Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Creeping Jersification

(Advance for Thursday 11/24/05)


Once upon a time, when you leased radio spectrum space from the American people, you had, in return, to serve the community where that spectrum segment was situated. Such a place is known in the trade as a “city of license.”

If you made a station in, say, Moote Pointe, New York, you were expected to serve Moote Pointe, New York. If your signal reached Greenwich CT or Greenwich Village or even Greenwich, England, that was fine. You still had to concentrate your efforts on Moote Pointe, New York.

In the 21st Century, this, apparently is no longer true. With “station clusters” (which means the big guys gobble up the little guys,) and relaxed ownership rules, everyone can be everywhere.

Sort of.

Which is how we get to Creeping Jersification.

An awful lot of the radio stations in New York City seem to have forgotten New York City.

The other day, a morning program host announced he was making a personal appearance in Flemington, New Jersey, 47 miles from the city line. He called the town “the heart of (our) listening audience.

Really!

Buried in the middle of a recent internet post about another station, was a note from a historian who said he and his group considered that station, located on New York’s Broadway for the past 80 years a “New Jersey Radio Facility.”

He’s right. It is.

Many big transmitters are located in NJ’s welcoming swampland, where land is cheaper and more plentiful than it is in the five boroughs. They’re there for technical and business reasons. But the piece of paper that allows them to operate, the licenses, remain based in New York City.

These two stations are just examples. There are many more.

It’s fine to serve the people of New Jersey. They need all the help they can get.

After all, they have cities like Newark which is more like a movie set than a real place. They have cities like Camden, where no one remembers that the crime rate is down, because it isn’t. Or cities like Elizabeth, where you really CAN see the air.

They have places like North Shady Grove where people are so rich, their feet never touch the ground. Saves money on shoes. But it makes for rocky walking.

The attitude of the people broadcasting on those stations, by the design, says “we’re not REALLY in New York. We’re Jersey Boys, just like you.

The northern and eastern suburbs of the city are all but ignored. Except by one station that gives Hudson Valley weather every two seconds.

Note to them: the people in the Hudson Valley are too busy listening to their own stations to bother with you.

There’s no argument with serving the entire metro area.

But there IS argument with serving every place in it except the city of license.

Does nothing happen in town anymore?

You wouldn’t think so if you were listening.

How about these guys concentrate a bit on programming for Staten Island, which is ALMOST New Jersey. They could gradually work their way into actually talking about Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens occasionally too.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2005

2 comments:

John G said...

A worse problem for radio is fascistification. A station that airs Michael Savage, for example, should require by law to submit to an exorcism.

John G said...

Can you imagine being from Manhattan and pretending to be from Jersey?

"Oh, why, I'm from New Jersey--or right nearby."