Memorial Day

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While we view Memorial Day as the official summer kick off and enjoying a B-B-Q with friends or family, please remember to set aside some time to honor the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. That freedom extends into radio in the form of Freedom of Speech. Whether you agree or disagree with a host, your right to do so is largely a result of those who have gone before us to secure that freedom.

Gene Burns, an unforgettable icon in radio history, believed that talk radio played a crucial role in exercising and preserving our First Amendment Right. He gave one of the most moving speeches about the Freedom of Speech when he accepted the “Freedom of Speech” award at Talker’s. It was so long ago, there is no recording that we could locate (still working on it), but we did find some YouTube videos of Gene that make one realize that even though everything seemingly changes, everything really is the same…. Michael Harrison, founder of Talker’s Magazine and host of podcast Up Close and Far Out is also a huge proponent of Freedom of Speech. He said this in an interview on KNPR “I think talk radio is a very vital expression of the First Amendment,” he said, “And I think that the First Amendment, freedom of speech, is not a tidy affair. You cannot have free speech and have it be nice or the way you like it or only the truth or only things that are political correct. Free speech is the foundation upon which America is built.”

Take a minute this weekend when you’re listening to the radio or watching YouTube videos, about whatever content that you have the freedom to choose, to say thanks to all of those that died to secure your freedom.

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.

Get Ready for Some Baseball!

bb-blogIt’s that time of year, where baseball fans of all ages gear up for the upcoming season. Although it’s soggy and wet (and even snowing in some parts) here in Northern California, there are places like Arizona and Florida where the sun is shining. We will just have to live vicariously through those fortunate fans of the sun belt who are watching their favorite teams get ready for baseball..

For the folks that can’t make the trek to Arizona or Florida, there’s nothing like listening to baseball on the radio. We hear time and again from our customers that baseball is what started their life long love of radio. There are many who even take their pocket radio to the game because they prefer the play by play of their beloved radio sportscaster to the announcer in the stadium. Some of the most famous voices in radio are baseball announcers. Wikipedia has an quite a list of current MLB announcers.

Sports talk continues to be an area of consistent growth for radio. With pre-game shows, post game shows and every imaginable facet of sports being covered 24/7 by ESPN, Westwood One, Fox Sports plus many local independent stations, there isn’t a shortage of options when it comes to listening to sports talk radio. Often local stations are broadcasting high school and college games as well.

If you find yourself having trouble pulling in the game, call us up and we can help you figure out which radio might be the best solution for your specific situation.

 

 

Local Radio Still Matters

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Image used with permission from National Broadcasters Association

Do you remember when you could call up your local radio station and ask to dedicate a song?  Maybe you just wanted to start a friend’s day right with their favorite tune, or wanted that special someone to know you were thinking of them.  Regardless of your sentiments, there was the thrill of knowing everyone listening for miles around heard your name and theirs over the air waves.  And if you were lucky enough to get on air yourself, you tried to come up with something aside from “This is for Tony, because he’s so cool!”, but choked on the spot instead.

Today our existence is filled with signals and public sharing, so feeling like part of the world at large is easy.  Quick as a flash, half the planet can watch that video you posted of your grandchild sticking cereal up their nose.  But for a price.  You have to pay someone for that connection, and in some way they are using your profile to make money.

Luckily, some things have not changed.  Radio broadcasts are still free and quite prolific.  According to the web site www.wearebroadcasters.com, there are 15,516 full power radio stations in the U.S., that are listened to by more than 268 million Americans each week.

According to a response to a survey from PoytnerThe purpose of local is to see, know, care about and understand your community. C. Crane believes that local radio is at the heart of every community and this sentiment is consistently reinforced when we talk to radio listeners every day. We recently experienced it first hand when our Fortuna High Varsity Basketball team traveled to the North Coast Section playoffs – below is the testimonial from one of our staff:

My son is playing in the North Coast Section’s basketball playoffs this evening in San Francisco. I didn’t travel this time and was so bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to watch or hear the game. I have been unable to find any source of live streaming or local or online televised broadcast BUT our local guy Tag Wotherspoon will be down there covering the game on 95.1 FM so I’ll be able to listen. This is the only local radio station that covers any of the local high school sports and I am so grateful.

Local radio continues to serve their community – they announce the local events, tell you who is playing at what venues, help you decide where to go for dinner and the local news highlights what issues are specific to the area you are in. If you’re lucky enough to be a sports fan in a town with a professional team, you might find yourself watching the game on television, but listening to your local announcer call the play by play on the radio.  If you are further interested in this topic, The National Association of Broadcasters has a very informative web site with information on the status of issues that affect radio listeners.

C. Crane has many options for you to take advantage of those free signal broadcasts.  Our radios are made with the listener in mind, and we can help you determine which model would best suit your needs.  We know that radio has the unique ability to entertain, inform and connect and appreciate the opportunity to help you stay connected to your community.

Please share with us – Does local radio matter to you and if so why?

Unless you would rather hear more about the elections – Let’s talk baseball!!!

There’s nothing like playoff baseball. It has all of the makings of a good drama, the happiness, the love, the heartbreak, the meltdowns, the fights and the rivalries. We have some die hard baseball fans hear at C. Crane, since we’re in Northern California, we have a lot of Giants lovers (who were elated when they got the Wildcard and then heartbroken when they didn’t make it out of the division series playoffs) but we also have a few folks who root for the A’s, the Dodgers and the Cubbies.

Baseball and radio have a long history and some of the best voices in radio (in our humble opinions) are sportscasters. Just listen to Jon Miller from the San Francisco Giants call the game, or recently retired Vin Scully who had called the games since 1950. We get comments from customers regularly who buy one of our radios so they can get their favorite baseball game or take it to the games with them so they can listen to the play by play.

When sitting in on a conference about Sports Talk Radio, we learned that in order to be successful in a popular sports market like Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, sports radio hosts had to be some of the most knowledgeable and well-studied hosts in the market. Where else would radio show callers expect the host to know everything about a pitcher from 50 years ago, even if the host is only 40? That host has to know who the pitcher was, if they won any awards, how they compare to the current pitcher, if there were any scandals, etc. And that’s just one position! They need to know the history of the franchise and the management and the owners. You’ve heard a great host. It wouldn’t do and the market wouldn’t accept someone who had no idea about those kinds of details. The panelists at this conference brought up how difficult it is for an outsider or someone who didn’t grow up in the area to come in and be successful because they have to learn so much vs. someone who grew up going to the games and listened on the radio and is really passionate about their team and their city.

Sports Talk is one of the few areas where radio has seen growth and we believe a big part of that is the local talent. It can’t be syndicated (at least not widely) because it’s specific to the market. Most people in New York DO NOT want to hear about the Dodgers and people in Los Angeles really, really don’t want to hear about the Giants. We think maybe regular radio would do well to take a page out of Sports Talk’s programming book and look for and develop strong local talent with content that’s specific to their market. From what we’ve seen, the most successful stations do this.

We would love to know if you listen to baseball on the radio and who’s your favorite team?

Long Time Radio Host Dr. Joy Browne Has Passed Away

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Dr. Joy Browne
was a gracious and intelligent radio host. She was exactly the same in person. We were fortunate to meet her several times throughout the course of our attendance at Talker’s New Media Seminars. Her show was a welcome alternative to all of the political talk. She talked about real life and real life issues with real people. We know she will be missed on air.

Here’s a great article Retrospective: The Life and Career of Dr. Joy Browne from Talker’s.

Her show will continue to run with Michael Harrison filling in until a permanent replacement is found. Some details about the show and Michael Harrison filling in from Talkers News.

“Beginning Monday, September 19, the time slot will indefinitely be hosted live by Michael Harrison until a permanent replacement is named.  Upon agreeing to keep the seat warm, Harrison states, “It is an honor to serve as interim host of Joy’s program.  I deeply believe in her mission and the importance of keeping generalist, non-specifically political talk programming alive within the context of ‘news/talk’ during the daytime hours.  I will do my best to provide her wonderful affiliates and audience with a meaningful listening experience within that time-honored radio tradition.”  Harrison says he has cleared his schedule during that time slot for at least the rest of 2016 but will step out during that time frame if and when “a permanent replacement is named.”  Simultaneously, GCN will be continuing to offer Dr. Joy Browne’s radio show, podcasts and archives to radio stations and listeners worldwide on a separate channel.”

Listening Fatigue: Are Your Ears Tired?

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We’ve often debated here at C. Crane what exactly listening fatigue is, but then Bob (yep, Bob Crane, founder of C. Crane) mentioned something that struck a chord. Bob has some hearing loss due to years of working around loud equipment and growing up in an era where the louder the music, the better (and Bob is REALLY excited we’re making a public announcement to everyone – yes that’s sarcasm). He said “Listening fatigue is real. It’s caused by your brain trying to piece together the missing parts of the audio. Having hearing loss does not help but if an audio source has poor bass response I find myself trying to fill in the missing low tones and make them whole. If an audio source has poor mid-range then voices are muffled and difficult to understand.”.

Wikipedia’s definition: Listener fatigue (also known as listening fatigue) is a phenomenon that occurs after prolonged exposure to an auditory stimulus. Symptoms include tiredness, discomfort, pain, and loss of sensitivity. Listener fatigue is not a clinically recognized state, but is a term used by many professionals.

C. Crane has always tried to tailor our audio for voice clarity. Meaning that we manipulate the bass and tone to accentuate consonants which can make voices more legible. Since it seems many of you are listening to talk a good percentage of the time, having clear words is a no brainer. We’ve also heard a lot of people say things like “I’m finally able to hear the words to my music” or “Your radio is the only one I can listen to all night” and “Your pillow speaker is a life saver; I can now fall asleep listening to my audiobooks”. In our research we found some great sites that give far more in depth explanations that we could, but these quotes from a site about hearing loss in relation to listening fatigue really stood out “…Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context…. ’s like doing jigsaws, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time. And “…with the addition of hearing loss, the brain has to work, think and concentrate harder than it would with normal hearing and this teamwork is disrupted, increasing the challenges of communication and leading to listening fatigue.”

We believe that comfort also plays a role in the fatigue. If something is irritating or doesn’t fit well, energy is expended to compensate or negotiate that factor. If it’s really uncomfortable whether due to poor audio quality (think harshness or distortion), additional noise (like noise in a line or hum or buzz) or poor fit, the timeline to listening fatigue can be shortened dramatically. This is where figuring out the correct tool for the job comes into play. Much like being a craftsman and knowing when to use which tool, the same can be said for listening. While some of it is subjective, some isn’t. If you’re listening at night, a pillow speaker might be a great choice. This allows you to keep the volume at an appropriate level, have the privacy you desire and eliminates the discomfort of wires in your ears and around your head. If you plan to sit and listen for an extended period, headphones might be a better choice for comfort of your ears. If you’re in an area without a lot of background or other noise, a radio may be better. If you walk or jog, finding a good pair of earbuds that don’t introduce noise in the cables is a big deal.

Last but not least, consider turning down the volume and/or taking a break. It seems counter-intuitive but your body is amazing and will do things to protect itself including shutting down. Keeping the volume at an appropriate level, especially when listening to earbuds, can make a huge difference.

Have you experienced listening fatigue? Enter your tips for preventing or reducing it in the comments below.

Earworms – The Science Behind Songs Stuck in Your Head

earwormpiechartRegardless of who you are or what you do, it happens to everyone at some point in life: earworms.  Not to be confused with that pesky larva that destroys corn and tomatoes, an earworm is defined by Wikipedia as “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing”.  This annoying condition is formally referred to by experts as involuntary musical imagery (IMI), and a great deal of research has been done on this particular phenomenon.  This is no surprise since earworms are experienced by about 90% of us at least once a week, according to the Earworm Project conducted by the University of London.  Though most of us regard earworms as merely irritating, research indicates that 15% of people consider them so disturbing that they disrupt thought patterns and interfere with their lives.  This is a more serious condition known as intrusive musical imagery (IMI).

While it is still not understood exactly why we get them, analysis reveals that the type of song and your situation definitely influence the probability of catching an earworm.  In a Discover Magazine article, Professor James Kellaris, also known as “Dr. Earworm”, asserts that we are more susceptible if we are stressed, tired, or exposed to music repeatedly or for long periods of time.  And catchy songs with an upbeat melody or repetitive lyrics are more likely to get stuck in our heads than music without such patterns.  Which explains why so many of us are significantly distracted by the innocent verses of Disney’s “It’s A Small World”, doesn’t it?  Oops, sorry about that.

So what can you do to unstick that bothersome song?  Suggestions made by HowStuffWorks in “Getting Rid of Earworms” include some of the following:

  • Sing another song, or play another melody on an instrument.
  • Switch to an activity that keeps you busy.
  • Listen to the song all the way through (this works for some people).
  • Turn on the radio to get your brain tuned in to another song (or news program).

Here is where C. Crane can help you cure the dreaded earworm syndrome.  We have great radios for audio and reception, and have a number of options depending on your priorities.  Keep one of them handy for the next time you get that annoying commercial stuck in your head.

Enter to win in the comments on this blog by answering this question:

Tell us the most irritating or unusual earworm that ever got stuck in your head.

Win the CC Pocket Portable AM FM and Weather Radio. Drawing will be held August 31st. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations Emily Taylor! Thank you All for participating!

Battle of the Platforms

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We had an excellent comment from one of our blog readers recently on our blog post Is Radio in Crisis? “…….We need to get back to what made radio great in the 30s and 50s (and 60s and 70s) instead of trying to ‘beat’ the technology game. The PLATFORM is not relevant. The PROGRAMMING is.”

Platform battles aren’t limited to Podcasts vs. AM vs. FM vs. HD, etc. There’s also a battle for the platforms that include/exclude content. This is especially true when it comes to internet radio. When we first started offering internet radios back in 2006 everyone was just trying to stream. The streams weren’t great but you could get a lot of stations and there was a desire for adding listeners regardless of how they got there. The content available on internet and WiFi radio is pretty incredible.

As the technology progresses, different issues continue to appear. Some sites use flash players for their streams, which can’t play on devices without screens where you can press play (like our radios). Other networks, decide that they want you to listen through their app or device so they choose to limit the distribution of their content unless you are able to negotiate a licensing deal. Others change the format that they stream in to a less widely supported format or brand new format again limiting the devices the stream can be heard on.

There are content aggregators, meaning they don’t actually own any of the content. They gather it; host the database and often the website where it can be accessed; and work with chip manufacturers that create chips with access to their content on them. These then are embedded in devices like our radio. These aggregators can usually turn content on/off and add/remove streams (if it’s in an accepted format) – like Reciva, Frontier Silicon and TuneIn. Some have negotiated “premium” subscriptions that allow you to hear content that is otherwise not available via streams due to outside licensing agreements (like professional sports, archived shows, etc.). However, these premium services are often only available through their app or their web portal. There are also networks that own their own content like iHeartRadio (also known as Clear Channel) and Radio.com (CBS Radio Network). Maybe this provides some insight into why we call it the “Battle of the platforms”.

Our job here at C. Crane is to help listeners connect to their station, show or host regardless of the platform. There are times where an internet radio is the only viable solution such as when a person moves from Los Angeles to Florida but still wants to hear LA broadcasts. Or when Rush Limbaugh or George Noory  are no longer playing on a station they can receive, often we can help the listener find this content on another station.

It’s been interesting sharing “our job” with some of the content providers. Often there seems to be a disconnect within the networks themselves. Digital media in many cases is an entirely separate division or company. Sometimes the representatives don’t know the AM/FM market outside of call letters or what it says on their published papers. Some networks are changing staff, and appear to be working toward some better integration but there is a long way to go from what we see. Eliminating the platform wars and making it easier for companies to get listeners the content they want to hear would be a huge step in the right direction.

More than anything we try to be an advocate for the listener (because we listen too!). If you haven’t tried an internet radio, now might be a perfect time. Whether you choose one of our radios or another manufacturer, make sure to find out if the radio will play the content that you are trying to hear and supports any other functionality that is necessary for you to be happy with the radio (like Pandora, Bluetooth, clock or alarm, etc.).

For more information on what you might here on internet radio, read some past blog posts

Before You Give up Listening to Radio by Ken Hoffman, Columnist Houston Chronicle

A Secret Garden of Music

Check out this video on What You Might Hear

Also, if you’re having a tough time deciding, check out The Pros and Cons of WiFi and Internet Radio

How can we help you find a station you have lost, a host you are looking for? Contact us – we’re here to help!

Spring is Here!

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SugarLoaf – Petrolia, CA. Photo courtesy Colton Stokesberry

Well, at least in Northern California it is. The daffodils and tulips have been blooming and now the Rhododendrons are here. With all the rain this past winter things are looking more beautiful than ever. We are so fortunate and blessed to live where we do. We swear we aren’t trying to rub it into our friends in the Midwest and the South that have been battling late winter storms that include snow, flash floods and even fires possibly caused by lightening.

With Spring in the air, household projects ensue. Yard work, windows, cleaning out closets or even more ambitious projects like new flooring or decking– you name it – the honey-do list is getting long! One thing that can make any project more enjoyable and go by faster, is good audio. Listening to your favorite music like Bob’s good old old rock and roll from Russia, your favorite radio show or even audio books or podcasts will make the time fly by and studies have shown music can improve your mood and make you more productive.

Several of us here at C. Crane have preferences but the Senta Ally always comes out near the top because of its versatility. Great for listening to Pandora or MLB through Bluetooth from your smartphone. Listen to your playlist or downloaded podcasts on your iPod or even an SD Card. If the whole house doesn’t want to listen to your choices (we think you should barter for help, but in the event that isn’t an option…..) we have great earbud and headphone choices. Get that book you’ve been wanting to read off your list and have a beautiful yard at the same time! And of course, the faithful stand by – a good radio. We even have a kit for people who need some noise reduction.

What’s on your honey-do list and are you listening while you work? If yes, what do you listen to? Enter your answer in the comments to win your choice of the Senta Ally or Senta Wooden Headphones. Winner will be drawn on May 5th. Limit one entry per person.

Congratulations to winner Wanda Welsh! Thank you for participating in our blog post Spring is Here!