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Placing Audio PSAs

How to get on the broadcast airwaves

ARRL PSA's as filler announcements on radio stations that stream their audio.

Great idea !

Here's some background on how radio station streaming works -- from the business perspective.

Many stations that stream their over-the-air signals "fill" advertising avails (broadcast jargon for the spaces in "breaks" where commercials appear) with locally produced announcements or Public Service Announcements which grant streaming rights in order to avoid having to pay royalties for streaming use of the commercial announcements advertisers place on their stations. Current AFTRA and SAG contracts, among others, provide that "talent" must paid for on-air use. Additional payment is required for streaming use of the talent's voice(s).

Still, many stations do go ahead and run the commercials in their streamed audio, hoping to stay "under the radar." Generally these are smaller stations.

Non-commercial educational stations (generally those between 88 and 102 on the FM band) typically don't have this problem. To the extent that they carry community announcements, the announcements are usually "voiced" by station staff members, hence there is no performance royalty to be paid to a "commercial voice-over person" -- the "off stage announcer!"

Stations that stream music also have to pay additional ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC music rights fees.

Many larger stations (and some smaller ones) make deals with Internet service companies that go like this: the station provides the stream, may or may not embed signals indicating start/end of a break, and may or may not send their broadcast schedule in advance to the Internet service company to coordinate what content is to be streamed and what content is not to be streamed.

There are several variations within this relationship. The Internet streaming company may insert its own commercials in the stations' streams, may insert selected commercials the station sells to advertisers as "Internet Only" advertising, and/or may let selected stations' commercials "go through" if the station wishes.

In this competitive marketplace and economic recession, every station is looking for "non-traditional revenue" to make up for a shrinking traditional advertising dollar marketplace.

Interestingly, there are also entire programs which may not legally be "streamed" on the Internet at all, and some that a station may stream only if the station pays the program rights holder additional fees.

And now you know all about streaming radio stations signals on the Internet!

I hope you can find some as Pat did that look for and accept Public Service Announcements that have rights to freely be carried in Internet Streams.

Mike Langner


Former radio station owner and operator, now retired


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