Judging by the looks on my students’ faces, last week, in my Media & Entertainment Law class, I gave what may have been the most boring lecture of my career. It was the lecture in which I explain how the FCC allocates frequency spectrum and doles out broadcast licenses.
What’s so strange is that the same lecture was a huge hit when I first taught this class back in 2005.
Of course, after class, I realized what the difference is. As recently as 2005, frequency spectrum and FCC licenses represented – as they had for nearly a century – the keys to the kingdom. If you wanted to get your message out there, you found a radio or television station.
Just six years later, it’s hard to talk about broadcast licenses without feeling like they are a quaint anachronism.
By the way, you may wonder how it is that I could tell my students were bored. Well, I’ve never witnessed a higher level of IM’ing, Facebooking, and Tweeting in class. And no, I don’t have mirrors in the back of class to see what’s on students’ laptops. I can see it clearly reflected in students’ faces. Messages were zipping through the wireless and around the internet at a furious pace.
And, of course, that’s the irony: Web 2.0 was not merely the symptom of the boredom; it was the cause.
Who cares about getting an FCC license, a giant steel tower, and a gargantuan electric bill when you can better reach an audience with your laptop and a wireless connection?
For an ex-radio-disc-jockey, I have to say it’s a little sad for me to face up to the reality. But, then again, it’s nothing I didn’t know. I mean, look at me: I’m off the airwaves and blogging to you. I’d like to say that I’m BLOGGING TO YOU FROM THE TOP OF MCCLELLAN PEAK WITH EIGHTY-SEVEN THOUSAND WATTS OF POWER IN THE MIDDLE OF 45 MINUTES OF CONTINUOUS HIT MUSIC.
But of course, I’m not. And I gotta say, it’s not the same to type that. Even in italics and all caps.
Video didn’t kill the radio star. But Web 2.0 sure did.