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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Utah Public Radio will switch to digital signal in January

By Rick King

October 15, 2007 | Radio is an interesting, unique medium. Technological advancements, such as television, and made-to-order internet news and information, have forced radio to adapt, time and time again to escape the seemingly inescapable fate of becoming obsolete.

With the revolutionary invention and success of satellite radio not too far under its belt, radio is once again preparing for a facelift and NPR affiliate, Utah Public Radio (UPR) has already begun the process of upgrading their signal from analog to HD-Digital. With the new digital signal, UPR has a lot of exciting new plans and additions that are sure to not only please current public radio listeners, but also attract many who have yet to catch the public radio bug.

Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio engineer, will tell you before he even begins explaining anything technical that UPR is going HD (or digital) and not "High Def." High Definition is a term that refers to television or video, and radio going HD isn't exactly the audio equivalent to its television counterpart, but is called HD simply to help consumers make a connection with audio going digital just as television has.

UPR is making the shift ahead of most NPR affiliates across the country, and will most likely be the first station in Logan, and possibly Utah to successfully do so. Weller says the entire industry is moving in that direction and that UPR wants to be able to keep up with technology.

The new general manager of UPR, Cathy Ives, has brought a lot of new ideas to the table and has been out collecting grants in order to help fund the upgrades. Unlike commercial stations, public radio is supported by listeners' donations and by government grants through the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

Ives said in a e-mail interview, "We are taking advantage of available funds from the CPB and the desire of the students to have a student radio station using student funding for the grant match." Ives' desire to attract younger listeners has been a major motivating factor in the pursuit for going HD. Along with the digital stream, UPR will have three separate channels to broadcast on.

"UPR gets our CPB match and the students get a long awaited broadcast channel on UPR's HD - 3 stream," she said. "Utah State students have been asked to help act as a sort of focus group for NPR's new morning show for HD broadcast that is aimed at a younger audience to help begin a tradition of life-long listening to public radio. In addition there has been a senior class basic radio course in concert with the JCOM department. UPR is helping to teach this course."

Along with NPR's younger-focused news show, The Bryant Park Project, UPR is also working on their own younger-focused local show titled, "The Mattrick Show." Matt Jensen, host of the Mattrick Show, says he's excited for the switch.

"I've always been a techie, and being able to provide content on a new digital stream just seems cool," he said.

The Mattrick Show will be available on HD-3 and available for download in podcast form when it goes live.

But what about the other two channels? Ives says, "On HD stream No. 1 we will be running our current broadcast schedule/simulcast with our analog/FM signal. On HD-2 we hope to counter program and run classical music in morning and afternoon, and mid-day news magazines that we currently are not able to. For example: Day-to-Day, The Diane Rehm Show, The World, and Talk of the Nation.

"The networks NPR, PRI (Public Radio International) and APM (American Public Media) are making very attractive offers for programming on HD streams for the next two years -- and perhaps further. Giving us a chance to grow the HD audience -- and time for listeners to buy HD radios."

Indeed, buying new radios will be necessary to pick up the new digital streams once they go live in January. Will it be worth it for UPR listeners? Friend Weller said students will be a big market for the HD radios, being that they will have a whole channel produced and run by their peers. He says the "high-brow" effect will also play a role. Many well-to-do patrons listen to public radio and will be anxious for a new toy and new way to listen to their favorite programming. With UPR's upcoming pledge drive, Ives says they might even give a couple of HD radios away.

According to the audio quality will go up, which will help in local stations competing with the current satellite radio trend. It states that current FM stations will have cd-quality sound, the same as satellite radio boasts. Also, AM stations will now rival FM's current quality.

Weller claims that UPR doesn't expect to recieve more coverage because of the digital stream, but that it should stay roughly the same, but one of the biggest improvements will be the reduction of interference caused by Utah's mountainous landscape. It will be a learning experience for UPR.

Weller says, "It's a new animal. We're all learning."

When asked about whether or not digital will push analog radio into oblivion, Weller says that it's much too early to tell, but that there are just too many analog radios out there. In the meantime, expect Utah Public Radio to be available in both digital and analog formats and according to, that trend is expected for the rest of the nation as well.

For more information on Utah Public Radio's switch to HD visit their Web site,


Copyright 1997-2007 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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