Radio Waves: 6/7/19

“Siri Radio” Coming Soon

Apple has long been criticized for not “turning on” the chip that can receive local radio stations on an iPhone, in spite of the fact that there is no such chip and so other supportive hardware. The company had removed the capability long ago due to the fact that — especially with wireless headphones becoming the norm — FM reception is difficult with no good way to include an FM antenna, and AM reception is almost impossible as the computer circuitry inside the phone interferes with AM broadcasts.

That didn’t matter for a long time, as apps like TuneIn emulated radios … complete with easy to use “tuners” and even presets just like your regular radio Yes, it used data, but very little in the scheme of things. The apps worked great … until …

The major companies that ruined radio to start with — Clear Channel/iHeart, and CBS/Entercom, primarily, referred by many as “rat bastards” — decided to make up for their failure as broadcasters by using their monopoly powers and milking their competitors. iHeart pulled all of its stations off of TuneIn and Streams HiFi Audio to force people to use iHeart Radio, an absolutely dreadful app but the only way to listen to iHeart radio stations. They convinced others to add stations to their platform.

Entercom later followed suit, pulling all CBS/Entercom stations off of everything else and making people use to hear its station. radio.Com is not as bad as iHeart Radio, but it is more limited in available stations and is still nothing more than a revenue generator for Entercom. No thanks.

Sure other smaller companies could be part of iHeart and apps, but it means that there is not one app that can be used to hear every station in a city, let alone the country or world. The rat bastards ruined online streaming just as they ruined radio itself, through greed.

Amazon’s Alexa and sidestepped the issue, as stations didn’t want to give up the ability to be heard by people who could just say “Alexa, play KLOS.” That worked OK for your home, but phones were still in limbo … not one app could handle all the stations.

Now Apple is finally, hopefully, fixing it, by allowing Siri to find any station stream and playing it with the similar command: “Siri, play (insert station here).” It is coming in a future version of iOS to be released later this year. It is possible that the rat bastards will prevent their stations from taking part, but it would be a rather short-sighted move to not. Let’s hope we can break the monopoly and tune into stations with just one app again. Hopefully it will open all stations to all apps again.

Radio’s Future

As online listening increases and technology advances, will we one day see the end of terrestrial broadcasting? Probably not for FM, but I could see it for AM in major cities, especially in California where legislators continue to raise the cost for electricity and land prices continue to go up. It takes a lot of money to support a broadcast transmitter and the land an AM site uses to broadcast is often worth more than the entire station. I could easily see the day when the AM band effectively shuts down in some areas in favor of online streaming, once the apps get even easier to use. Fidelity is generally better and the range for reception is essentially unlimited, as long as the cell or wifi signal holds out.

Humble Harve Miller

“Humble Harve” Miller, one of the early Boss Jocks on KHJ (930 AM) in the 1960s and more recently at the original KRLA (now KRDC, 1110 AM), passed away on June 4. He had been gravely ill for a time; I’ll have full information next week.

Request Line

“I am trying to locate some archived radio shows from my late grandfather, Bob Collins. He is supposed to have had a radio show on KFXM in the 1940s. He was a musician and played numerous venues from Lake Arrowhead to Palm Springs back in the day. 

“He died from a suicide in 1950 so I never knew him. My mother was 5 years old and she has never heard his voice on the radio. She recently told me that she was going to write to you to see if you could help out. I don’t really have that much more information unfortunately. I appreciate any time you can carve out for this.” — Michelle Duran

Do you know anything of this? It would be great if someone reading this had some memories and perhaps even some recordings of Collins on the air. If you know anything, please send the info my way. Or if you know someone who might know, send them the column. Thanks.