Streaming Fees

Doc: Can you tell me what licensing fees are involved for webcasting radio stations?  I know about ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and RIAA.  Are there any other fees that apply?  Who can I talk to that is completely knowledgeable in this field? - Bob


Bob:  Since you may have several follow-up questions, I suggest that you call ASCAP (212.621.6000) or BMI (212.586.2000).  By the way, near the bottom of the BMI Contact Us page is a link for email to ask questions about webcasting.


I also set up a Google search for you that shows many references for webcasting information.  Click here:  Webcasting.

Street Surveys

I have two questions:

Cheers. - John, Oslo


John: Thanks for writing from Oslo. I have two answers . . .


1.  I frequently hear this "fear" of the respondents knowing the sponsor of the research. I haven’t seen the problem demonstrated when it comes to rating songs.


What type of bias do you think will be shown by the respondents if they know which radio station is sponsoring the research? Do you think that the respondents will rate a song lower or higher depending on whether they like or don’t like your radio station? I’m not saying it will never happen, but respondents’ song ratings tend to be based on whether they like or dislike the song, not who is sponsoring the research.


If you are concerned about this, then conduct a test yourself. Split your sample into two groups. With one group, tell the respondents the sponsor; don’t tell the sponsor to the second group. Assuming all else is the same, any difference in song ratings should be due to the identification of the sponsor. (I doubt you will find a difference.)?


2.  How reliable are the answers? The concept you refer to is known as prestige bias. However, once again, I haven’t seen too much affect of prestige bias in song ratings or radio station listening habits. I’m sure there are some respondents who say that they listen to some radio stations to make them "look good," but if you have a good sample, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Student Radio Help

My fellow volunteers and I at our local student radio station are having trouble telling our management that the current way of running our student radio is not working. Nobody except for our management and a few of their friends listen to it. Everything we suggest to them produces the same responses, "that’s corporate" or "sold out." We’d like to run it like a business, considering radio is a business, so that it prepares students for the real radio world or real world in general. In addition, I know college radio is supposed to be experimental, but everyone we’ve surveyed on campus says, "the format sucks." How should we go about this? Since, we’re on the "sold out" side, we’ll never make it into a management position and I am worried the student radio will be crappy forever.


Sincerely, Promotions, Talk, News, Sports, Web, and Production Directors in need.


Directors: Here is what I don’t know:

With that said, I’ll say this: What you are experiencing in reference to not providing what you think you listeners want IS just like the real world. I receive many notes from professional PDs who ask what they can do to get their management to "see the light." What you need to do is consider this a REAL situation and talk to your advisors, make suggestions, conduct a survey or two, and present a solid case of why your ideas are better than what’s going on right now.


With the information you have told me, and I’m sure there is much that I don’t know about, I would say your strongest point is that the radio station is supported by student fees and should be a service that these people want, not something that advisors (or other administrators) think they need.

Student’s t

I’m a college student. I forgot why the t-test is sometimes called the ‘Student’s t." Would you explain that? - Cheryl

Cheryl: The t-test was developed by William Gossett, a chemist in an Irish brewery. When he first published the t-test formula in 1908, he used a pen name, Student.

The t-test is considered to be the breakthrough from "old-time" research to modern statistical inference.


I am looking for a place where I can get some ideas for stunts to do in my small market town. HELP! - Anonymous


Anon:  Here is a search radio stunts and I think you'll find several sites that may help you. Not all of the sites for this search will be good—you’ll need to sift through the irrelevant stuff.


You might also want to go to the "Industry Links" site on All Access and then click on the "Show Prep and Entertainment" link.

Stunts - 2

Do you have any ideas of good stunts? - Anonymous


Anon:  No, I don’t have any good ideas, but I set up a Google search for you that will list many good sources.  Just click here: Radio Stunts.

Stupid People - Dumb/Smart Americans

Since you are a smart person, I figured I would ask you this.  To be blunt, it appears that many Americans are stupid nowadays.  I am surprised with some of the things people believe.


Here are my questions: Are Americans getting dumber?  Also, what percentage of Americans have above average intelligence, average intelligence, and below average?  Thanks. - Bob


Bob:  As with virtually any perception or belief, the truth is often in the eye/ear/brain of the beholder.  While you may perceive a person as dumb, someone else may think the same person is a genius.  However, there are many discussions about the “dumbing of America” in books and on the Internet.  Many people believe, and some research studies support, that the number of people who don’t know a lot about things appears to be increasing.  As compared to a few decades ago, there seems to be less emphasis now on knowledge, grammar, intelligence, and general common sense.


In sociological and/or psychological terms, the people who don’t know much (or don’t care about learning things) are referred to as chronic know-nothings.  These people don’t care that they don’t know many things and don’t care about learning.  The problem is that technology and other areas in American society are moving so fast, these people are falling farther and farther behind those who do know things.  What’s happening is that the group of people who do know things (technology, etc.) is getting smaller, and their intellectual distance from the chronic know-nothings is greater.


You asked about the percentage of Americans who have above average intelligence, average intelligence, and below average.  As with all statistical measurements, IQ scores are converted to Z-scores (average IQ = 100; Z-Score = 0).  This means that 50% of Americans are below average (IQ = 100), and 50% are above average.  However, since IQ scores are converted to Z-scores, the percent above and below the average will always be the same.  Several people argue that today’s “average intelligence” is lower than the “average intelligence” of a few decades ago.


Now, with all that said…If you work in radio (or TV), you need to remember that about 50% of your audience at any given time is below average in intelligence.  This may give you a clue as to why there are so many complaints about DJs talking too fast, information presented too quickly, or complicated words used that people don’t understand.


Oh…another point often raised about the “dumbing of America” relates to mass media content—language and grammar used on radio or TV or in magazines and newspapers.  The argument is that media perpetuate, or even encourage, the use of “bad” language and poor grammar.  Don’t believe that?  Just listen to some of the songs played on the radio or watch a few TV sitcoms.  The language and grammar are amazing and they popularize (and legitimize) comments such as, “We don’t got no time to do nothin’.”  Gag me with a beaker.

Stupid People - IQs in the United States

I see a problem in the USA. There appears to be too many uneducated people.  These people annoy me.  I was wondering if the IQ in the USA has gone down?


My second related question. I see so many people watching reality shows.  Many of these people would watch a fish tank if that was on television.  I have a theory that IQs have gone down because of these worthless, insulting, and often offensive programs.  What do you think? - Anonymous


Anon:  There are thousands of articles on the Internet that discuss IQ scores in America.  If you read some of them, you'll see that there is no universal agreement related to whether the average IQ is America is stable, going up, or going down.  The lack of agreement is due to the difficulties related to IQ—how it's computed, how it is tracked, and so on.  However, after reading several dozen articles, I lean toward the side that says average IQ in America has been stable for the past few decades.


If the stable IQ idea is true, then why do you and so many other people say that it seems like there is an increasing number of "stupid" Americans?  Check some of the articles on these searches: Why Americans are Stupid, the Dumbing-down of America, Are Americans Dumber?, and Chronic Know-Nothings.


OK, so if average IQ is stable, then why are there so many articles about how dumb or stupid Americans are?  Let's take a look at that . . .


First, I need to say that the criticisms of stupidity and "dumbness" are not reserved only for Americans.  If you search the Internet, you'll see that there are similar articles for almost every country on the planet.  But I'll focus on America.


I'm not convinced that average IQ is dropping and I'm not convinced that "average" Americans are dumb or stupid.  What I am convinced about is that many "average" Americans are intellectually complacent or lazy.  In other words, although these folks may have relatively high IQs, they don't use their intelligence and accept (or pursue) a life that is less mentally strenuous.  They're "smart" in terms of IQ numbers, but they are "dumb" when it comes to common sense, "street smarts," and knowledge about common things.


I don't think intellectual complacency or laziness is a new thing.  I think it has been evident since the first person walked on the planet.  For example, in discussions with people about school subjects, I'm sure you have heard many people say something like, "Why do I need to learn this, will it be on the test?"  In other words, many people don't seem to have a natural curiosity about anything other than what relates specifically to them and their own world.  That's OK, and there is no problem with that, but I believe it is these folks who you (and others) refer to as "dumb" or "stupid."  These are the people who fall into the category of "chronic know-nothings," and are the people you may have seen on Jay Leno's segment called, "Jay Walking," demonstrating that many people don't know the answers to even the most basic questions about well-known names, places, and events.


This reminds me of the song, What a Wonderful World, by Sam Cooke, in which he sings:


Don't know much about History

Don't know much Biology

Don't know much about Science books

Don't know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you

And I know that if you loved me too

What a wonderful world this would be


Don't know much about Geography

Don't know much Trigonometry

Don't know much about Algebra

Don't know what a slide rule is for

But I know that one and one is two

And if this one could be with you

What a wonderful world this would be


In other words, the guy doesn't know anything about anything outside of the fact that he loves a girl.  Cool.  You'll be a success.


OK, you asked about the relationship between lower IQs and watching Reality TV shows—that they are worthless, insulting, and often offensive.  You aren't the only person who has raised this issue.  Check out some of these articles about Reality TV shows: Reality One, Reality Two, Reality Three, Reality Four, Reality Five, and Reality Six.  (Some people point to Bush as example of the dumbing down of America—click here.)


Now, with all those articles on all those searches, I have to say that I don't support your idea of the relationship between watching Reality TV shows and average IQ scores.  You said, "I have a theory that IQs have gone down because of these worthless, insulting, and often offensive programs."  Your comment indicates that the Reality TV shows are the cause of (allegedly) declining IQ scores.  I'm not sure there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two variables.  There may be, but I haven't seen any legitimate research on the subject.  My guess is that the Reality TV shows don't cause a change in average IQ scores, but rather that Reality TV programs may be interesting to people who: (1) Are intellectually complacent or lazy; (2) Just want to watch something that doesn't involve any critical thinking; (3) Follows the "Least Objectionable Program Theory," which indicates that viewers may not find anything interesting on TV, and simply select a program to watch that is the least objectionable; (4) Some other reason.


The reason why people use the media, such as why they watch specific TV shows, why they listen to certain radio stations, or why they read particular newspapers or magazines, falls in the area of research called, Uses and Gratifications.  I haven't seen any Uses and Gratifications research related to Reality TV shows, but I think the results would be very interesting.


Therefore, in reference to your cause-and-effect question about Reality TV shows and IQ, my guess, from what I have read, is that the programs don't create or cause changes in IQ, but rather the shows match what many viewers want to watch (Find out what the viewers want, Give it to them, Tell them that you gave it to them.)


And one final thing . . .


The "dumbing-down" of America is a significant topic discussed by many people, but the problem isn't related only to Reality TV shows or other TV programming.  The problem relates to all areas of life, including many employers who say they can't find enough people who are qualified to perform even basic tasks.  From my experience as a businessperson and college professor, and from the information I have read, I think intellectual complacency/laziness is evident in virtually every aspect of American life.  If I had to guess, I would say that the cause of intellectual complacency is rooted in the fact that American life is now less formal than it was in previous decades—less formal in dress, attitudes, language and grammar, lifestyles, and everything else. 


I think informality, not lower IQs, creates intellectual complacency, and there are countless examples in almost everything we do.  However, let's look at only one area that has changed dramatically in the past several years—language and grammar.  Here are a few examples:

  1. TV and radio announcers/talent.  Have you ever heard the announcers on a NASCAR race?  Oh, my.  About a week ago, I heard an announcer say, "That 22 car done got lapped by the faster 17 car."  Wow.

  2. Song lyrics in formats such as Country and Hip-Hop.  My goodness.

  3. Everyday conversation, such as, "Me and Larry are going to the store today."

  4. Signs and/or notifications in stores and other public areas, such as, "Seat yourselfs," or "Many discount's today," or "All thing's on sale today," or "CD's on sale."  Gag me.

  5. Music group/artist's names such as Guns n' Roses or Lil' Kim.  I have no idea what n' represents in Guns n' Roses.  It literally can represent any word in any language that starts with the letter "N" — Not?  Nothing?  Nimrod?  I also don't know what Lil' represents in Lil' Kim.  Again, it literally can represent any word in any language that starts with "Lil" — Lilith?  Lilliputian?  Lilac?

  6. Radio and TV commercials—too many to list.

  7. Magazines, newspaper, billboards—too many to list.

  8. Contracts, agreements, and job applications—I saw a job application the other day with this on the back page:  Please list 5 reference's we may contact.

That's enough.  Now, is all this a big deal?  Does it matter if someone says, "Me and Larry are going to the store today?"  Probably not in reference to its effect on the world's population.  But, they are examples of informality in everyday life that I believe demonstrate intellectual complacency and laziness, and why (possibly) Reality TV programs are so popular.

Stupid People - IQs in the United States - Comment

Doc, are you being facetious here?  (See quote below.)  N' 'N and 'N' are commonly (albeit ungrammatically) substituted for "and" and "&."  "Lil'" is a common abbreviation for "little."


"Music group/artist's names such as Guns n' Roses or Lil' Kim.  I have no idea what n' represents in Guns n' Roses.  It literally can represent any word in any language that starts with the letter "N" — Not?  Nothing?  Nimrod?  I also don't know what Lil' represents in Lil' Kim.  Again, it literally can represent any word in any language that starts with "Lil" — Lilith?  Lilliputian?  Lilac?" - Anonymous


Anon:  Oh, no, I wasn't being facetious at all.  I was dead serious, and your comments emphasize my point.


You say that N' 'N and 'N' are commonly (albeit ungrammatically) substituted for "and" and "&."  The variations of N with apostrophes may be commonly substituted for "and" and "&," but the only grammatically correct option for "and" or "&" is 'n' — where the apostrophes are placeholders for the letters "a" and "d."  As I said in reference to the name, Guns n' Roses, there is only one placeholder after the "n," so, therefore, the "n" represents any word in any language that starts with the letter "n."  It may be commonly used, but it's commonly incorrect.


Now in reference to Lil' Kim—You say that Lil' is a common abbreviation for "little."  Sorry, but I haven't seen that, and I can't find a reference in any book or on the Internet suggesting that this is the case.  If your experience indicates that it is a common abbreviation, then I'll say once again, it is commonly incorrect.  Lil' represents any word in any language that starts with those three letters.


While some grammar may be commonly used, the common usage does not make it correct.  I'm not the type of person who is resolute about using proper grammar, spelling, and language.  However, my comments in the earlier question were examples about the "dumbing down" of America.  "Me and Jim," "I ain't got the time," "He don't know the answer," and other such comments are commonly used, but they are incorrect, and they say much about the person who uses such language and grammar.


What is the best way to explain the radio business to corporate VPs that insist they know everything. The VP at my company asked me to get an ad on the top two stations in a specific market for the following day during drive time! Hello! One of the sales reps that I work with locally has offered to meet with him (which he probably will not do) and go over the do’s and don’ts, but I don't want to offend him either. But he is making my life a living nightmare with his stupidity. Help! - Anonymous


Anon: One of the best ways to deal with a situation like this is to say, "I will do my best to get it done, but I’m sure you know that . . ." And then explain the problems. You already know that a business title doesn’t mean that the person who holds the title knows everything. Deal with VPs and other executives the same way you would deal with anyone else.

Sub-audible Tones

Hey doc, quick question:  Of course, live syndicated shows use sub-audible tones (25/35/65/75 Hz) to signal events like commercials and local IDs, but is the same thing done on shows syndicated on CD, like music shows?  We tested it and the CD records that low frequency and it seems to signal our decoder, but do syndicators use it?  Thanks in advance. - Anonymous


Anon:  I sent your question to Paul Douglas in Atlanta (Cox Radio Syndication).  Thanks to Paul, who said:


“The answer is ‘yes.’  Most syndicated long-form programs are distributed by satellite, which use both sub-audible tones 25 and 35 Hz and relay closures, but you can record the sub-audible tones on to a CD that will trigger a local event, as you describe, i.e., station ID or spots.”

Subliminal Advertising

Doc:  In an effort to attack our competitor, my PD suggested that we do a subliminal ad campaign where we hide messages about them in our own spots.  Is that a good idea?  By that I mean, does it work? - Anonymous


Anon: No, it's not a good idea.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Subliminal advertising is a myth.  The information about subliminal persuasion is based on pseudoscience.  At least three geniuses are to blame for the information about subliminal persuasion.

  2. The first genius is Vance Packard, who wrote a book called The Hidden Persuaders in 1957.  In this book, he described an experiment conducted by the second genius responsible for the subliminal advertising garbage.

  3. The second genius is James Vicary, a purported market researcher who claimed that he conducted an experiment in 1957 in a movie theatre in New Jersey where he secretly edited messages into the film shown at the theater.  The messages were things like, "Drink Coke," and "Eat Popcorn."  The frames went by so fast that they couldn't be consciously seen, but Vicary claimed that due to subliminal persuasion (the messages were communicated below the conscious level of the audience), sales of Coke and popcorn increased dramatically.  After much notoriety and discussion of his "theory," he admitted in 1962 that he fabricated all the data for his study.  Vicary was a fraud.  The data were falsified.  But many "average people" still believe his ideas.  Go figure.

  4. The third genius is Wilson Bryan Key who wrote a book in 1973 called, Subliminal Seduction in which he describes all sorts of hidden messages used by advertisers to subconsciously persuade people to buy products.  It's all crap, but you should read more about him.

  5. In 1974, the FCC (in its infinite wisdom) banned subliminal persuasion even though there were no legitimate research studies to document that the process actually works.  There still aren't any studies that support the idea of subliminal persuasion.

There ya go.  If you want to beat your competitor, have better programming.  If you're interested, here is a great article about subliminal advertising.


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