By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: pirate radio

Catching up on some recent posts

Following up a few recent Media Nation posts:

Hyperlocal is about conversation, not traditional news. Writing for the Online Journalism Review, Tom Grubisich takes a deeper look at the Washington Post’s site, recently pronounced a failure by the Wall Street Journal. Grubisich’s verdict is that the site falls short in large measure because it doesn’t provide much in the way of interactivity and social networking.

Parsing the financials at GateHouse Media. The financial blog last week claimed that GateHouse Media — a national chain that owns some 100 community newspapers in Eastern Massachusetts — could go broke later this year because of its plummeting stock price and $1.2 billion debt. But, in fact, there is some positive news to report as well.

According to GateHouse, in the first quarter of 2008 revenues were $168.9 million, an increase of 78.4 percent over the previous year. And its EBIDTA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $30.1 million, up 93.9 percent over the previous year.

A not-so-mysterious increase in listeners. The Boston Globe today profiles “TOUCH 106.1 FM,” a pirate radio station serving the black community that’s been threatened by the FCC. Globe reporter Brian Ballou does a thorough job, but I had to chuckle at his writing that the station’s Internet listenership has recently jumped from 2,000 to 5,000 without offering any possible explanation.

Here is the explanation.

Threatening “the voice of Black Boston”

Interesting story in the Dorchester Reporter on “TOUCH 106.1 FM,” a pirate radio station serving the black community that’s been targeted for elimination by the FCC. Managing editor Bill Forry writes:

Touch FM (officially LP-WTCH Boston) — which sprang from the bosom of the Grove Hall Neighborhood Development Corporation offices in the fall of 2005 — is unlicensed. They admit it. They’re pirates.

And they are unrepentant, even in the face of the most recent broadside from the government: A May 7 forfeiture order from the FCC that levies a $17,000 fine on station founder Charles Clemons. The ruling stems from a pair of site visits made to the suspected TOUCH offices at the corner of Cheney Street and Blue Hill Avenue in 2007. The order accuses Clemons of “willfully and repeatedly” using the frequency without a license and for “failing to permit a station inspection.”

This is the Catch-22 of radio. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 destroyed local commercial radio and gave rise to corporate-owned, lowest-common-denominator pap.

Touch FM’s 100-watt signal — broadcast from an undisclosed location — puts it between WMJX (106.7 FM) and WROR (105.7 FM), two stations owned by Greater Media, which also employs the likes of right-wingers like Jay Severin and Michael Graham on another of its stations, WTKK (96.9 FM). Who’s doing more to serve the local community, TOUCH or Greater Media? Does the question even need to be asked?

Last June I covered a hearing by the FCC on localism in broadcast media. The agency claims to be very concerned about local content. Well, if officials would like to travel to Dorchester, they will find some.

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