Change in Audio Archives on WOUB.org

Recently we have made some changes to audio streaming and archiving on WOUB.org. One of the features is an effort to streamline and improve our service. The other, we recognize, may seem like a step backward.

We have decided to focus live streams for WOUB-AM and WOUB-FM on the MP3 audio format exclusively. It has become more expensive and technically difficult for us to continue to support Real and Windows Media formats as well as MP3. As more users listen on mobile devices like phones and tablets, we decided to concentrate on MP3 streams that would be available to Internet listeners regardless of platform. For now, we are streaming both stations in 64 kbps MP3 stereo. That bitrate seems to offer us the best compromise between the cost of offering this service and audio qualilty. We certainly welcome your thoughts, questions and suggestions.

The other change, and the one we most regret, is to remove most of our audio archives. We are making this change to be compliant with the existing agreement between the recording industry and the public radio industry. Previous agreements allowed us to offer extensive archives. The new agreement limits the scope and amount of programming that we can offer for on-demand listening. To see some of the specific provisions of the agreement, you can read this performance complement description.

We will continue to offer interviews, special features, and live performance programs like "Live From Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch," for which the rights have been obtained. In early 2011, we will once again offer regularly updated archives of "Conversations From Studio B." And we are exploring some new ways of offering some limited archives that are permitted under the copyright agreement.

The current budget climate makes it difficult for us to consider increasing rights payments or making large investments in streaming capacity. However, we want to monitor this issue and are very interested in your comments.

Please keep in mind that these restrictions are not our idea. They are part of a negotiated agreement between public radio stations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which pays our streaming rights fees -- and the recording industry. In addition to new restrictions on what we can and cannot stream, WOUB and other public radio stations also prepare quarterly reports on our music programming and streams, which are used to assess how rights fees are to be distributed to the copyright holders.

Send your comments, questions and suggestions to: radio@woub.org