Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Dave Edwards

Public media consultant Dave Edwards is offering simple solutions to stage online meetings. 

Edwards’ advice is important because more webinars and group conference calls are currently replacing in-person meetings.

In his free “white paper” essay titled Running Effective Online Meetings, Edwards addresses many of the common problems facing conference call organizers. 

The essay is available for free on the Dave Edwards Media website [link].

Edwards offers planning advice on topics such as agendas, allowing for brief social time, how to keep people engaged, meeting etiquette and taking notes.

Everyone has attended a webinar, or other online session, that felt like a waste time and provided no takeaways. To make his point, Edwards quotes research showing that only 23% of webinar participants gave their full attention during online presentations. Further, 25% of participants in online meetings spent their time catching up on emails.

We wish the research did provided the stats for the percentage of people who fell asleep or “left go go the bathroom ” and never returned.

While we are discussing Edwards essay about planning effective online meetings, here are some problems we have encountered:

• Online meetings that don’t happen at the scheduled time.

• Call organizers that haven’t done a dry run and/or learned how to navigate the platform they are using.

• Roundtable discussions with several people who speak at different volumes can cause headaches.

• Difficulty finding the webinar because no one sent you the URL needed to join the meeting. This happened to us last week.

Note to Jacobs Media: Make certain that people who have registered for a webinar have the URL prior to the call.


Spark News has provided ongoing coverage of Nielsen’s problem measuring listening to audio via headphones/earbuds. 

This causes unmeasured listening that is not included in Nielsen’s PPM ratings.

Nielsen is aware 0f the problem.  PPM meters have a difficult time “hearing” the embedded watermarks.   

However, there is no agreement about the extent of the problem.

Now, thanks to Jacobs’ Techsurveys, we have a better idea of listening to station streams via headphones/earbuds for the respondents to the survey.

According to Techsurvey 2020, the percentage of the sample that listens to station audio streams is around 22%. That is up from 17% in the 2017 Techsurvey.

Monday, March 30, 2020


Last Thursday (3-26), Fred Jacobs presented a webinar to detail results of Techsurvey 2020 (TS 2020).  TS 2020 was originally scheduled for released at All Access Media’s Worldwide Radio Summit. The conference was cancelled.

You can download TS 2020 here.

TS 2020 looks at the media consumption and perceptions of 46,008 people who are listeners to 504 commercial radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. The survey was conducted 
January 7 - February 9, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic was widely know in the U.S. (Scroll down to see more about the sample.)

Reports about TS 2020 from media news sites focused on these headlines from the survey:

• All Access [link] described the Media Pyramid in TS 2020 (seen on the right) as a “cavalcade of data.” Their summary of TS 2020 said: 

“[TS 2020 shows] time spent using various devices and media, with TV/video, smartphones, and AM/FM radio (at 90%), and social media leading the field and several other devices and media showing substantial usage and growth, from streaming video and phones connected to the car to podcasts and smartwatches.”

• Inside Radio [link] highlighted the increasing importance of local programming to listeners:

Radio’s local orientation continues to grow in importance among those that matter the most to the medium – its core users. The portion of listeners that strongly agree or agree that radio’s local feel is one of its primary advantages increased for a fourth consecutive year to 88%, according to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey 2020. That’s up from 86% in 2019 and 77% in 2016.

“’Local is a huge reason why people enjoy radio, it’s part of radio’s secret sauce,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said during a webinar Thursday. “As media become more national and global, there's no question that local radio becomes more resonant’.”

Radio Ink [link] noted that Fred Jacobs made the hour-long [webinar] presentation from the basement of his home in Detroit. They said that an important finding was the different perceptions of radio’s place in the current media environment: 

“From the research that Jacobs gathered was the stunning statistic about how radio is perceived by radio listeners, when compared to other media. And, it confirms what Entercom CEO David Field has said for years, that radio is under-valued by advertisers. It also confirms that radio still has work to do in telling its story, even to its own audience.”

“When Jacobs asked listeners what they believed the market share was for SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora and Radio, compared to the actual market shares.”

Spark News will report takeaways from TS 2020 of interest to noncom folks this week.


Jacobs Media provides annual tech surveys for three groups of stations: Commercial radio, Public Radio and Christian Music radio. PRPD and Jacobs are planning to do another Public Radio Tech Survey (PRTS) later in 2020.

Respondents for both surveys are harvested from data lists and social media pages of the participating stations. The formats of the stations are the best way to compare the samples. 

Spark News compared the composition of the samples from TS 2018 and PRTS 2018, the most recent year when format breakouts for both were available.

As you can see on the chart on the left, the samples for the two surveys are very, very different.  85% of the sample used to compile TS 2018 came from music stations; only 15% came from commercial News/Talk stations.

On the other hand, the sample used for PRTS 3018 came primarily – 63% - came from NPR News/Talk stations. Full-time public radio music stations represented 31%.


We are keeping tabs on the status of conferences of interest to public radio folks. Though there have been no changes since last week, attention now turns to the Public Media Journalists Association (PMJA) conference scheduled for late June. 

This notice appears on the PMJA website [link]:

“We are monitoring the situation in Seattle related to the spread of COVID-19 and how that may affect our 2020 conference scheduled for June 25-27 at the Renaissance Hotel.”

“The personal health and safety of our members and conference participants is our top priority.  We are exploring our options and you will hear soon if there are plans to postpone or cancel our 2020 conference.”

Friday, March 27, 2020


KUOW’s coverage of COVID-19 deaths in Seattle area
nursing homes Is heard frequently on NPR News magazines
Image courtesy of KUOW
Earlier this week, KUOW in Seattle announced that the station made an editorial decision to stop airing live White House briefings on COVID-19. 

The station said they made the change because they believe President Trump is giving false and misleading information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

KUOW said that they are continuing to cover the White House briefings with heir own reporters.

Trump’s opinion-filled press conferences have been increasingly criticized for statements that are different than public health officials.

The Washington Post praised KUOW's decision in an editorial [link] that said in part:

Doing the right thing on the Trump briefings requires passing up juicy audience numbers. Yet those [big ratings] grind in two directions: On the one hand, airing the briefings live means that you’re providing a commodity demanded by many people; on the other hand, airing the briefings live means that you’re complicit in dispersing garbage information to many people.”

KUOW’s move is important because Washington was the first state to report a case of COVID-19 in and it is where the first death related to the virus occurred in early March. Infections and deaths continue to rise in the state.

Other news sources such as MSNBC and CNN are now cutting away from Trump’s lengthy and rambling briefings, a decision that angered the White House.

On Tuesday (3-24), KUOW issued a statement [link] about their decision. You can see the full statement is on the right.

In the statement, KUOW said the action was taken after station’s news staff heard President Trump make remarks including:

• “Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said at a live White House briefing on March 19 despite warnings from the U.S. Intelligence community earlier this year.

• “You’re seeing very few empty shelves,” our listeners heard live from President Trump on March 20. Local reporting shows many stores are out of basic supplies, including hand soap.

• “We’re going to be able to make the drug chloroquine “available almost immediately” said President Trump on March 19. The president claimed, incorrectly, that the FDA had fast-tracked approval of its use to treat COVID-19. There isn't current medical evidence of the efficacy of that drug in treating COVID-19.

Last week, NBC News reported that an Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine. The man’s wife told reporters that he heard of the drug while watching a White House briefing.

KUOW’s decision caused some people to question whether this decision was politically based. KUOW’ said it was not. When asked about KUOW’s action, a White House spokesperson said:

“It's not surprising, but also a failure of their duty to the American people, that some media outlets would choose to block their audiences from receiving accurate, up-to-date information on President Trump's whole-of-government approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19. No other administration has been as transparent and accessible as the Trump administration."


KUSC host Alan Chapman at his home studio.
Image courtesy of KUSC

On Wednesday (3-25) The Los Angeles Times published a cool story by reporter Randy Lewis [link] titled “How L.A. radio is responding to the coronavirus crisis.”

We give this article our highest recommendation. If you love radio and Southern California, it is a special treat.

In the article, Lewis features Classical KUSC and NPR News and Progressive Music KCRW.  Hosts from both stations are doing their shows from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lewis says that most radio stations in Los Angeles are seeing increased listenership as the spread of the virus has prompted more and more people to stay closer to home. Though Nielsen PPM ratings for March won’t be released until mid-April, data for station’s digital platforms and listener feedback indicates that listening and engagement are strong.

KUSC host Brian Lauritzen working in his
makeshift home studio
According to KUSC’s President Judy MacAlpine, “KUSC’s Facebook page this week over last week showed a 479% increase in reach, and 2,565% increase in engagement. She told The Times:

“What people are looking for even more than music to comfort them is [the human] connection. People need to engage with each other.” They are also finding that…our hosts, are a welcome respite right now.”

Lewis quotes listeners such as Pasadena resident Loren A. Roberts, who wrote the station last week in appreciation of the programming heard on KUSC: “I get into my cartakes me to a better place (psychologically, if not physically) immediately. Thank you!!

Another KUSC listener, Cloe Yun from Los Angeles wrote on the station’s Facebook page. “I’m happy that we have music to listen to and all you guys’ comforting human voices. :) Stay healthy.”

Jennifer Ferro
Image courtesy LA Weekly
KCRW President Jennifer Ferro told The Times:

“Our arts commentator, Lindsay Preston Zappas, is normally talking about what’s going on in art galleries; now she’s doing things like, ‘Here’s an art project you can do at your house.’ “

“We are reformulating how we connect with people. KCRW has a trove of in-studio music specials [that are hosted with artists from Los Lobos and Tom Jones to Nashville indie singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy and experimental jazz musician Nate Mercereau."

Thanks to readers Kathy Gronau and Gregg McVicar for forwarding the LA Times article to us.