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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 30, 2007 at 9:42 AM

KEXP radio story annotation

Here is some supporting material for today’s expanded column on KEXP and radio royalties.

KEXP stats: The station reaches 175,000 people: 115,000 terrestrial listeners plus 60,000 online listeners. About 30 percent of the financial contributions to the station come from outside of Washington. Locally it has about 1,000 volunteers who donate time to the station.

KEXP is run from a Paul Allen-owned building on Dexter Avenue, near the Pink Elephant car wash. It has a fiber-optic connection to the University of Washngton and its transmitter at 18th and Madison on Capitol Hill. Allen is no longer covering the station’s deficits, but he’s providing the building for $1 per year for five more years or so.

The station’s 4,700-watt broadcast has a roughly 18-mile radius.

Working with the UW, KEXP has added HD radio capability. That gives the station the capability to add a second or third broadcast channel. Director Tom Mara said they’re still discussing how to use the additional channels.

At the Dexter building, the station has four studios and they all have turntables as well as digital disc players. The station has 10,000 CDs in its collection.

KEXP added a “click to buy” button on its Web site in response to listener requests. The button directs users to an assortment of local music sellers, who give the station a percentage of the sales. The station’s proceeds are neglible – the sales added $6,000 to the station’s $3.4 million operating budget last year.

I also need to correct something on the technical side — it was the UW Computing and Communication Department, not the UW Computer Science and Engineering Department, that developed KEXP’s Web streaming service and other technologies.

Regarding the royalty situation, here are some sites with more info:

The Copyright Royalty Board is the body that approved the higher royalties, at the request of Sound Exchange, a group representing copyright holders. Sound Exchange was created by the Recording Industry Association of America.

On April 16, the CRB refused to hear an appeal of the higher royalty fees. The next step for broadcasters opposing the new fees is to seek relief from the U.S. Court of Appeals or from Congress.

Discussions are taking place between interested parties that could produce a settlement. Sound Exchange, for instance, extended an olive branch to Webcasters on April 19.

On April 26, U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee and Don Manzullo announced a royalty limits bill.

Here’s a great primer on radio royalties provided by David Oxenford, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine’s Washington, D.C., office. Oxenford also writes a great blog on the topic. I interviewed him last week to learn more about the situation. Davis Wright is also The Seattle Times Co.’s law firm, but that’s not why I called him. I stumbled across his Broadcast Law Blog and wanted to know more about the appeal process.

Another great blog is Kurt Hanson’s Radio and Internet Newsletter.

More disclosure: I had no idea The Times would editorialize on the radio royalty situation in today’s paper. I’ve been working on the KEXP story for about a month now; it would have run sooner but vacations and the full pipeline delayed things.

It was worth waiting, I think, because last week we were able to put together a nifty music slideshow featuring Lymbyc Systym, an Arizona band that sounds a little bit like Seattle’s The Postal Service minus the vocals.

During my reporting, the most amazing thing to discover was how much sound Lymbyc Systym produces — it’s just two skinny young guys with a drum kit, a laptop, a glockenspiel, a clavinet and an assortment of keyboards. Alan Berner’s picture really captures their sonic effect.

KEXP DJ Cheryl Waters invited the band to play after she heard them en route to the bathroom at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, one of the national events that KEXP participates in to raise its profile and broaden its reach.

Comments | More in | Topics: Digital media, Public policy


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