A reply to John Dvorak

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    Andy Brown

    I came across this article from six months ago and had to respond.


    I have to both acknowledge the gist of the death claim and laugh at the reasoning. First, conventional radio and television broadcasting are indeed existing in a challenged environment but are no where near death. The principal blow has not been the internet. The problem has been the deregulation of ownership limits (see http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/5332_Sadler_Chapter_5.pdf for a complete history). This has not only resulted in the loss of programming diversity (and some will argue quality) and localism but also jobs. The real reason the internet has become the chic means of distribution is not only about the money but also the freedom that no longer exists (like with Leykis) to produce a product that won’t get filtered and edited by corporate goons and their leppers. I’ve worked many years in radio and television broadcast and whereas it certainly has never been in worse shape, it isn’t going to die anytime soon. The internet lacks a lot of aspects that a true successor to terrestrial broadcasting must have. Localism (previously mentioned by someone else) is one of them. That includes public safety (see January 18, 2002 at 1:30 a.m. in Minot, ND, one death, six radio stations all owned and automated by Clear Channel did not get the word out about a toxic ammonia spill from a train derailment) as well as less intense local information dissemination. Also, the internet is an addressable network that has both the costs of a receiving device and a provider attached at the bare minimum. Sometimes there is additional subscription costs to get the programming you want. OTA radio and TV only have a cost of the receiving device associated with them. So, John, while it may be true that internet delivery may be less expensive for broadcasters it is more expensive for consumers, and consumers are the ones that drive the economy. In addition the internet, despite the claims of the folks in marketing, has limited bandwidth and the servers have limited throughput. You might be able to afford the fastest broadband service on the planet, but if the content can’t be served up fast enough (and usually the best “indie” stuff from “indie” people on limited budgets can’t afford hundreds of servers) you still won’t be able to listen and/or watch without problems. On the other hand, OTA signals can support near an infinite amount of users without flaw (technically a piece of the RF signal is removed from the air, but it is infinitesimal (a former GM once asked me “How many radios would we have to give away and tell folks to tune in the competition with them and remove their signal from the airwaves? So thanks, John, for all the great writing you have done over the years but if I was you, I wouldn’t be counting on radio and television to roll over and play dead anytime soon. What I would like to see is the big bombastic broadcast conglomerates go belly up (how Clear Channel manages to carry 22 billion dollars of debt and still survive is beyond logic) and there would be a big firesale and get broadcasting (at least radio) back into the hands of some people that know what needs to be done to get old listeners back and millenials to listen at all.

    Dan Packard

    Well put Andy! Personally dealing with an online stream and now an FM signal, I admire the efficiency, quality and directness of the radio broadcast. Compared to online, radio is certainly a better way to reach a mass audience in a region. It’s just the gatekeepers we’ve entrusted many of these frequencies to, have changed their focus considerably from community to the crappiest form of capitalism.


    That is the third time in the last week that I have heard the name, “Dvorak”. Previously, I’d only heard it referring to the Classical composer.


    Andy, Dan, right on.

    Dvorak is a hypester and always has been. The dead meme gets very seriously over used in tech pundit circles.


    That’s something else I didn’t know. Thank you.


    The first Dvorak that comes to my mind is the keyboard.

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