Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Afternoon traffic on the 405 in Los Angeles
For years weekday “morning drive” has been considered the “sweet spot” for radio listening. Commercial and public radio stations have spent considerable resources to reach listeners in the 6am to 10am day-part. New analysis of Nielsen Audio PPM data is bringing this assumption into question.

According to report published by the Radio Research Consortium called Fish Where the Fish Are, weekday afternoons are now the day-part when the most people are listening to radio. You can download the report here.
For many years Monday through Friday 7am-8am was assumed to be the hour when radio listening reached its high point. But things have changed.

The chart on the right shows the days and hours when the most people are now “hearing” radio. Weekdays 7am-8am is now number seven trailing each of the six hours on Weekdays from Noon through the 5pm hour.

Weekday evening hours tend to have fewer and fewer available listeners as the time gets later.  At Midnight only 1.2% of the population is listening to radio.

Nielsen's explanation of PUMM
Readers may have noticed a new name for the metric that for years was known as Persons Using Radio (“PUR”). Nielsen is now calling it Persons Using Measured Media (“PUMM”).  PUMM still mainly reflects over-the-air radio listening, but adds listening to online streaming audio.

Keep in mind that PUMM numbers reflect "real time" listening, not on on-demand behavior. PUMM does not include listening to satellite radio. Also not included in PUMM is listening to “pure play” online streaming audio sites such as Pandora. The data is not broken out by format or geography, which would be nice to know.


On weekends some hours and day-parts have lots of lots of people listening to the radio but during most hours the PUMM drops significantly.

The weekend hour when the most listening occurs is Saturday Noon to 1pm. 

In fact, radio listening remains strong during the entire Saturday 10am-5pm.

But after the Saturday 5pm-6pm hour, the percentage of people listening to radio drops quickly with each passing hour. 

During the 7pm hour it falls to 5.4%; during the 8pm hour it dips to 4.3%; and, by 9pm only 3.5% of the available population is using radio.

The Saturday evening numbers show the perils of expensive programming during the day-part. 

For many years, Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion (APHC) defied gravity by out-perming the percentage of listeners who are available.   

But as APHC has faded in history, listening on Saturday evenings has dropped because there are fewer people with radios “on.”

On Sunday there are even fewer hours when a large potion of the population is using radio. 

The hours between Noon and 3pm are the only times with higher numbers of PUMM.

On Sunday morning 6am-7am, only 1.4% of the population is listening to radio.

This information is important for programmers because they help provide realistic expectations. 

A program scheduled on Sunday evening may be a terrific sounding show, but the odds of many people hearing it are quite low.


KUOW lost average-quarter-hour (AQH) share in April, compared March, but it remains the top radio news source in Seattle-Tacoma.

Commercial News/Talk KIRO-FM continues to lag behind KUOW and Sinclair’s commercial all-news KOMO. Look for fine-tuning at KIRO soon if this trend continues.

Listening to dual format (NPR News & Jazz) KNKX is staying strong.

The biggest noncommercial movers in the April “book” were Classical music KING and AAA music KEXP.

KING’s estimated weekly listeners were up 24% compared to March plus the AQH share was up.

KEXP almost doubled its AQH share and weekly listeners were up over 12% compared to the March PPM data.

NPR News/Talk KOPB had another terrific month. 

Their AQH share was up for 7.7% in March to 8.5% in April.

In the news race, no other station is even close to KOPB. 

Commercial Talk station KUFO-AM – a/k/a Freedom 970 – doubled it AQH share after returning Bill O’Reilly to the line-up. Remember him?

Classical KQAC’s AQH share dropped a point in April compared with March.

Jazz KMHD lost quite a few estimated weekly listeners but the AQH share remained stable.

Promotional message

Monday, May 20, 2019


Despite hopes that the University of Evansville (UE) would seek a public radio option for campus station WUEV 91.5 FM, the university decided to exchange the asset for cash.

UE sold the license to a Colorado-based radio syndication vendor, WAY Media.  WAY has no apparent ties to Evansville. 

Programming will originate from Nashville.

WAY Media operates WAY-FM [link], a satellite-delivered, 24/7 Contemporary Christian (CCM) that is heard on approximately 100 stations and translators nationwide. UE confirmed the sale on Friday (5/17) while most students were away from campus.

When we first reported on the pending sale of WUEV in October 2018 [link], we urged the university to continue talks with Tri-State Public Media, the licensee of PBS affiliate WNIN-TV and NPR station WNIN-FM.

A WUEV DJ in happier days
An executive of Tri-State, who asked to remain confidential, said they discussed either a purchase of WUEV's license or a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA). 

A PSOA would have provided Evansville with a second public radio station at no cost to UE. 

WNIN radio currently has a dual format of NPR News and Classical music. 

The proposed agreement would have allowed UE to maintain ownership of the FCC license and the benefit of promoting the university on two popular public radio stations.

The university walked away from the discussions several months ago.

When the time came to decide fate of WUEV, the university chose money over the opportunity to serve the citizens of Evansville. By selling to WAY Media, the University of Evansville sold an asset they have owned since 1951. It is doubtful the WAY Media will ever produce any programming in Evansville.

Ironically, the purchase agreement with WAY Media stipulates that the WUEV call letters will remain the property of  UE.

WAY-FM: “The first top-40 Christian radio station in America”

MAP of WAY-FM Stations
Many people confuse WAY Media, Inc. with WAY International, a cult-like, non-trinitarian church based in New Knoxville, Ohio. 

We found no link between the two organizations.

WAY Media owns and operates over 100 noncommercial FM stations and translators and a handful of commercial stations. 

WAY-FM claims it has 95 employs according to the company’s page on LinkedIn [link]. The organization is also heavily involved in concert and event promotion.

According to WAY Media’s FY 2017 IRS 990, the organization’s annual revenue was approximately $15,000,000. Most of the money came from unspecified contributions and grants. About half of WAY Media’s expenses were salaries and benefits.

Morning DJ Gary Wallace

WAY Media pays its executives well.   

During FY 2017 CCO Lloyd Erdvig received around $180,000, and Development Director Billy J. O’Neal received more than $210,000. 

Morning DJ Gary Wallace received around $170,000.

Bob and Felice Augsburg
To understand WAY-FM, you need to know the story of the founders Bob and Felice Augsburg. 

The story was told by Amy Bartlett of Wireless Age magazine in 2007.

It is now posted on WAY-FM website [link]. 

Ironically, Wireless Age magazine ceased publication in 1925.

In 1982 the Augsburg’s lived in Fort Myers, Florida. Bob Augsburg was working at WSOR-FM, a “religious teaching” station. The couple enjoyed going to local Christian Rock concerts.

Bob decided to do a weekly show on WSOR on Saturday nights that featured Christian Rock music. The program – Lifeline – gave Bob Augsburg a big idea, He told Bartlett:

“We were endeavoring to create the first top-40 Christian radio station in America.”

Around the same time the Augsburg’s met a local broadcast engineer who was familiar with FCC proceedings. The unnamed engineer told the Augsburg’s that there was an un-built FM construction permit in the Fort Myers area. Apparently the owner of the permit did not have the money to build the station. The Augsburg’s then acquired the permit.

The permit became WAYJ-FM, a 100,000-watt station that covers most of southwest Florida. WAYJ went on the air in 1987. The Augsburg’s likely built and operated WAYJ in its earliest years using funds from Christian Contemporary music companies and concert promoters whose music they wanted to have played on WAYJ.

Then, CCM music industry associates urged the Augsburg’s to bring WAY-FM to Nashville. The Augsburg’s acquired a frequency that became WAYM in 1992. As a way of saving money, the Augsburg’s put WAYJ’s programming on a satellite channel and fed it WAYM. At that point, WAY-FM began building a national network. Much of WAY-FM’s programming now originates from WAY Media's studio in Nashville.

Bartlett’s article quotes Bob Augsburg saying:

There was no industry model to follow. No model at all, successful or unsuccessful, in the entire country that would enable us to say, ‘it works in this city; here are the ‘numbers.’

Current WAY-FM fundraising promotion
That statement simply is not true. 

By the late 1980s and early 1990s the Education Media Foundation (EMF) had several K-Love affiliates on the air. 

WGTS in Washington, DC, KSBJ in Houston and KTIS in the Twin Cities were established successful CM stations. 

It is untrue and disingenuous to say WAY-FM was first station of its type because it wasn't.

WAY-FM Management Team Summit at Glen Eyrie, CO (left to right) Senior VP Dusty Rhodes; Huntsville, AL GM Thom Ewing; COO Lloyd Parker; Nashville Regional Manager Matt Austin; Wichita, KS GM Paul Anthony; Longview, WA GM Danny Houle; Tallahassee, FL GM Steve Young; Ft. Myers, FL GM Jeff Taylor; Denver, CO GM Zach Cochran; Florida Regional Manager Jim Marshall; CHRSN GM Faron Dice (image soured: WAY-FM)
Bob Augsburg today in Colorado
As the years passed, WAY-FM was increasingly successful. 

The operation became more structured. Bob Augsburg left day-to-day operations and was named the CEO of WAY Media, Inc. 

The company moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs, where it remains today.  

Life is good for the Augsburg’s. 

According to WAY Media’s FY 2017 IRS 990, that year Bob received over $215,000 in salary and benefits.

Friday, May 17, 2019


Chris Albertson on PBS in 1971
Chris Albertson, the world’s leading scholar on blues singer Bessie Smith, died in late April at the age of 87. 

According to a report in The New York Times [link] he was found dead on April 24 at his apartment in Manhattan. 

The cause of his death has not been specified. He had been in declining health for several months. 

Albertson was not only an expert about the life and times of Bessie Smith, he was a curator of her work, a relentless champion of her role in American blues music and promoter who brought her music to the forefront after years of neglect by the music industry.

Though Albertson is now gone, his Bessie Smith work lives on.   

Check out his blog Stomp Off [link] for delightful stories, rare photographs and succulent music. 


Chris Albertson in 2011
Chris Albertson had another passion: WBAI in New York. 

He was a true believer in the original Pacifica philosophy. 

Back then, he loved WBAI’s culture of openness, landmark programming the station’s role in changing the social and political abric of America.

Albertson was the General Manager of WBAI from 1964 to 1968.  This was a time when WBAI (and Pacifica) really mattered. The station was then a magnet for poets, philosophers, dreamers and people against the Vietnam War.

Bob Dylan was a frequent late night guest on WBAI.  Spark News featured a recording of Dylan on WBAI in 2014 and 2016 ]link]. You can hear it via YouTube:

Albertson had a fascinating media career, much of it based on his lifelong love of jazz. He began working in radio in the mid 1950s as a host and program producer for Armed Forces Radio in Iceland. He created programs about the legends of jazz for the BBC.

In 1958 he moved to WCAU in Philadelphia where he produced and hosted Accent on Jazz, a weekly jazz documentary program that featured the then-current jazz scenes around the world. (Check out his interview with George Shearing while he was at WCAU here.)

In the early 1960s Albertson moved to New York where he worked at WNYC, WNEW and finally WBAI. He became WBAI’s General Manager in 1964.

In the early 1970’s, Albertson was a co-producer and the host of The Jazz Set, a popular weekly program on PBS that was seen nationally. The show featured rare appearances by Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, and Ray Bryant.

Mission statement of WBAI Now & Then
As the years went by, Albertson became disillusioned with WBAI and Pacifica. In 2011 he started the blog WBAI Now & Then [link]. The blog became a gathering point for others who lamented the devolution and growing irrelevance of Pacifica, a tragic story that is still playing out today.

Albertson's final post a week before his death
Albertson was a fan of Spark News and helped bring our blog into the conversation about the future of Pacifica. He also kindly listened to our story about the important role WBAI had in our own life and career.

In the summer of 1969 we traveled and stayed a while in New York where we discovered WBAI-FM. We came to New York as a way-too-cool Top 40 DJ.  We left NYC as a more humble person with a whole new sense of what radio could be.  Thanks, Chris.


In Washington, DC, WAMU is now tied with WTOP in AQH share. WTOP dropped almost a full point from March.   

The number of estimated weekly listeners for both stations remained about the same.

CCM WGTS had record high ratings in  the April 2019 “book.”

Classical WETA also had a big bump in estimated weekly listeners, according to Nielsen.

The biggest looser was hard-right commercial talk station WMAL, down from a 6.8 AQH share in March to a 5.5 AQH share in April.

In Dallas-Fort Worth KERA remains the top radio news source in the market.

AAA KKXT started to rebound from several down months.

Commercial Classical WRR-FM remains strong in the Metroplex despite falling to a 1.0 AQH share.   

WRR’s number of weekly listeners remains steady.   

These numbers indicate that lots of folks are tuning to WRR but they aren’t staying as long as they did during previous months.

We can’t visit Houston without mentioning the death of our dear friend Capella Tucker, the former Director of Content at KUHF. 

Tucker passed away in late April at the age of 48. The cause of her death was cancer.

Tucker started working at KUHF in 1994 as a reporter and producer. 

She made a name for herself producing the national program Engines of Our Ingenuity.

She moved up to become KUHF’s Assistant News Director, then News Director, then she became Director of Content.

Her friend and associate, Craig Cohen, the host and Executive Producer of the daily news/talk show Houston Matters, told local media:

Capella Tucker

“Capella hired me to develop and host Houston Matters. She was so invested in the as-yet-unlaunched, unnamed show, she met me at the airport, and spent hours driving me all around Greater Houston.”

“As we talked, it became clear how passionate she was about her adopted hometown, and what she thought the show that would become Houston Matters could add to it. She sold me on coming here that afternoon.”