RadioIowa.com

My next “small histories” project will be an Internet timeline showing when and how the company I worked for viewed and used this new technology. We registered our first domain (Learfield.com) on August 30, 1995 but didn’t do much with that (corporate) site. In July of 1996 we created a site for one of our news networks (Radio Iowa) but I don’t recall what kinds of content we were posting in those early days.

By November of 1999 we had gotten the hang of things and were putting up a lot of news (text and audio). The Iowa Caucuses pulls lots of attention to the state every four years and our network created a feature called Campaign Countdown. Our website made it possible to extend the life of the stories we fed via the radio network and reporter O. Kay Henderson cranked out a LOT of stories and interviews, all of which went online.

As we moved and updated servers and software, much of this content was lost. Or so I thought. While poking around on the Internet Archive WayBack Machine this weekend I found the Campaign Countdown reports.

The design of the website is nothing to write home about (that’s on me) but he history is real and — thanks to the Internet Archive — preserved. (I made a donation and hope you will, too). From this screenshot (partial) of our Affiliates page and you can see that about half of the stations had websites in 1999.

In my experience, radio stations were slow to embrace the Internet. There were a lot of reasons for this. Some good and logical, some not. Most of the programming on small market stations was music and licensing and technical issues made it impractical to “stream.” I’m not sure we had that word in 1999. And why, many station managers asked, should I go to the expense and effort of creating a website when everyone we care about (advertisers and listeners) can hear our programing on the radio? Duh. And nobody was going to listen to music on a computer. (iTunes, the iPod, and XM Radio came along in 2001. Podcasting in 2004)

Radio Iowa (Early Days)

Remarks by Missourinet News Director Bob Priddy at event celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Radio Iowa, a statewide radio news network owned by Learfield Communications. Lots of insider stuff here but we’re sharing so you can enjoy the fine writing and beautiful sound of Bob’s voice and delivery.

Radio by any other name would sound as sweet

Mark Ramsey was listening to Fresh Air on NPR the other day and heard Terry Gross reading the credits, which included a reference to “the Chief Content Officer.” That what most stations call their “Program Director.” (A job I once held)

Mr. Ramsey also mentioned that back in July National Public Radio annoucned it would hereafter be known as NPR. It’s been National Public Radio since 1971 but switched tothe acronym because –according to the Washington Post– “Its news, music and informational programming is heard over a variety of digital devices that aren’t radios.”

Hmm.

Our company operates several news networks, including:

Radio Iowa
Wisconsin Radio Network
South Carolina Radio Network
Nebraska Radio Network

We (not me) came up with Radio Iowa back in 1996 and thought it was pretty cool at the time. Like, “Radio Free Iowa.” I was not involved with nameing the others.

We have websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages but are first and foremost radio networks.

If someone were starting a new radio network today, what would they call it? I have no idea.

“Radio” now “Audio” in State of News Media Report

The annual Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media” report is out and lostremote’s Steve Safran posts some highlights here. I’m reading the entire report but found something interesting on the Pew website. No radio. Sound with no pictures is now called “AUDIO.”

Is that significant? I think it might be but I’m not show how. If this were to catch on, it might become a problem for a few of our networks (Radio Iowa, Wisconsin Radio Network, Nebraska Radio Network, South Carolina Radio Network) down the road. Will I live to see a time when “radio” is an  anachronism? Hard to imagine, but…

What does it mean with the doctor tweets “oops?”

I got a call this morning from Matt Kelley, a reporter for Radio Iowa (one of Learfield’s news networks). He was working on a story involving Twitter and he wanted to check a couple of terms. Here’s the story (minus the audio):

A Cedar Rapids medical center plans to use the social media tool Twitter to broadcast a surgery to the world next week. Doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital will perform a hysterectomy, and other procedures, as people who’re interested follow along via web browser or mobile device. Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Rainey (RAY-nee) says it’s an educational opportunity.

Rainey says, “We have marketing consultants who will be in the operating rooms with the surgeons as the surgery takes place and as the physician communicates exactly what he’s doing, we will have our consultants tweeting, or typing in conversation to bring it to the outside world.” She says two doctors will be performing the operation on a 70-year-old woman using robotic surgery techniques. The play-by-play will be sent out over the micro-blogging service in messages of 140 characters or less.

“He’ll be talking about how the anesthesiologist is now placing the patient under sedation and here’s my first step, so he will be talking as he goes through the procedure,” Rainey says. “You’ll hear him say, ‘Scalpel, please,’ or whatever he may need to instruct the O-R team to help him with.” She expects a wide host of Iowans — and people around the globe — to follow the surgery, starting at 10 AM next Monday.

She says they’re targeting people in the Twitter audience, roughly between the ages of 25 and 45. “We’re looking for people that just might want the opportunity to go into an O-R suite and see what happens without visually seeing all of the stuff that maybe they don’t care to see,” Rainey says. The hospital recently featured a “webcast” of the same type of surgery so anyone in the world could watch it live over their computers.

“With the webcast, you actually got to see everything that was going on in the O-R suite,” Rainey says. “It might be cutting open the patient, it might be a little blood, it might be the suction part, so for some people it might’ve been too much. Tweeting, on the other hand, is communicating through emails and tweets so it’s a little gentler on the eyes.” She says St. Luke’s will be the first Iowa hospital to “Twitter-cast” a surgery. To follow it, go to the hospital’s website “www.stlukescr.org” and click on the Twitter icon.

My friend David insists this is a “gimmick” and nothing more. That nobody would have the slightest interest in following this procedure on Twitter. I’m not as convinced.

Guns in America

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In April of 2007, John Edwards, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were in Iowa, campaigning for the Iowa Caucuses. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson interviewed the candidates and asked each  spoke with each who made a point of talking about gun rights and none of the three endorsed such proposals as gun registration or a ban on handguns.

Kay posted portions of her interviews on her blog, which has generated a couple of dozen comments over the past year. Some flaky, but most thoughtful. The one that  haunts me is from Sergio (who has an email address in Aruba?):

"As a non-US citizen I can’t believe how Americans in 2008 still cling to their weapons while trying to police and moralize the rest of the world. Although the US has a unique culture and history – certainly when it comes to guns – I wonder if Americans ever consider why almost no other country in the world allows people to bear arms, especially fire arms. The US has one of if not the highest gun killing rates in the world for a country that is not at (civil) war.

Do you really believe that weapons make a society safer? Strictly licensed weapon possession for hunting and sports is allowed in most countries of the world, but the ‘right to keep and bear arms’ is really unique."

I honestly don’t know if we enjoy the freedoms we do because of, or in spite of, all the handguns (and assault rifles etc etc). If every man in Zimbabwe had a gun, would Robert Mugabe still be in power? Let’s face it, the ballot box is a joke in that country. Sort of like Florida.

The recent Supreme Court ruling has prompted me to think about this topic a little. And make a list of all the reasons I can think of for a private citizen owning a handgun. In no particular order:

  • Self-defense (from a mugger or home invader)
  • Sport/target shooting
  • Collector/keepsake
  • Repel government goons when some president decides two terms aren’t enough
  • Commit crimes
  • Piss off people who don’t think handguns should be legal

That’s all that I can come up with at the moment. Self-defense is a popular reason for gun ownership, but I can’t recall the last time I heard of someone repelling a robber with their six-shooter. And it seems like there’s no end of stories of some youngster shooting his sister (or a dozen or so classmates) with dad’s Glock. That’s the tasteless interview I’d like to hear.

"Mr. Smith, it’s been a year since your oldest boy shot and killed his little brother with the gun he took from your bedside table. Has this terrible tragedy changed your position on hand-gun ownership in anyway?"

I think Sergio is right on one point. We need to stop "trying to police and moralize (to) the rest of the world." It just makes us look like dicks.

Obama Fund Raiser

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Remember the first time you had your picture taken sitting on a pony? Or in Santa’s lap? Or that first prom photo? That’s exactly what it was like getting my picture taken with Senator Barack Obama at last night’s fund raiser in St. Louis. Assuming of course that you waited in line for two hours with 250 other kids and paid two grand for that pony picture.

This was my maiden voyage in the world of political fund raisers and I had no idea what to expect. My friends Henry and Lorna were there too, all of us first-timers. In fact, a lot of the people I met and spoke to were first-time contributers. I thought that was interesting, given that it cost $2,300 for the privilege of having your photo taken with the man that that might be the next president of the U. S. But these were true believers and everyone seemed happy to pony up. (no pun intended)

It’s just a guess, mind you, but I figure they took in more than half a million from the VIP’ers and –at $500 per– another $200,000 from those that heard Senator Obama speak but didn’t get to shake his hand. Closing in on 3/4 of a million dollars. Not big by GOP standards but not too shabby for a couple of hours.

So, what do you say to the man you hope will be your next president when you have about 10 seconds with him? I had narrowed my remarks down to three possibilities:

“O. Kay Henderson says hey”
Kay is the news director of Radio Iowa and interviewed Senator Obama numerous times during the early days of the campaign for the Iowa Caucuses. I imagined the senator responding with something like, “You know Kay Henderson? No shit?! Tell the girl hey back.”

“I’ve been waiting all my life for a president with a good jump shot.”
I scratched that one quickly given the racially charged atmosphere of this campaign.

“In the sixties we thought we’d change the world. You’ve made us believe again that we can.”
“You did, you did change the world” was the senator’s response. At least that’s what I heard. I confess I was pretty star-struck. Which surprised me a little. The aides hustled us through the line quickly and in a couple of days we can go to a website and download that pricey photograph. We’ll share it here, of course.

I guess I’m really “all in” now, as far as campaign contributions. And I’m glad I had last night’s experience. There was a very exciting vibe in the room throughout and I kept trying to imagine a John McCain event sparking the same tent revival feel that pervaded the evening. I think they’re gonna need a lot of swift boats.

PS: Henry (retired MD) gave Senator Obama a tip on how to stop smoking. Not sure what Lorna said. Lorna reports she said, “I hope we’re not sucking your energy.” A nice thought but kind of risky in such a noisy room.

PPS: I didn’t get any good photos because I didn’t want to move around or risk a cavity search by the Secret Service guys. Here’s the VIP line before it got long and rowdy. If you look closely you can see the  “x”  taped on the floor so the  Senator would know where to stand.

UPDATE: Leading Democratic fundraisers predict that Sen. Barack Obama could raise $100 million in June and could attract 2.5 million to 3 million new donors to his campaign.