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Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What you are about to read is an American life as lived by renowned author Edmund White. His life has been a crossroads, the fulcrum of high-brow Classicism and low-brow Brett Easton Ellisism. It is not for the faint. He has been the toast of the literary elite in New York, London and Paris, befriending artistic luminaries such as Salman Rushdie and Sir Ian McKellen while writing about a family where he was jealous his sister was having sex with his father as he fought off his mother’s amorous pursuit.

The fact is, Edmund White exists. His life exists. To the casual reader, they may find it disquieting that someone like his father existed in 1950’s America and that White’s work is the progeny of his intimate effort to understand his own experience.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone understood that an interview with Edmund White, who is professor of creative writing at Princeton University, who wrote the seminal biography of Jean Genet, and who no longer can keep track of how many sex partners he has encountered, meant nothing would be off limits. Nothing was. Late in the interview they were joined by his partner Michael Caroll, who discussed White’s enduring feud with influential writer and activist Larry Kramer.

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Manufacturing Software Essential To Maintain Competitive Advantage Of Businesses

By Adrianna Noton

Production processes are becoming increasingly complex and multi-tasking is the order of the day. Manufacturers are being challenged to seek ways and means to not only simplify but also streamline the manufacturing activities to stay ahead of competition. The manufacturers require tools that will help them to effectively bring down production costs and share the savings with their customers. It is because of these reasons that businesses are turning to manufacturing software solutions that are designed to arm them with the tools to minimize overhead costs and optimize efficiency.

These software packages consist of tools that help businesses bring about an end-to-end improvement of the processes starting from designing to product building through planning and engineering to production and quality control. The five key functions of such software packages are as follows:

– Streamlining of product design as well as configuration

– Tracking and management of product components

– Automation of the production scheduling activity

– Speeding up of the manufacturing process

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– Bringing about improvement in the quality of the product

One of the greatest benefits of implementing manufacturing software suites is that they incorporate time-tested production best practices. For instance, it becomes easier to anticipate demand and enhance the bill of material’s accuracy with the help of software applications. Further, businesses can schedule the availability of the components according to requirement, deriving savings in inventory carrying costs. Some of the other benefits offered by software applications include:

– Optimization of resources utilization

– Higher throughput because of lower downtime and minimized production delays due to automatic reorder facility

– Reduction in cost overrun due to product defects, variations, etc.

– Easy tracking of a large number of finished products and components in many locations

– Enables management of complex jobs by creating manufacture orders

– Aids implementation of an effective supply chain management system

– Makes it easy to maintain the competitive edge of business by streamlining operations

Typically, manufacturing software packages must provide a wide range of features that are capable of addressing the requirements of manufacturing processes. The software packages must have different modules including engineering, inventory control, production planning and control, quality control, cost management, etc.

It is, therefore, important to make a comparative study as regards the modules that the software applications developers have included in the packages that they are offering to businesses. Businesses must also choose software solutions keeping in mind the usability aspect as well. This is because those who work on the shop floor may not be as savvy as those who work in an office environment. Further, the manufacturing processes vary widely depending on the product type. The manufacturing software that is selected by companies must, therefore, be configurable and flexible so that it can be customized to suit their needs. Most importantly, it is to be ensured that the software package can be easily integrated with the core business processes of the company implementing the solution.

Summarizing, any business involved in a manufacturing activity, whether it is auto spare parts, home appliances, clothing or large machinery, can realize tangible benefits through the implementation of software solutions that streamline their business processes.

About the Author: Business Innovation Technologies is a leading provider of

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for business of all sizes. Contact them today to inquire about their latest software solutions.

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Massive blackouts hit Florida

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Massive blackouts occurred throughout the US state of Florida shortly after 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (18:00 UTC) on Tuesday afternoon. Out of the 4.4 million customers served by Florida Power & Light, Co. (FPL), about 680,000 residents were affected, with an additional two million-plus customers affected in other parts of the state. It is estimated that as many as four million customers throughout Florida were affected, with many different power companies losing control of their specific grids.

Power outages were reported as far south as the Florida Keys, on the original FPL grid, and as far north as Orlando and Daytona Beach, nearly 300 miles (483 km) away on the Progress Energy grid. Most of Miami-Dade and parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties suffered the worst outages.

FPL President Armando Olivera said that a disconnect switch failed at 1:08 p.m. at the automated substation west of Miami, and a piece of equipment that controls voltage caught fire about the same time. Neither failure by itself would have caused a widespread outage. The event at the utility’s Flagami substation consequently led to the rolling blackouts.

Originally the first failure was thought to have occurred at the utility’s nuclear plant at Turkey Point. It is still unclear how failure at this site spread, but with power turning off at the main Turkey Point location, which serves all of south Florida, FPL’s grid shut down as well. It contributed to a domino effect which ended up sapping energy from bordering grids all over Florida.

Police reported several people were stuck in the elevators of high-rise buildings in downtown Miami and several hospitals were running on backup power, although no injuries or fatalities have been reported. The blackouts caused major traffic jams and a few accidents, but the original outage was contained shortly after it occurred. All customers affected had power restored to them by 6:30 p.m. (23:30 UTC).

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Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Advantages Of Synthetic Mooring Lines For Transport Vessels

byAlma Abell

Advantages of Synthetic Mooring Lines for Transport Vessels

Traditionally, many transport ships used wire rope mooring lines because it was the best option available. Manufacturers have been working hard to create mooring lines that not only do a great job, but also have advantages over the traditional wire lines. This has led to the creation of synthetic mooring lines, CT. These lines are constructed from polyester, nylon, or a combination polypropylene. When it comes to mooring lines distributors can help you choose the best type based on the size of your ship. Before switching from wire to synthetic, it’s a good idea to research the advantages of one over the other.

Weight Reduction

One of the main benefits of synthetic lines is weight reduction. Wire is heavy and burdensome to use. It not only adds weight to the ship, it can be difficult for crew members to work with because of the weight. The weight of the mooring and the ship can also affect how quickly a captain can anchor a boat to unload the cargo or pick up transport items.

Food with cancer-causing dye recalled in Britain

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced a recall of foods containing banned dyes which increase the risk of cancer. The food products were sold at the Tesco, Waitrose, and Somerfield supermarkets.

A Bristol company called “Barts Spices” found the illegal Para Red substance in their Barts Ground Paprika, which was sold in 48g and 46g jars with a “Co-op” label. The batch codes on the affected products are 5032 and 5089 (expiration Dec 2007), and 5075 (expiration February 2007).

Tesco also found that their 130g package of BBQ rice cakes (expiration November and December 2005) contained both Para Red and Sudan I.

“It would be very prudent to assume that it could be a genotoxic carcinogen,” FSA scientific advisers told reporters.

“As a company committed to supplying only the very finest quality food ingredients, we took the immediate decision to withdraw our ground paprika spice from all outlets selling the product and advertised a product recall in the national press,” a Barts Spices spokesman said in a statement.

Sudan I is only authorized for industrial use to colorize petroleum products, such as shoe polish. Para Red and Sudan I are banned under the British Colours in Food Regulations of 1995.

Britain last went through a major food recall in February, when Worcester Sauce was found to contain chili powder dyed with Sudan 1.

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Canadian jazz star Diana Krall gives birth to twin boys

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Canadian jazz star Diana Krall has given birth Wednesday to twin boys named Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James in New York City, where the couple live.

“We are ecstatic!” and the “mother and sons are doing splendidly,” reads a statement released by Krall and her husband, English musician Elvis Costello, best known for songs such as Pump It Up and Alison.

The twins are Krall’s first children. Costello already has a child from an earlier marriage.

Costello, 52, and Krall, 42, shared the birth of their two sons on their third wedding anniversary.

“I have twins on my mother’s side,” Krall told People magazine in September.

Krall, born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, who is a Grammy award winner, and was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, released her latest album titled From This Moment On in September.

The couple married three years ago in a ceremony held at Elton John’s mansion in Surrey, England in December 2003. Paul McCartney and Pamela Wallin, Canada’s consul general to New York were invited among the 150 guests.

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How A Throat Doctor In Fort Myers Can Help You

byAlma Abell

A throat doctor in Fort Myers provides you with treatment for conditions that affect the ears, nose, and throat. This includes allergies, chronic ear infections, and possible hearing loss. Your ears, nose, and throat doctor evaluates your condition to determine the underlying cause, make a diagnosis, and establish the most effective treatment option. To learn more about proper treatment for these conditions contact Dr. Mark Montgomery today.

How a Throat Doctor Can Help You

Throat doctors present you with a wealth of services to establish why you have significant throat irritation, post nasal drip, and auditory conditions. These doctors establish why these conditions are present when there is not an evidence of illnesses such as colds or flu. The doctor will perform tests to verify potential allergies and other disorders which could present you with hindrances such as hearing loss.

Allergy Testing

Your doctor can establish to which histamines you are allergic. The doctor will inject your skin with common histamines which you cause an allergic reaction. The testing continues until the doctor has established which histamines cause a reaction or which have been completely ruled out as a potential allergy.

Local Throat Doctor

Dr. Mark Montgomery provides medical attention for conditions that affect the ears, nose, and throat. This doctor presents you with effective treatment and testing for these conditions. This includes allergy testing to determine whether an allergy whether common or not is causing your medical condition. The doctor also performs testing for potential hearing loss or conditions of the ears that may hinder your hearing. To schedule a consultation, contact the medical practice of Dr. Mark Montgomery or visit his website at Drmarkmontgomery.com.

Summary

Your preferred throat doctor in Fort Myers presents you with invaluable medical treatment to assist in recovering from disorders or conditions that affect your ears, nose, and throat. This conditions include allergy symptoms, irritation of the throat, and potential hearing loss. These conditions may hinder your hearing, cause discomfort, or cause illness for unknown causes. Your ears, nose, and throat doctor will perform a complete evaluation to establish a diagnosis. To discuss conditions that are affecting you, contact Dr. Mark Montgomery.

Clinical signs a ‘reliable measure’ of HIV treatment progress

Monday, May 5, 2008

Researchers have found that, in terms of survival, assessing the status of a HIV/AIDS patient by clinical examination is almost as reliable as laboratory blood testing during their course of treatment.

Poor access to laboratory tests should therefore not be a barrier to rolling out antiretroviral (ARV) drug programmes for HIV in developing countries, they say.

The findings were published in The Lancet recently.

Patients on first-line ARVs in the developed world are monitored regularly for the amount of HIV circulating in their blood. When this falls below a certain level, treatment switches to second-line ARVs.

But because of limited access to laboratory tests, the WHO recommends that people in the developing world are monitored for clinical signs of HIV progression, such as bacterial infection in the mouth and certain types of cancer.

Monitoring of CD4 cell levels — an indicator of the health of a patient’s immune system — is also used when laboratory testing is available. Until now, little was known about the effectiveness of this strategy.

The researchers used a computer model to simulate the course of HIV infection and estimate the impact on survival of monitoring by viral load, CD4 count or clinical observation.

The model was initially developed for wealthy countries, but was adapted for lower-income countries by taking into account factors such as interruptions in drug supply.

It predicts that after five years, 83 per cent of patients monitored by viral load, 82 per cent of patients monitored by CD4 cell count, and 82 per cent of patients monitored by clinical examination alone, would have survived. This decreases to 67, 64 and 64 per cent, respectively, after 20 years.

Andrew Phillips, professor of epidemiology at the UK-based Royal Free & University College Medical School and lead author of the study, says the findings shouldn’t dissuade people from relying on viral-load monitoring.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to inhibit the roll-out of viral-load monitoring and the development of cheap and robust tests that don’t rely heavily on infrastructure or highly skilled laboratory staff,” he told SciDev.Net.

But, he says, that shouldn’t be done at the cost of getting ARVs to everyone who needs them.

“The issue of whether to use viral-load monitoring or not pales into insignificance when dealing with whether you’ve actually got everyone who needs ARVs on therapy. Having drugs without viral-load monitoring is a lot better than not having drugs.”

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An interview with Paul Campbell, founder of Amazing Radio UK

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Digital radio listeners in the UK may have noticed a new station on their list over the last few months with the beta launch of Amazing Radio, founded by Paul Campbell as a follow up and companion to Amazing Tunes. However, unlike the majority of the other stations on both digital and FM, Amazing Radio doesn’t play normal, mainstream music. Instead, its playlist consists solely of music from unsigned bands and artists who have signed up and uploaded their music to AmazingTunes.com. Their music can then be downloaded from the site, for which they get paid. The more downloads and interest an artist receives, the more likely they are to get played on the national radio station. Amazing markets itself as an “ethical” download website, on which artists get 70% of the download revenues. They now have more than 22,000 songs uploaded, with about 100 uploaded every day.

Blimey, I sound like some corporate twat.

Paul Campbell himself has extensive experience in both radio and television production, having worked for BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. After success with his own production company in the nineties and with support from investors, Campbell launched Amazing Tunes in 2005.

As Amazing Radio introduces a new schedule for the New Year, with presenters rather than solely pre-recorded links, Wikinews reporter Tristan Thomas interviewed Campbell to find out more.

((Wikinews)) Hi Paul, thanks for doing this interview.

((Paul Campbell)) My pleasure – thanks very much for asking me. We’re really grateful that Wikinews is interested in us.

((WN)) At the end of 2009, you complained to the BBC Trust about BBC Introducing. Can you explain what this was about and the reasons for it. Has anything come of it?

((PC)) Sure: in a nutshell, the complaint was about unfair competition – about the BBC not following its own rules. It’s still ongoing. It will take, ahem, a while to resolve.

The details are a bit complex, but here goes. (If you commit suicide out of the boredom at what follows, I apologise).

As British readers will know, the BBC has a guaranteed and very comfortable income derived from the Licence Fee – effectively a tax you have to pay if you want a TV. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), this generates an income to the BBC of about stg4.5bn per annum. Nice.

BBC people live in an insulated, publicly-funded world

Not really. In recent years the beeb has increasingly used this gargantuan income – and its incredible audience reach online, on radio & TV – to launch new services that make life impossible for everyone who is not the BBC. These have ranged from e-learning content (that completely wrecked the market for private publishers), to a new digital radio station (that caused a private speech station to go bust), to an attempt to launch online regional news services (which caused howls of outrage from local newspapers). The BBC does it for the best of reasons – to provide a public service – but BBC people live in an insulated, publicly-funded world, one where you know with complete certainty you’ll get paid on the 15th of every month. It’s a million miles away from the real world, where entrepreneurial people take risks, and lose their jobs and their houses if it goes wrong. Here, the BBC’s actions have grave implications. And not just for private companies: the UK as a whole is very good at creative industries, which are the fastest-growing part of the economy. But it’s kinda hard to grow a global business if your domestic market has been wrecked by a rampaging, publicly-funded, bull in a china shop. So by accidentally knackering private companies, the BBC is also damaging the British economy.

Wise people noticed this. A few years ago the Governance of the BBC was changed. A new regulator, the BBC Trust, was created. It tried to address the problem. It insists the Corporation does a ‘public value test’ when it wants to launch a new service, or to expand an existing one.

Here, it hasn’t. Although the BBC has a longstanding commitment to play new music on its local radio stations, and one of its most famous DJs John Peel had an outstanding show on BBC Radio 1 for many years which played new music (and was, incidentally, produced by one of our new presenters), it’s suddenly changed the game. It’s launched a huge expansion and automation of this formerly piecemeal and limited activity, targeted exclusively at unsigned bands. BBC Introducing is a pan-BBC brand, combining local and network radio, television, online, even a special stage at Glastonbury. There’s a very expensive online upload service which I just know would have cost ten times what we had to spend on our similar service. There’s a Head of Department, doubtless with dozens of staff. I’ll bet they have BBC Introducing pens. It’s everywhere.

This is, by any reckoning, a ‘new service’. But it’s not been subjected to a public value test. Worse, I have it on very good authority from someone inside the BBC that BBC Worldwide – its commercial arm – is planning to launch a BBC Introducing record label – i.e., an overtly commercial expansion of BBC Introducing. This would be like the BBC trying to create a new version of the music industry, all by itself.

Whether or not you think it’s a good thing for the beeb to champion new music, you may agree it should follow its own rules. It hasn’t. There was no Public Value Test; no request to the Trust to be allowed to do this.

So we complained. It was a bit hilarious. The Trust said they weren’t allowed to investigate until we’d complained to the beeb itself and the BBC had rejected our complaint. There was a long pause as I tried to understand the logic. I said ‘I’m guessing the BBC didn’t do a PVT because it didn’t think it needed to do a PVT. We think they should have done. We’re asking you to investigate, to see if you agree’. They said ‘you have to complain to them first. It’s protocol’. It’s all very British – i.e., charmingly polite … ludicrously bureaucratic … and totally useless.

So we have another hoop to jump through. We’re now preparing our formal complaint to the BBC itself – whose Director General is someone I used to work with, when we were both fresh-faced BBC trainees in 1981. It takes time: I’ll have to write it myself, and I have a business to run. The beeb will have a small army of staff whose only job is to read it … and reject it. (They always reject criticism; it’s the BBC’s default position. They usually do it with a slightly pained expression, hurt that anyone could fail to understand their brilliance and omniscience. Either that, or they try to demolish your intellect and cast doubt on your probity. Either way, they’ll reject it).

When they do, we’ll then be able to go back to the BBC Trust to say ‘guess what? The BBC rejected our complaint. Now will you investigate?’. Yawn.

All this might make me seem a BBC-hater. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The BBC trained me.

All this might make me seem a BBC-hater. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The BBC trained me. I was once, so I was told by the Head of Appointments, its youngest-ever Producer. Despite appearances, I firmly believe it’s one of the best things about the UK. I wrote to The Times of London recently in defence of it. But unfortunately it’s really, really bad at understanding the damage it does to private companies, the ones like ours that create jobs and try to create wealth, without the benefit of a guaranteed income. (Or even, any income at all).

The stakes are high. The conventional music industry is falling to bits around us. There’s an historic opportunity to re-invent music in a way that’s fair to musicians and music-lovers, and also creates jobs and wealth in the real economy. It’s vitally important the BBC, with its publicly-funded hobnailed boots, doesn’t ruin that opportunity.

So we’ll do our complaint, wait for it to be rejected, complain to the Trust, and keep battering away. Fun fun fun. (This would never happen in the States).

((WN)) You don’t accept any PRS registered artists at all. Why not?

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((PC)) We’d love to – after all, we have the same aim as PRS, which is to make it easier for musicians to earn a living from their talent. But we can’t. There’s two reasons.

1. PRS has a barmy standard contract for using their members’ music online. It requires us to pay them a fixed percentage of ALL revenue from that website – whether or not the revenue is derived from their members’ work. So if we had 100,000 songs from non-PRS artists on amazingtunes.com, and one song from a PRS artist, we’d have to pay them a percentage of the revenue from ALL 100,000 songs. I.e., we’d have to take money out of the pockets out of non-PRS artists to pay to PRS. That would be immoral.
2. If we played PRS artists on the radio, we’d have to pay PRS for our use of their members’ music. Sound fair enough? But PRS doesn’t know what to do with the money. They’d put it into a big bucket, then share it out among ALL their artists – not the members whose songs we played, all their artists, including rich and famous signed ones. The vast majority of PRS payments go to a tiny minority of artists (and big record labels). So it would be another case of stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Paul McCartney, that is.

I wrote to the CEO of PRS when we first launched Amazing Radio pointing out these absurdities and asking if we could do a more intelligent deal. I said that I thought we had identical aims – to make life fair for musicians. I suggested we could/should be a feeder to them, introducing new members to PRS as they grew in the music industry. But so far, the PRS head is still firmly in the sand.

((WN)) And how would you suggest PRS could improve? If they did, would you consider allowing artists registered with them?

((PC)) PRS could improve by;

a. buying some computers (so they could handle our comprehensive data about the tracks we play, and then pay the right people);
b. accepting that we want to mix PRS and non-PRS artists, and only asking for a share of the artists they actually represent.

If they did that, we’d sign up. This would not necessarily be popular with our audience. A lot of people – especially charities and small businesses – like the fact that they can listen to Amazing Radio without a PRS licence. But we’d do it anyway, as it would be a better service for musicians.

PRS should also stop threatening to murder law-abiding people who want to listen to music at work

My personal view is that the PRS should also stop threatening to murder law-abiding people who want to listen to music at work. There was a recent case where they threatened someone for singing at work. They actually did that. They later apologized, but it revealed the corporate mentality. I think it’s incredibly counter-productive; it means their members make less money, not more; it’s ruining perceptions of what motivates musicians; it’s causing thousands of people to stop listening to music. When really, PRS should be encouraging that, shouldn’t it?

((WN)) With regard to Amazing Tunes, how many downloads could your most popular artist expect to receive per month and monetary wise, how would this compare to them receiving that number from iTunes?

((PC)) Sorry, but we don’t currently release detailed figures – our competitors would love it, but we’d rather be nice to our artists and our investors instead. We do say that we expect amazingtunes.com artists to make ‘anything from a few quid, to a good living, to a small fortune’. At the moment, because it’s still very early days, people are clustered towards the first two of those options. As things grow – and there’s been incredible growth even in the past few months – we hope/expect more and more artists will start to make tens of thousands of pounds each month. We’ll soon register for the official chart, and our guess is that someone will have a major hit before long. Then everything will go really crazy.

So far as the iTunes comparisons go, the facts are already public domain. An artist on iTunes can expect to make 8p from a 79p download. The same artist on amazingtunes.com will make about 52p. We only deduct the VAT and the cost of the transaction: 70% of what’s left goes to the artist. What’s more, their income will improve over time – the more downloads we sell, the less the transactions cost us, so the more cash there is to give to the artists. That’s one reason we ask people to buy eight or more songs in one transaction – it’s much more cost-effective, less of their cash goes to VISA, more to the artist. (See my Blog post on this here – [1]).

((WN)) Amazing Radio launched in mid-2009. How has it grown since then and what are your current listening figures?

((PC)) It’s gone mad since then. I’ve worked in broadcasting and the media since 1978 (I was very very young then, mind you). I’ve never known anything like it. The reaction has been absolutely incredible – and it’s growing faster than ever right now. The most humbling thing has been the audience feedback – masses of long emails from people we’ve never met, saying they found it by accident, and they love it.

the best guess I’ve heard in the industry is that we have something like 600,000 listeners in the UK on DAB.

We’ve not yet paid for RAJAR audience figures because – well, because we’re a bit mean really, and I’m not convinced they would accurately measure our audience. I think RAJAR is very good at coming out with figures for radio stations that have been going for 40 years, but not very accurate when it comes to new and innovative stations which are also listened to a lot online and especially popular with young people. But the best guess I’ve heard in the industry is that we have something like 600,000 listeners in the UK on DAB. That’s an estimate, but it came from a very wise source. We have slightly more than that number on top as regular users online, and a weekly reach for amazingtunes.com of about two million users. But it’s all growing so fast, those numbers will be out of date by the time you read this.

((WN)) DAB transmission costs are well over half a million pounds a year. How is this being funded currently and how are you planning to fund it in the future?

((PC)) We’re not contractually allowed to tell you what we pay, so we can’t confirm or deny the cost. Whatever the true figure, it is undeniably expensive; but it gives our musicians a chance to be on national radio. We figure it’s worth it. I’m reminded of that wonderful teachers’ union bumper sticker: ‘if you think education’s expensive, try ignorance’. If you think creating the world’s first radio station playing 100% new music is expensive …. try being inaudible.

So far, we’ve been funded by a very small number of private investors, people of enormous wisdom and insight, natch. They understand that we have a very serious, long-term and audacious ambition to change the music industry for the better, to make radio interesting again, and to turn the word ‘amazing’ into a global challenger brand.

This year, we expect to do one final fund-raising in the UK, then to raise a lot of money on the West Coast of the USA to make this absolutely massive and global, fast. They understand this scale of ambition there.

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((WN)) What are your plans for Amazing Radio in 2010? Any exciting announcements to come?

((PC)) ‘Fraid so.

In 2010, we hope to make Amazing Radio the default station for everyone who has ever had that incredible experience of hearing a song for the first time, and having to stop what you’re doing to listen to it: a station for everyone who has broad musical tastes, a respect for musical talent and an open mind. We want it to be constantly surprising, fresh, original, sometimes hilarious, always unexpected.

Blimey, I sound like some corporate twat.

Now (obviously) it wouldn’t be massively unexpected if we suddenly started revealing all the unexpected things in advance – but basically, we’d like the message to spread that we’re doing something different, fresh, original and ethical – so we’ll launch more new programmes and more new services – on Amazing Radio and amazingtunes.com. Things like our virtual radio station Amazing Ambient. [2]. There’ll be some video and some TV along soon too. And other cool stuff.

It may not be ‘insanely cool’; just cool will do just fine.

We also want to do it in other places. E.g. America. We’ve already started there. We’ll be unexpected there too.

((WN)) Finally, your favourite artist on Amazing Tunes/Radio at the moment?

((PC)) Now this will sound like a real cop-out, but I never ever say who my favourite artist is. It’s for a serious reason. I’m not some musical Einstein – I’m merely the bloke who started amazing. And I’m merely a drummer. My taste doesn’t matter. EVERYBODY’s musical taste does. One of the many problems of conventional record companies is that they think geezers in suits in big glass buildings have the right to decide what’s good music. We think the world does. I’ve found hundreds of incredible songs that I love, across loads of styles of music. You’ll find hundreds of your own. Enjoy.

((WN)) Thank you very much for your time Paul. Good luck for 2010.

((PC)) Thanks very much, we really appreciate it. 2010 is going to be amazing.

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