I’ve frequently written about community stations that can’t tie their shoes and chew gun at the same time like KUSP and Pacifica. Today I want to focus on a community broadcaster that excels in public service, innovation and fiscal responsibility: Louisville Public Media [“LPM” link].
LPM provides an excellent example for community broadcasters. As you will see in the story, LPM success was achieved because they put the needs and interests of their community first – not narrow ideologies and inside agendas.
LOUISVILLE PUBLIC MEDIA TODAY
In tax year 2013, LPM had more than $5,467,000 in gross revenue. Expenses for the year totaled $4,759,000, providing an operating margin of over $700,000.
LPM’s 2013 revenue came from a healthy variety of sources. Pledging brought in around $1,700,000; underwriting was $1,900,000. CPB provided $276,000 – a scant 5% of total.
Radio Research Consortium [“RRC” link] has started releasing Nielsen Audio reports for Diary markets from the Spring 2015 survey period. The first batch of data included Louisville. Louisville Public Media’s three stations – Triple A WFPK, NPR News WFPL and Classical WUOL – are all strong. Here is the data:
This is a very healthy cluster of stations. Look at the extraordinary time spent listening (“TSL”) for each of the three stations. They indicate listeners are loyal and tune-in frequently to each station.
I recommend downloading the new LPM Media Guide & Market Impact Report. It is one of the best underwriting guides I’ve seen. You can find it at [link].
The Media Guide & Market Impact Report does a wonderful job of selling the NPR Halo Effect:
The digital usage information is clear and concise:
General Manager Donovan Reynolds, station PD’s Stacey Owen (WFPK), Daniel Gilliam (WUOL) and Brendan McCarthy (Manager Editor WFPL), are doing terrific work. LPM’s success has been made possible by great leaders, wise management and engaging listeners on every platform.
THE LOUISVILLE STORY
In 1949 the FCC granted a license for a new 10-watt FM station to the Louisville Public Library. WFPL FM 89.3 signed on in February 1950. During the early years WFPL concentrated on educational programming.
These were tough years for FM broadcasting because the FCC moved all FM stations to a new part of the spectrum making existing receivers obsolete. This was the era when Louis Hill distributed FM radios so people could hear Pacifica stations.
Most commercial broadcasters gave up on FM. In 1952, Louisville’s powerhouse WAVA-AM donated its FM license, equipment and tower to Louisville Public Library. It became WFPK FM 91.7. The library was the first organization to own two FM licenses. At the time WFPK aired classical music.
In 1976 the University of Louisville signed on WUOL FM 90.1. WUOL also aired classical at that time.
The library cut ties to WFPL and WFPK in 1987 because of budget problems. Then manager Gerry Weston established a new nonprofit entity to operate the two stations: Kentucky Public Radio.
ENTER LOUISVILLE PUBLIC MEDIA
By 1993 the University of Louisville decided to exit the radio business. WUOL was folded into Kentucky Public Radio, Inc. and operated as the Public Radio Partnership. [Kentucky Public Radio still the legal name of organization.]
In 1996 LPM introduced three format-specific stations. It was the first noncom in the nation to operate three stations that did not duplicate any programming. This was at a time when many public radio stations had just started to focus their formats.
After a successful $5,000,000 capital campaign, LPM began broadcasting in 2000 from their new broadcast center in the heart of downtown Louisville.
In 2006 Donovan Reynolds became GM. In 2008 the organization’s operating name became Louisville Public Media. LPM puts community needs first and continues to grow.