KB Radio Shutdown: “Never say Never”

It is something that many might say, why are you even writing this. But I feel I owe the thousands of artists and listeners and supporters of the stations some kind of explanation. Over the last 12 months KB Radio has continued to grow, and KB Country Radio even faster. KB had hit the 350 thousand listener mark for the previous 12 months, and I was stoked.

I have had such generous offers for help, even an offer to buy the stations and name, but I want everyone to know it is so much more than money that has caused where I am at with the stations at this time. So with that said, this very long blog, which in many ways feels like it rambles on, goes into detail about a lot of the operations, expenses and time that it takes on a daily and weekly basis. I will say a number of times through this that I am not complaining. I loved what I did, what we accomplished and the bottom line through all of this is that I don’t want it to be gone for good. But beyond working out the technical issues, I am not able as the person I am to just sign on and start streaming music without doing it the best way I know how. I could have left the stations on with just music and no live shows, but to what end?

So if you wish you can skip reading the rest of this blog, it will detail what went into the operations, it talks about Sunny and her work and future and into some details about things that had been coming to the stations, but also are for now done. It will tell you that I was taught many years ago by my father, who I can say laughingly I spoke with just an hour or so ago, and he used the line “Never Say Never” about another topic. I will only say I won’t make any promises one way or another, but “Never say Never”.

With the incredible work with Sunny over the past 16 months, things were on a very positive curve. But there is a lot that goes into the operation of my stations, and I take it very seriously. If I can’t give my full effort, I would rather not do some half baked attempt. Day to day operations I can easily say we both put in excess of 40 hours per week into things that needed to be done. This doesn’t include the maintaining of the Twitter accounts. That is its own huge busy animal, but very worthwhile.

I have received so many wonderful messages and comments and more that I wanted to explain a few things. This was not an easy decision, but at the same time we have put a lot of effort into things. I am not looking for anything in explaining some of this, but rather just to let those who care know how much I/we truly care as well, and while things have been knocked off, this is no small undertaking. So to start back up again will be not just a matter of flicking a switch.

Every week, there was the putting together of two lists for voting, the creation of the new poll each week, the generating of a new Top 25 and Top 10 on Country and of course the updating of the website with all the new data. When we did interviews, the arranging of schedules to either record or do them live, which was sometimes not as easy as it sounds. lol If an interview was prerecorded, it then had to be edited before it went to air as well, because I always wanted to present a good product, and something the listeners would enjoy and get something out of. Not the idle chit chat where asked each other about the weather. We also carried a number of other shows on some of the stations, and they would be sent to us weekly. Each show would have to be downloaded and labelled using our system so they would live Tweet properly. I then had to load them into the different computer systems for each station, and make sure last weeks shows were pulled. I got it all right about 90% of the time.

When I talk about music submissions, I do so with the utmost in gratitude to everyone who sent music to us. Without those submissions, I would not have been able to create the sound we did with the stations. As we signed off we were getting about 1500 songs sent to us every month for submissions. It was such a daunting and amazing part of what we did. I updated the music on the stations every week, and this was made up of the submissions we had listened to through the week. Many people asked about the submission process, but it was really very simple. Keep it all together through one email address, and then you don’t lose music. If I were to listen to something somebody had posted on Twitter, that would be the same as if an artist just sent a Spotify link to listen to. We would have to listen, then email the artist and ask them to send us the song. We would wait for that email, among the hundreds of others, and hopefully remember that we had already listened to the song.

We get so many songs in that it became part of our review process for a lot of the music to do a scan through the submission list to see if that song had been sent before. I used a spreadsheet system that tracks on a weekly basis every song we received and listened to. It also shows if it was going to be played on one or more of the stations, and other details. Sunny had a similar spreadsheet and she documented other data on that, a lot of which went to one of our websites or was used in other ways. It was funny how often we would get a song from an artist, their new release, and the name would sound familiar, and when I searched my spreadsheet, we had received and played that same song 2 or 3 years prior. Of course I don’t want to get into how I programmed the stations again to explain why that wasn’t of interest to us.

We honestly had days where we spent 5, 6 or 7 hours just reviewing music. We would do that 3 or 4 times a week when we could. I am NOT complaining in anyway shape or form. As Sunny grew into a bigger part of all the processes, I know she like myself loved this part of what we did. There is nothing cooler, than getting a song from an artist or a band, and putting it on for the first time. Knowing how hard they have worked to put together this music, and really except for a few people we are among the first to even hear it. Such an honour in my mind.

At the end of each week all the new music for the week that is going to be played has to be transferred to the appropriate computer system. This all has to be tracked because in my system, for every song that went in, one had to come out. This meant a system, apart from the new music tracking, that accounted for every song that was being played and on which station. We also needed the start up dates etc to help keep that organized. The new music every week took about 2 hours, and that was just for the Indie music. In the case of the Country station we also played new mainstream hits, which meant we needed to stay on top of those, and keep those lists up to date. That meant acquiring the new songs and doing all the processing etc for airplay on our station.

I know that probably sounds odd, saying we have to do the processing. But because we operate 4 Twitter accounts, when a song is played it live Tweets. The automated connection pulls specific fields of data that show what I have typed in their. Example, Artists Name and Song Title. Plus we add Twitter handles, hashtags and station links for promotion. All of this data also transmits to other places like TuneIn that carry our feed, so listeners get the song titles on the screen. All of this information has to be added to each song we put in for airplay. You might be surprised how many songs come in, without even the Artists name and song title on it. LOL

One of the biggest burdens is the cost. I won’t ever lie about that fact. I retired in 2013 and started the station podcast a couple years later. It has grown as I mentioned and I am thrilled, honoured, blessed, pick your own adjective to have reached the levels we have. But with the growth came expenses. These expenses had to get paid, and I refused to put a donate link on my pages. So I went back to work, at one point with 2 jobs. With all of the Covid 19 activity, one job disappeared and the other I had been working extra hours, and suddenly they have all dried up and I am down to almost none. This is a big factor in the decision process.

Royalties are the biggest expense by far, and I probably didn’t pay enough. Lets face it, we had listeners in 170 countries and can I say for a fact that I paid every country, no. But I paid into a number of companies that represented the major countries and regions and tried to be as fair and legal as possible. There were the monthly fees for streaming services to carry my stations, one for each station. There is the fees for websites, and yes Indie and AOR we did through a free web hosting company, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t. Whats the old line, you get what you pay for. We also wanted to share the interviews that had been done, and was a very popular aspect actually. But to have so many I needed more than a simple free plan on Soundcloud, so some more monthly fees. There were other expenses, like the licensing for the broadcast software I used. To get a professional sound and have some broadcast abilities to that help present a better show you need top quality software. The upfront license cost was steep but worth over penny, and there is an annual fee to be able to keep the software up to date. Again worth every cent that went into it. If someone has never worked in radio or broadcasting before you may not notice what is missing in some of the basic free versions, but once you use high end broadcast software you can’t go back.

This is the line that leads me to where I am at. I run everything through a board built by Arrakis systems, and have nothing but the highest praise for their equipment. When I expanded this studio, it was set up in such a way that future expansion would be very easy, without having to go out and buy new equipment. But i suddenly found myself having connectivity issues, and microphone issues and they were not easily solved. It got to the point I wasn’t able to have a live microphone to do shows, and that would make things difficult. As I write this I have the schematic open for the board in front of me and was on the phone with their support people just the other day. What an incredible group, and very helpful.

As many of you know, Sunny and I parted ways about a month ago, and that left a gap in getting things done that I had to fill myself. I know many people often thank the KB Team, lol, but apart from her work with me over the past year, and a couple others input and help with some items in the past, this is an operation of one. Again as I have mentioned previously, no complaints.

With the extra workload for the stations, the declining income to cover expenses and the technical issues it just became to big a hurdle to jump. It was not easy but I needed to make the right decision. It came at an even more difficult time then whats mentioned. You may remember a few months ago, with the suggestion of Adam (Neil and Adam) and his wife Brijette back in February of this year. We had begun to work on a show for people with Autism, and had done a great deal of work in learning about what would be required, and how to go about doing it. It had been planned to start I think the 1st of May, I have lost track now, but when Covid 19 happened, things got off track. It wasn’t cancelled just delayed, so this takes the wind out of that program as well, something I regret very much.

Earlier in the year we did a survey about music festivals, and the idea for one that KB would be the host and title sponsor of. The idea of course was greatly received, and through the last couple of months an idea had developed on how to pull it off. It was and still is something that think would be amazing, but it too is sidelined.

So where does this all leave me. With a very deep desire to be able to get back on the air and pick up the pieces where I left off. Will Sunny be a part of the scene, I don’t know and can’t answer that. Her work has been invaluable and I would love to be able to get to a point we could continue this together. But until that time I need to plan to work alone on this project. My first issue is to continue to work to get all the technical issues worked out. If this can’t be solved, and cheaply then the rest is irrelevant. I then need to decide whether to maybe scale things back to cut some costs or do I look for another job. Retirement is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have no doubt the artists will be generally happy if I get back on the air, and I am not worried about drawing back listeners. You provide a good product and they will return.

For now, I wait and try not to rush anything. I will stay in touch via Twitter as much as possible and if there is any update or change in plans, let everyone know.

Thank you again to everyone for the incredible messages. I do feel truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people.

 

Al Yardy

 

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