View Full Version : Declining quality of radio station broadcasts?

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 00:31
I live in the DFW metro area and many of the local radio stations are owned by something called Clearchannel Broadcasting which apparently is some kind of radio station consortium (sp?). I have noticed in the last several months that the quality of their broadcasts are declining, many songs they play on one station (100.3) sound like low quality (96kbps) MP3's. At first I thought perhaps my car stereo was crapping out so I sat and listened to my home stereo one weekend while cleaning house. My house stereo is all almost new top of the line stuff and the muffled sound quality is even more noticible at home, I'm kinda an audiophile and I can tell the diference between a CD and even a high bitrate MP3. It got me to wondering if indeed some radio stations are starting to use compressed data files for their broadcast media. It only makes sense that they would eventually move to an all electronic format so that new songs could be sent online and an entire radio station playlist could be fit onto a hard disk eliminating all the CD's they would normally have. What makes me wonder even more is that a couple of the Clearchannel stations run commercials that discourage people from downloading (stealing) music from the internet. What I am wondering is if they are intentionally degrading their music quality in order to make it worthless to record and convert it to MP3, or are they actually using some kind of compressed digital format? Anyone know? This has been bugging me for a while but I keep forgetting to post it here, several of my friends have reported the same thing so I don't think I'm going nuts yet and last time I checked my tinfoil beanie was still securly taped in place......

February 08, 2003, 00:41
I live in a much smaller market in PA, but noticed songs that have that Mp3 "sibilance" that seems to plague them at any bitrate, In my opinion at least...
I thought it odd also, but seem to remember that it may be becoming common practice... (I'm sure royaties are paid, and record stations usually work with promotional recordings anyway, so it just means they don't have to keep stock around...) but I agree that they sound a little odd.


February 08, 2003, 00:46
Clearchannel is a "mega" company now allowed by the FCC. Company A buys B then buys C and D and now they are a gorilla. It has been common to use hard drive based recorders for a while, but the ones I have seen have recorded audio not MP3's. Of course, we can make an audio CD sound like crap by changing the sampling rate. The station might be having transmitter issues? The last TV station I worked at had a "receiver" that was tied to a T-1 line for receiving commercials, so it would be EASY to send songs the same way.

February 08, 2003, 00:49
I don't know about actual sound quality declining, but as far as the declining of radio station quality, I have noticed that BIG TIME. Radio has become sanitized crap since Clearchannel has taken over a majority of the stations. This is why I'm seriously looking into XM satellite radio for my car.

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 00:59
Mike C, Clearchannel owns like 5 stations in this market and they all sound like crap, and Brindfan I agree with you 100% radio station quality is poo poo these days. Public radio 101.1 is still excellent here but only as long as you like classical or political talk. These days I find myself listening to CD's or AM talk radio programs almost exclusivly since FM radio sucks so bad. Its a shame because we used to have some great radio in this market.

February 08, 2003, 01:10
I hear that Brian. Here in the Denver Metro Area, we used to have some awesome FM radio stations. I almost wish they were forced to change their call letters because the great stations they once belonged to, are just a memory.

February 08, 2003, 09:36
Clear Channel has their paws into ALL the formats in Tulsa.

Most days I simply leave my stereo silent as their play list on what passes for "Classic Rock" is short and sucks. The "Oldies" are no better... You hear the same songs 3-4 times each daily.

And they wonder why people go to Napster or Kazaa or some other file sharing service.

February 08, 2003, 09:39
couple of related points

Clear Channel is like the bad late night science fiction movie 'blob' that keeps eating up smaller blobs and keeps getting bigger and bigger. they're not 'allowed' by the FCC, Clear Channel just had good lobby'ists in Congress. it's all about money, even with the FCC.

the main goal of radio stations is to make money. (had major arguements with lots of folks on this) it is not to attract listeners, it is not to play the most kick-a$$ songs around, it is not because they have the dirtiest jock team in the morning. no money, no station. that's why Clear C is buying up a lot, radio overall isn't doing that good

equipment is frightfully expensive. transmitters, studio equipment, links. nothing you can really buy at WalMart.

in addition to the equipment, there are rooms of legal paperwork you have to have to stay in business. plan on having a local, broadcast-literate lawyer locally on retainer, and one in Washington to help you with FCC issues.

Also plan on being a member of multiple state and national broadast related organizations.

so many of the stations now are ripping out their turntables, carts (remember them?), keeping the audio board and going to a singe computer or dual computer set up where everything is .mp3. great for the DJ's or engineers, follow the log, and point and click.

I worked radio, am sign-on, sales, news, production for more than a couple of years small market. it's brutal, and I wouldn't ever go back unless I was starving. (wait a minute...I was starving then too!)

February 08, 2003, 12:07
Not only is the quality of music declined but also has the quality of the talk radio. Local talk shows have become nothing more than radio garage sales and sports shows. Rush, Dr. Laura, O'Reilly and Hannity are the typical sanitized Right-wing Socialist leaning Stateist personalities and NPR and a few others make up the Left-wing Socialist leaning personalities. Freedom and Libertarian talk-show hosts are all but disappearing and their markets are shrinking.

As for audio-quality: The local NPR affiliate here is WHA radio. Notice that there are only 3 letters in the call-sign. Yes, it is the nation's oldest continually operating radio station. I think they are using their original transmitters still. They have the poorest audio of any radio broadcast I've ever heard. When you change the receiver to tune .970AM you have to turn up the volume to near 3/4 just to understand them. It's better that way but DON'T forget to turn it back down before you change back to another station! I'm not sure if they do that on purpose to keep their little socialist/communist left-weasel listeners tied to one spot on the dial. The only alternative is to listen to Fascist rantings of Rush and Hannity on the other stations. Pick your brand of socialism: left or right. Lately the fascist (clearchannel) station has had antenna feed-line problems that keep letting clicking and audio drop-outs into the broadcast all day but especially when it is windy.

Again, the talk radio sucks big arse but music radio is even worse. The state of the music industry is dismal. There is NOTHING out there worth listening to and anything that used to be worth listening to is so overplayed and stale that hearing it brings a gag reflex. I think I've not had my car broadcast-band radio on FM for 6 months straight. The morning shows on FM are so bad that it makes me puke. That nationally syndicated Boob&Tomb show is so hard to listen to with that canned solid-laugh track throughout the whole show when they are not saying anything even remotely funny. It's like the sound of farm animals in a cramped barn. Not very entertaining. I think I'll keep the ham radio on and listen in on what is going on with real people and join a net or two. At least if you don't like who is on then you can always change frequency and call CQ until you do find someone worth listening to.

Jim - FALunga

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 12:20
Come on Jim, tell us how you really feel about radio.....

February 08, 2003, 15:02
Sorry but I don't think you are much of an audiophile if you are listening to radio for "quality" music. Quality went out years ago on radio. About the time of Quad's short life. Unfortunately people aren't that discriminating and most radio is listened to in cars. Quality is sacrificed for a better chance to be heard. Radio is a business and they make money by listeners. If a radio station could increase their coverage by 10% at the cost of sound quality by 10% they would do it. I have no doubt the quality has degraded further, I'm sure mp3's are cheaper to run and has other advantages.

If you want quality, don't listen to radio, or CDs for that matter. Buy Records!

This isn't meant to be insulting, just to point out the sacrifices made.

As to quality of the content some posters have mentioned, remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's like discussing a favorite color, way too subjective.

February 08, 2003, 15:20
I HATE RADIO!! This from a guy that used to listen to WMMS in Cleveland as I was cutting my teeth on now classic Rock & Roll. Nobody will dare playing The Sensational Alex Harvey Band anymore. Forget old Genesis--before Phil Collins. Anything new?? No way--unless it's crap rap. But, you can hear the same old crap being played like it was recorded last month. I NEVER used to hear Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. Clear Channel's local plays Ziggy 2x a day when I am in the car. I tried Country!! Clear Ch. owns that station too--and they play all the new crap that is overplayed--man, if I hear that fricking Auction song (Hey pretty lady can you give me a sign, I'd give anything to make you mine oh mine) once more, I'll shoot the damn radio!! I went to Talk, and I have Trivasonno here in Cleveland, and he's a huge slob that hates guns and chain smokes, bitching all along how the cig companies are giving him Cancer, and he's suing them.

Now, I buy books on CD from Ebay and 'read' a book on my way to and from work. MUCH better!! Their advertisers are probably gonna bitch hopefully soon--and that's why my heart pumps piss for them and their MP3 lawsuits.

February 08, 2003, 15:41
"On a hot summer's night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?"

When was the last time you heard Meatloaf on the radio? NEVER...

damn shame!

Jim :fal: FALunga

February 08, 2003, 17:01
I haven't listened to radio in years. Back in the late 80's I listened to an oldies station- one that didn't play stereotypical oldies. They played all sorts of rare stuff. And every Friday I'd tune in to a distant low power station to listen to a special bluegrass show. For some reason their frequency would fade out just after the show. It was good timing.

But radio today? You couldn't pay me to listen. I like lots of modern stuff but none of it has ever seen the inside of a radio station.

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 17:07
Hey Bzkinney, no offense taken bro. Like I said I listened to my home radio one day while cleaning house, the tuner button on my receiver had a coating of dust on it from lack of use and I had to connect a dipole just to use it. In the four years since I bought my new receiver I had never even used the tuner at home. I personally am not a huge fan of LP's or tube equipment, I grew up on CD's and I prefer the clarity of them the warmpth of vinyl. Oh and IMHO if you want good quality sound you spend muchos $$ on speakers and not so much on the other stuff. Hey if you want I'll post some pics of my JBL studio 15"s that will make you wet your pants.

February 08, 2003, 17:55
the local clearchannel classic rock station is ok but they pretty much play the same old tired songs.thier morning show is pretty good but the alternitive is howard stern:mad: :rolleyes: :( if you want decent radio and hear some of songs or artist that you dont hear alot you have to go north i listen to a english station out of montreal chom 97.7 (http://www.chom.com/index.php) lots of great classic rock and you can listen online:) and yes they play meatloaf falunga:D

flight 556
February 08, 2003, 17:58
I have to agree. I stopped listening to the FM due to the constant repeats. The ploy for people to stop copying music is just plain stupid. As they say, "respect the music", I change the channel and deprive them of market share. The music of today sounds the same from song to song. About all I listen to is WRR, 570 and 1080 for news and talk. Even those am stations are getting on my nerves. Personally, I like shortwave radio. However, try to find a shortwave car stereo. Not gonna happen.

February 08, 2003, 18:30
Those in the DFW area should listen to 105.3 from 7 PM on m-f. The guy who owns DFW Guns off Mockingbird has his own show now....he is pretty liberal, but very pro-gun.

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 18:36
Hey F556, you can buy a SW car receiver, you just can't buy one in the states. This is one of Sony's current models, it gets good reviews. http://www.jackys.com/product/Product.asp?prod_id=1583&qcatname=Car%20Audio&qcatid=35 It's cheap but it will ship from Abu Dabi or somewhere in the mideast so I imagine that shipping could easily exceed the cost of the unit. SW is still alive and well in some places but I don't know what kind of reception you would get in the states with this unit. Also keep your eyes peeled for a Philips DC-777, these were one of if not the first car SW receivers, I think they came out in about 1993 or so and they have been out of production for a long time but they were supposed to be pretty good.

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 18:41
Reading a little more in the reviews page attached to the link I just posted it looks like shipping from there to the states will run about $75 so you can get a nice Sony SW receiver for about $175-200 if you want one.

flight 556
February 08, 2003, 20:55
Brian S,
Thanks for the info. I will look into it. Would prefer one with a compact disc player instead of the tape deck. I've tried a portable sw in the car and the reception was lousy.

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 21:36
Hey F556, double check me but I think that sony unit is compatible with a Sony CD changer unit. Would add an extra $200 or so but be worth it....

Also there was at least one other SW capable tuner listed on that page but it was more $$.

February 08, 2003, 21:58
Originally posted by flight 556
Personally, I like shortwave radio. However, try to find a shortwave car stereo. Not gonna happen.

You can buy a mobile ham radio capable of tuning in the SW broadcasts but it ain't gonna be cheap. Best bets would be the Icom 706 or the Yaesu FT-100. Both are going to set you back about $800 plus install if you don't know how to do that youself. expect to pay another $100 at least with a good antenna. Do yourself a favor and get your amateur license and you can even plug in the mic and use it!

Jim :fal: FALunga

Brian S
February 08, 2003, 22:01
I used to use a Yaesu handitalkie some years ago, it was a tank. I did not know they were still in business, gonna have to go see what they make these days.

February 09, 2003, 11:58
A friend and I had started careers in radio when in our late teens back in the mid-70's. I thankfully left the business for a stint in law enforcement, but he stayed...and went on to be in management...which he despised. Roll the clock ahead nearly 25 years. He asked me how I liked his FM format out of Fort Dodge, Iowa...which of course was piped in....and I told him it was great for a week..then, forget it. He asked why....and, like others have said, the same oldies...big deal. You can predict which songs will come on. Not much variety..gives it a manufactured assembly line sound. I told him stations like KIOA out of Des Moines were still the best for rocking oldies, because they pay the extra money for staff announcers to mix'em up...never know what's coming up. It's more personable. About a year after that, my friend's station changed its format to the equally generic-clone country. Ratings were down. Big business in broadcasting has screwed up the quality of music....but, talk radio seems to be king.

Celtic warrior
February 10, 2003, 00:54
Radio in the Detroit area (IMHO) is plain embarrassing.

Only classical we get now is from Canada.
Best oldies station around is from Canada as well.

February 10, 2003, 03:05
C'mom,everybody knows the only good radio on nowdays is
Dr. Demento! Sunday nights. (KEYN FM 103.7 in Wichita)!:bow: :) :tongue: