Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What's your favorite TV show?

Here are some of the top TV shows today —March 2016. Do you watch any of these? Some of these your favorites?

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Little Big Shots

The Catch

Jane the Virgin

The Walking Dead

Criminal Minds

American Idol

Naked and Afraid: Uncensored

Shades of Blue

NCAA Basketball Tournament

Grey's Anatomy


Dancing with the Stars


Good Morning America

Chicago Med

The Voice


The Big Bang Theory

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Keeping up with things in our digital age

We've all heard about digital TV, but what about our world in general? How are technology, new forms of media and brilliant creative minds changing everything and everyone?

Quiz on chapter 8

Here's a short quiz on chapter 8 "TV" created by Ashleigh and Alexandria. We will take this in our class (and discuss it) Monday, March 28.

Thank you Ashleigh and Alexandria!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The power of television

Greetings to all in my “Mass Media and Society” course.
 Hope you are all reading (or by now have read) chapter 8 “Television: Changing Channels” in our textbook. 

Here are some notes and observations about chapter 8—to help shape your study of this important part of our course.

In chapter 8 are such key points/topics as the history and early development of television; TV media mogul Ted Turner (who once declared that newspapers would within a few years become extinct mainly because of the power of TV (But that prophecy, obviously did not materialize); the debut of TV at the World’s Fair in NYC in 1939; the different kinds or genres of entertainment offered by early TV; the quiz show scandals of the 1950s; the Nielsen Company; public televison; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the eight departments found at a typical TV station; cable and satellite delivery of TV; DVRs; and HDTV.

Not touched up in this chapter (but a person you should nevertheless become familiar with in terms of the history of TV, is Christine Craft; certain folks in the TV industry said she was too old to work professionally in TV and not sufficiently subservient to men).
To learn more about who Christine Craft was/is (and how she relates to the development and history of TV, do some quick research on the Net and find out.)

You should also become familiar with the the television station at Emory & Henry Colllege. Learn how that station’s TV content is produced, by whom it is produced and where you can find/view it.  By the way, where exactly on our campus is EHC-TV headquartered? Hint: it’s quite close to our classroom.

If you plan to pursue TV as a career—either in front of the camera or behind the scenes—you might want to get involved quickly with EHC-TV (or as an intern or volunteer at a TV station in your home community). You, too, may one day find yourself featured in a news segment, feature story or other offering on television.

There have been several landmark or defining points/programs in the history and development of TV.  Be able to name and discuss at least a few of these programs. (We may note a sampling of such programs in our class.)

Related to that, think about what it takes to be successful and/or to break into a career in TV.  Not sure about what it takes? Connect with Dr. Teresa Keller in the Mass Communications Department. She’s general manager of EHC-TV. I’m sure the Internet also has a ton of information about how to get started in television. Or just make contact with a professional currently working in TV. Pick his/her brain on what it takes to break into TV and to be successful.

Here are key points about chapter 8 “Television…”:

1.  Television influences people and society in both the short-term and long-term.  Television has reshaped other media.
2.  Television content was once labeled a “vast wasteland” by a chairman of the FCC.
3.  U.S. television is organized on two tiers, national and local.

4.  Television has expanded beyond over-air delivery.
5.  Networks dominate programming to local over-air television stations.
6.  Federal money channeled through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting helps fund non-commercial television.

7.  Cable today rivals over-air networks and affiliates.
8.  Radio was the model for early television entertainment programs.
9.  JFK was the country’s first television president.

Key terms/names from chapter 8 include:
1.  Major TV networks

2.  CATV

3.  Edward R. Murrow
4.  David Brinkley
5. Philo T. Farnsworth
6.  satellite delivery

7.  prime time
8.  “I Love Lucy”
9. FCC
10. “The Honeymooners”
11. CNN

12. demographics
13. Public Broadcasting System
14. Corporation for Public Broadcasting
15. Sesame Street
16. Super Bowl commercials
17. Telestar I
18. DVRs
19.  Ted Turner
20. affiliates
21. concentrated ownership of stations
22. Univision
23. ratings
24. Sweeps 
25. HDTV 

I hope these notes about chapter 8 will help guide you in your study of this important chapter. Maybe, in a sense, some critics have been a bit unkind or unfair in describing the content/messages of TV as a “vast wasteland.”

Certainly, some TV programs have at least some redeeming/educational value. We should never discount the power of pictures choreographed with sound.

•But for TV, we wouldn’t have had an armchair seat on the news coverage of the assassination of JFK.

•But for TV, the American Civil Rights movement--the marches and suffering of African-Americans campaigning for social justice and equality under the law--probably would not have borne fruit.

•But for TV, which exposed the thousands of U.S. flag-draped coffins coming back from Southeast Asia, America’s military involvement in Vietnam would have dragged on much longer than it did.

•But for TV, we as a nation would have never been able to witness the thrills and chills of the first humans walking on the moon.

•But for TV, we would not have seen the historic (and emotionally wrenching) explosions of the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles.

•But for the power of moving pictures, we would not have witnessed first hand the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. 

 •But for TV, we would not have been as emotionally or psychologically touched by the dramatic events of Sept. 11, 2001. 

•But for TV, we wouldn’t have been able to watch first-hand the huge, joyous celebration (in Chicago) of Barack Obama’s election night victory—as the nation’s first African-American president—in November 2008.

•But for TV, many of us (among them yours truly) wouldn’t have been riveted to news of a STILL-MISSING Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 with more than 235 people aboard.

Concluding observation: we owe a lot to TV, and it’s shaping our lives—what we think about, what we value, what we do and how we do it, what we talk about and write about, how we relate to others.

We definitely have to acknowledge that TV is an integral part of our psyche AND our culture. (Still don’t believe it’s an integral part of our psyche? How could it NOT be, given how much time we spend watching television. (What does chap. 8 say about how much time we spend watching TV?)

That’s it. If you’re reading this in the evening, you’re probably aching to watch your favorite TV program. 
 And what program would that be? Are you an ESPN junkie? A Golf channel fanatic? Glued to an evening TV drama? A regular watcher of the The Voice? 

One of the most famous early TV programs in the history and development of TV was "I Love Lucy"--starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  This show is mentioned in chapter 8.

Here's an “I Love Lucy” YouTube clip:

What will our world be like in 2028? Here’s a thought-provoking clip:

How is it possible for all of us to keep us in this rapidly changing, media-driven world? Watch this YouTub clip:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Movies move us like no other medium of mass communication

Hi MCOM 101 students.

This is a short week for our course. We will NOT be meeting as a class on Friday, March 25 (GOOD FRIDAY).

But we will be focusing Monday, March 21, and Wednesday, March 23, on chapter 7 “Movies: Picturing the Future.”

So be sure you’ve read this chapter by the start of our class on Wed., March 23, and that you can define/describe/explain the “Key Terms” near the top of the page at the end of the chapter on pg. 149.

Also, be able to answer the “Critical Questions” on that same page.

Okay. Let’s dive into movies.

Yes, we’ve all seen many movies, but could you correctly answer these questions about movies?  Try your luck. 

(I’ll reveal the correct answers later).

1. True or False? Sound was not introduced to the movies until the 1920s.
2. What famous movie (from early in the 20th century) is director D.W. Griffith associated with?
3. What state in the U.S. did much of the movie industry move to in the 1920s?
4. True or False? The movie rating or censorship system in the U.S. is state government mandated.
5. Name the first feature-length animated film produced by Walt Disney. Hint: the film was released in late 1937.
6. What did it mean for a movie employee to be “blacklisted” in the late 1940s?
7. True or False? Radio has been the biggest force—of all the branches of the mass media of communications— shaping the modern movie industry.
8. True or False? For a blockbuster movie, Titanic was a low-budget movie (meaning it cost relatively little to make compared to the revenue it brought in).
9. What are “ancillary rights” for a movie? Define/describe.
10. Why is it a challenge or hard for small theatres to convert to digital technology?
11. What is the MPAA?
12. What was the X rating for movies changed to?
13. Name one famous movie that was directed by Stephen Spielberg.
14. True or False? The movie “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009) was a bigger blockbuster than “Avatar” (2009).
15. Every movie begins with a story idea, and this idea comes from whom?

We’ll underscore in class the indisputable fact that movies are powerful forms of mass media of communication. 

But think about that assertion for a moment.

What is it, exactly, that makes movies so powerful?

Could it be the content of a movie? The story line of a movie? The actors or stars of the movie? The costumes? The music or songs?

Perhaps it's about sitting in a darkened, air-conditioned cocoon (a movie theatre), and having your total attention (notwithstanding your arm being around your beloved) riveted on a motion picture.  I believe we’d all agree movies have the power (as no other mass medium of communications does) to help define--or take us back to--the key emotional points (the highs and lows) of our lives. Remember who sat next to you or whom you were dating or what you were going through when you first saw one of your all-time favorite movies? My list includes “Jaws,” “ET,” “Titanic,” or the first “Rocky” or the first “Superman.”

What about your list? Where were you and who were you with (if anyone) when you saw your favorite movies? Bet the movie can re-kindle that memory.

Lastly (in terms of this blog post) it’s important in our study of movies to understand the concept of self-policing of the movie industry. The movie industry polices itself, not our government.  Wonder why that’s the case that an industry is policing itself?

Enough for now about movies. More about them (and chapter 7) during our classes this week.

Oh yes. Here’s clip from one of my favorite films—about Vivien Thomas, a hero of the very first open-heart surgery in human history.

Have you or a member of your immediate or extended family had open heart surgery? (I had a double bypass in April 2008).

If so, you should get down on your knees and give thanks to African-American Vivien Thomas; he never went to college, let alone medical school. But starting out as a lab assistant for a noted surgeon, who became interested in doing heart surgery after researching the hearts of dogs, Thomas figured out how to solve the problem of "blue babies." He was right by the surgeon's side in the operating room at Johns Hopkins Hospital when that first open heart surgery was performed--on a blue baby in 1944.

The following clip is from the 2004 movie--"Something the Lord Made.” Turn your sound up and enjoy (and give thanks to Vivien Thomas!)

And then, on a funnier note, here's one more movie clip (also from one of my all-time favorite movies "Jerry McGuire"):

Friday, March 18, 2016

Field trip to WEHC-FM radio station at EHC

A big thank you to WEHC-FM station manager Richard Graves for sharing with our class this morning his time, knowledge and expertise. He truly gave us the "lowdown" on what it's like to work in noncommercial radio.

He also took us on a tour of the public (noncommercial) NPR radio station (WEHC-FM) that is located on EMH campus in the McClothlin Center for the Arts.

Richard is a good man to connect with if you're interesting in working professionally in radio. (He's also worked at a commercial radio station).

As I mentioned in class (and again this morning), the general manager and essentially the founder of WEHC-FM is Dr. Teresa Keller of the Mass Communications Dept. at EHC. So we have an excellent resource on radio right here in the Mass Comm Department!

Thank you all for coming this morning and for being good listeners.

Good luck with the NPR podcast homework writing assignment that's due at start of our class Monday.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

FCC and radio

As we noted in class Wednesday, March 16, one of the keys to being informed about radio is to understand how radio--one of the eight major forms of the mass media of communications--falls under the purview of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is directed by five commissioners appointed by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for five-year terms. The current five commissioners, among the most powerful folks in Washington, hail from Connecticut, Kansas, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and New York.

The FCC has no control whatsoever over print media (newspapers, magazines, newsletters...) but the FCC does come into play with any sort of electronic media that relies on use of the public airwaves. Thus, radio and TV have to meet certain FCC guidelines or standards. (Important to mention here that neither satellite radio (Sirius XM) nor Internet radio is regulated by the FCC).

Why is it, then, that print media escape scrutiny by the FCC--when radio stations and TV stations do not?

Because radio stations and TV stations are viewed as public trustees of the public airwaves. There's a limited number of frequencies available on the electromagnetic spectrum, and, but for the FCC (which assigns a frequency to a radio station) that spectrum would be a jumbled mess. Radio frequencies would overlap or interfere with one another to such an extent that listeners wouldn't be able to understand anything!

Key point: For a radio station to be on the air in the U.S., it first has to be licensed by the FCC. And every so many years, that same station comes up for re-licensing. A radio station has to operate consistent with the "public interest, convenience and necessity" in order to keep its license. It's also the case, as we noted in class, that the FCC tells a station what frequency it can broadcast on, how much power it can have, and where its transmitter or tower can be located.

As to a radio station losing its FCC license, that is very rare, but it does happen. Some reasons for license revocation include proof that the station:

1. Broadcasts obscenity or profanity or sexually explicit material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (when the FCC says children are more likely to be listening).
2. Spreads messages that are racist or bigoted.
3. Unfairly treats a political candidate (an example would be a station charging a low advertising rate for one candidate's commercial, while an opposing candidate had to pay a much higher rate for a commercial of equal time and placement during the day or night).
4. Broadcasts libelous, false or defamatory messages
5. Has a manager or owner or other key player who has been charged or with a serious criminal offense.

With regard to #1 above, a station runs the risk of losing its FCC license (and thus its ability to stay on the air) if it broadcasts INDECENT material. But this is a sticky, murky area to get a handle on. Because what, exactly, is indecent material?

(A famous U.S. Supreme Court justice once declared: "I don't know what obscenity is but I know it when I see it!")

At times, it seems to be somewhat subjective as to what the FCC considers indecent.

Consider the half-time show during the 2004 Super Bowl with singers Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. In the heat of the performance, Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's costume, exposing one of her breasts to about 90 million viewers in America and a much larger worldwide audience. CBS, which broadcast the Super Bowl that year, apologized, but the FCC still investigated. The result: CBS was fined $550,000.

CBS appealed the decision, and the fine was later overturned. But it was still a big hassle and a lot of legal expense for the network. (Better that the half-time show incident had never happened!)

Okay, so what kind of material might be considered indecent, obscene or profane and thus frowned upon by the FCC?

That's always a murky question, but the U.S. Supreme Court has offered a few guidelines:

1. The standard for obscenity is set by "individual community standards." This means there is no national standard for obscenity or indecency. What is declared as obscene or indecent in Abington, Va., might be acceptable in LA or NYC. A local community can establish its own standards for what material should be protected by the First Amendment.

2. The work (or in the case of radio or TV, the broadcast or program) must be "taken as a whole." It's not enough for a program to be declared obscene on the basis, for example, of one sexually explicit statement or one or two references to the "F word." The "work as a whole" must be sexually explicit or obscene.

3. The work (or broadcast) must appeal to "prurient interests." Prurient means overly lustful or lewd or a perverted interest in nudity, sex or excretory functions. Likewise, a broadcast program that has "serious, literary, artistic, political or scientific value" cannot be outlawed or banned by the FCC. A broadcast, for example, about sexual health, birth control, alternative lifestyles, online dating or teen suicide might offend or upset some listeners. But it would not be deemed prurient. And thus it would be protected by the First Amendment.

As an aside (and you can read about this in our textbook) some people complain that they are offended by messages broadcast by radio or TV. But just because someone is offended doesn't mean that the material disseminated on the airwaves is indecent or obscene. Beyonce, for example, created quite a stir at the half-time show of the 2016 Super Bowl with her "Formation" song and dance performance of that song. Some felt that she was critical of the police and fomenting tensions between the police and certain segments of society. But what Beyonce sang and danced during that show is definitely protected by the First Amendment. Here is her performance, in case you missed it:

Enough for right now about the FCC and radio. Looking forward to our field trip visit to WEHC-FM 90.7 tomorrow!

Footnote about podcasts

We covered this in class on Wednesday, March 16, but here, in writing, is what we said about podcasts:

Q: What is a podcast?

A: It's an audio (MP3) file that can be distributed over the Internet.

Q: How do you listen to a podcast?

A: Can be listened to online or downloaded to a computer or an MP3 player.

Q: What do you need to listen to a podcast?

A: All you need is a basic computer or electronic device (phone, tablet...) that is connected to the Internet.

Q: How do you create a podcast?

A: Very easily with, for example, the GarageBand app on an Apple MacBook computer--or with an equivalent app on a PC.

Q: When was the first podcast created:

A: 2004. Became very common by 2005.

Q: Are podcasts replacing radio?

A: No. Podcast audiences are growing but still are not nearly as big as radio audiences. Think about it this way: How much time do you spend listening to radio very day or every week? How many podcasts do you listen to daily or weekly?

Q: What's the value or utility of a podcast?

A: If you miss a particular program or broadcast on the radio, there's a good chance the station made a podcast of that program. If that's the case, you can go to the station's website, find the podcast and listen to it. So podcasts offer a sort of historical archiving of broadcast/radio programs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

NPR assignment

I gave this NPR assignment in class yesterday (March 14). Here it is, just in case...

Guidelines: NPR is an important part of the radio industry. If you haven't listened to NPR, you are definitely missing out!

For this assignment, listen to TWO podcasts from the following programs on NPR. Your choice on which two podcasts you choose. It could be two from Prairie Home Companion. Or it could be one from Prairie Home Companion and one from Car Talk, etc.

You will be writing about the podcasts you listened to.

Here are your choices (and where you can Google them):

1. This American Life podcast

2. Car Talk podcast

3. Prairie Home Companion podcast (then click on SoundCloud).

4. Fresh Air podcast

Choose your two podcasts, listen to them, then write about them.

For your paper, which you can write in first person, address the following (for each of your chosen NPR podcasts)

A. What did you listen to and for how long?

B Describe or summarize the content of the podcast you listened to.

C. What did you like about this podcast?

D. What did you dislike (if anything) and what would be an area for improvement you would suggest for the creator of this NPR program?

E. What did you learn about NPR from listening to this podcast?

F. Would you listen again to an NPR podcast of this program? Why or why not?

Your paper must be typed (double-spaced) 2-3 pages. The deadline is the start of our class on Monday, March 21. No emails or attachments will be accepted. I want a hard copy by that deadline. I may call on a few of you that day to share your experience from listening to these NPR podcasts.

Criteria for grading:

1. Short graphs very much preferred
2. Mechanical perfection in grammar, spelling and sentence structure
3. The extent to which you followed the guidelines for this assignment. Did you address all the required questions?
4. The extent to which you took this assignment seriously. Done or thrown together at the last minute? Or thoughtfully written? I will be able to tell.
5. Meeting the assignment deadline

Ok. Here, by the way, is a taste of Prairie Home Companion. Turn up your sound and enjoy!

Quiz questions connected to textbook chapter on radio

We had a short, ungraded quiz in class on Monday, March 14. We also went over the answers to the quiz questions. How did you do? How would you do if I hit you with these same questions (or very similar questions about radio) in the near future? Better be able to answer these!
1. About how many radio stations are there in the U.S.?

2. What does FM (as in FM radio) stand for?

3. Define "narrowcasting."

4. Name an early pioneer or inventor or trailblazer of radio.

5. Name two areas (within the division of labor or management structure at a radio station) that you might work in.

6. Name the public radio station based at Emory & Henry College.

7. What federal agency licenses a radio station?

8. Name the satellite radio company in the U.S.

9. What, in terms of radio, is "payola

10. List or name two different formats (for music or songs) that you will find in radio.

Monday, March 14, 2016


I've decided to extend an opportunity for extra credit--connected with the upcoming events/speakers of Mass Communications Week at EHC. (See previous blog post about the agenda for the week.)

To receive extra credit, you must attend one or more sessions of MCW, and write a short paper (1-2 pages) about that experience. Describe in your paper what session(s) you attended, and summarize briefly what happened or what was said. Most importantly, write about: 1) what you learned from the speaker(s) that you didn't know before you attended the session; and 2) how the session(s) you attended connect with what we are covering or reading about in our MCOM 101 course.

The extra credit paper must be typed and double spaced and turned in to me by the start of our class on Monday, March 21. No emails or attachments accepted. Must be a hard copy in my hands by start of our class on March 21.

Hope you attend and participate in Mass Communications Week.


Upcoming tour of WEHC-FM radio station

Hi MCOM 101 students.

For our class on Friday, March 18, do NOT come to our regular classroom.

Instead, report to the campus radio station—WEHC-FM—at 10 a.m., March 18.

Station manager Richard Graves will be giving us a tour and overview of the solar-powered station. Come with your questions about working in radio.

The radio station is located on the campus of EHC in the bottom level of Woodrow W. McClothlin Center for the Arts.

As you face the big white columns of the building (on the side of the building that is near the red brick path that goes down the hill to the cafeteria), follow the sidewalk to the left of the building and enter the side entrance.

With this blog is a picture I snapped of the solar panels and transmitter tower for WEHC-FM. You can see the panels near top of the hill just off exit 26 of I-81 (the Emory exit).



Mass Communications Week at Emory & Henry

Hey all.

Following is am important message from Dr. Teresa Keller of the Mass Communications Dept.

MCOM weekend is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Mar. 18 and 19 -- the weekend of our return to classes.

Sorry we haven't promoted the event as we should have, but I hope you'll be able to come. Please talk to those who have been before and you will be assured of a good time.

Good food. Awards (will you get one?)! Senior video!

$5.00 for a very expensive meal.

Please get your money to a MCOM faculty member as soon as you get back because we'll have to turn in names of those attending.

I'm attaching a draft of our program for the weekend so you can see what's happening.

Basically, the Friday events at 6:00 in Van Dyke.

Saturday morning at 10 - 10:30 in Miller to hear about internships and alumni panel.

Please, please don't make us beg and hunt you down. Come with a smile and $5.00 as soon as you get back.

A good time will be had by all!! Be part of it!

Dr. Keller

PS I doubt that I have all the MCOM students who might be interested in coming on this distribution list. Please pass the word to anyone in a MCOM class -- or otherwise -- who is interested in attending, but remember to turn in the $5.00 and name ASAP when you get back to campus. Enjoy the rest of your break.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Radio and the FCC (and other things about broadcasting)

Hello everyone in my MCOM 101 class. 

We should all remember, in connection with our study of radio (chapter 6) how important the FCC is in regard to the licensing and re-licensing of a radio station.  Licensing and or re-licensing of a radio station is NOT a given or is NOT an automatic. 

Some radio stations actually are turned down on their applications for re-licensure--for various reasons. (broadcasting obscene or indecent material; being unfair to a political candidate; broadcasting libelous statements; levying unfair advertising rates—charging one rate to one person or firm and another—much higher rate—to someone else).

The FCC requires that radio stations, to keep their licenses or to be re-licensed, have to operate as a service to "public interest, convenience and necessity.” 

Keep in mind that radio and TV (electronic forms of mass communication) are unlike print inasmuch as print (newspapers and magazines) are not regulated in any way by the federal government.  

So why is it that the FCC gets involved with the licensing (and regulation to some extent) of radio and TV stations?   We will discuss this in class. But chapter 6 (page 111) touches on the reason for FCC regulation of radio.

Some folks who work in or own radio or TV stations, think that FCC purview is an unfair slam against the electronic media.  But, again, remember why the federal government has its fingers (some would call it “sticky fingers”) on radio and TV but not on print media such as newspapers and magazines.

It should also be noted that radio is becoming, increasingly a niche medium of mass communication--what with the examples of radio stations that have, for example, a country and western format, or stations that have a soul format, or stations that appeal to oldsters like yours truly who can't seem to escape the time warp of the great, fantastic, enlightening, uplifting music of the 60s and 70s (The Supremes, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, the Mamas and Papas, Aretha Franklin--oh, what an era of music!— and I can still get it via stations on my Sirius XM radio.

Other popular radio formats include: classic rock, gospel or religious, sports, news/talk, adult contemporary, Spanish (see page 122 in our textbook).

Today, as chapter 6 notes, this is the era of “narrowcasting” in radio. Know what this is and be able to give some examples of it.

As to who does what at a typical radio station, what follows is a sketch of the key players at a station and their duties/area of responsibility.  Of course, this will vary a bit from station to station, depending on how individual stations are set up in various markets, but the following structure can help your understanding of the personnel makeup at a typical radio station:

General manager runs the radio station.

Program manager oversees what goes on the air, including news programs, the station’s format and any on-air people. 

Sales people who are called account executives sell the advertising for the programs.

Traffic people schedule the commercials, make sure they run correctly and bill the clients.

Production people help with local programming and produce commercials for the station. 

Engineers keep the station on the air.

Administrative people pay the bills, answer the phones and order the paper clips.

At a small station, as few as five people will handle all of these jobs.  Easiest to break into that first job in radio by finding a station in a small market or small town.  You can learn to be a generalist and then move to a larger market.

But enough for now. More about the ins and outs of radio when we focus on it in class this week. See you all very soon.

Chapter 6 "Radio: Riding the Wave"

We’ll be focusing in MCOM 101 this week (March 14-18) on chapter 6 “Radio: Riding the Wave.”

I’ll be covering a wide range of material in class, but to help jump-start your study of this important chapter, here (from the chapter) is a list of key people, key terms, key concepts, key ideas you should become thoroughly familiar with. 

War of the Worlds radio broadcast

Government regulation of airwaves

Guglielmo Marconi

Lee de Forest

KDKA in Pittsburgh


Satellite radio

Nielsen Company

Samuel F. B. Morse

David Sarnoff

“Public convenience, interest or necessity”


Wlliam S. Paley


Drive-time audiences


management structure or areas of operation/work at radion station

radio ratings

radio formats (examples)



Internet radio

Critical Questions 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 at top of page 127. Be able to answer these.

Don't steal or copy it because you might be violating COPYRIGHT

Hello to all of you in my MCOM 101 class.

We covered copyright (or intellectual propery law) our last class before sprng break—Friday, March 4.

Hopefully this blog post will reduce to writing much of what we focused on in class on March 4.

Bottom line: Read and study this post carefully! Might pull from it for quiz or test questions in near future.

We need to have a clear understanding of copyright—a key area of First Amendment law—regardless of what branch of mass communication we work in.

Copyright comes up often in chapter 5 “Recordings.” See for example, how artistic copyright is mentioned on pg. 88; also pages 97-98 deal with stealing or illegal downloading/copying of music.

As we mentioned in class, Chapter 5 notes that the entire recording industry is fighting copyright infringement (violation).

I covered several key areas of copyright law in class on March 4—among them: the scope of copyright law (what sorts of intellectual property are protected by copyright law); fair use; the idea that an idea or fact is not copyrightable; the question of whether the amount of intellectual propery that is stolen or lifted or copied factors into copyright violation; whether attribution or sourcing of intellectual property protects a person against copyright infringement; the meaning of the copyright symbol (C in a small circle); and the critical importance of getting the permission of the creator of the intellectual property before using said property for your own purposes.

First (as I write this blog post) a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV.

So I don’t claim to be an expert on copyright.

But I know enough to help all the future professional journalists or other kinds of communication professionals in our class.

A few key points:

1. What is copyright? Basically, it’s a law that protects a person’s intellectual property. If a person writes or creates some sort of expression (photo, graphic, painting, story, sketch...), copyright assures the creator of that expression a certain degree of protection from intellectual theft.

2. When you research or read about copyright law, one word keeps coming up over and over. The word is “PERMISSION.” This means that if you are not sure if something is copyrighted, then it probably is copyrighted! Always, when in doubt as a writer, artist, photographer... and you want to borrow someone else’s work for your own use, ask the creator of that work for HIS/HER PERMISSION.

3. Even though you cite the source of expression (that you have lifted from someone else’s work and used for your own purposes), you could still be guilty of copyright infringement, especially if you are getting money for your writing, graphics, photography or whatever. Again, always best to get PERMISSION OF THE CREATOR OF THE WORK BEFORE YOU LIFT IT FOR YOUR OWN USE.

An exception to the above is if you are researching and writing a paper for a class or course. In that case, if your work is purely for academic reasons and you don’t intend to have it published, and you will not gain financially from it, you probably don’t need to get permission from the creator of the work you have cited or borrowed. But you definitely need to source it (give the original author credit) in your paper.

4. There’s a common misconception that writing, photography, graphics, painting, songwriting, sculpting or other forms of expression have to be accompanied by the copyright symbol (letter C inside a circle) before the expression has copyright protection. Not true! All things written, captured on camera, or sketched or otherwise created are immediately copyrighted! When you write an email, it immediately has copyright protection. It’s yours. You created it. No one else can legally reproduce or copy it or forward it to another party without your permission. Notice that P word (permission)!

That said, it is the case that the copyright notice (which you can also have registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) reinforces protection of the creator of the original work. The notice is a caution or reminder to people not to steal or rip off the work without permission of the creator of the work.

5. One big factor that comes into play regarding copyright law is commercial benefit. Are you, through your writing, photography, singing, infographics, sketches, getting paid for that expression? And, if so, does what you claim to be totally your expression (writing, photography, whatever), contain the work of others? Careful if this is the case! You could be found guilty of copyright infringement and pay big money (to the original creator of the expression) in a court of law.

6. There is a little wiggle room in the copyright law. There’s an exemption called fair comment. This means that it’s okay for you to reproduce, without permission of the original creator of the expression, that expression if you are doing an evaluation or critique or review or even a parody of that expression. This helps movie and arts review (books, plays) critics do their thing in the media. But it’s not okay for you, even if you are a critic of some sort, to pass off someone else’s work as your own.

7. Always good to remember that facts and ideas cannot be copyrighted. But the verbatim (precise, exact) expression of those facts and idea are subject to copyright protection.

Example: I write a story about the O.J. Simpson murder trial. I note in my story, in my own words, certain facts about that trial such as: it occurred in the early 1990s; Mr. Simpson was accused of murdering two persons–his wife and his wife’s close friend; the two dead persons were found in pools of blood, butchered, on a sidewalk at Mr. Simpson’s home residence in Los Angeles; the jury in this case returned a verdict of not guilty and let Mr. Simpson go free.

On the other hand, if I lift verbatim a passage from another article (about Simpson’s murder trial) written by someone else (whether printed in a newspaper, magazine or from a Web site) and use that in my story (as if I had written that lifted portion), then I am guilty of copyright infringement.

8. It’s also a common misunderstanding that the amount or extent of text that a person lifts from another person’s writing, without that original creator’s permission, factors into whether a violation of copyright has occurred.

Careful! Courts have ruled that in some instances, even though very few words were stolen from another person’s work, those very few words constitute the heart and soul of the original expression; and thus violation of copyright has occurred. This situation has happened with regard to the words in songs or the musical notes of songs. Very little may have been stolen or borrowed or copied, but it’s still against copyright law.


But again, be careful. If no such statement is on the website, the material on the site is copyrighted. We therefore get back to asking for permission to use or borrow.

Bottom line: If you did not create the material you located on a website, do not use it (especially for your own commercial or financial gain) without the creator’s permission. Without that permission, you cannot legally use or copy the expression for your own use. Without permission, you are a common, scumbag intellectual, lying, cheating thief who is guilty of copyright infringement!

Some may wonder how they can get caught for stealing work from a web site. It can happen folks! Big corporations and other entities today have “spiders” (software that scours or crawls the Internet) looking for intellectual property thieves.

Blogging: This is a fairly new phenomenon, in terms of copyright law, but my reading is that while you can blog freely, you should not reproduce or blog someone else’s verbatim expression as your own expression. Again, we get back to that important permission factor! It does seem okay, to have links in your blog (without the permission of the original creator of that link.) Didn’t I say earlier that copyright law is complex??!!

Well, okay folks, that’s about it now for copyright law.

See you in class very soon.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Magazine creative concepts

Enjoyed the team presentations on your magazine creative concepts. Working together, each team brainstormed and came up with an idea for a niche-targeted publication. Part of the assignment was also to come up with: a title/name for your magazine; an idea of what sorts of editorial content (stories and pictures) your magazine would contain; an idea of the advertisements that would be appropriate for your targeted magazine; and a description of the first edition's cover.

Here is what you came up with:

I commend the teams for some imaginative thinking that went into this assignment. And remember what we noted in class about what the first step would be were you to actually think about launching your magazine. What's the very first thing you'd need to do after you had settled on your creative concept?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Some of my favorite songs

Connected with study of chapter 5 in our textbook, please have a song or tune in mind when you come to our class. I might call on a few of you to sing it (nah!) or play it for the rest of the class on YouTube.

Here, just for the fun of it, are a few of my favorites. Turn your sound up and have a listen.

Music to our ears...

Hello everyone in my MCOM 101 course. We won’t be spending much time discussing chapter 5, but it still merits our close consideration. After all, who among us, doesn’t listen to music? Imagine a world without the Beatles, or Rolling Stones or Elvis or Aretha or Dolly or Whitney or Beyonce or Adele or Lady Ga Ga, or Lady Antebellum or any of the Motown greats like the Supremes or the Four Tops or Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson or The Temptations (and the list goes on and on…)

Speaking of Motown music, did you know it was started by Berry Gordy who founded Motown Records in 1958? I know. Ancient history to you, maybe, but Berry is one of America’s musical pioneers.

Notes/points of emphasis for chapter 5 “Recordings: Demanding Choices”

Be sure after you read this chapter, you can define and explain the “Key Terms” in top left corner of page 104.

And know the answers to the “Critical Questions” (on the same page) just below the “Key Terms.”

Prerequisite for popular music (or music of any kind) was the means of recording and distributing it. In this respect, we owe deep thanks to the early efforts of Thomas Edison. Thanks largely to him, and to Emile Berliner of Germany, the world—in the late 19th century and early 20th century—got the phonograph and gramophone. These inventions led much later to the LP and compact disc.

Phonograph (and eventually radio) allowed vast expansion of people’s access to music and sound. Before invention of phonograph, folks had to go to a concert hall or theatre or other venue to hear music if they didn’t play it themselves.

Phonograph and radio brought a wider range of music to everyone but they also led to loss of so-called social music (music that folks played and sang for one another in their homes or other social settings.)

So what other forms of “technology” or devices have harnessed music and made it more accessible to millions of us down through the ages? Some include: 33 1/3 rpm records, 45 rpm records, 78 rpm records, transistor radios, Walkmans, CDs, iPod music players, Apple’s iTunes online music store, the Apple iPhone.

A few quick important facts about the recording industry:

1. Apple started iTunes, Apple’s online music store, in 2003. Billions and billions of 99-cent downloads later, iTunes has become a household brand in America.

2. Most popular forms of music in America (or the kinds of music that most people purchase) are: Rock, Country, Rap/Hip-Hop, Rhythm & Blues/Urban, Pop, Religious or Gospel…

3. The main (or most important) recording centers in the U.S are: LA, New York and Nashville. But most of you, I’m sure, already, know or have heard that Nashville is “Music City USA.”

4. Many recordings or artists who cut records depend on radio to succeed. The more radio play time of their music these artists get, the more likely they are to sell a ton of their records.

5. One of the most muscially focused magazines in the U.S. is “Rolling Stone.” Read it to get the latest reviews about recordings and profiles on the artists and bands who create those recordings.

6. “Billboard” is another important magazine focused on music. Known as the music industry’s leading trade magazine, “Billboard” regularly publishes the country’s top-selling records.

7. Content labeling is a big issue in the recording industry. So big that the Recording Industry Association of America (which has a lot of clout in the U.S.) has strongly encouraged its members to provide a warning label or to print lyrics on albums with potentially offensive content. This is a form of self-regulation by the music industry. It is not federally mandated regulation. Why would the recording industry want to self-regulate itself?

8. Overseas piracy is another big issue in the recording industry. We’ve all heard or read about countries such as China “stealing” or counterfeit copying American artists’ music. On top of that, the counterfeited music—which is a flagrant violation of copyright laws—is often not of the same high quality as the original. Unfortunately, policing international piracy of music is difficult and costly.

9. Yet another big recording industry issue is file sharing on the Internet. What is file sharing? Our textbook defines it as: peer-to-peer distribution of copyrighted material on the Internet without the copyright owner’s permission. MP3 player technology makes this very easy to do. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the process of Internet file sharing or illegal copying of music.

10. Illegal Internet file sharing of music threatens the entire recording industry. Licensed music is protected by international copyright law, and the recording industry aggressively goes after those unscrupulous users who steal or copy (without permission) an artist’s music. Some of the counterfeiters end up being successfully prosecuted, but many escape. Why? The Internet is vast and wild and untamed (for the most part) and it’s hard, at best, to catch those who steal an artist’s or recording company’s music. Illegal music downloads are a thorn in the side of the recording industry.

11. So where does the recording industry make its money? The pie chart on pg. 100 tells us. Interestingly, according to this chart, digital (Internet) sales account for 50 percent of the music industry’s income. That equals the 50 percent of the music industry’s income from physical sales.

12. In terms of the music or recording industry, what is Pandora? How about Spotify? Look these up, if you don’t already know what they are, and be able to define/describe them.

Okay, enough for now about chapter 5. What are your favorite songs? Who are your favorite artists? We might listen to a few of them soon in class.