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Radio News: More radio stations, more radio turmoil

Apr 13, 2015 10:37 pm
The Federal Communications Commission just released its radio census for the quarter ending March 31, 2015, with 87 more low-power FM stations than three months before, and 63 more FM translators and boosters. There were three fewer AM stations, but seven more commercial FM stations, and six more non-commercial full-power stations, Radio Survivor reports. And as there's more outlets and other audio possibilities, with expanding digital delivery systems that can all seem bewildwering to institutions from the transitor radio age. Ron Nixon in The New York Times reports that David Ensor, the director of the Voice of America, announced last week that he's stepping down. Congress has been consistently cutting the budget for exporting audio propaganda, and Ensor's still built a worldwide audience of 172 million people a week, up 49 million during his tenure, according to the Times. And he's not the only one leaving. Last month Andrew Lack resigned as chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors to return to NBCUniversal, after just 42 days in the post. Then, Paul Riismandel in Radio Survivor reports that the Pacifica Foundation has found a new executive director, John Proffitt, who was general manager of Houston Public Radio station KUHF until the end of 2011. He co-hosts “Thresholds” and “Open Journal” now at Pacifica’s KPFT, also in Houston. Last year Pacifica’s national board fired former ED Summer Reese, who then occupied the foundation’s national offices for nearly two months. Eventually, a judge issued a restraining order to end the stalemate. Now Pacifica, and the Voice of America, two institutions with roots in the Cold War era need to transition into an era where the audio devices are the smae size as transistor radios, but do so much more. Fivethirtyeight.com reports that 22 million Americans are smartphone-dependent, about seven percent of the total population that only has access to the internet on their handheld device. African-Americans, Hispanics, 18- to 29-year-olds, and people from households earning less than $30,000 per year are all twice as likely as an average smartphone user to be smartphone-dependent, according to the story. Perhaps this is an audience public radio can serve in the 21st century.