Thursday, March 02, 2006

Satellite vs. Terrestrial: the thawing of this cold war is already well underway

"Could this signal a thawing of the Cold War between satellite and terrestrial radio?" writes Ken Tucker in this Billboard Radio Monitor article. He's writing about the fact that, for the first time, a terrestrial radio station - Cincinatti's WLW 700 - will have their signal rebroadcast on XM satellite radio. The station has a rich history, so it's kinda cool to hear a "heritage" station via such modern technology, plus it's always fascinating (to me at least) to hear local radio from exotic places... and Cincinatti is exotic, in a way. (For those of you without XM Radio - and that number includes me - you can hear WLW's signal over the good 'ol Internet here.)

Speaking as a radio nostalgist, I especially liked this paragraph from the story:

"For the first time in 67 years, we are truly 'the nation's station' again," Clear Channel/Cincinnati director of AM operations Darryl Parks said in a statement. That slogan was used early in the station’s life when it was it was licensed to broadcast at 500,000 watts and its signal reached across the U.S. “Now through the power of satellite technology, 700WLW has a farther reach than ever before,” Parks added. "

500,000 watts! Dude! (Meanwhile, for more of a "WTF" reaction, go here.)

But, beyond this, there is more deal-making going on than you might think between Satellite and terrestrial radio. For instance, Bob Edward's XM-produced weekend show is now syndicated on "regular" public radio (WNYC-FM now has the show at 4pm Saturdays), and much of PRI and NPR's output can of course be heard on Sirius; many if not most of ABC Radio's, Fox News Talk's and ESPN Radio's shows are just as available on both XM and Sirius as they are "on the airwaves"; and Westwood One/CBS Radio provides much of Sirius's NFL Coverage (including the Super Bowl), not to mention all of their local traffic reports (via Metro Traffic).

My point? There may be a "big war" publicly going on between the technologies, but the terrestrial radio industry is not dumb; they're also frantically looking for ways to cooperate with, if not co-opt, XM and Sirius. And you know that Clear Channel is a major investor in XM, right?

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