All posts by BobPritchard

Radio Insider in managed by career broadcaster Bob Pritchard who has worked in every aspect of broadcasting including owning his own FM radio station, a nationally broadcast television series (Computer Insider on CTV) and many years on-air in radio including 680News and AM640 in Toronto. Bob currently spends his time producing video editorial comments, writing his book on Canadian Radio and consulting radio stations on how to survive the increased competition from consolidation and the increasing market fragmentation caused by the growth of the internet.

Computer Insider March 18, 2014: Hackers Capitalize on Missing Boeing 777

The ongoing saga of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370 is proving to be quite the boom to the hacker community as those who strive to pollute the computers of the innocent have started building malware into various messages that claim to be offering videos, information and other tidbits of information on  the still missing Boeing 777 and its hundreds of passengers.

The big message here is don’t click on any link that says it has shocking video of plane.

Videos with titles like “Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH370 found in Sea — 50 people alive saved” have spread through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Malware intelligence reports that that links being spread through Twitter originally appeared on Facebook.

The blog Hoax-Slayer.com warned of a fake news link claiming that the Malaysian plane has been found in the Bermuda Triangle. The photos used to promote the video are from an April 2013 Lion Air plane crash near Bali.

Facebook users lured by shocking videos typically find that they must complete a survey before continuing. Christensen says the links are designed to look like a Facebook survey, requesting permission to gain access to your profile.

Giving permission to your profile could give hackers personal information, like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Scam artists seek a payday from affiliate marketing schemes that pay money when a user participates in a survey.

 

Computer Insider March 17, 2014: Want to buy a Boeing 777?

One thing you can always count on in this technology based era, is that some nut ball is going to step forward and try and turn a buck out of anything, and so it is today as someone has taken the bold step of posting an ad on Craigslist for an airplane, and not just any airplane, but the still missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner which has been missing for some time now.

The ad, which was posted on the Vietnam Craigslist for $15 million, says that the plane is for sale “as is, where is”, apparently is low on fuel, but does include all the snacks and nibbles still on board. There are a few anomalies with the ad: First of all, it posts a second price in the local currency of 1.5 million Dong, which converts to about $70, so either there’s not much call for a personal 777 in rural Vietnam, or the poster didn’t do too well at math.

The really sad part about this that there is probably somebody somewhere who is seriously considering buying the plane, although there is no contact information listed, so actually making a deal could prove to be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, got to run now, I just have to reply to a message I received from an ex Crimean official who wants me to hole 2-hundred million dollars for him as soon as I pay the wire setup costs to $30,000.

 

 

Business Report March 17, 2014

Oil prices were slightly lower Monday after Crimea’s vote to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 9 cents to $98.80 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to close at $98.89 on Friday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 21 cents to $108 on the ICE exchange in London.

Residents in Crimea voted Sunday overwhelmingly in favor of the split in a referendum that the United States, European Union and others say violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law.

The U.S. and its allies in Europe are expected to announce sanctions against Russia, including visa bans and potential asset freezes, on Monday. Russia is a major oil and gas producer.

The tensions that are helping boost prices are being countered in recent weeks by worries about slowing demand from China, one of the world’s top energy consumers.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.945 a gallon.

— Heating oil dropped 1.1 cent to $2.918 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 8.6 cents to $4.515 per 1,000 cubic feet.

 

Computer Insider March 14/14: New App Targets Israeli Business

It this day and age of an app for everything, you have to really wonder where some people are coming from.

A fringe group, known as the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, is coming out with a “boycott Israel” smartphone app.

This is the same group that went after actress Scarlett Johansson for being a spokesperson for the Israeli company SodaStream, and is now expanding it’s horizons.

The BDS app is reportedly designed to let people carry out boycotts against Israel, and is just entering the beta testing phase.

It will ship with a barcode scanner, allowing users to scan products with their smartphones to see if the manufacturer has ties to Israel. The idea is to give potential boycotters all of the information they need on specific companies before buying a product. The data about the companies has been compiled by BDS, whose mission is to further Palestine rights.

The group recently made news when it pressured Johansson to step down from her post as Oxfam global ambassador after she became SodaStream’s official spokesperson. SodaStream was targeted by pro-Palestinian activists for opening a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank

While several prominent people and organizations — such as Stephen Hawking and the American Studies Association — have recently spoke in favor of Israel boycotts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the boycotts anti-Semitic.

I personally have an issue with any organization steps forward with anything that promotes hatred and un rest, but I have to admit that I find the app concept quite titillating because it offers ordinary people chance to voice their opinion on a variety of topics. Just think of how popular it would be if you could protest political issues like legalizing marijuana, the price of gas, where Mayor Rod Ford picks up his party supplies, and have the app co-ordinate the key players on the topic and send each of them a personal comment note.

Who knows, maybe if we had a tool like this in the 70’s, we could have convinced Trick Dick to get out of Nam that much sooner.

Business Report March 14: Oil prices edged slightly higher

Oil prices edged slightly higher this morning but remained under $100 a barrel as traders weighed whether an apparent pickup in the U.S. economy could spur enough demand to offset a slowdown in China and tension in the Ukraine.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 2 cents to $98.22 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 21 cents to close at $98.20 on Thursday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 5 cents to $106.97 on the ICE exchange in London.

Global markets from stocks to commodities have been roiled this week by signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and tensions in Ukraine.

China is one of the top consumers of energy, so an economic slowdown there could dial back demand for oil. At the same time, Russia is one of the top producers of oil worldwide, meaning that any Western sanctions against Moscow for its military incursion into the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula could affect global supplies.

Still, recent good news about the U.S. economy helped underpin prices on Friday. American retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture. And the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in three months.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 0.2 cent to $2.906 a gallon.

— Heating oil was up 0.7 cent to $2.911 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 3.1 cents to $4.352 per 1,000 cubic feet

Computer Insider: Too Much Disk Space?

I thought with spring just around the corner, this would be the ideal time to sit back and do a little bit of basic computer maintenance. One of the major down strokes we have with all of cheap hard disk space we have available to us, is that we never really have to worry about being too careful about what were storing because, for the sake of just running down the local store and spending about $100, you can pick up a terabyte or two of additional storage and suddenly you have huge amounts of onboard space available. The sad tale of my story is that I went to install a new application on my computer, and found out that I had no more space available on my boot drive. I never really worried about how much space I had on the drive, because I never store any data on my primary drive, and always store it on secondary or external drives. The reason I do this is because of anything should happen to my boot drive all of my data will be safe and secure. At any rate, what I found in checking my drive was that I had installed multiple versions of various audio and video editing packages and never bothered to delete them. After about five hours of diligent, uninstalling, I found myself back in business with about half my drive available for whatever apps I wanted to install.

Radio Business Report March 14, 2014

The price of oil rose above $98 per barrel today after plunging Wedensday on concern China’s economic slowdown is deepening.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 11 cents to $98.19 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A day earlier, the contract fell $2.04 to close at $97.99, its first close below $100 in a month.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 2 cents to $107.33 on the ICE exchange in London.

A decline in Chinese exports in February has fueled worries the world’s second-largest economy is weakening further. Growth in factory output, investment and retail sales, reported Thursday, was unusually weak.

Oil prices had been falling after spiking last week on fears Russia’s military incursion into the Crimean Peninsula might lead to U.S. and European sanctions on one of the world’s largest energy suppliers.

Providing some support to prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for around a third of the world’s oil production, raised slightly its forecast for global crude demand in 2014.

In its monthly oil market report released Wednesday, OPEC estimated the world will consume 91.1 million barrels a day this year, 1.14 million barrels more than in 2013 and 50,000 barrels above the group’s previous forecast released in February.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 0.3 cent to $2.952 a gallon.

— Heating oil declined 0.5 cent to $2.921 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 2.7 cents to $4.463 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Subliminal Content in Air Breaks in Broadcast Radio

For several years, I worked as a consultant in the field of communications training, focusing on the structure of verbal communications to maximize audience impact. Given my background in this field, I’m amazed by how few broadcasters have no idea about how an on-air break should be structured to achieve maximum impact with the listener. This is a very complicated discussion, comparable to Football great, Coach Vince Lombardi, who actually ran 3-day seminars on how to execute an end run, so for brevity in this video, we will consider only three different on-air break styles and consider what they are, why you would use them and their impact on the audience.
Irstly, identifying the breaks themselves: the first would be up to four seconds; the second, breaks between four and seven seconds, and thirdly, brakes longer than seven seconds. Let’s start with the easy one, breaks, less than four seconds.
It an established fact that it takes about four seconds for an individual to actually hear that an on-air personality is doing a break, and process the content, so brakes that are less than four seconds are simply too short to have an impact to be considered a factor in listener retention, and fall into the subliminal category because it’s highly unlikely that the listener will have any conscious awareness as to what the content of the break was. This has several advantages in the world of broadcasting, because you can use it to deliver your message without interfering with the station flow. When I was running CJRP. We use this technique to brand the station. Most the time that was delivered over the fadeout from one song, tight to the intro of a second tune, so from the listener’s perspective, there was no break in the musical flow, yet we were able to deliver powerful branding messages.
The second length of break, between four and seven seconds, is the tool that should be the mainstay for any on-air personality working in a music format. Regrettably, most stations today have chosen to deferred this critical task to packaged jingles, removing the personal contact that a host brings and losing potential current information which listeners are striving for. The advantage of the break running longer than four seconds, is that the listener becomes consciously aware of the content and can react to what is being said, offering the broadcaster the opportunity to pass on information that you want the listener to respond to, maybe something like “Fred will be here at four this afternoon with more great music”. This style of break has a very specific and important role in today’s media. The critical component here, is to keep the break to less than seven seconds because at the seven second mark, the listener has had enough time to determine whether they want to continue to listen to the break or to dial out to another radio station or audio source. The longer you go, the more likely you are to erode listener retention. This 4 to 7 second break is ideal when you’re looking for longer information pieces which are still short, like a brief weather forecast, a short promotion for something upcoming or any number of other topics which the station needs in its overall branding package.
The third length of break that stations use, are brakes that are longer than seven seconds. I know that in some stations, it’s routine for some air staff to talk on for lengthy periods of time, and certainly this style of break has a place in personality radio, but not in a time slot that is striving to brand itself as a music platform. The key component of running a break longer than seven seconds, is that the listener will hear the content, determine whether they’re interested in the content, and possibly make a choice to move to an alternate audio source, because of they either were not interested in the topic or, even worse, it’s too complicated to remain meaningful for humans, who have an incredibly short attention span.  This means that if you’re going to use longer breaks, you have to be very careful about your choice of topics and phraseology. Staying on topic, in today’s talk-radio environment, it’s standard formatting for stations to deliver six detailed weather forecasts an hour. Compare that to music formats, where the number drops to two or three, and in some time slots vanished entirely. It would seem to me that if a music based station wanted to pull a larger audience, it would make a lot of sense to attack the talk radio format by introducing more frequent, occasionally longer weather forecasts. I’m not suggesting here that a 30 or 40 second weather forecast is a good idea at this rotation, but rather that a 15 second summation of what the weather of the day is going to be, certainly would be a huge asset to the surveillance information the station is offering. One of the concepts that we introduced at CJ RP, about five years ago, was the concept of using the intro time on the music for the delivery of this sort of information. The good news here is that your break can be longer, because when it’s over top of the music, the listener absolutely knows that your host will have finished their break, hopefully, before the vocals hit on the song. Again, when structuring a balanced clock for music-based radio station, this technique offers the opportunity for increased surveillance information while maintaining a high music count through the hour. Be warned, It takes a little bit of time to get announcers to develop a feel for this sort style of delivery, as most of them have been trained on much more relaxed formats.
Overall, time spent with your on-air staff, either as a group or individually, is well spent when you focus on breaks, their position and content. I remember way back when I was first in radio, and we were junior announcers, trying to figure out what the optimum way to deliver information was, we were told by our Station Manager that that the best approach was to do the expected thing in the unexpected way. Words that appeared to have vanished for most broadcasters today.

Thank you very much for joining me for this video, it give any comments about this video, where the so-called fourth wave of radio, feel free to drop me a note to Bob@radioinsider.net.

The Impact of Downloading on Radio

One key element of the Fourth Wave of Radio, or if you will, how the Internet is going to impact the broadcast media, is the download phenomena which is sweeping the world. Notice that it’s not the downloading of music, but rather the overall act of downloading which is re-defining music, video and software.  Life in today’s radio stations is very hectic, meaning a lot of broadcasters don’t have time to really sit back and have and consider what this is really means to our industry, and may have assumed that it’s just a matter of downloading music to augment some people’s libraries. This is not the case. What’s happened is, the internet community has taken the time to compile collections of their favorite music and make those collections available on the Internet. For example, if you take something as simple as downloading and a song, as you possibly may have done through iTunes or from some other recognized source like your own radio station website, you will find that today’s net savvy users are operating at a whole new level. In the spectrum of peer to peer downloading, users are grabbing entire discographies, libraries which contain not only every album released by any specific band, but also additional material like un-released concerts and bootleg albums. . For example, I saw a Rolling Stones collection which not only had every album that the band had ever released, but it also had a about twenty concerts, all in a new super high quality format, well beyond what radio stations are able to deliver today. The net outcome, if you are listener looking for Rolling Stones music, you can have a better collection than any radio station on the planet in under 1-hour at no cost. Another collection I saw contained Elton John music.  Again, an interesting twist, in that it had every album, every concert, every bootleg, and everything was available in three different versions. The first version was taken from vinyl, appealing to those who p[refer the sound of records from the 70s;  there was a rip from a CD, as well as a new high-end audio rip, so that whatever level of music  you are looking for, It was available in the download. When you consider today’s  internet connectivity, and then look at the way storage platforms have expanded over the last three or four years, with the proliferation of small thumb drives which are now capable of supporting upwards of 64 GB of music, or if you will, about four times the size of an average radio station’s library, you would have to recognize that massive personal library are a reality today.
The outcome is that we are seeing empowered users who have no need to go anywhere, but to the local computer store to pick up a cheap memory stick and then copy their files onto it. To give you an idea of costs, an eight gigabyte thumb drive can support something in the area of 150 albums at a cost of about five dollars, and based in what we’re seeing in the download speeds on the Internet, the cost of the music would be zero. The one component that is still lacking at this point to develop this segment is a lack of music playlists, leaving a gap for broadcast radio to retain portions of the music listening audience, but everyday that gap is closing with car manufacturers leading the way with dramatically flexile, high quality music playback installed in even entry level cars and trucks.
Remember, if you have any comments or thoughts about our article on the fourth wave of radio are about this particular video, please drop me a line to Bob@radioinsider.net Thank you very much.