proposal should be silenced
The Nashua Telegraph
September 16, 2008
One of the downsides of settling the contentious Nashua
teachers contract earlier this year has finally reared
its ugly head.
The administration now has enough time on its hands to
once again consider installing BusRadio on some or all
of the district's 86 school buses.
We thought that was a bad idea when it first came up in
the spring of 2007, and we still believe it's a bad idea
BusRadio Inc., based in Needham, Mass., uses a Wi-Fi
network to provide what it describes as "age-appropriate
top-40 music" to school districts across the United
In a typical hour, students would hear 52 minutes of
carefully screened music, four minutes of advertising
and four minutes of public safety announcements – all if
it packaged for three different audiences: elementary,
middle and high-school students.
Not only does the company install the necessary
technology on school buses at no cost to school
districts, but it also cuts them in for a small slice –
estimated for Nashua at $10,000 – of the advertising
Currently, more than a million students in 24 states
listen to BusRadio on a daily basis, according to the
company's Web site (busradio.net).
Among the school districts that recently agreed to
contract with BusRadio are the Rio Rancho Public Schools
in New Mexico, Davidson County Public Schools in North
Carolina and the Kenton and Boone county school
districts in Kentucky.
In Nashua, the board of education actually voted to
authorize the administration to enter into a contract
with BusRadio in September of 2007.
But nothing ever materialized, transportation director
David Rauseo told the school board last Monday night, in
part because of more pressing district priorities, such
as negotiating a new contract with the city's teachers.
"It gives us control of what's being played," he said.
"There's really very little risk involved. And if we
don't like it, we don't have to use it."
Rauseo told the board he would like to install the
system on the district's school buses during the current
So what would students hear?
Based on an hour-long demo provided to the school board
two years ago, the elementary school version consisted
of songs by artists such as Smashmouth, Tiffany and
Hillary Duff, as well as a few tracks from "High School
During that 60-minute period, the phrase "BusRadio" or
references to its Web site were mentioned 30 times; in
the middle school and high school version, they were
mentioned 43 times.
At the risk of oversimplifying, the debate comes down to
providing children with an appropriate alternative to
your typical AM/FM programming vs. exposing a captive
audience to eight minutes of national sales pitches for
A few states have outright bans against any commercial
activity directed at students – either on school
property or while being transported to and from school.
The most recent was South Carolina, where the state
board of education voted just last week to ban all
advertising on school buses.
Now, to be clear, we don't believe for a moment that
school administrators are looking to exploit the city's
schoolchildren in return for a $10,000 annual payday.
That would be silly.
We just disagree that the desire for more
age-appropriate radio content trumps exposing the
district's 8,500 bus-bound students to what amounts to
As we wrote back in April 2007: "If bad morning radio is
a problem on our school buses, then simply turn the
music off, permanently. Subjecting our students to
predatory and needless marketing at the hands of their
educational system is not the answer."
Besides, don't most kids have iPods these days, anyway?
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