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FC - HiFi Via WiFi
by Frances J. Folsom + photos by Turner Photography
d’Vinci Interactive celebrates 20 years of educational technology development with plenty more to come.
Anyone who was a teenager in the ‘60s more than likely spent some time with a transistor radio glued to their ear, listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Beach Boys. They took it everywhere — even to bed. When the parents said to turn it off and go to sleep, young rebels hid it under their pillow to listen to their favorite disc jockeys like Wolfman Jack, Alan Freed, Big Daddy Tom Donahue, or Hy Lit.
That little box with the antenna is nothing short of a foreign object to teenagers of today. Quite frankly, tweens and up tend to download all their music off the Internet to a device that would have been just as foreign to a teenager of yesteryear. Streaming services like Pandora, iHeartRadio, Beats Music, and Apple’s iTunes are some of the perennial favorites of modern music fans looking to get their fix. Smartphone integration in car systems has even replaced the traditional radio for many listeners on the move, thanks to the incredible array of downloadable applications for music — not to mention GPS, movies, and the like.
While there’s still a tiny niche market for the now seemingly kitschy transistor radios, boom boxes, and the Walkman, the fact of the matter is those are so yesterday. Today you just click on an app and download it to your smartphone, tablet, or whatever new gadget that has come on the market in the last few weeks.
Bob Rappleye (Bob Steele on air) has been behind the mic on radio for 45 years, working for stations from New York to Florida. He was the on-air personality for the morning drive show for Verstandig Broadcasting WAYZ FM for seven years. During his tenure, Arbitron consistently ranked the morning show number one in the area for its time slot.
Four years ago, Bob was bitten by the Internet radio bug — or wireless mobile radio as the pros call it. That’s when he started Scorpion Radio Group. “When I left WAYZ I was frustrated with regular radio and the rule of a commercial every 25 minutes interrupting the DJ’s program, Bob says.
“I went to work in the Solomon Islands/Lexington Park area for a station that was part of Bay Net — an Internet-based news operation. That station now comes under Scorpion’s wing as The Phoenix. Working at Bay Net, I could see where regular radio was headed. At that time 243 million people listened to conventional radio, approximately half the amount that listened 10 years earlier.”
Since Scorpion’s start with The Phoenix, it has mushroomed to 10 stations offering listeners everything from country, rock, heavy metal, and motorsports programming — that’s right, even NASCAR. The Performance Motorsports Network is a tier-one Nascar reporting station. “If it has two or four wheels and a motor, we cover it,” Bob says. The Heels to Wheels segment has a female DJ reporting on and interviewing women racers and drivers.
The Scorpion’s Renegade Radio Nashville station, steered by Capt. Jack and Bob, is the most listened to country wireless mobile radio station in the world. In January, a spinoff of it will go online in Pidgeon Forge, Tenn.
Bob has several other plans in the works for next year. In March, a classic country station will go live and an oldies station will be starting up late in the year. Scorpion has also established a partnership with Costa Rica and Argentina. In researching these areas Bob found there are many American ex-pats living in Costa Rica, and that Argentinians love any kind of rock music. Amidst all this expansion, he also is setting up a student internship program with Salisbury University for the three stations in Ocean City that are going live next spring.
“We have been doing this for four years and are riding the crest of a technology wave…”
So what kind of goals does Scorpion have? “We have been doing this for four years and are riding the crest of a technology wave. Right now, there are 12 employees giving audiences a combined 200 years of on-air radio experience. That number will increase to 30 next year as we bring on new stations. The goal is to have 20 to 30 stations in the next four or five years. We use social media extensively to promote Scorpion: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and have extraordinary numbers of gross impressions — 4.5 million a week for all the stations.”
Bob goes on to say, “Scorpion is a team effort, the only privately owned company of its kind in the country. We are not Pandora, we are not pre-programmed, we are just an old-fashioned free radio station on the Internet that audiences can listen to on their iPhones, smartphones, tablets, iPads, PCs or laptops.”
Bob’s family has owned property and lived in the Hagerstown area for almost two centuries. He has visited here all his life and lived here full time for 16 years. He proudly says, “We intend to stay in the Tri-State area. We at Scorpion feel that we are part of the community. We give emerging mid-Atlantic artists air time, it is our way of being linked to the musicians of the area.”
Scorpion Radio Group
You can find more information about Scorpion Radio Group as well as a full list of the stations they offer at www.scorpionradiogroup.com. Depending on your particular programming proclivities, Scorpion has a station for music fans of all kinds of stripes and colors. Here’s their lineup of what’s available for live listening at the time this went to print:
Renegade Radio Nashville
Classic Rock the Vault
Performance Motorsports Network
Party Zone Radio
Extreme Metal Worx
The Blues Alley
Island Beatz Radio
Route 66 Cruisin Country