Monday, October 21, 2019

The Daytime Broadcasters Association

Looking at that advertisement above, you might assume this was a short-lived project. It wasn't. James R. Livesay founded the Daytime Broadcasters Association in 1955 and served as its president until 1982.  He was succeeded by Jim Wychor of KWOA, who led for another 3 years. Today NAB speaks as the single lobbying voice of broadcasting. In the U.S. broadcasting industry they are all-powerful, and criticized for being intransigent, monolithic and myopic. But not all that long ago, there was a more diverse selection of trade associations for broadcasters.

A 1979 white paper: Institutional Analysis of Daytime Radio by Ellen Hendrickson and Thomas E. Nutt-Powell noted "In recent years, the increasing number and diversity of organizations represented by the NAB has led to the development of smaller, more specialized trade associations." But in 1979 already 1,000 members of DBA were also members of NAB. Now decades later, the trend has fully reversed. Today while there are many small regional groups, they most often act as regional franchisees of NAB. There is but one NAB to rule them all. More here.
One of the last large trade groups NAB ate was the Daytime Broadcasters Association (DBA). It's a shame because the DBA had such a clear and narrow mission. I'll spell out their "Principal Objectives" if you cant' read the fine print in the ad above:
1. To seek fixed hours daily year-round for Daytime stations: 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily. 
2. To limit interference free primary contour protection for ALL stations to 0.5 millivolt per meter daytime. 
3. To represent the interests of Daytime and Limited  stations so that broadcast services of "Daytimers" can more adequately serve in the public interest. 

Back in 1957, in it's heyday,  the The Daytime Broadcasters Association's esteemed members included:
Ben Letson, WCNH Quincy FL;  Jack P. Hankins, WELS Kinston, NC;  Michael Cuneen, WDLA Walton, NY; J. C. Willis, KVOM Morrillton, AR; Hecht S. Lackey, WSON Henderson, KY; J. P. Scherer, WHFB Benton Harbor, MI; R. W. Olson, KWOA Worthington, MN; Ralph Weir Jr., KJCK Junction City, KS; Frank Quinn, KDEF Albuquerque, NM; Frank Burke Jr., KPOP Los Angeles, CA; Dean Nichols, KOMW Omak, WA;  Richard E. Adams,  WKOX, Framingham, MA; Alf M. Landon, KSCB Topeka, KS; Jack Younts, WEEB, Southern Pines, N.C; Ray Livesay WLBH/WHOW, Mattoon, IL; R. Karl Baker, WLDS, Jacksonville, IL; and Joe M. Leonard Jr., KGAF, Gainesville, TX.

There are more than 2,000 AM daytimers on the air today. They sign on at sun up, and must sign off at sunset. In the depths of Winter, that can be 4:00 PM. They effectively abandoning the radio dial to larger and more powerful stations in distant cities. The DBA argued for 30 years for more broadcast hours.  Today their point is even more prescient. With the cresting noise noise on the AM band, those powerful stations in distant cities are inaudible anyway. Those daytimers sign off and surrender their frequencies not to other stations but to waves of static.

In December of 1955 they made their first push to increase their hours of operations and filed a petition with the FCC (Docket 12274).  They requested that "all standard daytime broadcast stations be authorized to operate from 5 a.m. or local sunrise (whichever is earlier) to 7 p.m. or local sunset (whichever is later) , in lieu of the sunrise to sunset hours provided for in the present rules." The FCC described the petition as "a departure from the long established standard (AM) broadcast allocations. They further stated that it wasn't in the public interest, concerned that the secondary service for all clear channel stations would be "destroyed" and service to rural areas would be lost, and worse yet, it would cause severe interference to foreign stations. The petition was denied, and the proceeding terminated.

In 1983 the DBA made their last push, asking for 4 more hours of broadcast hours (Docket 1842). NAB stayed out of the fight. NAB media relations director Rory Wilcox stated "Daytimers have influential support for their cause... The National Association of Broadcasters favors extended hours as long as this doesn't interfere with existing service." Against all odds this time the DBA won. The FCC decided that it was possible to permit post-sunset operation for some types of stations at reduced power, for up to an two additional hours. It was a partial victory and the only real one they were ever going to get. In 1985 NAB absorbed the Daytime Broadcasters Association.

In 1989, NAB presented the National Radio Award to Ray Livesay citing his "lifelong contributions to the industry." Ray Livesay died in May of 1995. Livesay's son, Jim Livesay II, took over operation of WHOW AM and FM after his death.

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