letter to readers
September 1, 2011
More than seventeen years ago, I started out on something
new: reporting on the latest programming, engineering and business
news from the worlds of radio and TV in a new venue - online
- and with a uniquely regional focus: first New England, and
then expanding to include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
and eastern Canada in what became NorthEast Radio Watch.
It began as a hobby, something to keep me busy when I wasn't
actually doing radio (or later TV). But in 2001, it became a
business in its own right, spinning off additional content that
included Tower Site of the Week and the Tower Site Calendar.
From the beginning, I hoped to make things work through a
hybrid model: voluntary subscriptions from loyal readers, advertising
on the website and in the calendar, sales of the calendar and
other products, and a revenue stream from consulting work generated
in part by the visibility provided by the website.
For a few years, it worked. For the last year or two, it hasn't
been working as well as we'd hoped. For the last few months,
it has, quite frankly, become unsustainable. Without getting
overly detailed about your editor's personal life, suffice it
to say that with two small children now under the roof, continuing
to run a "mom and pop" business under fybush.com's
current financial model is an impossible task. As anyone trying
to sell online advertising knows, that market has dried up (and
in some cases has disappeared from us very abruptly); the consulting
business has likewise dried up, and while we're touched indeed
by the kind words from our loyal readers, they simply haven't
been accompanied by enough actual subscription money to keep
the wolf from the door.
A few months ago, we began planning some changes to the site
in an attempt to reverse that decline. The design of the site
dates back to 2000, and looks it, and so we've been working on
freshening the design to make it more compatible with modern
browsers, mobile devices and social media. That's the easy part.
The harder part is this: it has become impossible to
keep offering the site's entire content for free. While
we're deeply appreciative of the site's wide reach and deep loyalty
from readers, it has proven impossible to monetize that readership.
So we're faced with a choice: do we continue producing NERW and
Tower Site of the Week (and maybe some additional new content)
under a new model requiring subscribers to pay for the content,
or is it time to hang up the keyboard after almost two decades
and try something new?
(This is not an issue unique to fybush.com and NERW; fans
of our west coast colleague Don Barrett know that he's pulling
the plug on his magnificent daily LARadio.com site later this
month after many years of service as the tribal drum of the southern
California radio community, and the void he'll leave behind is
a big one. Don has been very open over the years in sharing the
difficulties he's experienced in making his subscription-based
model work; I've never been as comfortable about being so open
about private business matters, but circumstances have forced
my hand this time.)
I'm deeply conscious that many of you are in similar financial
binds right now. The radio industry has never been known for
high pay, and I know all too well that many of you are out of
work, underemployed or retired and living on a fixed income.
If you're in one of those groups, I don't want to lose you as
a reader; that's why I introduced a "student/unemployed/underemployed/retired"
membership level a few years back. If even that $15 bargain level
is truly still unattainable for you, drop me a line and we'll
work something out.
But for the rest of NERW's tens of thousands of readers, decision
time is now here. Within a few weeks, we'll be transitioning
over to our new site design, and if you don't have a password,
most of the site's content will no longer be available to you.
I'm sure there will be complaints and message-board griping;
so be it. After seventeen years of giving a weekly column away
for free, I hope you'll forgive me for saying to those complainers,
quite bluntly, "I owe you nothing." (And conversely,
to the many of you who have supported us through voluntary
subscriptions, I am deeply grateful; your ongoing support is
one big reason I'm not just pulling the plug on the site completely.)
As for the rest of you: thanks for doing the right thing.
NERW and Tower Site of the Week are, first and foremost, labors
of love. I wouldn't have been doing this week in and week out
for seventeen years if I didn't care passionately about sharing
the stories of radio and TV in the northeast, and about preserving
the quickly fading history of broadcast technology all over the
country. Those of you who know me personally know that I'm never
going to get rich doing this. That's not the goal - but neither
can I continue staring down financial disaster just for the sake
of keeping the column alive.
So here's what happens now: if you want NERW to continue,
it's time to support it. You can subscribe below at any of our
suggested rates - $15 a year for students/retired/unemployed/underemployed;
$35 for an individual, or $75 for the professional-level subscription
that includes a free Tower Site Calendar. If you're a station
owner or manager and you'd like to make NERW available to your
entire office or your entire company, we can make that very affordable
for you - just contact Lisa Fybush and she'll help you. If
you subscribe or renew now - before the site officially relaunches
- your subscription will run through November 2012, giving you
two extra months for free.
If you're a business seeking to reach NERW's readership, please
consider advertising with us as well. There's no more economical
way to reach a concentrated, motivated audience of radio and
TV owners, managers, programmers and engineers in the northeast
- and if you're looking to reach radio engineers in particular,
there's no better place than Tower Site of the Week to catch
them when they're receptive to your message. Contact Lisa at
lisa at fybush dot com or 585-442-5411 and she'll walk you through
our advertising packages to find one that works.
Have a question or comment about the future of the column?
I want to hear from you.
(And indeed you have: several readers have asked about
subscribing without using PayPal or a credit card. We're happy
to oblige - just scroll down to the bottom of the page for information
about where you can send a check or money order. Please be
sure to include an e-mail address so we can contact you to set
up an account and password once the site redesign is complete!)
Thank you again for your support over the years,
Scott Fybush, Editor
to fybush.com >>
Don't want to order by credit card? Checks and
money orders are fine: please make them payable to "Scott
Fybush," be sure to include sales tax (8%) for New York
state calendar orders only, and send them along to 92 Bonnie
Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. Please include an e-mail address
so we can set up a password for you for the new fybush.com.
(Sorry - we can't take orders by phone.)
And if you're ordering from outside the U.S. and Canada, please
e-mail us at calendar at fybush dot com for
all the details, as shipping costs vary depending on where you're
Thanks for your support!
The fine print: Calendars
are shipped by first-class mail. 2012 calendars will be back
from the printer in late September and will be shipped as soon
as they're ready. Please allow at least 4 weeks for your
calendar to arrive, though it's usually much faster than
that. Calendars may be returned, unopened, at buyer's expense
within 60 days of purchase for refund. Refunds for PayPal orders
are issued through PayPal only. (Credit card orders through PayPal
will be credited to your credit card account.) Refunds for check/money
order orders will be issued by check or money order. If you're
having trouble reading the fine print using Internet Explorer,
now's the time to switch to Firefox
or another better browser.