Thursday, February 20, 2020


Jane Vincent
Jane Vincent, President of Delaware Public Media (DPM) is about to expand the coverage of DPM’s NPR News/Talk station. 

DPM has signed an agreement to pay WAMU $537,000 for the license of WAMU’s repeater station WRAU 88.3 FM. 

The transfer needs FCC approval, which is expected in June 2020.

Several organizations had been pursuing WRAU. 

American University, the licensee of WAMU, announced last fall that they were looking for a buyer for WRAU. 

WAMU is planning on using the proceeds of sale to increase their digital services and focus their programming on the Washington, DC metro area.

DPM [link] currently operates WDDE 91.1FM in Dover, WMPH 91.7 FM in Wilmington and WMHS 88.1 FM in Pike Creek, Delaware. 

WMAU’s projected coverage area
WRAU not only covers the state of Delaware, its signal reaches almost the entire Delmarva 

A map of WRAU’s coverage area is on the right. 

The station is licensed to Ocean City, Maryland and broadcasts with 50,000-watts.

Vincent has been President of DPM since 2017. 

The station began in 2012. 

Public radio pro George Boosey managed WDDE in its early days. WDDE was the first NPR member station in Delaware and it remains the only NPR station licensed within the state.

DPM’s purchase agreement for WRAU is notable because of the terms of the deal. DPM will pay American University $100,000 in cash and commit to a $437,500 promissory note. The note will be due in a two of installments two years following the sale’s closing.

The terms of the agreement expresses the confidence that the seller has in the Vincent’s management and the future of DPM.

Before joining DPM, Vincent was known for her long career in government service. President Barack Obama appointed her as a Regional Administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2013 Vincent received the Justin Herman Memorial Award, given by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment.

Vincent is active consulting other nonprofit organizations. She also serves as Senior Fellow and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Delaware.

Spark News reached Vincent for comments via email. DPM’s primary mission is its service to Delaware but she is aware that WRAU’s signal covers a much larger area. She told us:

“Our focus and mission is service to Delaware. We recognize that some issues we cover have broader interest and are not confined to the state.”

WRAU covers two Nielsen radio markets: Salisbury-Ocean City (Nielsen market #134) has an estimated 12+ population of around 360,000 and Wilmington, Delaware (Nielsen market #81) has an estimated 12+ population of around 626,000.

DPM will continue to air full-time NPR News/Talk programming but the exact schedule is still in the planning stages.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Creating investigative podcasts, often in the true crime genre, is something WBEZ does very, very well. 

‘BEZ has just started the second season of Motive and it is a doozy.

It tells the true story of Lauren Bajorek, a Penn State University senior, who, in 2015, was studying abroad in Seville, Spain. 

 On her 21st birthday, and one of her last nights in Spain, she went out to celebrate with a friend. 

Unfortunately she crossed paths with Manuel Blanco Vela, a local tour guide.

Lauren Bajorek
They spent the rest of the evening drinking. Manuel invited Lauren and her friend to his apartment.

In the late, late hours of the night, Lauren tragically fell off Manuel’s balcony and died.

Authorities in Seville ruled that her death was an alcohol-fueled accident.

News about Lauren’s death helped a group of women come forward with similar stories. There were allegations of sexual assault and sexual abuse by Manuel. The women who were involved investigated, put the pieces together and the story gains momentum.

You can hear the first episode here.

Candace Mittel Kahn
Sonically, we found Episode 1 to be easy to listen to. Credit the nice editing and final mix.

The narrative remains clear. 

Occasionally, there are moments when the descriptions of assaults appear.

Candace Mittel Kahn, the listener’s guide, is also one of the producers of Motive

Kevin Dawson, Managing Director of Content at WBEZ, is the executive producer.

You can listen to WBEZ's Motive on WBEZ’s website [link] or wherever you find your podcasts. New episodes are posted each Friday.


Nick Spiter, the founder, host and executive producer of the weekly radio series American Routes [link], was inducted into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame at the Folk Alliance conference [link].
Spitzer is also a professor of anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans. Past inductees include Fiona Ritchie and Oscar Brand.

He told the crowd at the ceremony: I’m a Ph.DJ.’

American Routes is a two-hour weekly syndicated program with music of all genres of American music. The program is exclusively distributed by PRX.

[Disclosure: American Routes is a client of Ken Mills Agency, LLC, the publisher of Spark News.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


WDSE, the PBS TV station in the Duluth-Superior market, has joined the growing list of PBS stations that have acquired, or are in the process of acquiring, a public radio station. WDSE will pay the University of Minnesota Duluth $175,000 for KUMD-FM once the FCC approves the license transfer. FCC approval is expected in three to four months.

This is the third purchase of a public radio station by a PBS TV affiliate in recent months.

• Last fall, WLVT-TV (PBS39) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, took control of a local college FM station.  PBS39 used a portion of the $82 million they received from the recent FCC spectrum auction to establish WLVR.

PBS39 changed the local FM station to WLVR-FM, a full-time NPR News/Talk station. In preparation prepare for the new NPR station, PBS39 hired 10 reporters, two editors and updated production equipment. The news generated by the hires now appears on both WLVR-FM and PBS39.

• PBS giant WNET is now completing the purchase of WPPB, a dual-format NPR station based on Long Island, for $944,834. WNET owns PBS station WLIW-TV that also serves Long Island. WPPB will become WLIW-FM.

It is not known at this time whether WDSE is using spectrum revenue to purchase KUMD.  Also unknown is the format of the new station. Press reports say that KUMD will remain a public radio station. Spark News tried to contact WDSE’s General Manager Patty Mester by she did not return our messages.

The sale of KUMD was not a surprise in Duluth. 

As we reported in June 2019 [link], the university has been trying to find a buyer for KUMD for over a year.

At that time, there were concerns that KUMD might be losing CPB support because the university was considering not hiring a new station manager. 

KUMD has had three interim managers since 2016. 

Duluth-Superior is one of the most competitive small markets in U.S. According to Nielsen Audio, it is market #210. The local population is around 250,000.

KUMD competes with three Minnesota Public Radio stations that are full-time repeaters of MPR News, MPR Classical and The Current. Wisconsin Public Radio also has two full-time repeaters in Superior that air news and classical music.

KUMD has been broadcasting for over 63 years.


Doing their best Spinal Tap imitation, Podtrac has turned their Top 10 Publishers chart into the "Top 15 Publishers."   

Why 15? Podtrac doesn’t provide any details. 

 Perhaps it is a way for Podtrac to look “bigger” before Triton Digital debuts its new podcast measurement service - Triton’s Podcast Reports in March. 

Triton may be a serious competitor. Podtrac is owned by a small independent company.

Triton’s data is considered the “gold standard” for digital behavior measurement. Plus, Triton has a deep pocket owner, E.W. Scripps.

Five of Podtrac’s Top 15 Publishers (33%) are organizations associated with public media.

NPR remains the number one podcast publisher, just ahead of commercial operator iHeartRadio. A portion of iHeart’s gains in audience come from new podcasts added to iHeart's catalogue.  In January 2019 iHeart had 157 measured shows. In January 2020 they had 354 measured shows.

Most of the new entries on the Podtrac chart are for-profit companies. iHeart’s competitor Cumulus Media debuts on the publisher’s chart at #12. Cumulus owns Westwood One, a podcast distributor and radio programming syndicator.

The only publisher that had a smaller audience in January 2020, compared January 2019, was This American Life/Serial. Ironically the podcast version of the radio show This American Life is typically at the top of Podtrac’s Top 20 podcasts chart.