Ah, retirement!

Well, it finally happened.  My wife and I both turned 65.  Welcome to Medicare, right?  And in our case, welcome to Social Security.  I could have waited another year, but the small increase in SS’s monthly payout really wasn’t all that much, and we wanted to have more freedom.  I have been doing a one-hour one-way commute for the past 2+ years.  Since I haven’t completely retired from my post at Spirit 95 Radio, I still drive down there 2-3 days a week, but can easily do most other tasks related to my job there at my home office-where I am right now.

This whole idea hasn’t really kicked in yet, but having paid off our house earlier this week, it feels really good to be debt-free.  I recommend it to everyone.  So what to do with time on my hands, beside writing blogs…

More travel, work on developing more web sites for new customers, continue to work part-time, and give my wife a hard time when we’re both home during the week. (not really!)  She of course has other ideas, like removing wallpaper, repainting rooms, checking out books to read from the library (or on Kindle).  Seriously, we both expect to be involved as we have been, in our church’s activities, I hope to take another short-term mission trip somewhere, get back into Rotary and other community volunteer activities.  And “baby-sitting” our grand kids.  I think we’ll have plenty to do.

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Here it is the …

Here it is the eve of a new year, 2012.  To update my post from last March, God did indeed open a door for Compass Consulting Service.  I accepted a position as manager of Spirit 95 (WVNI) and My Joy 88.9 (WMYJ) radio stations in Bloomington, Indiana.  Spirit 95 plays Today’s Christian Music, while My Joy features Solid Gospel.  It’s not been easy, as I knew no one in Bloomington, and the small staff at Spirit/My Joy had some issues.  We’re working through those issues, and I am expecting a good year in 2012, God Willing.  Note: The toughest part of this assignment is the 50-mile one-way commute from my home to Bloomington.

Let’s hope that we can solve our horrendous economic problems.  We need a new president, that’s for sure. 

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What’s Next??

After 21 years, I’ve decided to leave my position at Crossroads Communications in Terre Haute, IN.  It’s a group of five radio stations.  I served as President all 21 years, General Manager ’til 2005, and as a Senior Account Executive ’til March, 2011.  I wish nothing but the best for the team of good people working there now.  They have excellent formats and will hopefully generate much new business for them.

As for me, I am “retired,” but hopefully not for long.  While I hope to grow Compass Consulting Service, I am also seeking something new that I can dig my heels into for the next four or five years.  I am praying the God will help me find the “open door.”  Should be fun-stay tuned!

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Are web sites still relevant in a Facebook and Twitter world?

One of my companies, Compass Consulting Service constructs and maintains web sites for small businesses, primarily in Indiana.  Nothing complicated here.  Today everyone in business should have a presence on the world wide web.  But how are we communicating with customers, and prospects today?  I’m not talking about media advertising which is still a vitally important piece of the marketing puzzle, but how are we communicating outside of regular media ads?  Email?  Newsletters?  E-Newletters, web sites?  They’re all important, but today I am seeing an increasing number of folks moving their communication to Facebook and other social media players, but primarily Facebook.

I do have a Facebook page with many friends, but I don’t access it all that much.  I’m still in the process of figuring it out.  If you’ve read this, I’d like to hear your thoughts. 

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Oldies Radio in 2010

Listening to Oldies on radio sounds different today than it did 20 years ago.  Oldies, in radio jargon, generally refers to the rock and roll of the late 50s and 60s, maybe into the early 70s.  Twenty years ago, venturing into the 70s meant that a station would probably lose their core listeners, those people born between 1946 and 1960 or so.  But today, most Oldies stations aren’t playing much from the 60s, not to mention the ’50s.  It’s mostly 70s going into the 80s.  Sometimes they refer to this "new" oldies format at "Classic Hits." 
The reason is obvious.  Ad agencies do not purchase much advertising directed to persons over 50 years old.  (Local advertisers covet these people-go figure).  The "old" Oldies is now considered a format for folks over 60!  I find that interesting because even a lot of 30-somethings appreciate those songs.  The old "adult standards," that featured the ballad songs of the 50s and 60s is pretty much gone on terrestrial radio, and on XM they have oldies spread over channels dedicated to specific decades.
But the "boomers" still rule in terms of sheer numbers and buying power.  I wonder when a few radio stations will figure this out and quit pandering to rating services and the whims of ad agency buyers and play what older listeners want to here.  (Not all stations, just those who want to do what no one else in their respective market is doing.)  Rock and Roll Forever!
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Radio up nort’

We recently returned from a great vacation in Wisconsin, mostly the Door County area.  Listened to several radio stations up there, and while they are "better" than 30 years ago, most lack personality, altho’ the music was pretty good, with a lot of variety.  One group of stations shared an interesting web site that featured local news for the area.  I’d be interested in hearing what others are hearing on trips around the country on local radio stations.  What do you like, what don’t you like?
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HD Radio vs. Internet Radio

Does HD Radio or Internet radio represent the real future of audio/video content delivery?

HD Radio, like HD television, represents the conversion of analog radio to digital radio. For the moment, radio has the choice to either broadcast in a digital format or not, because the current HD format allows for simulcasting the existing analog program digitally, so an "HD" radio can receive the broadcast on the same frequency. HD radio also has the capacity to add a "side channel" or two, so if, for example, radio station WAAA is on 92.7, an HD radio will get WAAA digitally on 92.7. WAAA can also have additional programming on 92.7-1 and 92.7-2 if they desire. Neat, huh?

Too bad there aren’t more HD radios out there. How many people even know HD radios exist…or care? I don’t know. Several issues exist. First the cost of conversion to HD for a radio station. It costs a bunch, plus there are annual "rights" fees that have to be paid to Ibiquity, the licensee of the technology. Big companies and large markets can afford to do this, but most smaller companies in smaller markets find the cost prohibitive. Particularly when the "ROI" would me nada for several years.

The technology works OK on FM, if you are within about 10-20 miles from the transmitter. But HD signals go only about half as far as exisiting analog signals. There is a current proposal before the FCC to allow HD stations to raise their power.

HD was touted to be the saviour of AM radio, since HD radio on AM can sound as good as FM. However AM HD creates a great deal of "noise" on either side of the station’s frequency, making nighttime AM listening to distant stations even more difficult. Plus AM HD really only works on the most powerful AM stations. Small 1000 watt, 500 watt, even 250 watt AM stations-and there are thousands of them in service-would not benefit from HD radio technology.

Is there a better alternative? I think so. Broadcasting over the internet is relatively inexpensive for radio stations, despite the fees that have to be paid at this time. (More on that in a future blog). With proper equipment, streaming can sound extremely good and can be heard around the world. Nothing you don’t already know. How long will it be before internet reception is available universally in cars and trucks? I’m not sure, but people are working on this as I type. I would think 10 years is a reasonable time frame for this to be in place.

As a 40 + year veteran radio professional, I salivate at the prospect of univerally available audio-streams for my stations. You bet we can compete for ears-and eyes-and relationships with our "family" of content users. Radio stations are quickly becoming more than just outlets for music or talk shows. I believe internet broadcasting will leapfrog HD radio within 10 years. What do you think?

–Radiomike66 in Indiana

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