Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sex and Broadcasting

I've been reading the book Sex And Broadcasting by Lorenzo W. Milam. It's dated, published in 1975 before many changes in law, and many other changes in technology. But the concepts are all there and a lot of history. On page 229 he lists off "Sympathetic Broadcasters."  It's a list of community stations that he felt were of a free-form, highly local in nature. I noticed immediately that many of these stations were no more. Todays post is an update to that 36 year old list, and it makes for a sad story. You can buy one here.

The list is broken into categories, the first of these is On-the-Air. These are Community radio stations already in service as of 1975. Many of these still exist in more-or-less the condition they were in at the time of that writing: KAOS, KBOO, KOPN, KPFT, WPFW, WAIF KPFK, WDNA, KUNM, KPOO, WREK, WORT, WBAI, WRFG, WYEP, KDIC, KKUP, WAMH. Others have become what Alan Bernard at Poormojo News Wire calls an "NPR Zombie." Those stations include: KPBX, WYBC, KTOO, and WYSO. 1340 WYBC-AM became a simulcast of NPR zombie WSHU only a couple days ago serving as a reminder that this process continues. But, WYSO is a better example of how a station normally makes the change. They began broadcasting All Things Considered in 1972. It picked up Morning Edition in the late 1980s. By 2002 there was almost nothing left. The community that built the station had lost the station. More here.

For the record, I listen to NPR. I like a lot of the programs. But it's important to note that it's not local programming. There is a difference. Most of the below is bad news. Remembering those caveats, here's what really changed:

KERS 88.9 Sacramento, CA. It began in 1970 as advertised above. In 1979, KERS became KXPR and fully embraces NPR-zombiehood.Today it's a full fledged Public Radio network including KXJZ, KUOP, KXJS and KXSR. More here.

KDKB-AM 93.3 /KDKB-FM 1510 Phoenix, AZ - This legendary free form rock station ended the simulcast in 1978 with the AM side flipping to Oldies. By 1980 they were a rigid classic rock station. Today 93.3 is still a rock station today but not free form in any sense of the word. Today they even have 80's themed weekends. More here.

KBBF 89.1 Santa Rosa, CA- In 2009 they swapped their city of license with 98.7 KSXY for a cash payment thus "relocating" to Calistoga. They are still owned by Bilingual Broadcasting Foundation. An audit by the CPB found “egregious” violations back in February.  Station Manager  Jesus Lozano, a convicted drug offender has been  accused of embezzling.  He resigned when the news went public and they elected a new board in March. They filed for a a silent STA only a few days ago following a lightning strike. More here, here, and here.

KBDY 89.9 St. Louis, MO - It was a 20 watt station on the North side first licensed in 1972. It was cited repeatedly for exceeding power restrictions. This allowed 89.9 WLCA at Lewis & Clark Community College to challenge their license. They had a STA to return at 6 watts but that seems to have fizzled before 1980. 

KRAB 107.7 Seattle, WA - Founded by the author of Sex and Broadcasting, Lorenzo Wilson Milam. He helped found KRAB and more than a dozen other radio stations around the country. KRAB was virtually insolvent from the get go. They attempted to share-time with KNHC and didn't work it out. The owners, the Jack Straw Foundation sold the license to a commercial broadcaster and started 90.7 KSER which signed on in 1991 and is still alive today. More here.

WAFR 90.3 Durham, NC - In 1973 they were written up in Ebony magazine with a 5-page photo spread. Today 90.3 is vacant, allowing the presence of WNAA on 90.1 and WDCC on 90.5. WAFR signed on in 1971 with 3,00 watts and went off air in 1975 when CPB yanked it's funding.

KSAN 94.9 San Francisco, CA - This legendary free form rock station operated from 1968 until 1980. Station founder and visionary died from a heart attack in 1975. KSAN flipped to country music. KSAN is still a big classic rocker. A frequency swap moved the KSAN calls to 107.7. More here including a documentary film and here.

WBCN 104.1 Boston , MA - The station went off the FM airwaves on August 12, 2009 and became an automated HD-2 stream on 98.5 WBZ. Originally a classical station, they became a free-form rocker in 1968. The original airstaff included Steven Segal, one of Tom Donahue's minions. slowly it degraded into an AOR format. In 1979, the station was purchased by Hemisphire Broadcasting who ousted the old hippies. this begat a general strike and most were re-hired but the playlist continued to get more regimented. In 1994 they flipped to alternative rock. Today it's a Hot AC station WMBX.

WGTB 90.1 Georgetown, DC. - In 1979, Georgetown donated the WGTB license to the University of Washington DC. In 1997 UDC sold it to C-SPAN for $25 million dollars. After the sale, the station relaunched as WROX, via campus AM carrier current. It later changes calls to WGTB since it didn't matter anyway. It has faltered several times and gone dark. it had a notable resurrection in 1996 and finally relaunched as a webcast in 2001. More here.

WTBS 88.1 Boston, MA - They became WMBR on May 24, 1979, selling it's old callsign to Ted Turner for 50 grand.They spent the money getting a more powerful transmitter. Programming is still loose and local.  More here.

KCHU 90.9 Dallas, TX -  This station was also founded in part by Lorenzo Milam. The station signed on in August of 1975. After just a year-and-a-half their cobbled hardware began to fail and without a steady source of income they were doomed. The station was silent by 1980. Criswell Bible Institute mounted a legal challenge, and eventually they swapped frequencies with Criswell winning the more powerful 90.9 stick. After continued internal disputes Lorenzo turned the station license over to a group called ACORN, who founded 89.3 KNON, a station that in some ways continues the mission. More here.

WFAC 91.5 Columbus, OH - They were a 10 watt station in 1975. Today it's WHKC owned by Christian Broadcasting Services, 15,00 watts of Air 1. The transition from point A to point B involved NAB,the UAW, the FCC and new legal precedents.  I'll dedicate a whole post to them later.