March 3, 2014

96.3 WHUR Cuts Off Listeners, Takes Down Their Stream UPDATE

UPDATE: 3/5/14 After our original story posted, WHUR updated their website and has promise their listeners to return the live audio streaming of their station. Here is WHUR's statement. As you can see, listeners were becoming impatient with what appears to be WHUR's dragging their feet on this issue.

(our original story--)One of the best Urban AC stations in the country,  Howard University's 96.3 WHUR FM has taken down it's stream. The station has removed the "listen live" button from the station's website. They had initially informed listens since January that their streaming was being upgraded.

Many listeners have been trying to access the stream to no avail. We can only speculate that the stream has been taken down due to cost. The station is owned by Howard University and the university along with many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) are facing financial difficulty. Learn more about this issue in a recent article in The Grio.

Stations that stream take a financial hit when they choose to share their broadcast over the internet. The royalties that stations pay for playing music over the internet are astronomical compared to what they have to pay for broadcasting music on their FCC regulated radio frequency. Conversely stations can't play their regular commercials online. They must get separate advertising for their online stream to make it cost effective. Advertisers are really not on-board for online ads.

So it's a matter of the bottom line. That is what we believe has happened to WHUR. So after some consideration, rather than upgrade, they've dropped the stream completely. We find the streaming situation surprising because Howard University is progressive in other areas of broadcast technology. They not only run and program WHUR, but also HD2 station WHUR World, a student run station WHBC, stations on Sirius XM (H.U.R. Voices and the HBCU channel), and a public television station WHUT in the District.

As a result many native Washingtonians who have relocated to various cities around the United States have been cut off from getting a taste of the station that "...sounds like Washington." The stream was also popular with Atlanta area listeners tuned into listening to former V-103 host Frank Ski in the afternoon, who returns to the ATL every weekend to host functions at his downtown restaurant. We have also found that local DMV listeners are not pleased as well, especially those who listen at work. They can no longer stream the station on their smartphone or from their computer at work. This group represents the largest percentage of their streaming audience. Which in turn makes streaming for WHUR very expensive.

And as we see it, outside of listening in the automobile, the majority of radio listeners for any station listen via their smartphone or computer don't they? Does anyone have a radio in their home anymore that's not attached via a clock radio?

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