave radio and  gave me some tips via email as to the best frequencies to try.

Glenn’s World Of Radio is heard world wide and available on the internet. It is loaded with great information about programming and frequency changes.

Shortwave stations change frequency often.  It is difficult to keep up with the best place to hear a particular station.

Glenn knows more shortwave than any human alive.  He’s helped me more than he knows during the past twenty five years or so.

The Voice Of Korea is really only the voice of North Korea.  They tend to forget there is another country that also calls itself Korea.

The programming is textbook Communist and sounds like the stuff from propaganda films of the 1950s.   That is what is so frightening.

This week North Korea launched a couple of test missiles and two underground nuclear explosions.  Those were bigger than the blast that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

The programming from North Korea gives you get the idea how isolated their population is.   Language of revolution, American Imperialists, and the Great Leader is enough to make you take pause.

Their scripts read like pages of George Orwell’s 1984.  The book that included great lines like ‘War Is Peace’, and ‘Big Brother’s Watching’.

Listen to the radio in the United States and you find our population is isolated too.

The big stories on local radio that day had little to do with the nuclear threat.

Instead the concerns were a wreck on the interstate,  overfilled pet shelters and the death of Mike Tyson’s daughter.  Something  about the American Idol winner was included,too.

All legitimate stories, but like the Voice Of North Korean’s copy it was missing important details.

Nothing that I heard locally came close to mentioning the tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world.

There was nothing about the UN Security Council Meeting later that day.

We have many more resources to get our news than in North Korea.

But do we leave ourselves vulnerable by choosing only the stories we want to hear, that might research well rather than what we might need to know?

Which group is more prepared for the future?  The one where the government gives them the news, or the one that ignores it all together?

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Posted by on June 4, 2009 in Uncategorized