Reel Radio Shut-Off Possible?
Over two decades ago I asked for a new modem — remember those? — for my Macintosh 5200 for one reason only: I wanted to be able to access the files stored at Uncle Ricky’s Radio Repository, also known as www.reelradio.com.
A virtual museum of recordings — airchecks — focussing primarily on radio’s top-40 heydays, though there is a smattering of other material, ReelRadio is my guilty pleasure. Via RealRadio, I can transport myself to the 1960s and hear the early years of Boss Radio KHJ (930 AM) and such personalities as Robert W. Morgan, Sam Riddle, Roger Christian, Charlie Tuna, and “The Real” Don Steele. Or Chicago’s WLS and WCFL. And much more.
It is the largest collection of airchecks on the internet. And while much of the material can be found elsewhere, not all of it can be. Nor is any other site as easily searchable.
It hasn’t always been easy. It costs a lot of money to run due to various fees, including licensing, servers and streaming. Site curator Richard Irwin has tried asking for donations and sponsorships through the years, with mixed success. Files are encoded with Real Audio, at one time an advanced system of encoding; unfortunately Real abandoned support for the early versions of Real Audio, and it takes a lot of time to re-encode thousands of files.
Then there was piracy. And legal costs related to music licensing. And a decline in site visits (and a related decline in donations). But Irwin kept it going, albeit with fewer updates. Now it appears that all that combined, along with increasing age and declining health on the part of Irwin may make it’s current year — 22 — its last.
The main page of the site stopped accepting new memberships a few weeks ago; now Irwin isn’t even accepting donations.
“I cannot in good conscience accept donations when I cannot update the site,” he wrote in the site’s general comments section. When the money runs out, he says, the site will simply shut down.
That would be a shame. While you can find airchecks elsewhere, there is nothing even close to ReelRadio in scope and depth. If I had the time I would take it over myself. This is just too great of a treasure to let it go.
Thanks to reader Michael Romo, I know where Mike Catherwood ended up after he left Dr. Drew’s show on KABC (790 AM).
“Mike is now part of the ‘Kevin and Bean’ show crew on KROQ (106.7 FM).” Romo wrote. “He’s been there for a few weeks; I think his first major stint was when they went to New York City for the Grammys in late January. He was an in-studio guest when they announced he would be joining the show.
“Mike does segments similar to what Ralph Garman did – he does some celebrity impersonations. Also, Kevin and Bean will read a headline about a controversial company or organization that is in the news, they will pretend to call the company/organization to get more details, and Mike will portray a spokesman who makes outlandish comments about the news topic.”
Closer to the Edge
iHeart Radio is one step closer to bankruptcy, according to numerous sources. The owner of eight stations locally including KFI (640 AM), KIIS-FM (102.7) and KOST (103.5 FM) has been negotiating with lenders for a “prepackaged” deal that would give its debt holders almost 90 percent of the equity in a reconfigured iHeart.
At least one observer says that this means iHeart will be selling off stations to help pay down the debt, in my opinion what it should have been doing years ago. According to one source: the era of media consolidation, at least in radio, is over. Let’s hope he’s right.
The FCC ruled that — like the early days of radio — newspapers are now allowed to own radio stations again. As I recall, the L.A. Times once owned KHJ (930 AM) … think I could convince management of this newspaper to buy it (or another) so we can really put our programming ideas to the test?