Last week, “Yahoo! Screen” went black, and now, Columbia’s "WKCR" online streaming service has gone silent. While its local broadcast is still running, the eclectic online station that was very popular amongst listeners outside of the broadcast signal, abruptly disconnected.
According to the station, they are working on restoring the online services, but others are less hopeful. Listeners and DJs alike are expressing their concerns in not receiving clear information on why exactly the service was shut off. The site specializes in classical and jazz music, and listeners commented on their dedication to the streaming service and worry that they won’t be able to find anything “as excellent as WKCR”.
A Columbia representative said that the problem was not the cost of royalties, but rather contractual terms with the station’s provider, and that negotiations were underway. It is also possible that the federal copyright law that causes online stations to face limits of how many songs by a particular artist can be played in a given period of time, is having a negative impact as well. Another possibility comes after a ruling last month by the Copyright Royalty Board that set licensing rates for Internet radio, which could have a huge effect on small stations like WKCR.
WKCR’s director of broadcasting and operations, Philip Masciantonio released a statement saying, “We are currently reassessing our approach to streaming audio”. Part of this reassessing will include addressing technical difficulties that certain broadcasters were experiencing, and managing a brand-new student board that took over at the end of December.
Eric Ingram, a current DJ and former program director said that “To Columbia, KCR is more a nuisance than the bearer of a great cultural legacy”. But it seems as though many students and alumni are upset about the silence and are speaking out about the university’s apparent lack of support for the station.
While we definitely don’t anticipate a sudden decrease of radio broadcasting stations, we are considering the seriousness of small online broadcasters that are the voice for many lesser known indie artists being unable to support themselves. With a slew of recent copyright lawsuits being filed, we hope that any changes that occur in the written law will keep smaller stations like WKCR in mind as these stations serve as a discovery platform for music supervisors and music lovers alike.
To read more on the development, read up on the NYT.