Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Loss of Classical Music on the Radio Can Turn into a Win-Win Situation for Everyone

July 9th is the day when classical music will go away for most KVOD classical music listeners in Northers Colorado. On the 9th, KVOD switches to 88.1 FM, which will only serve classical music listeners who reside within the 303 area code. Colorado Public Radio (CPR) press releases regarding their pending change for CPR's 90.1 FM station in Denver suggests that classical music listeners up north should tune-in to on-line broadcasts of KVOD, or continue listening to 90.1 FM with an HD receiver to continue hearing classical music that will now appear on one of Colorado Public Radio's HD channels.

Several options exist for Colorado Public Radio to continue bringing classical music to Larimer-Weld Counties when KVOD goes to 88.1 in Denver:
  • For CPR, the most expensive ventures would involve the purchase of a commercial or non-commercial FM radio station serving the Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley area.
  • But there is a simpler way for CPR to continue serving loyal listeners. By placing KVOD classical music programming on the KCFR/90.1 FM HD-2 channel, half of the problem is solved.
  • The other half of the equation, from a PUBLIC relations standpoint, utilizes an example from another major market public radio station 2,000 miles away.
Several years ago, WAMU at American University in Washington DC ended its very popular, long-running bluegrass format, in favor of news/talk programming. Bluegrass was delegated only to Sunday evenings. The switchboard at the station was lit up constantly for months with complaints from disgruntled bluegrass fanatics.

Today, WAMU Bluegrass Country is back, 24/7, heard over WAMU's HD-2 Channel, while their main FM service continues airing its' News/Talk format. Last September, WAMU paid a little less than ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS-per-unit to buy 1,000 HD Receivers, which the station gave to the first 1,000 donors who donated $100 or more during WAMU's Sunday evening Bluegrass program. The offer extended over two fund drives for the station. WAMU went the extra mile; they set a very wise precedent. It raises a fundamental (yet essential) question for CPR brass:

In today's volatile radio world (where daily, weekly, and monthly, THOUSANDS of people are choosing satellite radio, I-pods, and other listening choices over conventional radio), can CPR afford to stand back and watch the erosion in support accelerate because they did not show true, good faith with their classical audience in Northern Colorado?

WAMU's break-even policy on the matter (no money gained by giving donors an HD receiver for cost, after receiving a minimal $100 donation) will pay great dividends down the road in terms of public relations and audience growth. For CPR, the numbers are simple. The Fort Collins-Loveland-Greeley triangle is expected to have more than 700,000 residents by the year 2030, thus posing another essential question:

Can CPR afford NOT to take some positive action?


Jimmy James Jr. said...

First Responder,

I have heard that the weak 88.1-FM signal for KVOD limits the strength of the HD channel on 90.1-FM (10% of the analog strength which is, at present, 1200 watts). So, HD radios may not solve the problem for classical listeners in Northern Colorado at the edge of the 90.1-FM signal. And, since KCFC 1490-AM in Boulder, companion to KCFR in Denver, has no HD side-channel, listeners in Northern Colorado are shit outta luck until CPR gets approval from the FCC to boost 88.1-FM.


Technical Info from Radio Locator:

KFDN-FM (Soon to be KVOD-FM) Technical Info:
Station Status: Licensed Class C3 Non-Commercial FM Station
Vertical Effective Radiated Power: 1200 Watts
Vertical Height above Avg. Terrain: 321 meters (1053 feet)
Vertical Height above Ground Level: 7 meters (23 feet)
Vertical Height above Sea Level: 2348 meters (7703 feet)
Antenna Pattern: Non-Directional
Transmitter Location: 39°40'18" N, 105°13'05" W
License Granted: December 03 2007
License Expires: April 01 2013
Last FCC Update: December 03 2007


Can you imagine if CPR gave away HD radios that didn't actually solve the problem? That would be a bigger PR nightmare that CPR already has. Here is the wiggly CPR language from their online press release:

"If you receive 90.1 FM clearly, without interference, HD Radio may offer a good solution in your home or car."

Seems to me that the boffins at Colorado Public Radio have covered their asses nicely. I wonder who the Vice President of CYA is?


Anonymous said...

Howdy from Minnesota, where the ONLY classical music comes from a an Empire of Classical Music called Minnesota Public Radio/MPR. This greedy empire has taken over the FIRST public radio station in the United States and the longest-running NON-commercial radio service in Minnesota, WCAL, from Saint Olaf College. That damage was done by a William Kling, which we good broadcasters and ex-DJs call "Kling-On" after the evil alien in Star Trek. :) A bit of grim humour. For nothing seemingly stops this coveous fellow and his empire. The FCC lets Kling-On do as he wishes. So does the State of Minnesota. I had the great fortune to work for two COMMERCIAL classical music stations here: WLOL-FM and KTWN, both of which are long gone. No-one else will even try to start a news classical music station for fear of Kling and his Kling-Ons. And the music is dreadful! Complete flute concertos and baroque music early in the morning, when anyone show truly loves melodic classical music will turn off this junk and put on a CD. Such is life. I DO have an entire format worked out for a commercial classical music station. And I'm working at getting it going. It would make money because Kling-Ons lack of decent classical programming would be in the dust.

Anonymous said...

If you please, a footnote on what happened to WCAL, Northfield MN, the only other remaining classical music service from Saint Olaf College. Kling-On changed the format to a "play what you want" from a bunch of wholly amateur DJs. It is entire unlistenable. So Kling-On's Miserable Public Radio service not only killed that wonderful classical music service by dogging the college until it caved in and sold the station--MPR also added insult to the killing by starting an UN-lisenable format. We who LOVE melodic and/or romantic period classical music, which is the most broadly loved and beloved music for those who aren't into it as purely background "wallpaper" music, find it deplorable that the do-nothing, graft-taking Federal UN-Communications System will do nothing to stop the monopoly of MPR/PRI whatever alphabet soup Kling-On tries to hide is greed under. That's your taxes and mine at work. The FCC is ineffective and otherwise worthless in letting the little guys try to be broadcasters. It favors to huge broadcast empires like MPR. And you can thank Ronald Reagan for that. He kissed the asses of the big radio and TV empires.

Anonymous said...

I will not support NPR's jammming of the smaller broadcasters off the dial with HD Radio/IBOC's adjacent-channel interference:

Samantha said...

This is destroying the hope of young people everywhere, myself included listening to classical music and especially the Texaco-metropolitan opera broadcasts through out the year. This is ridiculous! That was the only station I have listened to for the past 5 years! Please! Please change this back so young listeners who cannot afford satellite radio can get some culture in their lives as well!

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