Monday, December 31, 2018

So You Would Know

The last published post that I authored as vice president of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild was in October of 2017. I used this blog to inform the members about Radio and changes in the radio industry. I was sharpening my skills as a communicator engaging in the art of social media presentation while educating my peers and other interested persons at the same time. 14 months later, I'm writing again but this time as an observer. So you would know why I'm not involved with the Chicago Alliance.

The fall of 2017 presented a time of change and
transition, as the parent organization of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild began reorganizing, restructuring and changing its name from the "Gospel Announcers Guild" to the "Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals". The idea and theory associated with the changes to the organization appeared plausible but as a career professional radio announcer I could not accept the name "Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals" but who am I?

The name of the "Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals" suggests the demotion of radio and the announcers as the focal point. As a professional radio announcer, researcher and educator, that name was totally unacceptable. Why in world would an organization abandon the impact and power of radio and digital Streaming with regards to music promotion? The announcement of the name change was like seeing the “handwriting" on the wall. It would only be a matter of time before I would conclude not to be a part of this "Alliance". I cannot participate with an organization that "says one thing and represents something else".

What and who are these Gospel Music Professionals? I did not accept the concept because the concept had not been defined. My first question in a meeting was "What is the Guild becoming, the Alliance of Gospel Music Promoters?"

Since the passing of Al "The Bishop" Hobbs, a true "radio personality", a radio sales manager, radio general manager, program director, convention organizer, gospel artist, master of ceremonies and record label owner the national organization did not have another qualified radio person with a background as radio talent in the cabinet. The most qualified person to lead the National GAG met an untimely death a year or so before Mr. Hobbs passing. So the national organization was being administered by individuals who were primarily interested in artist relations (more revenue for the organization is generated from gospel artists than radio announcers).  So quite naturally changes related to radio, the demotion of the announcer and elimination of radio as a focal point were inevitable.

I attended one more meeting under the Chicago Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals banner and decided that there was NO PLACE for me and my knowledge of radio in the new configuration of the organization. The organization's focus was unapologetically toward the "gospel artist." (GOSPEL RADIO PROMOTIONS is big business and can be very lucrative).

I listened to what was being said and took time to examine what was happening (same agenda as before (artist promotion) just different people being directed).  No elections were held and selected members were appointed as "heads" of the Chicago Alliance. I concluded that with a new name for the organization the operation was still the same. The new cabinet continued the monthly operations like a religious social club. The same "agenda" of auditioning Gospel Artists (for a fee), eating, and promoting the interests of "Gospel Artists" were being perpetuated. The new version "Chicago Alliance"  is "wasting an opportunity" to really help to move the Gospel Industry forward into the new frontier by continuing the same promotions model as before and NOT embracing radio in its new form (digital broadcast).
Only the names of the people directing the organization were changed however, the power and control of the Chicago Alliance remains under the control of the “self proclaimed" Founder of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild.  Scripture says you can't pour "NEW WINE" into old WINE SKINS.

In my most humble and educated opinion, after 20 years, the Chicago Alliance  should elect NEW LEADERSHIP that is not controlled by the self proclaimed "FOUNDER" (this is not a "CHURCH"). The NEW LEADERSHIP should locate an OFFICE and start an INTERNET STREAMING station ( this will allow new leadership to form an example). The Chicago Alliance has none of these. The Chicago Alliance is a religious social club masquerading as a professional organization.   This social club meets monthly to fellowship, audition independent gospel artist and discuss ways to educate gospel artists in promotion and marketing strategies. These meetings offers limited information to Internet Station Owners and announcers on performance mainly because only a few announcers and owners still attend these meetings. On the other hand, the artists that attend these meeting lose an opportunity to expose their art and ministry to individuals who can actually PLAY their music (the bottom line of promotions). The most important thing for any artist in any genre of music is for their art to BE HEARD by people who can further expose the art to more people.  The meetings basically are attended by Gospel artists who expose their ministries basically to other Gospel artists seeking the same thing.

What is missing is a COLLECTIVE of radio announcers and stations that can help to give an artist exposure by "PLAYING" their song (The more people playing a song create more opportunity for exposure of the art and the possibility of greater sales for the artist). Organizing a COLLECTIVE of radio personnel in Chicago is one of the hardest things to accomplish (leaders in the Gospel Community have not been able to come together for anything that will be for the common good of the Gospel community or the industry). Everybody in this town "Chicago" are KINGS and QUEENS and everybody wants to be the "RULER"!  Collectives just don't happen here. The wasted opportunity is in not having an office for the Chicago Alliance with a radio station so that the announcers who want to present Gospel music can come together and have an affordable outlet to play the music to the community to benefit Gospel artists, the radio announcer and the organization alike. The Internet is the happening thing now and so many people are in the field trying to make their station and ministry popular. There are several members of the Alliance who own radio streaming stations, members who are Gospel artists and members in the Chicago Alliance are paying other internet streaming owners to narrowcast their programs so why have your members go elsewhere?  It would beneficial for the Chicago Alliance to have it own streaming operation to generate revenue to sustain the organization.  The failure of establishing a collective of these individuals, an office and radio streaming station by the Chicago Alliance keeps the Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals in Chicago from being the "true" leaders and star makers in the industry. - "The wasted opportunity" to be leaders.  An out of town attendee to the Chicago Alliance 2018 Celebration even suggested the formation of a radio station.

There is so much talent and desire to broadcast in this city it made me to wonder why a WCAG, WGAG, WAGP or W(whatever) doesn't exists?  Doesn't it make sense to create a service that the members in the organization could benefit from? Why should the members pay someone else to host their programs, when the organization could better serve the members by creating an Internet Station operation for the organization?

The reason is simple "lack of vision" and leadership that does not want to share revenues with others - MONEY.  Everyone in the organization should receive a benefit other than just being a part of the organization and getting CD's. The organization should present documented evidence of "benefits" of being a part of the organization. Why pay dues and the only benefit is hearing a new Gospel artist ?

There are several streaming operators in Chicago that are doing well. Oh if only they could come together as a single organization realizing that there is "POWER" in numbers. Unfortunately, many in the Gospel Industry don't understand that the value of strength in numbers (Check out the Internet Broadcasters Alliance).  Because the new configuration of the organization does not invest in its own spaceestablish an internet station, and form a collective with "By-Laws" that includes benefits for announcers and internet station owners.  I have to move away (wasted opportunity). The major radio stations and their personalities CANNOT and WILL NOT serve every Gospel Artist. Therefore there is an opportunity in Internet Digital Streaming services to expose communities to the music that the majors won't play and new artist can't afford to pay for.

The Chicago Alliance is merely a religious social club that benefits only the "self proclaimed" FOUNDER whether the self proclaimed founder is THERE OR NOT. It does not make sense to be in a social club where your expenses to participate in the activities constantly cost you more. You only pay tithes to the church not social clubs.

Finally,  I can no longer act insane.... Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  The Chicago Alliance, Chicago Gospel Announcers Guild or whatever the name will only move forward when members remove themselves from under the control of the self proclaimed founder's dictatorship.  To be quite frank, I can't be a part of anything that I don't believe in.  Peace be with you.. prayers for the individual members who continue to believe in something that is a LIE.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

From the Desk of Professor Reggie Miles.

I attended another workshop today of the "Alliance" formerly known as the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild. It was another great meeting for artists and promoters as some Chicago's elite musicians and producers were on tap in a panel discussion. I didn't stay long to hear the panel because I had to go somewhere else. However, I did hear stay to hear the radio address given this month by "The Godfather of Internet Streaming" Andre Carter.
Even though philosophically Andre and I have disagreed with what should be called radio, he did a great job speaking on what he knows about in "Internet Streaming". (Something I've been trying to clear up with him from years) I was really surprised because for the first time I heard him state a difference between "Internet Streaming" and Broadcast Radio. There is a difference. Yea !!! Andre. (more on that difference at another time). And of course, He really wasn't supposed to talk about "streaming", but we know the king of shameless self synergy promotions. (Actually, he was supposed to introduce his guest but he missed the memo).
To fill in the void that will undoubtedly grow for the radio personality, those interested in radio, and the brokers each month. I will write and share some information here in this space. One cannot expect to learn about radio and broadcasting when radio and broadcasting are not a priority. And for radio to be a priority the leadership should be one with experience as a radio announcer or radio personnel. A person can't talk about what they don't know about.
Here's something to think about. 🤔
In a few months the FCC will begin plans by law to assess whether or not the current media ownership rules are still valid or effective. The current FCC commissioner wants to give over more control of the media to corporations and wants to deregulate ownership laws even more creating monopolies. The FCC is headed in this direction even though there is evidence that bigger is not better and the two largest radio 🤔broadcast companies facing bankruptcy.
Does Facebook LIVE add or diminish your reach and potential for earnings via the Internet stream?
Are advertisers ready to invest in Internet Streaming?
And for the artist considering Internet Streaming as a Promotion
Here's a Tip..
Do not waste PROMOTION dollars on Internet Streaming stations that cannot "DISPLAY" THE ARTIST NAME, NAME OF THE SONG, and show the ALBUM COVER when the song is played on the STREAM PLAYERS (eyeballs help to sell music too). Many Internet Operators don't have staff or personalities to provide audiences with information about your music (DJ's help to sell music too). So what sense does it make to pay to have your music played on a streaming media outlet and the streaming station can't provide you a "MULTIMEDIA experience. Make sure that a streaming station you invest in also has the capability through it streaming player to provide visual information and a link(s) to where your song can be purchased. Every outlet you use on the Internet also should help you SELL your music. Spins mean nothing without SALES. Before you invest, Make sure your streaming choice also can display your ALBUM COVER on it's WEBSITE. This is added value for your promotions dollars which will increase the reach and presence of your music.
Something to think about ..🤔
It's No Secret By All Means Share this.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Battle Continues

I saw the above link to an article on an "Internet Radio" website and you know me, I had to get it, read it, digest it, and pick it apart.
First and foremost. I AM A RADIO GUY when I say "RADIO" I mean "OVER THE AIR" or TERRESTRIAL radio stations.
I am a 50 year student of radio. with over 35 years of on air experience in several levels of radio broadcasting (college, commercial and internet). I have taught radio broadcasting at the college level (Kennedy King College, Howard University and Chicago State University) over 20 years.
What gets me started is when people start using buzzwords like "DIGITAL" which tend to be defined by the end result that the person using the word wants to attain. What does digital mean anyway? Fact - the US is not interested or intending on changing radio to "broadcast" on the DAB-- Digital Audio Band. The US is using a "combined" system (Digital and Analog) branded "HD" created by iBiquity Digital Corporation. The “HD” in “HD Radio” does not stand for “high definition” or “hybrid digital.” This design preserves the current "spectrum space". The DAB would open more frequencies for broadcast. The NAB does not want the digital spectrum -- well at least NOT YET..
I agree that the business of radio has hurt the sustainability of the radio industry. Also. radio has done a poor job of seeding its future through its own stubbornness and greedy business practices but the solutions suggested by "Soundexchange" only BENEFITS the one company -- SOUNDEXCHANGE - Surely I would call for changes in the present business models to increase my company's own revenue stream too. Soundexchange is using good business sense to do so.
SOUNDEXCHANGE boasts 5 Billion in payments but HOW MUCH did Soundexchange actually take in royalties 20 billion? And did every artist get paid royalties that they were owed? Really? The catch with SoundExchange is that royalties collected by SoundExchange can expire if the artist does not register to collect them! And here is another thing with Soundexchange it opens the door for greedy music promoters and slick Internet station owners to take advantage of artists. The one thing that really kills me about music about annual music seminars and conventions is that every one of them always states be sure to "get educated" about the industry and the business yet they never tell you where to "get" the information from.
On the other hand many "Internet Operators" are angry with the fact that they have to pay licensing fees so of course out of spite they will call for radio stations to have to pay these fees as well. However making everyone PAY is not a solution. Especially against the ADVERTISER based system that makes TERRESTRIAL RADIO FREE. Why would I as a consumer want to pay for something that I've enjoyed for free? More about that at the end of this writing.
And those same "Internet Radio" operators are ENJOYING payola to the fullest. Charging new artists through promotional packages and not able to produce a number to show that the music stream play is going to or reaching to the masses. Internet Radio is worldwide but at any given moment you can only have to the maximum 1000 listeners or as little as 6. The COST of Bandwidth for Internet Stations makes it "IMPOSSIBLE" to broadcast to a mass of simultaneous listeners that's how companies make their money off the bandwidth. Some internet operators are slick saying that they are broadcasting on several hosting services and have unlimited bandwidths. Really? Radio promotion is so lucrative that some guys are now making a living through "Independent Artist" music airplay. I'm wondering when did radio just become for "MUSIC ONLY" -- I guess that is where the money is.
The bottom line is that there is an insatiable desire to monetize the unregulated Internet. It's all about money. Taking yours and making mine.
And who is to say that RADIO is just about MUSIC promotion anyway? Where has the connection of radio to the local community gone?
It was the MUSIC INDUSTRY's failure to EMBRACE the digital technology first. Y'all remember Napster. And the president of Soundexchange has the nerve to call out radio for it's procrastination and stagnation.. BOTH radio and the music industry ARE GUILTY.
Finally, "It's important to remember that despite the advantages of internet streaming, it also has some real disadvantages. One major disadvantage is that while streaming radio is generally cheaper to transmit than "on-air" radio, it's a lot more expensive to receive. Buying a computer whether it is on your desk on in your pocket (cell phones) and paying for internet service costs a lot more than buying an AM/FM radio. Also, one of the beautiful things about radio (especially low power radio) is that it is inherently local and is a great tool for building local communities. It's easy to lose your focus on local people and local issues when your stream is available to the entire world. For these reasons, according to the Prometheus Radio Project they see internet streaming as a supplement to old-fashioned on-air radio, but not as a replacement for it." -- That's how I've always felt about (Internet Radio) however I am going to program and invest in an internet station myself too. If you can't beat em -- join em. There is some money out there to be made!

Friday, June 02, 2017

I'm Back

I want to write on a regular basis.  Personally, I've been through so much in the past few years that I've neglected writing however, I am determined to write and help shed light on the industry that I love "radio" and whatever else I feel compelled to write about. I've studied radio for more than 20 years and in that time I've seen how the industry has changed and why it has changed. I want to document my feelings on radio and leave a footprint for my family, friends colleagues and researchers. Thank goodness for technology and the ability to leave digital footprints. When it comes to radio I've heard the medium through different era's the 60's, 70's, 80's, and in the 90's until now, my listening has drifted away for several reasons. The reasons for my change in listening is another blog entry that I won't deal with at this time.

Through this blog, I intend to write about the different eras of radio. I believe that earlier eras of radio served in the public interest better than radio today. Well what is the public interest in radio? That's a really good question and the answer is one that has challenged law and policy makers for years. I guess it comes down to whose money is "behind" the law and policy makers. When things are seen through lense of "finance and cash" the people mostly come out on the short end of the stick. I don't have prove that statement we are living in it. The Telecommunication Act of 1996 has literally ruined the broadcasting industry.  Corporations got richer, and the people were left information poorer, fed with the same product lines from all stations regardless of the genre. Radio became a product and lost its standing as a public resource. And that too is another story.  

My favorite era of radio are the years between 1963 and 1982, that's probably when radio had it most "personality".  And the years when broadcast owners had to include programming in the public interest and keep records of doing so. During this time all radio personalities had to be licensed to work in a radio control room and there was no syndicated programming. I remember the first day I hung my license as a college student at WKKC in 1975.  I began listening to radio in 1963 when WVON arrived on the airwaves at 1450 AM owned by the Leonard Chess and family.  I fell in love with radio then. And that station was the foundation for "GOOD RADIO" in my mind. There is an interesting dissertation on WVON that talks about the history of the station and  how the owners really wanted the personalities to "talk to the people",   however, that too is another story and this entry is to say thanks and pay tribute to the many many people and entrepreneurs who have invested time and money to "MAKE RADIO GREAT AGAIN" through the Internet.  I won't single out any stations or owners because there are just too many to list and I don't want to slight anyone or hurt anyone's feelings by not mentioning their name.

20 years ago back in 1997 I looked at the future of radio after the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and wrote about the future for my graduate thesis. My research paper was entitled Introduction to Webcasting. My graduate instructor the late Professor Eli Segal, said to me "Wow Reggie this is a great topic because nobody with the credentials knows how to do this yet. I selected a topic that placed me on the edge of learning and bringing forward information about webcasting and I did. I was so excited when I finished my thesis that I asked the Chairman of the GAG of the GMWA if I could give a speech to talk about my work. 

I remember giving the speech in the summer of 1999 and put 700 gospel announcer to sleep. Nobody wanted to hear about Internet Radio. Now as we see it today. Internet Radio is booming. Everyone seems to be involved with it. You have independent artist enjoying the exposure of the music from the many outlets that are available. There are thousand of former radio personnel detached from the industry that they once loved now programming and owning stations. It all seems to be a great opportunity. However as one great lyricists wrote in the classic "Don't Believe the Hype" -- Don't Believe It. There are disadvantages to Internet Radio also.  That too is another blog entry that I will get into. Later.. 

Running an Internet station takes a lot of work and I just want to say GOOD JOB to all those that are trying to make content options available for people who have no other choices to "hyper commercial"
broadcast radio. Radio content on commercial stations is "FORCED" on us. Well how can you say that Miles. Anyone will tell you that Radio is all about the business of making profit from the "artists" and the "advertisers". There is limited public interest programing like news, and news probably happens only on the morning shift and the newscast is limited to 1 minute 30 seconds if that. Hell sometimes they won't tell you the time or anything about the local community around you. Urban radio, Gospel or Secular is so homogenized that you can miss listening and entire day and not miss a thing because all they talk about are the same things. My God... Tiger Woods got arrested for an alleged DUI -- I don't give a ______ about Mr. Woods DUI -- what about the mayhem going on in the streets EVERYWHERE.   

On the bright side though, I discovered a Internet Station on the mantle of providing MORE THAN JUST MUSIC. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a Facebook page for "NEWS HEADLINES" for the station. I uttered a sigh of relief and shouted a Hallelujah because radio is more than a music jukebox.  Internet Radio too needs some news content and public affairs info as well. Especially, in the black community we like to be talked to and discuss things. 

Finally, It's important to remember that despite the advantages of internet streaming, it also has some real disadvantages. One major disadvantage is that while streaming radio is generally cheaper to transmit than "on-air" radio, it's a lot more expensive to receive. The elites want to train consumers to pay for everything (remember bottled water). Buying a computer, or cell phone and paying for internet service costs a lot more than buying an AM/FM radio. Also, one of the beautiful things about radio (especially low power radio) is that it is inherently local and is a great tool for building local communities. It's easy to lose your focus on local people and local issues when your stream is available to the entire world. For these reasons, I see internet streaming as a supplement to old-fashioned on-air radio, but not as a replacement for it." Fight for LPFM stations too. 

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