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Radio AM to FM: October 11, 2002


A compromise agreement has been reached between small webcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the amount to be paid for music copyright royalties.

Replacing a deal in which webcasters would be forced to pay fees of .07 cents per song per listener retroactive to 1998, the new agreement calls for small webcasters to pay a percentage of yearly revenues ranging from eight to 12 percent with a minimum of $2000 per year. It, too, is retroactive to October, 1998, but the new agreement allows for up to three installment payments on the retroactive portion.

The agreement must still win the approval of Congress and the President before becoming law, but the House of Representatives has already approved it, using a so-called "suspension" vote that bypasses the committee process. Known as HR-5469, the bill now goes to the Senate, where it will be debated within a week or so.

Larger webcasters -- generally those grossing over $500,000 in 2003 and $1,250,000 in 2004 -- are not covered by this agreement. Negotiations between them and the RIAA continue.

Cooling Off

Art Astor has fired the programmer in charge of both Cool Radio KMXN (94.3 FM) in Orange County and its sister station in San Diego. The alternative-leaning format just wasn't working any more, he said, and Cool will return to more of the hot adult contemporary music it played until last year.

I have an idea: Let me program it. Hey, it couldn't hurt.

We Get Letters

Q: Why did KLON (88.1 FM) change call letters to KJAZ, and why don't students work there? -- Tom Clark, Torrance

A: Actually, I have no clue as to why a station would drop some of the oldest FM call letters in the city just to sound trendy. Everyone knew that KLON played jazz, and I sincerely doubt that the new name will attract new listeners. Personally, I think calls like that are tacky, especially when replacing well-established calls with a good image.

As to the student issue, that is a pet peeve of mine. It drives me nuts that colleges run radio stations on their campuses staffed by professionals and shunning students. In the case of KLON/KJAZ, the purchase of the station by Cal State Long Beach back in 1981 totally destroyed one of the best radio laboratories in Southern California by forcing student-run KSUL off the air. My own personal belief is that colleges that hire professionals to run their stations should have their licenses pulled.

Q: Lately all I listen to is B-94.9 (KBZT) in San Diego, and am curious why you don't list it within your station guide. -- Tom Condit, via the web.

A: I, too, am a fan of the eighties hits on KBZT. The reason I don't have it in the log is that you can't receive it well outside of San Pedro and parts of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Perhaps I should rethink that, though.


Copyright © 2002 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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