Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Bonnie Grice
Listeners on both coasts are familiar with the voice of Bonnie Grice. 

At the end of March, Grace will retire her radio chops for a while and concentrate on Boots On the Ground, a theater company she founded in 2016. 

Boots stages stories of historical significance.

For the past two decades Grice has been a host, producer and a community convener on WPPB 88.3 FM in Southampton, New York. 

Southampton is located on the eastern tip of Long Island, roughly 80 miles from Manhattan.

Grice said she isn’t done with radio but needs a break for a while. 

Grice joined WPBX, which became WPPB in 1998.  

Grice told her radio story in a first-person narrative in the WPPB website [link]:

Grice: “Radio has been my life most of my adult life. I fell into it. I grew up on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania but I went to school in Ohio. I began volunteering at my college radio station as a news writer for the Noon Report”.

Grice in the 1970s
“My first on-air appearance was reading ‘The Agriculture Report.’ Next thing I knew I was farmed out to interview the Pork Queen at the County Fair. An inauspicious beginning perhaps, but I was thrilled with every farm fresh moment holding that microphone. Besides, it didn’t take me long to find my place beyond the barrows and gilts…”

Grice moved to her first paying job at KOPN, near Columbia, Missouri. At KOPN, she had her first touch of fame:

Grice: “I found a tape recorder and my voice at the same time, covering stories ranging from nuclear power to women’s issues. My first in studio music interview was guitarist Leo Kottke, a 6 and 12-string powerhouse who described his singing voice as “geese farts on a muggy day.” He was quick, fun, talented and kinda cute.”

While I was working at KOPN, my roommate, Kyle Warren Cook, did a show called ‘Mystery Science Radio 3000’ late on Saturday nights. I’d stop in after we closed down the ‘Blue Fugue’ bar where I helped manage, tend bar, do security and serve as hookah operations director.”

Grice on-air at WPPB
That job led to reporting stints for several newspapers and magazines. T

hen Grice landed a gig at KUSC in Los Angeles, specializing in coverage of arts and Classical music scenes.   

At KUSC she met Wally Smith, then the GM of KUSC.  Smith would have a major impact on her life and work.

Grice worked as program host and arts reporter at NPR in Washington. She moved to Southampton in 1998, where Smith had become GM of then WPBX.

At the time, WPBX was licensed to Long Island University.  When the school was sold to Stony Brook University in 2010, Smith and Grice re-established the station as Peconic Public Broadcasting – WPPB – a small community station with big market competitors.

At WPPB, Grice created shows that featured local music and the arts scene, particularly live theater news. She did the morning shift which she describes as a “sonic gumbo” of music, interviews and eastern Long Island news. She hosted and produced ‘The Eclectic Café,’ ‘Media Mavens’ and a nationally syndicated show ‘The Song is You’ where featured guests share their 10 favorite tunes.

Grice, who is a two-time Gracie Allen Award winner, told local online news service [link];

Grice: “This has been such a ride. I love the East End and have so enjoyed the honor and pleasure representing NPR for Long Island on WPPB. I thank Wally Smith and the staff for their ongoing support and our wonderful loyal listeners! I look forward to further adventures down the road, on and off the air. In the meantime: Stay tuned!”

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Consider today’s post to be educational because we learned a lot putting it together.  Spark News looked at the top performing stations in Weekly Cume Ratings in both PPM and Diary methodology from Fall 2018.

Weekly Cume Rating is a powerful but under appreciated metric. It shows the percentage of the total population that listens for a minimum of five minutes during the survey week. Nielsen’s official definition is shown on the left above.

Think of Weekly Cume Rating as "market penetration." KUT’s 13.3 Weekly Cume Rating means the 13.3% of the population age 6 or older listened to KUT during the survey period. In other words, one person in nine in Austin heard KUT during a typical week. This can be called the “significance” of the station in its metro area. KUT is very, very significant in Austin.

On the left are two charts showing the Top 30 Nielsen Audio rated stations in markets where the PPM methodology is used.

KUT leads the pack but all of these stations are significant players in their markets.

Of the 30 stations in PPM markets, 24 of the 30 (80%) are full-time NPR News/Talk stations.

Note station #3 – KSBJ in Houston.  

 It is the top Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) in the nation in Weekly Cume Rating. 

You would be correct if you said KSBJ is a very significant station in the Houston-Galveston area. 

There are two CCM stations (7%) in the top 30.

There are three Classical music stations in the PPM Top 30 (10%) and one AAA station (3%), 

KUT’s sister station KUTX. 

This means both stations are significant players in Austin.

In the Diary markets Vermont Public Radio – WVPR – has an amazing 21.5 Weekly Cume Rating.   

This means more than one of every five people in Burlington listen to VPR during a typical week.

One could say that public radio is extremely significant in New England because stations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine take three of the Top five position.

Note: The difference between PPM methodology and Diary methodology is clearly shown in this analysis. 

Because of the ways the audience data are collected, the Weekly Cume Ratings for stations in Diary markets are higher than in the PPM markets.

Of the 31 stations listed in Diary markets, 19 (62%) are full-time NPR News/Talk stations. 

Nine (29%) are CCM stations; and 2 (6%) are dual-format stations with a combination NPR News Classical music. 

The list also includes a Pop Hits station in Pueblo, Colorado.


Everyone knows that the DNA of a podcast listener is very similar to a public radio station listener.

Podcasts with ties to public media occupy 12 (60%) of the Top 20.  NPR alone publishes 8 (40%) of the Top 20 podcasts.

Two commercial media companys, iHeartRadio and Barstool Sports continue to gain ground in the Podtrac rankings.

Monday, March 18, 2019


This coming Wednesday (3/20) the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) Board of Education will decide the fate of KMHD 89.1 FM, one of the most significant Jazz music radio station in America. 

Will they decide to continue KMHD’s successful relationship with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), or, will they choose to bring KMHD back to campus for an uncertain but smaller future.

One thing is known: Jazz music fans in Portland love KMHD and want it to continue the way it has been since 2009. 

Back then, MHCC, in the Portland suburb of Gresham, turned day-to-day operations of the station over to OPB via a managing agreement. 

Under OPB’s guidance, KMHD has been stellar performer and has become nationally known curator and presenter of Jazz music.

OPB also provides KMHD with financial advantages such as a membership and underwriting infrastructure, an environment of programming excellence and a history of success. According to local press reports, KMHD has raised around $600,000 a year under OPB’s leadership. Plus the relationship is a bargain for MHCC. Their only cost is around $15,000 per year to maintain the FCC license.

The chart on the left shows the Nielsen ratings for for 13 full-time Jazz music located in PPM markets.

 We have highlighted the “Weekly Cume Rating” performance for all 13 stations in the column on the right. 

In the Fall 2017 ratings, KMHD had the highest Weekly Cume Rating of all 13 stations.

Weekly Cume Rating is an important metric because it measures market penetration. The higher the number, the more “significant” the station is in the market. 

Weekly Cume Rating is shorthand for the percentage of people, age 6 or older that listen to at least five minutes of a station during the past week.

Since KMHD is doing well by local and national standards, why would anyone want to change the station? Call it a naive utopian notion that"we know best and don't confuse me with the facts."

Several months ago the President of MHCC, Lisa Skari, bowed to pressure from a group of MHCC employees who want KMHD back in Gresham at any cost. Skari organized a campus committee to develop a business plan and strategy for KMHD to return to the campus.The group presented their findings to the MHCC board last week.

The committee foresees KMHD exiting OPB and returning to MHCC without any damage to the Jazz format. But they want a more “student friendly” sound and a less professional (and expensive) staff. Many observers have told the committee that their numbers don’t add up and their plan is flawed. But the committee continues to pressure the MHCC board to move the station "back home."


MHCC must decide what to do with KMHD by April 1, 2019. That is when the current agreement with OPB expires.

In 2009 MHCC agreed to a five-year deal with OPB to manage KMHD.  Things went very well and MHCC agreed to another five-year term that is now reaching its end.

Meanwhile MHCC’s “bring back KMHD” committee heard the results of an informal survey of MHCC students that found only 3% of the students listen to KMHD. Oh my!

MHCC asked OPB for a two-year agreement to allow for time to plan the relocation. OPB said, “no” – it is five-years or nothing. Now MHCC must decide to accept a new five-year agreement with OPB or move the station back to the campus by the end of August 2019.


The reason we used Fall 2017 data to compare KMHD to other full-time jazz stations, is because of the negative impact of MHCC’s “bring back KMHD” effort on station listeners. The uncertainty has also hurt pledging and underwriting.

Story update 3-18-19 1pm CT
Lynne Clendenin, OPB’s VP of Programming and Station Manager for KMHD, notified us that 89.1 FM had serious encoder issues during Fall 2018. These technical issues also contributed to KMHD’s drop in the Nielsen PPM ratings.

The chart on the left shows five-year Nielsen ratings trends for KMBH. 

Since Fall 2014 KMHD has consistently performed well. The Fall 2018 numbers don’t fit this pattern.

But, the drop in listening portends the future for KMHD if the MHCC  board “brings back KMHD.” 

It sounds so easy but MHCC must prepare for a firestorm of negative publicity should it vote to bring the station back to the campus. Such a move will make it appear that KMHD's purpose is to serve a campus rather than the Portland Metro Area. In other words, it is a small-time choice.

According to a report in the Portland Tribune last week [link], the MHCC board appears to be divided with several members seemingly open to bringing the station back to the college.