Sunday, September 26, 2010

"We are in a perpetual future"

If you have fifty minutes or so, listen to this PODCAST.  It is a program produced by the local NPR station here in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted by a college classmate of mine and friend Greg Bass.  Some other folks I know make appearances on this month's show, too.  That's because the subject is "radio."  Broadcast radio, to be precise.

It takes an interesting look--especially the first twenty minutes or so--at the changes in the medium, nationally as well as right here.  If you are from or spent time in the Birmingham area, you will hear some familiar voices, from Greg himself to Rick Dees to Rick and Bubba.

One very interesting interview is with Vivian Shuler, the CEO of National Public Radio.  She uses one of my favorites I use all the time: "Media has changed...changed since we sat down here to talk."  She emphasizes that by maintaining that "We are in a perpetual future" due to the rapid changes in how people seek and use media.

It's interesting stuff and well worth the listening.  I'd love to hear your comments, too.

(Thanks to my friend Dennis Dease N4NR for forwarding the link to the podcast.)

Don Keith N4KC

Saturday, September 18, 2010



I'm wandering off technology, media and amateur radio just a bit today, but sometimes I can't help myself.  Those who know me well know that I am a staunch conservative on some issues, like size and reach of government, and a raving liberal on others, such as human rights.  On the political spectrum, that means I have no real home, though I probably land closer to "Libertarian" than to any other label.

Someone sent me a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I especially like and, with your indulgence, I will share it here:

You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.  You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.  You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.  You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred.  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.  You cannot keep out the trouble by spending more than you earn.  You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.  You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

See why I think these words are especially appropriate for today?  I am no fan of greed and corruption, whether it be government or big business.  As Libertarian as I lean, I think a legitimate function of a federal government is regulation of business--to a point.  Taxation should be only for the true needs of government and the people it represents, not to promote any percieved social or societal benefit, or to punish those who work hard, invest, take risk, hire people, pay wages, and build wealth honestly.  If reasonably regulated, but otherwise left unfettered, free enterprise and the profit motive will greatly improve the status of us all.  Patchwork legislation, redistribution of wealth, or ill-concieved regulation based on hysteria or poor data will only continue to cripple the one thing that has made our country the envy of the world.

And it will only continue to take us down the path of mediocrity.  Man, do we need more of Mr. Lincoln's common sense today!

Don Keith N4KC

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun with mathematics

First, for the three or four people who actually follow this exercise in egoism, sorry it has been a couple of weeks since the last post.  I had the thrill of being in Cincinnati for the annual submarine veterans' convention, and on VJ Day, I was actually standing there behind a stack of my books talking to guys who helped win that war.  These guys are amazing!  Bitter-sweet time, though.  We had a great breakfast with the sub vets amateur radio group on Friday morning, organized by Jim Flanders, W0OOG.  Then I got word that my friend John Crouse had had a serious heart attack.  John was the manager of the submarine museum at St. Mary's, Georgia, and has been a big help to me on a couple of my WWII books.  Unfortunately, John passed away a couple of days later.  Those who try to preserve this little niche of history have lost a tireless curator.

Now, to the topic.  An article in one of the broadcast media newsletters reports:

Seventy-six percent of American cell phone owners would consider paying a one-time fee of 30 cents to gain access to their local radio stations through a built-in radio chip on their mobile phone, according to a new online survey commissioned by the NAB and conducted by Harris Interactive. Two-thirds (66%) of all adults and 71% of 18-34 year-olds say they would listen to local radio stations on their cell phones if that feature was available.

The newsletter sees this as a positive.  Huh?  A quarter of cell phone users would not even consider adding the ability to listen to radio stations on their phones, even if it only cost 30 cents!  And that amazing number of folks who would say they would only "consider" it.  Of course, if they did not have to do anything at all--the second question in the survey--only 66% of users would even think about taking the trouble.

Then there is the Pew survey that reports:  Fewer people are turning to radio for news and information than at any point in the history of media usage analysis. Remember when radio bragged, "See tonight on TV, read it tomorrow morning in the newspaper, but hear it NOW on radio!"  See, I think radio still has the unique ability to put listeners in the middle of whatever is going on...even better than the Internet.  But that takes talent, equipment, and, unfortunately, imagination.

And friends, that last commodity is in short supply in the scintillating, fast-paced world of radio broadcasting.

Don Keith N4KC