There will be absolutely no review of content by the Content Review Board.

July 10, 2009
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From Jim Metrock:

On July 1, 2009, BusRadio’s CEO Michael Yanoff wrote the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Yanoff was answering several questions the FCC had about the BusRadio service. In his prefacing comments to the FCC, Mr. Yanoff talks about BusRadio’s Content Review Board.

As to reason Number 1 this is the first time BusRadio has admitted its Content Review Board did not review content… and did not exist for the last several years. A lot of school boards and transportation directors are going to be very surprised by this admission.

Reason Number 2 makes no sense. BusRadio did try to keep secret the members of the Content Review Board, but last year BusRadio made the names public by sending their names to the Seminole County School Board where they were widely distributed.

From BusRadio’s letter to the Seminole County School Board (May, 2008):

"This document outlines content guidelines for the Bus Radio national radio program that plays on schools buses across the United States. These guidelines were developed by a Content Review Board that includes respected leaders in the fields of child psychology, education, publishing and music programming. Content Review Board Members are: Dr. Sylvia Rimm (Child Psychologist) Dr. Carl Batchelder (Superintendent of Schools – Woburn, Mass.) George Halo (Associate Publisher, District Administration magazine) Ed Moloney (Program Director, Bus Radio)"

Once I saw this letter, I knew the Content Review Board was a sham. This group, just like Mr. Yanoff told the FCC, did not review content. All they did was help create guidelines.

I wrote Dr. Rimm, the child psychologist. and she wrote back on May 19, 2008:

"I am no longer advising Bus Radio, but I did meet with an Advisory Committee one time and at that time, I believed they were doing something that was good. At this time, I can’t say anything because I have not worked with them for about two years. Sylvia Rimm "

BusRadio’s Content Review Board was therefore dissolved in 2006. More than likely their one meeting was no later than the early fall of 2006.

Mr. Yanoff also states in Reason 2 that all of the Content Review Board members "are not associated with us in any kind of ongoing manner." Yet, Ed Moloney is BusRadio’s Program Director.

So if there was no Content Review Board in existence since 2006, and even if there was their mission was never to review content, why in the world did BusRadio tell so many people that there was a special Content Review Board that was reviewing content?

I think everyone can see that a Content Review Board sounds so good. BusRadio knew that saying they had an independent group reviewing their content would "seal the deal" with many school boards. "Sign on the dotted line. Your worries about radio content are over." BusRadio gave the impression that their company was so confident that their programming was age appropriate that they would happily allow this watchdog group to oversee the company’s decisions.

People who read our website knew the Content Review Board was a fraud after the we published the email from Dr. Sylvia Rimm last year, but everybody else would have no way of knowing that BusRadio’s Content Review Board was a joke. Now BusRadio’s CEO comes clean. But a lot of people have been deceived.

Let’s go back in time and see how BusRadio represented their Content Review Board to the general public.

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Steve Connolly came to Nashua with a purpose. As the chief salesman for BusRadio, he was there to sell BusRadio to the School Board members of the Nashua School District. If he was successful, Nashua would be the first New Hampshire district to sign up with their fledgling company.

Michael Brindley also came to the same meeting with a purpose. He was covering the April 18, 2007 school board meeting for the Nashua Telegraph. He would write an article about BusRadio for the next day’s edition. [Added emphasis is ours.]

"… Stephen Connolly, director of national sales for Bus Radio, gave a presentation about what his company would offer, and what the changes for students would be. Like satellite radio, a wireless transmission would be sent to buses, playing age-focused content. Younger students would hear commercials and music focused toward their age group, and the same would go for middle- and high-school students. In addition to music, Connolly said there would be eight minutes of commercials per hour, as well public service announcements, trivia and contests. All of the material is approved by Bus Radio’s content review board, and songs that require any kind of censoring for profanity don’t make the cut, said Connolly."

It sounds as if there is a standing, or at least, existing "content review board" that listens to songs and commercials – "all of the material" that is heard on BusRadio’s programming. But Mr. Brindley may have gotten it all wrong. He may have misheard Mr. Connolly.

 

From the transcript:
BusRadio’s Steve Connolly is speaking:

"Many of the new busses have not only FM but also CD players. The inappropriate music is pretty prevalent on adult formatted radio. Then you also get the advertisements for beer, tobacco, adult rated movies, etc. All of our content is subject to our Content Review Board. We have a nationally known child psychologist on this Board, we have a school superintendent on this Board. This Board not only listens to the music being played, but they read the music and listen to the innuendo. You get to decide on all of our sponsors. If Nashua Schools doesn’t want to promote Coke, you can choose not to have their ads run. Our DJs discuss only age-appropriate topics. Bus Radio is the only program that plays school safety messages."

For the full transcript: http://www.nashua.edu/district-documents/Board%20Minutes/BOE%20MEETING%20min%204-18-07.pdf

Mr. Connolly is not telling these New Hampshire citizens the truth. He is making the part about the Content Review Board out of whole cloth. He knows he is lying because the purpose of the Content Review Board was never to review content according to BusRadio’s CEO.

For more than a year the topic of BusRadio is brought up at various times at Nashua School Board meetings. On September 27, 2007 reporter Shery Rich-Kern does a story on BusRadio for New Hampshire Public Radio. Here is part of the transcript:

"…Susan Carlson, waits for her two kids to get off the bus. She too worries about Bus Radio’s advertising And she’s not even sure she wants to trust out-of-state programmers to pick what they think is appropriate music. Carlson: How do we pick what’s good music for our kids to be listening to when we’re not there. For the bus driver, it’s just a matter of turning it on and off. They’re not picking. Bus Radio’s Steve Shulman says child psychologists, school administrators, and superintendents review the content of the music. And a school district can ban any song from the playlist. In the next few weeks, the school’s transportation department plans to look over the Bus Radio contract. Transportation Director Rauseo says he expects the kids will be hearing the new station sometime in December. For NHPR News in Nashua, I’m Sheryl Rich-Kern."

Did Mr. Connolly’s and Mr. Shulman’s misleading statements about a functioning Content Review Board make any difference with Nashua school officials?

From the September 9, 2007 Nashua Telegraph article "Nashua May Tune In To ‘Bus Radio‘":

The school district’s transportation director, David Rauseo, is also recommending the district go with the company. He initially sought it out because of complaints about content being played on school buses. “We know it’s all clean because all the music’s pre-screened,” he said. “That means I don’t have to play radio cop.”

 

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BusRadio’s Steve Connolly goes all over the country boasting about a Content Review Board he knows does not exist. From the article "School buses tune in to radio service" in the February 11, 2007 Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, California:

"Connolly gave a presentation at a Coachella Valley school district open house last week. Afterward, transportation officials from Palm Springs and Temecula Valley school districts said Bus Radio sounded like a good idea, and said they would watch what happens in the Coachella Valley district. While regular radio plays an average of 17 or more minutes of ads, Bus Radio plays less than eight minutes of commercials that do not include pitches for fast food, which would go against districts’ wellness policies, Connolly said. A board, which includes a school superintendent and a child psychologist, screens the music and ads, and school districts can also request changes, he said."

 

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In an October 7, 2007 New York Times article posted on BusRadio’s web site, BusRadio’s co-founder Steve Shulman says the Content Review Board approves "play lists" and he is very specific mentioning a school superintendent and a child psychologist.

"Bus Radio records its music tracks in its studios in Massachusetts. The play lists are approved by a volunteer panel, put together by the company, made up of a school superintendent, a child psychologist and education magazine editors, Mr. Shulman said. The company has different play lists for elementary, middle and high school audiences, he said. If a school official or parent is upset about a certain song that was played, the bus driver can delete it from the soundtrack."

Again, just to remind the reader: Michael Yanoff the other co-founder told the FCC on July 1, 2009 that the Content Review Board – "the volunteer panel" – was not created to review any content. Obviously, Mr. Shulman knew he was telling the New York Times something that was not true.

 

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On March 3, 2008 BusRadio put out a press released entitled: BusRadio Launches Web Streaming of Programming Content on the PRNewswire service.

In the release BusRadio said, "BusRadio’s Web streaming adheres to the same strict standards as its daily bus programming. BusRadio editing standards far exceed those of commercial FM radio — by eliminating all inappropriate subject matter and lyrics from its broadcasts — while still playing songs that kids want to hear. All of BusRadio’s programming content is carefully reviewed by an internal content review board."

This is from a news release. That means BusRadio can’t say it was misquoted or something was taken out of context. These words were thought about. These words were chosen to have an impact on the reader.

 

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Taken from BusRadio.net (June 2, 2008):

"BusRadio is committed to keeping students safe on their ride to school. This starts with careful screening of all songs on the playlist by the Content Review Board. If a song doesn’t pass the vigorous standards of the Board, then it doesn’t get played on the show – regardless of how popular that song might be. No AM/FM station is as reliable as BusRadio in this screening process, while still entertaining teens and tweens with the songs they love."

These words are from their own web site. What they should have said was, "This starts with careful screening of all songs on the playlist by BusRadio employees who use the vigorous standards that the Content Review Board established." But they didn’t. Instead this company continued to mislead school decision makers.

 

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As late as September 12, 2008 BusRadio continued to talk about their "review board."

From an article from the Observer-online.com. "Rio Rancho school board approved BusRadio plans."

"As for the radio content, Bronstein said 44 minutes will be devoted to music and news, eight to advertising, six minutes to public safety announcements and two to contests. He said all the content will be appropriate. If the district finds something objectionable, Bronstein told the board they can eliminate certain songs, advertisements and public safety announcements. The district, however, cannot pull the content itself. Shulman explained that the district must call BusRadio and if BusRadio’s review board deems it inappropriate, then it will be removed. He said that if the district complains, the objectionable content will more than likely be pulled. RRPS Superintendent Dr. Sue Cleveland, in recommending approval, said that BusRadio will keep the students entertained in a positive way."

BusRadio will find out that in the long run it isn’t wise to mislead school officials.