BusRadio Varies Contract

July 31, 2006
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Bus Radio company makes their pitch in Swansea

BY VINAYA SAKSENA

SWANSEA – The Swansea School Committee is considering an offer to introduce student-oriented
radio programming for kids to listen to on the bus ride to and from school. At
the school committee’s last meeting, a representative of the Bus Radio company,
located in Needham, came before the committee touting the benefits of the company’s
services.
Bus Radio president Steve Schulman said the company’s goal was to provide school
bus drivers with clean, age-appropriate content, as an alternative to the material
offered on commercial radio, which he said was typically intended for audiences
ages 18 or over.
"
What tends to happen is there are inappropriate songs, inappropriate lyrics and
inappropriate advertising," Mr. Schulman said.
" What we’re offering Swansea is a better alternative to what they’re listening
to now."
Keeping it clean
Specifically, Mr. Schulman said the company wishes to address concerns about
messages students may hear in songs on commercial radio, particularly with regard
to sexually explicit content. He also pointed out that many radio stations now
regularly carry advertisements for Viagra and other products that parents may
not want their children subjected to.
Opinion on the school committee seemed largely in favor of engaging in a contract
with Bus Radio, which has introduced a pilot program in one school district and
is looking to officially get off the ground in the fall. However, there were
concerns about the amount of time that may be spent on advertisements during
the programming. Additionally, Superintendent of Schools Stephan Flanagan mentioned
concerns about what may happen if Bus Radio was bought out by another company,
particularly in light of how much media ownership has been consolidated into
the hands of a few large companies in recent years.
"
We were concerned that if they sold the company to someone else, we would be
stuck on the end of a bad deal," Mr. Flanagan said.
No charge
" But we’ve been told (by the company) that we don’t have to worry about
that."
Mr. Schulman said that Bus Radio will be launching its program in five markets
across the country in the fall. The company’s Web site (www.busradio.org) states
that the company’s radio equipment is installed on buses at no charge. Mr. Schulman
said the company does not charge school districts for its services, and that
participating school districts can expect to receive a cut of ad revenue from
the company. However, he and Mr. Flanagan offered different responses when asked
how soon this would happen.
"
That’s pretty far in the future," Mr. Flanagan said.
"
It will be happening from day one," Mr. Schulman said.
Mr. Flanagan said no money would be exchanged between the school department and
Bus Radio. He said the school committee was currently reviewing two versions
of a Bus Radio contract. The principal difference between the two contracts,
he said, was that one called for a stronger assurance that a certain amount of
time would be spent on public service announcements and other content of that
nature. He said the committee would likely make a decision at its next meeting,
scheduled for Monday, Aug. 21.

vsaksena@eastbaynewspapers.com