Seriously Thinking About Hiding the Receiver


The radio world is overflowing with news this week: the creation of an all-Glee format, NPR's conquest of a student freeform station, Dr. Laura's apparent belief that the First Amendment is a shield against public criticism. But the biggest development might be the NAB and RIAA's interest in backing a requirement that portable electronic devices contain built-in FM receivers. As Ars Technica reports, the not-quite-finalized proposal would be a way for each lobby to get a favor from the government:

the framework concerns public performance rights. Radio broadcasters and music labels are at each other's throats over the question of whether radio ought to pay performance rights to labels or artists when it plays their music on the air (currently, only songwriters get paid, not artists or labels)….

The two sides hope to strike a grand bargain: radio would agree to pay around $100 million a year (less than it feared), but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices.

Elsewhere in Reason: I wrote about the performance rights issue last year.

NEXT: The Next Debate Over the "Ground Zero Mosque"

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  1. Why doesn't the RIAA lobby Congress to ad a line-item to our income tax withholdings? It would be more honest.

  2. the new ipod nano has an fm receiver and used the headphones as the antennae. Apple Conspiracy!

  3. Next up, player pianos required in every horseless carriage!

  4. KTRU sucks but it was OUR shitty radio station god damnit. Fucking cougar pieces of shit.

  5. God damn it! KTRU is the best station in Houston! That SUCKS.

    1. Unfortunately, you, the Law Student and about 4 other people not related to the DJs tuned in, apparently.

      1. Luckily I can still listen to the baseball/football games through the website. They also had a cool live show every spring, I hope for the current students they keep doing stuff like that.

        1. That would put them further ahead in the tech curve than the RIAA apparently.

          1. They are Rice, a private school with strong engineering programs supported by evil oil money. So the probability of them being ahead of the tech curve of the RIAA are pretty much one.

    1. It is nice when they dabble with politics.

    2. Aw, I was gonna post that.

  6. But if I don't have an FM receiver, how am I ever going to get a chance to win a $20000 gift certificate for Bob and Jerry's World of Wicker?

    1. $20,000? Holy SHIT - that's a lotta wicker!

      1. You want to see a lot of wicker? Just climb inside.


  7. Cool! So with the new FMchip, I can find my dogs if they get lost BY TUNING IN THE RADIO! Everybody wins!

  8. The radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools.

    1. I'm disappointed that it took this long.

      1. Oh, shut the fuck up. At least you GET a headline once in a while. All I get is "One More Time" on a fucking Taco Bell commercial. Fucking American wankers...

        1. You should have thought of that when you were beating Michael.

  9. Here's a thought. Would the big corporations move manufacturing to other countries and then import the devices? Is that a workaround? Or just sell them from international websites and ship them to individuals?

    1. Oh, Congress will probably get around via their power to regulate US imports and/or interstate commerce.

      1. I thought that said interstellar commerce for a second. Suppose it's only a matter of time for that too.

  10. Hey, I love a solution to a pissy slap fight that requires stuff to be more expensive! The only way this would be better would be if purchasing one were mandatory!

    1. Give them time. They are just waiting to perfect the radio brain implants.

  11. People listen to the radio? My god, why?

    1. It's cheap entertainment. Just buy a radio and batteries.

      1. What, you're too lazy to hand crank your radio?

    2. Mostly only people who work for a living or drive cars. You know, losers.

    3. No shit. I NEVER use the radio. I always listen to what I have on my iPhone in my car. I haven't listened to radio of my own accord for at least a decade.

      Radio sucks my ass, and the RIAA can go fuck itself for thinking that, because I might want a portable music player, I also must have a goddamn radio.

      1. I'd rather whistle whatever song is running through my mind than listen to a radio station.

  12. But the biggest development might be the NAB and RIAA's interest in backing a requirement that portable electronic devices contain built-in FM receivers.

    So now my electric razor must have an FM radio built in? It's going to be hard to hear the radio with the razor buzzing away.

    1. And what about vibrators?

      1. We use electric razors.

  13. What, no love for the fact that Dr. Laura is apparently going away? I will say this for her, the nudie pics that came out of her a few years ago were not bad for amateur takes. And Dr. Phil makes her seem reasonable and sane.

    1. the nudie pics


      1. There were some real beaver shots to. And they had audio of her berating callers to her show about how immoral it was to pose for nude pictures. It was great.

        1. I had an office mate that used to listen to her constantly. My favorite thing was her suggestion that you remove the door from the bedrooms of teenage boys to keep them from masturbating. Girls could flick the nubbin all they wanted, of course.

          1. She is a nutcase. Out of curiosity, what was her objection to teenage boys whacking off?

            1. Beat's me. (Hurr!)

              1. Sorry. Couldn't help myself. I don't remember.

            2. Oh, she didn't object. She just wanted to be able to watch.

          2. I used to be able to catch her show every once in a while.

            I was always amazed at her callers. Somehow she would get emotional cripples to call in with some really dumb problem, then she would berate them for 10 minutes or so.

            I felt really bad listening to it. She never had anyone normal call in.

            1. All those shows are like that. Dr. Phil is the master of "well if you would just stop smoking crack and working as a whore and get a real job your life would turn around" well no shit dumbass advice. I hate pop psychologists.

              1. I haven't listened to the show since the '90s, but the basic format then was:

                1. Person calls in and describes some deeply stupid behavior-patterns.

                2. Laura tells caller, "That's really stupid. You should stop doing that." But at greater length and with more invective.

                3. Caller reacts with surprise, as though no one had ever told her this before -- and as though she'd never listened to the show before. She promises to shape up.

                4. Repeat.

                1. Ah the mid 1990s. The days of Love Line when Adam Carolla wasn't the biggest douche in the universe, crazy Dr. Laura, and Howard Stern when he was still funny. Talk radio kind of peaked about 1995.

                2. That was the timeframe I was listening to her as well.

                  I got the same feeling watching Sir Charles elbow that poor Angolan bastard in Barcelona.

                  They obviously outclassed their opponent by leaps and bounds, yet still felt the need to rub it in just a bit more.

            2. She never had anyone normal call in

              They call in all the time, but never get through the screeners. Normal isn't interesting. They want sick.

        2. There were some real beaver shots too

          Double eeewww!

  14. Because when I look at my cell phone that holds all my music on it, can stream Pandora, and also allows me to buy music anywhere I have a signal, all I can think is "Why the fuck hasn't it got an FM receiver?"

    1. Why would you want to listen to Pandora when you could get 20 minutes of car dealership ads every hour?

      1. Car dealership ads that YELL at you.

      2. Pandora's algorithm pisses me off.

        1. I guess this story is about you, then.

          1. Pretty much.

            It isnt that they dont play what I like, its that they use a song characteristics based algorithm, rather than a user based algorithm.

            I would prefer they use one that compared my likes/dislikes to other users and gave me songs they like. Instead of "he likes this song with these characteristics, he might also like this song with those characteristics".

            Another problem - I dont want to hear any post-green REM, but I cant thumb them down twice or it wont play me South Central Rain anymore.

            1. Who makes a station with proto-punk and late-'90s jam bands?" said Davis, explaining how an effort to split the difference by playing the MC5 followed by the String Cheese Incident had failed disastrously. "There are what, maybe two songs ever recorded that fit those criteria? And he just keeps skipping them."

              Okay, that pretty much describes me.

              1. Last line of article:

                But if you want to know what I really think, this guy is probably just some bored, bitter asshole who isn't capable of genuinely enjoying anything.

                Ummm...no comment.

    2. What about those TV's at the gym where they rebroadcast the audio on a FM frequency at the low end of the spectrum? How does your fancy phone handle that?

      Actually, I think it is stupid beyond belief to require cell phone makers to put anything on their hardware (GPS?), but I do like FM radio.

      I like the fact that I can buy a cheap receiver and listen to FM/AM while I run/exercise for less than $20. If I sweat all over it or break it, no big deal.

      1. You need to start attending more conferences. I got a few "sport" AM/FM radios as freebies.

  15. It's terrible that they're so discriminatory against AM radio.

    1. And shortwave.

      I haven't been able to pick up non-Spanish broadcasts on SW in a long time.

      1. I was able to hear Radio Taiwan (english broadcast) on Monday night, so that's at least one non-Spanish one.

  16. I honestly can't remember the last time I listened to a commercial radio station by choice. 1985?

    1. I'm forced to listen to one at my dentist's office. Talk about adding insult to injury.

      1. My dentist in NZ used to put on "Kool FM, all the greatests smooth hits of the 30's, 40's, and 50's."

        1. He must save on anaesthesia that way.

    2. I listen to the local sports talk radio. I never listen to FM. Why?

    3. Admit it, you listen to NPR, don't you? There's no reason to lie. We won't make fun of you for it, nor will we question your heterosexuality or the size and usefulness of your tool.

      1. AFN plays NPR morning edition and All Things Considered all the time. They had like one hour a day of Rush Limbaugh and Tom Harkin threw a fit and wanted to ban it. It is torture.

        NPR is very run to listen to the day after the Dems lose a national election. It is like a tragic comic funeral all day.

      2. I cannot stand NPR. All my co-workers are addicted to it. I finally had to start calling it "liberal church" to get them to stop talking to me about it.

        "No, I didn't go to morning mass. I don't know what you are talking about."

        1. If the Dems get waxed in November, listen to it the Wednesday after the election. It is hysterical.

          1. So do you think George Bush or George Bush is responsible for our current predicament? And how do you think Obama is going to fix it?

          2. "Are you upset that Obama lost the election, or are you EXTREMELY upset?"

            1. It is better than that. This November it will be something like

              "Yesterday and angry bitter racist America went to the polls and took their frustrations on hapless Democratic incumbents. So Bob considering the agitated and irrational state of the electorate is the country governable even by someone with the amazing politic skills of Obama?"

              1. Well played sir.

        2. NPR is fucking awful, awful, awful. Reminds me of all the wannabe intellectuals in the bay area.

      3. I can't stand the people who claim there are no commercials on NPR. Don't they consider things like "This program brought to you by Toyota, featuring the STAR safety system" to be ads?

    4. If you hit Memphis, make sure to listen to WEVL.

      Awesome station. Completely supported and run by the community.

      Even if the genre of the music being played isn't your cup of tea, it is fun to listen to a host who is completely into the music and fills you in on all sorts of esoteric information about zydeco musicians and songs.

      1. "WEVL, Evil Radio. Bringing you the most demonic of netherworld hits."

  17. "but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices."

    Why the fuck would I want an FM radio chip in my portable Coleman camp stove?

    1. An electric camp stove? How many car batteries does that drain to cook a package of hotdogs?

      1. None if you leave the engine running.

  18. As long as we are going to start mandating crap for cell phones, how about mandating that every carrier has to have one model that simply makes calls?

    I don't want a camera, mp3 player, video streaming, text messaging etc. I just want a phone that has super long battery life, is really small and great reception.

    Or am I the only one that would rather carry extra devices that do 1 thing well (when needed) instead of the current Swiss army knife approach?

    1. I remember when "cool" cell phones were really small and light and the battery lasted for days. I really really hate the new multifunction media devices.

      1. That's why I just bought the supersized battery for the Droid Incredible. I'm almostly completely freed from the office now. Awesome.

    2. They put that shit on there in hopes that you use it, and thus their data network, without a plan so they can charge you out the ass.

      1. Exactly.

        Verizon doesn't make any money on me. I use my phone very sparingly, and never text or send photos.

        My daughter on the other hand is exactly who all these new phones are for. She (I have been told) is on the low end of phone use for a teen ager, but she still sends tons of text messages every month.

        I'm still also perplexed why someone would send a text message on a device that is also capable of connecting you directly to your target via a voice channel. I'm sure I'm missing something.

        1. I'm still also perplexed why someone would send a text message on a device that is also capable of connecting you directly to your target via a voice channel.

          The SO send them to me when I'm going to be in long, important meetings. It's a low impact, but still modest latency channel.

        2. A co-worker tells a story of walking down the street in Tokyo and seeing 4 girls walking side-by-side. All 4 have cells phones out, one types in a message and hits send, the other 3 start to giggle.

          Voice is dead, email is dead, long live text.

          1. When I was working in Tokyo in '98, the phones were super small and cool. Literally they were small enough to be put on a key ring. I could hardly wait until they hit the US market.

            Upon more recent visits, though, all the phones in Japan were getting bigger and clunkier because the kids wanted video, mp3's and pictures.


        3. Text messaging is more reliable than voice. If you send a text, your phone keeps trying to send it until the send succeeds. The network then keeps trying to deliver the text until it succeeds. Whereas with voice calls, both ends of the call have to been connected to the network. Plus text messaging requires very little bandwidth.

          So if you're ever in a disaster and need to notify your family, use text.

          Also, European regulations make voice calls extremely expensive (4x the US rate).

          1. I am familiar with the short message service.

        4. I like texting because it allows you to complete the communication you wish, and only the communication you wish.

          So if I want to let my wife know that I dropped her packages off at Fed Ex, I can send a text that says, "fed ex done." If I actually CALL her, who knows what nonsense is going to be imposed on me? "I need you to go to the co-op." "Tom wants to tell you about camp." "Guess what they had at the CSA this week?" No thanks. Three words and out. And if she texts me back, I get that text when I say I get that text.

    3. I consider it my pocket computer, which happens to have a phone app attached to it.

      1. I suppose if I ever bought a pocket computer, I might one day come to wonder how I lived without one. But today, I have no problem living without a pocket computer and all I want to buy is a simple fucking cell phone.

        1. Thats exactly how I was. But once you have a decent browser on your phone, you wonder how you did without.

          But, more importantly, was a few phones back when I got the ability to run ssh from my phone. Being able to log into a remote machine and bounce a service from ANYWHERE (as long as I had phone service) was a game changer.

          1. using vi thru your phone can be a bitch though.

          2. I can think of twice in the last 4 months I wanted to pull out a portable device and see the web. The first was on the golf course, and I really really would have liked to see a local radar loop to decide whether to wait out the rain under a tree or head in to the clubhouse. The second was when my brother gave me the wrong address for a business that I had to meet him at.

            Otherwise, I sit at a computer 8 hours a day at work, and I have access to a computer when I am at home.

            I put less than 15 minutes a month on my cell phone. I really just need it for emergencies or the hand full of times a year when my kids call to ask for money 😉

            1. Obviously you do not provide 24x7 IT support services.

              1. No. I contemplate the future all day(R&D), and then go home.

              2. I have always understood the value of a good 3G/4G device can provide to people that need the connectivity to support a business operations. But hipsters that do nothing more that oogle over the latest whizz bang device just piss me off (which is funny considering I do R&D for a living).

            2. In addition to what Jason said, there is a running gag within my circle of friends whenever an argument over some factual matter happens: "If only there were some device that allowed us to connect to some world wide searcher of data..."

              By that point, someone is googling on their phone.

              1. Maybe I should try getting some friends perhaps.

              2. What do people argue about in bars now that the internet is in everyone's pocket?

                1. Which phone is better.

                  1. A step backwards for civilization 😉

                2. There is no longer any arguing in bars. Mainly now there's just a lot of demanding that chicks take off their tops.

                  Those of us who went to college in the 80's really missed out.

                3. Which bar has better beer.

    4. Or am I the only one that would rather carry extra devices that does 1 thing well (when needed) instead of the current Swiss army knife approach?

      I'm wishy washy. I want a small Swiss army knife that does all the things I do all the time and nothing else; then I'll carry spare devices when I need extended functionality.

      Accordingly I want a phone that

      0. Has a long battery life, stand by and on air
      1. Makes calls. With a good antenna and a working memory for numbers
      2. Has a pretty decent camera (nothing better for documenting problems on site then just reaching down to your belt and snapping a picture or two)
      3. Supports bluetooth for audio and data transfer
      4. Will let me set alarms for myself

      I suppose I can live with texting (I send and receive about 1 a month), but I'll use a damn computer when I want to surf the web or read my email.

      That said, when they get a really good wearable interface going I'll upgrade to an all singing all dancing phone.

      1. What a great project.

        1. I have a friend who carries an old Motorola 1980's brick phone around in his laptop bag. When he is in a bar he will pull it out and ask a young lady for her number. Then he writes it on the side of the phone with a pencil.

          I have never seen him fail to get numbers when he pulls that phone out. If I could pull off the rotary phone, I could totally outmanuever him (as long as my wife doesn't find out).

    1. Imagine the hell of working at a Jitterbug customer care call center. Old people and tards like me calling to complain all day all night.

  19. I can't believe the thread went on for this long without someone saying "mosque."

    1. D'Oh!

  20. I think they should mandate some sort of sonar device.

    When the Joker starts blowing shit up, you'll all thank me!

  21. Dr. Laura's apparent belief that the First Amendment is a shield against public criticism.

    Jesse, would you please print this line out and staple it to David Harsanyi's forehead?

  22. So, libertarian ethics question -- if the RIAA uses the power of government to indirectly levy an illegitimate tax on us, can we pirate enough music to compensate ourselves without being thieves?

  23. the framework concerns public performance rights.it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices.

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