Friday, February 23, 2018

HOW BILLY GRAHAM CHANGED AMERICAN RADIO


Billy Graham preaches in the early days of KTIS
Today in the United States there are, by our estimate, over 3,400 evangelical Christian radio stations on the air. In fact, almost every religious station in the country airs evangelical messages and music.

None of this would have happened without Billy Graham and handful of other folks who brought evangelical broadcasting into the American mainstream.

Things weren’t always like this. It is hard to imagine that the Reverend Billy Graham was once considered an insurgent, an outcast, battling the established  “big church.”

When Graham started his life’s work in the early 1940’s, evangelicals were facing growing hostility from mainline Protestant denominations. The “old church” feared that evangelicals would cut into their attendance and contributions. Nowhere was this more evident than in the national media.

At that time time, the Federal Council of Churches, a group that represented the major denominations, pushed for “standards” that kept evangelical voices off the air. For instance, the Council insisted that networks and stations air religious programming only from “responsible” organizations. And the Council determined who was “responsible” and who was not.

The Council enforced a blockade that kept evangelicals off the three big radio networks, NBC, CBS and Mutual Broadcasting System and their affiliated stations. The Council’s standards were also applied in the fast-growing television industry.  Evangelicals had very few broadcast media options.

Graham at ABC in 1953
Graham helped organize a group of evangelicals to change these “red line” policies. 

Eventually they achieved a breakthrough. In 1950 they succeeded in getting a new radio and television network, ABC, to air Graham’s program Hour of Decision.

Promotion by newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst played a crucial role in making Graham a star.   

Evangelical media used Graham’s fame to enter the halls of national power.




Reader Tip:  Check out Mark Ward’s book Air of Salvation. In our opinion this is the definitive book about the rise of evangelical broadcasting. It is available on Amazon [link].




BILLY GRAHAM STARTS LOCAL EVANGELICAL-FORMATTED RADIO STATIONS

Defeating the mainstream denominations on the national stage was import but Graham and his associates had an even bigger impact on local religious broadcasting.
 
In the late 1940s, the FCC began approving the construction of hundreds of new AM stations (and a handful of FM stations) licensed to communities across the country. Before that time there had been programs featuring evangelical preachers but there were not many stations that specialized in full-time evangelical programming.

Early photo of Graham on KTIS
When Graham became the president of Northwestern Bible College in 1948, the school applied for a new station to serve the Twin Cities. 

The FCC quickly approved the application. KTIS signed on 900 AM in February 1949.  

 As the story goes, Graham built the station with $44,000 raised by Northwestern College students. KTIS became an immediate success and was considered to be responsible for doubling the College’s enrollment by the early 1950s.

KTIS was nationally known as a success and it became a model for others. Graham’s sermons drew thousands of listeners.  Over time, station’s like KTIS were established everywhere in the nation.

Graham left the College in 1952 but his successors continued buying and building new stations. Northwestern Bible College is known today as the University of Northwestern. It is the home of Northwestern Media, an entity set up by the University to administer a fast growing chain of stations and international distribution of digital media.

Reader Tip: Minnesota Public Radio reporter Chris Gilbert produced a terrific story about Graham and early years of KTIS [link].

GRAHAM’S LEGACY AT NORTHWESTERN CONTINUES TODAY

Northwest Media provides stations with two programming streams:




LIFE branded stations (mainly on FM) feature a very successful Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) format.

The LIFE stations are among the most successful CCM stations in the nation. 

Their ratings and revenue performance is very stable from year-to-year. 

Note how LIFE stations in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Madison and Des Moines out-perform many commercial stations in those markets.




• FAITH branded stations (mainly on AM) offer a blend of preaching and Christian Talk show.

The audience for Christian Talk stations, sometimes called “Teaching” stations, has been declining in recent years. 

FAITH stations are notable for their aggressive nontraditional revenue generation.










Thursday, February 22, 2018

IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE “CUME” • NPR NEWS/TALK STATIONS SETTLE INTO A “NEW NORMAL” in JANUARY PPM TRENDS


Occasionally we have readers ask for more information about ratings terminology and which metrics are most important. We believe understanding ratings such as ones provided by Nielsen Audio begins with the estimated “Weekly Cumulative Persons.” 

This is referred to as the “weekly cume” or the term we use “weekly listeners.”

Cume is important because it provides the estimated number of unique individuals who spend at least five minutes listening to a particular station during a set period of time such as daily or weekly.

All businesses use metrics similar cume to measure the total number of “customers” served. In a recent blog post [link] consultant Fred Jacobs puts it this way:

"It’s one thing to look at a computer screen and see a station’s cume trend heading steadily down. It’s another to look at a stadium that’s has more empty seats that full ones. For the owner of a pro sports team, it’s a vivid reminder there may be something wrong with your business model.”

I like Fred’s “stadium” analogy. Think of “cume” as the number of seats that are filled for an event. The number of seats that are occupied is a real, knowable number. Data from Nielsen is “estimated” because they take a sample, examine the behavior and then project what they find in the sample on the whole population.

In other words, cume is a baseline number. All other ratings metrics such as “Average Quarter Hour Persons” (AQH) are derived from the estimated cume.

Spark News uses data provided by Nielsen and Radio Research Consortium (RRC), the organization that crunches Nielsen data for noncommercial radio broadcasters. We are permitted to use limited portions of ratings – weekly cume and AQH. There is much more information provided to subscribing stations. I wish we could report metrics such as the number of tune-in occurrences and the time-spent-listening for each tune-in. This information is particularly useful in our multi-platform business.

From the data available to us, we use the estimated weekly cume as our metric of choice. Commercial radio use AQH persons and share percentages to price advertising spots. For noncommercial radio, we use weekly cume because it represents individuals who may become a supporter of the station.

NPR NEWS STATIONS ADJUST TO THE NEW RATINGS NORMAL

The January 2018 Nielsen Audio PPM ratings are being released this week. Compared with the estimated weekly listeners in January 2017, one thing is clear: One year after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, many NPR News/Talk stations have fewer listeners now than they did a year ago.

The trends we are seeing are not dire – there still are lots of listeners to public radio news. But the numbers we are seeing make me hope that NPR CEO Jarl Mohn can get his mojo rising again.




There is no decline one-year later at WNYC-FM. Their weekly cume rose to almost historic levels.

This is the first time in recent memory that WFUV had more estimated weekly listeners than WBGO.   


My friends in Ossining tell me that ’FUV sounds terrific.



Educational Media Foundation’s (EMF) KKLQ has settled into its own new normal. The current number of weekly listeners to the K-Love’s flagship at 100.3 FM is about a fourth of the weekly listeners than its predecessor The Sound had. 

Also the legendary Pirate Radio was on 100.3 and had weekly cume in the low millions. 

KKLQ’s January 2018 showing provides perspective about the size of the Christian Contemporary audience.




Do you see what I mean about key NPR News/Talk stations losing weekly listeners?   

Jazz/Blues WDCB is the kind of station that has for decades made Chicago a great radio city.










As David Byrne said: “Same as it ever was…”











KKXT PD Amy Miller is probably smiling today. The Republic of Music is rising.







KXNG [link] has one of the most adventurous music playlists I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know there are so many Christian heavy metal and rap artists. Christian Rock has always seemed like oxymoron to me.


 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 CONFERENCES OF INTEREST TO PUBLIC MEDIA FOLKS


Please let me know about additional conferences and events.

SXSW
March 9th – 18th
Various venues
Austin

3/14 Noon – 6pm – Vuhaus Public Stage
Austin Convention Center

3/16 Noon - Midnight – Vuhaus Slingshot Stage
Stubbs of Austin

Click here for more information.

PUBLIC RADIO ENGINEERING CONFERENCE (PREC)
April 4th & 5th
Tuscany Suites
Las Vegas

APRE – the Association of Public Radio Engineers – is holding the 2018 Public Radio Engineering Conference on April 5th and 6th, immediately preceding the annual NAB Show.

Click here for more information.

18th ANNUAL TRIPLE A NON-COMMvention
May 15th-18th
WXPN World Cafe
Philadelphia



Bruce Warren wrote on the PRPD Facebook page:

“Registration is now open and the first wave of bands has been announced including Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, #NPRSlinsghot musician Jade Bird, and Austin's Sweet Spirit. Sessions will be announced soon. There will be over 25 bands appearing in three days. If you love the Triple A public radio music thing then we'd love to see you in May.”

Click here for more information.

PUBLIC MEDIA BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (PMBA) CONFERENCE
Tuesday, May 29th – Friday, June 1st
Long Beach

The 2018 PMBA annual conference will be held in Long Beach. Details will be available soon.

Click here for more information.

PUBLIC RADIO NEWS DIRECTORS (PRNDI) ANNUAL CONFERENCE
June 20th – 23rd
Hilton Hotel Center City
Philadelphia

Click here for more information.

NFCB COMMUNITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
Wait until 2019

Sally Kane, NFCB’s CEO, to us:

We are not holding a national conference until March or April of 2019. This year we are focusing on convening three regional summits which are for our members only. The big national conference is a huge financial and administrative commitment for an organization our size so we have moved to alternating summits and the conference. Thanks for thinking of us.

Click here for information about the Regional Summits.

PUBLC MEDIA DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING CONFERENCE (PMDMC)
July 10th – 13th
Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
Chicago

Greater Public and PBS will co-present the 2018 PMDMC July 10-13 in Chicago. Don’t miss the biggest event in public media.

Click here for more information.


FMQB TRIPLE A CONFERENCE
August 8th – 11th
St. Julian Hotel
Boulder

Click here for more information.






PUBLIC RADIO PROGRAM DIRECTORS (PRPD)
PUBLIC MEDIA CONTENT CONFERENCE
August 20th – 23rd
Hyatt Regency
Austin

Pre-conference sessions are on August 18th – 20th

Click here for more information.




CHRISTIAN MUSIC BROADCASTERS (CMB)
MOMENTUM 2018
September 5th – 8th
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Orlando

Click here for more information.

AMERICANA FEST
September 11th – 16th
Venues to be announced soon
Nashville

For five nights, Americana Fest will feature 215+ live performances at 14 of Nashville's most prominent venues. Americana and bluegrass radio folks, music industry pros will gather for seminars, panels and networking opportunities.

“The coolest music scene today.”The New York Times

Click here for more information.


ERPM SUPER-REGIONAL
October 24th – 26th
JW Marriott Buckhead Hotel 
Atlanta

Click here for more information.

COLLEGE BROADCASTERS, INC.
CBI National Student Electronic Media Convention
October 25th – 27th
Seattle

Click here for more information.