Friday, March 24, 2017


This week we have been covering results from the Nielsen Audio February PPM ratings.  Today we take a look at the eight-month trends in estimated weekly listeners for the 20 stations with the largest weekly audiences.

Of the top 20 stations, 17 (85%) gained weekly listeners since June 2016. 

We chose to compare the most recent data with June 2016 data because then the election cycle was beginning to enter its final phase.

Listening to NPR News/Talk stations is at or near record highs. Half of the stations have had increases of estimated weekly listeners of 10% or more in the past eight months. The biggest numeric gain was at KQED, up by almost 200,000 listeners. The biggest percentage gainers were WGBH and KNOW, both up 26%.

Three stations had fewer weekly listeners in February 2017 than June 2016.  Two of the three stations, KCRW and KNKX, have dual formats.  The other, KPBS, had fewer weekly listeners but was number one in AQH Share in the San Diego book.


Joyce MacDonald
The best new hire of the week has got to be Greater Public’s choice for CEO, Joyce MacDonald.  Joyce has an encyclopedic knowledge of the public radio system and is respected for her advocacy of healthy stations. She replaces Doug Eichten who is retiring in July.

Greater Public specializes in public media fundraising efforts, training, research and sharing best practices. They also produce the annual Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC), the largest conference of its type in public media.

MacDonald has 35 years of experience in media and marketing. She was Director of Station Relations and VP of Member and Audience Partnership at NPR. MacDonald was interim President and CEO of National Public Media, the organization that represents PBS, NPR and stations with national advertisers. Most recently she was VP of Journalism and Senior Advisor for Content Operations at CPB.

KEN SAYS: What a terrific choice. I first bonded with Joyce when she started in 1999 at NPR. Like me, Joyce came to public broadcasting after working in commercial radio. She was VP of Sony Corporation's SW Networks and worked for several years in affiliate marketing for ABC Radio Networks.

I recall hilarious conversations with Joyce about bizarre events we both witnessed at commercial radio conferences by big shot commercial folks like Randy Michaels and Lee Abrams.


John Stark

KLCC, Eugene, GM John Stark has posted a job opening for a Major Gifts specialist. This is a new position in one of best college towns in America. I was a consultant for KLCC five years ago and if I was at a different point in my career, this a place I’d like to work.

KLCC is looking for an experienced pro who to secure major gifts, planned giving, and grants. The deadline for applications is April 17th. More information is here.


Steve Curtis, a Denver talk show personality who often complained on-air about voter fraud, has been charged with voter fraud himself. Curtis hosts Wake Up!, a weekday conservative gabfest on KLZ-AM. He is also the former Chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

On Tuesday (3/21) Curtis was charged with misdemeanor voter fraud and forgery in Weld County District Court. According to news reports, Curtis allegedly filled out and mailed a ballot in his ex-wife's name in the November election. Authorities said that Curtis’ ex-wife, Kelly, discovered the fraud when she tried to vote in South Carolina.  She then turned him in. A hearing has been set for May.

Ironically, the Denver Post reported that Curtis said on his KLZ show in October:

“There is "something about being a
 Democrat that makes people prone to criminal behavior and It seems to me that virtually every
case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats." 

When Curtis woke up this morning, I he looked in the mirror and saw a hypocrite. 


Thursday, March 23, 2017


Historic.  That is how observers are describing WAMU’s continued success in Nielsen Audio’s February PPM estimates. Tom Taylor NOW [link] quotes ratings historian Chris Huff:

DC’s WAMU just set a record for the largest share ever recorded for a not-for-profit outlet in any PPM market.

 All Access Media [link] added:  

For the fifth time in the last seven surveys, WAMU topped the double-digit mark 25-54. This time it reached its highest peak in over a year. WTOP remained at #2 though it lost a chunk of share. At last look, the gap between the two spoken-word stations stood at a little over four shares!

WAMU’s success versus WTOP is a big deal in the media biz.  WTOP, owned by Minneapolis-based Hubbard Broadcasting, is often the top billing station in the nation with $65 million in annual commercial revenue. WTOP remains number one in estimated weekly cumulative listeners (1,119,900) but WAMU (873,400) seems to be closing the gap.

The strong performances by NPR News/Talk stations come at a time when future federal funding via CPB is under attack.  Tom Taylor opines:

New cumes are coming to many not-for-profit stations in Nielsen PPM markets, and those new listeners could come in very handy as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting faces being “zeroed out” of the federal budget. If the CPB is eliminated, that won’t crash the large-market stations with substantial donor bases and sophisticated fundraising. It’s the rural operators who may be on the bubble.
KEN SAYS: Taylor is correct but if stations in smaller markets lose CPB funding it could indirectly impact WAMU. NPR newsmagazines are vital for WAMU. Dues and fees from member stations provide much of NPR’s funding. Less money from these stations could result in cuts to NPR News. This fact of life is another reason NPR should revise it’s governance and revenue sources to be more competitive.

The same dynamic is occurring in Boston where a red-hot battle between WBUR and WGBH continues to draw more listeners to both stations. WGBH (4.7) now leads WBUR (4.4) in AQH Share. Both stations trail CBS’s all-news WBZ-AM, but if listening to WBUR and WGBH is combined, they would likely surpass WBZ.

In Seattle-Tacoma both KUOW and KNKS gained estimated weekly listeners compared with January. Bonneville’s excellent commercial news/talk station KIRO-FM (5.1) trails KUOW’s AQH share (6.7) but KIRO still has a larger weekly cume (447,000). Meanwhile, KVTI continues to gain estimated listeners. KVTI is a repeater of Northwest Public Radio’s Classical format originating from Pullman, Washington.

NPR News/Talk is also doing very well at KNOW in the Twin Cities. Estimated weekly listeners there are approaching half a million when the broadcast signal and streaming audio numbers are combined. 

CBS’s heritage news/talk station WCCO-AM, (274,800 weekly listeners) trails KNOW by a large margin.

Classical music at KSJN keeps rising. Music stations 89.3 The Current (KCMP – Triple A), CCM KTIS and Urban Hits KMOJ also increased the number of weekly listeners compared with January.

KCFR lost some ground in Denver-Boulder. 

However, the biggest story from the Front Range is the strong showing by Triple A KJAC 105.5 The Colorado Sound

In February, KJAC had more estimated weekly listeners in Denver-Boulder than sister NPR News station KUNC. KJAC and KUNC originate from Greeley, sixty miles north of Denver. GM Neil Best is likely smiling today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


According to Nielsen Audio February PPM ratings most NPR News/Talk stations in the five markets are maintaining or exceeding their estimated cumulative weekly listeners from the 2016 election period. The results are being closely watched because after past hot news cycles NPR News/Stations have seen a decline of estimated weekly listeners of 10% to 20%. That does not appear to be happening this time.

KQED, San Francisco, shows how good it can be. They are now the number one station in the Bay Area market with a 7.7 AQH Share, topping longtime leader KCBS-AM & KFRC-FM (6.8).  KCBS/KFRC (1,194,700) leads KQED (981,600) in estimated weekly listeners. These two stations remind me of WAMU and WTOP in Washington, DC.

KQED leads commercial talk station KSFO by a substantial margin (2.8 AQH Share; 285,000 weekly cume). Noncom News/Talk KALW, lost listeners from the January book.

In New York City, WNYC-FM was off a bit but still has nearly a record high number of estimated weekly listeners. WQXR (Classical), WBGO (Jazz) and WFUV (Triple A) all were up from the previous month. Apparently Educational Media Foundation (EMF) is now subscribing to Nielsen Audio in more markets. Their K-LOVE repeater WKLV had the biggest one month gain in the market.

KPCC has an estimated 904,700 weekly listeners when streaming audio listeners are combined with listeners to the broadcast signal. KKJZ, perhaps the most successful jazz station in America, has nearly a record high number of weekly listeners.

In Chicago, WBEZ continues to build weekly listeners. 

It will be interesting to see is the program/content director now that Ben Calhoun is leaving Chicago Public Media.
Congratulations to WDCB on a nice bump.

EMF’s K-LOVE repeater KYDA again is the number one noncom in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Dallas is probably the most competitive CCM market in the country.  In addition to K-LOVE, there are two other rated CCM noncoms plus commercial giant KLTY, the market leader with 773,500 estimated weekly cumulative listeners.