School bus radio service questioned


Some believe that it’s easier to keep kids quietly in their seats on the bus if they have some entertainment to concentrate on. But local radio has veered off into raunchy and often inappropriate territory. Enter Bus Radio, a service that provides radio-like programming as well as safety features like GPS and emergency notification capabilities, all while delivering age-appropriate content, adjustable by the bus driver to the age of each different busload of children. The objection? According to the Minneapolis-St. Paul, every hour the service programs 44 minutes of music, six minutes of PSAs, two minutes of contests – and eight minutes of commercials. That is the rub – watchdogs feel that the public schools should not be in the business of exposing children to even more advertising than they are already. The service is said to reach 100K students on 1K buses.

RBR observation: We can’t see this as that big a deal. Eight minutes seems a fair price to pay for the other benefits provided. The bigger problem we could foresee is if the service is advertising the kinds of products that have been under withering fire all year long in Washington, like sugary fatty cereals. As long as the ads are likely to be Ed Markey-approvable, this may be an idea that can be appropriated by broadcasters looking for something to do with an HD side channel.