Thank you the excellent comments regarding Monday’s column about the pending sale of KUHA.
CONFIDENTIAL FROM A FORMER KUHF EMPLOYEE:
Blame KUHA’s sale on KUHT-TV. The [PBS] station is vampire sucking the life out of radio. KUHF-FM keeps the doors open at Houston Public Media. Too bad KUHA didn’t have time to make it because every extra dime goes to keep TV afloat.
FROM TOM THOMAS, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STATION RESOURCE GROUP
I think the story in Houston (and Miami) is less about the current state of play for classical music on the FM band and more about the economics and business model of station acquisitions and the competitive strengths of a fully syndicated music service in a major market.
The state of listening to public radio’s classical stations is actually a good news story. Over the past three years public stations fully committed to the classical format during radio prime time have achieved meaningful growth in listening at a time when AQH for other public radio formats has been struggling.
Tom attached slides from a recent SRG presentation that tracks 31 public radio classical stations. This chart shows Average Quarter Hour (AQH) persons for seven rating periods beginning in 2012:
CONFIDENTIAL FROM A BROADCAST STATION BROKER:
The licensee [Houston Public Media] may own KUHA longer than they anticipate unless they want to sell it for a big loss. The only organization that might pay that kind of money is Educational Media Foundation who bought WKCP in Miami. Houston is not on EMF’s bucket list because locally owned KSBJ owns the Contemporary Christian Music audience there.
FROM WES HORNER FORMER DIRECTOR OF SMITHSONIAN MEDIA:
In my view, this tragic scenario in Houston results from:
- Bad business decisions; to wit, paying too much money for a poor signal, then saddling that same service, rather than the organization as a whole, with the "mortgage."
- Management unwillingness to invest in making important dayparts in the service more listenable. (To my amazement, few classical stations do. Many forget, for some reason, Radio 101 tenets, including dynamic personality; timely, meaningful information; cultivation of a community of interest; and overall, offering a service that listeners will value, based on delivering a feeling of connectedness).
- An astonishing inability to raise money, in a market where there are loads of it poured into other cultural institutions.
SO, I wouldn't be too hasty to interpret from Houston's actions that there is a message there that can be universally applied to other classical terrestrial services. Instead, pay close attention to the ones that are working, and figure out why.