Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

Nearly four months ago, my audio cable in car stopped working. My Spotify experience in my car was now ruined. I stopped at a Best Buy on the way home from work to buy a new cable and the problem remained. Months later, I've been using regular FM Radio on any trip in my car.

I'm in the Tampa area and these are my six presets as of May 12, 2018.

93.3 | 94.1 | 95.7 | 97.9 | 100.7 | 103.5

Out of those six, five are owned and operated by iHeartMedia. I noticed this, because every station is offering $1000 for texting a keyword every hour during the weekdays. At first it sounds like a good chance until you hear the phrase "nation wide contest" that only a few stations mention. This is of course referring to the other 850 stations that iHeartMedia controls around the states.

I have no idea how many people listen to each radio station, but lets guess that 100 people for each station take part in the contest. This would be 85,000 people an hour competing against one another. The odds of that winning that is pretty bad.

Texting this number (if you read the contest rules), signs you up for text notifications from iHeartMedia. You have to explicitly text "STOP" to the number in order for these to end. Every time you text the number, you sign up again while joining the contest in question. If you don't have unlimited SMS/MMS messages you might rack up a few charges on your account.

I imagine the growing pool of signed up radio listeners are used for advertising purposes. If you can instantly send an advertisement to thousands of people's devices directly, I'd venture to say lots of companies would get involved in that. I am not one of those listeners who takes part in these contests. I don't want to get my hands or phone wrapped up in some cost charging never ending notification scheme for a small chance at $1000.

Moving back to the radio, I grew up with cassettes leaving the bad sound quality AM Radio behind. I quickly upgraded to the Sony Walkman -> MP3 Player -> iPod, once again leaving behind the FM Radio. Not long after, I abandoned the static list of music on my iPod for Spotify. A small fee to pay for a machine to deliver me customized music daily. I discover new music I like, get song lists built automatically and never ever listen to an advertisement.

Streaming music services disrupted the radio, so I wondered how such a large company was still surviving doing something I thought was dead. Turns out iHeartMedia already filed for bankruptcy in March of 2018. The article explains that this is just a shuffling of money and won't disrupt the individual 850 stations.

I'm not versed enough in the laws of bankruptcy to know what that means, but being stuck with a radio again sucks. It would be like taking a Taxi to the airport, instead of an Uber. The world has evolved and I think AM/FM radio is next for retirement.

Featured image by Mpho Mojapelo / Unsplash

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