When was the last time a listener visited your station looking to read the letters you received from other listeners? Has that ever happened? Now they can pretty much watch them react to your station on Facebook and Twitter, in real-time, every day.
On Tuesday, in Commissioner Ajit Pai’s first meeting wielding the gavel as Chairman, the Commission voted to do away with the 43-year-old rule that required you to save those paper letters.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Pai said when he visited the station he grew up listening to, KKOW-FM in Pittsburg, KS, the staff showed him the file cabinets with years of paper correspondence collected from the public. It was clear to Pai then that the requirement was a waste of time — and space — as none of the station’s listeners ever showed any interest in reading the letters.
As both Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly said Tuesday, this has been a burden on radio station personnel, especially small-market stations. This is part of the FCC’s attempt to modernize its public inspection file rules by slowly moving the requirements online. While the rest of the world has been operating at warp speed, via the Internet, for many years, the FCC has required stations to follow ancient rules, some decades old, that require a lot of time to prepare and save and waste millions of pieces of paper.
The Commission acknowledged that saving letters from the public has nothing to do with serving the local community.