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Satellites + radio = big changes for listeners

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Furthermore, these networks say the average listener should be unable to discern that these DJs are not sitting in the hometown stations, but rather hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles away. This is accomplished through a highly sophisticated blending of national programming (and often recorded tapes by the network DJs) with local announcers giving community news or other programming.

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Paul Bortz of Browne, Bortz, and Coddington, a communications consulting firm , believes the current challenges in the industry can be attributed to ''an overexpansion of the advertising inventory (the programming on which advertising can be placed).'' However, he adds, ''Over the period of a few years advertising business will build and there will be expansion.''

Mr. Bortz is not the least concerned with failures in the industry. ''People don't anticipate the time needed to develop something new.

''Satellite transmission has sufficiently decreased costs to allow the burgeoning of networks. Where at one time transmission was quite costly, now it is relatively insignificant. Over the next few years virtually everyone will be on satellite.''

He sees a big increase in ad hoc networks as well, or in other words, companies broadcasting special events such as a rock concert.Dr. John Kittross, a professor of communication in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at Temple University and an author of books on the broadcasting industry, remarks, ''I'm not sure satellite is going to mean that much of a change. It does have one advantage. [For advertising] it's a lot easier to deal with one network'' than with many individual stations.

Mr. Kittross, however, regrets the effects on broadcasting employment. ''If local programming drops, the chances for people moving up are going to drop.''

Richard M. Brescia, senior vice-president of CBS Radio networks, predicts 1983 will be a strain on the major networks as CBS, NBC, and ABC switch to satellite. One challenge for CBS has been its asking radio stations to buy the necessary satellite receivers (which in many cases cost around $10,000). When asked if CBS was going to loose any affiliates because of what could be a burdensome cost for some smaller stations, he replied that he hoped not, adding, ''We've had some honest exchanges.''

''Right now, the technology is really outpacing the productivity (programming). But what you will find is the networks will motivate each other (in what is broadcast).''

One of the bright spots has been Mutual, which permitted itself to be left behind when CBS, NBC, and ABC began their gradual transfer to television about 35 years ago.

Until recently, Mutual was an also-ran. Today, it's a leader in the switch to satellite. Recognition was accorded by the November issue of Radio Only, which featured Mutual's president, Martin Rubenstein, on the cover.

Jack Clements, senior vice-president of Mutual, minces no words on what he regards as the importance of the new technology. ''It's the dawning of a new day. It's the rebirth of network radio.''

Last fall Mutual became the first commercial network in many years to broadcast live a symphony orchestra with a 13-week series of concerts of the National Symphony of Washington, D.C. Remarks Mr. Clements, ''If we didn't have multicasting (a word the network coined for sending more than one program at once by satellite) we couldn't afford to do it.'' He adds that Mutual, which today sends to its affiliates a variety of news, sports, and feature programs (including the Larry King talk show) is considering adding more fine-arts programming to its schedule.

Contrasting with Mutual is newcomer Satellite Music Network. SMN offers three 24-hour formats for affiliates: country, adult contemporary (pop and rock), and nostagia (big band and other pre-rock popular music). ''We enable a small-town station to compete with big city stations,'' remarks Eastern Division sales manager Bob Bruton.

''We have made this country relatively homogenous,'' said Ivan Braiker, president of Satellite Music Network. ''Elton John doesn't sound any different in Johnstown, Pa., than he does in Boston. [But with Satellite Music Network] you have efficiencies of scale and efficiencies of operation.

Some networks, however, propose to provide much more specialized programming. There's the Wall Street Journal Report, a division of Dow Jones. Eighteen 3 -minute business and financial reports a day are sent by satellite to its 75 affiliates.

Among the other types of programs traveling by satellite: ''beautiful music'' by the Bonneville Broadcasting System, round-the-clock news from the Turner Broadcasting System, and black-oriented programming on the Sheridan Broadcasting Network.