Friday, February 6, 2015

RETRO FRIDAY: ALAN FREED WJW CLEVELAND 1953

Alan Freed is proof that programming causes audience.  In 1953, Alan Freed made HOT programming that compelled the listener to act, often to Freed's benefit.

We've all heard about Freed's troubles but people seldom appreciate what a bold communicator he was.  Today's clip is Alan Freed at WJW, Cleveland in 1953, right before he moved to 1010 WINS.  He was at his prime as a broadcaster:



His ashes are preserved at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

NIELSEN AUDIO DIARY FALL 2014: TRIPLE A



PROGRAMMING CAUSES AUDIENCE
David Giovannoni, 1922

The Nielsen Audio diary markets from last fall are now all in. The stations below are mainly Triple A.  I added some stations just outside the Triple A mainstream. Scroll down for my comments.

ARBITRON FALL 2014 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+
Data Copyright Arbitron Inc. Courtesy RRC
NA MKT RANK
 NIELSEN AUDIO METRO
Format
STATION
METRO AQH SHARE
(%)
CUME %
TSA WEEKLY CUME
(00)
75
 Omaha
Modern Rock
KIWR
3.3
7.2
652
54
 Louisville
Full time Triple A
WFPK
2.9
5.8
643
90
 Colorado Springs
NPR News & Triple A
KRCC
3.6
8
577
82
 Harrisburg
Full time Triple A, repeats WXPN
WXPH
0.8
2
358
58
 Rochester NY
NPR News & Triple A
WRUR
1.3
3.3
317
138
 Palm Springs CA
Repeats KCRW, LA
KCRW
3.3
6.8
260
65
 Albany
Full time Triple A
WEXT
1
2.9
259
62
 Tucson
Mainly Triple A, Spicy Music
KXCI
1.1
2.8
242
103
 Melbourne
NPR News & Triple A
WFIT
2
4.8
236
121
 Oxnard-Ventura
Repeats KCRW, LA
KCRW
1.9
3.6
207
155
 Quad Cities
R & B, Hip Hop, Rap & Soul
WGVV-LP
4.1
6.4
200
170
 Anchorage
Mainly Triple A
KNBA
1.4
4.5
127
210
 Duluth-Superior
Full time Triple A & Modern Rock
KUMD
1.4
5.4
116
89
 Syracuse
Repeats WRUR, Ithaca
WITH
0
0
86
271
 Grand Forks
Various contemporary music
KSRQ
1
1.7
27
These data are provided for use by Arbitron subscribers ONLY, in accordance with RRC's limited license with Arbitron Inc. Format classifications are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills.
 TOP OF THE CHART: KIWR The River OMAHA

I love this station!  Operated from Western Iowa Tech, The River is the undisputed 
rock n roll king of Omaha and the Bluffs.  Who listens to The River
Here is a pic from a Creed listening session for station listeners:


WE TRY HARDER: WEXT ALBANY
Chris Wienk and company maximize their impact despite a less-than-perfect coverage area:

PROOF THAT PROGRAMMING CAUSES AUDIENCE: WGVV QUAD CITIES
This might be the highest ranked LPFM station in the nation. Groove 92.5 mixes old school R & B with Hip Hop and Rap.  This listener-supported station is a template for other LPFM stations in urban areas.


 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CHECK IT OUT: ROMAN MARS INTERVIEWED IN "WIRED"

Like many of you, I am trying to learn the whole story about podcasts.  I've been listening to them for years but I've never considered them "mass media" like broadcasting. Other than repeats of my favorite programs and segments, most of the podcasts I've heard sound like leftovers from cable-access TV.  But that is changing, because no matter the platform, content is king.

Enter Roman Mars: The Man Who's Building a Podcast Empire.  In a fascinating interview in the latest edition of Wired http://www.wired.com/2015/01/podcaster-roman-mars/, Mars lays out his vision:

Roman Mars thinks public radio needs a tune-up. His popular design podcast, 99% Invisible, was a start, but Mars’ plan for total airwave domination relies on Radiotopia, the podcast collective he founded last year with public media company PRX. Radiotopia provides funding, support, and promotion for a stable of indie podcasts (shows like Love + Radio, Strangers, and Criminal) that specialize in narrative journalism. Mars wants to broaden the radio landscape, making shows that aren’t bound by NPR’s conventions—Radiotopia shows tend to feature hosts speaking softly, so close to the mic that it’s like they’re in your head. 

In other words, stories that get inside a listener's head and demand a return visit for more. This is about "hot magnets" that go beyond the restrictions of broadcasting. The goal is a deep connection to each listener:

Photo Credit; Damien Maloney

Mars: Public radio once cornered the market on the closeness. Listening to NPR became the definition of who you were. And podcasting is a hundredfold more intense than that. ...one podcast listener is worth 10,000 radio listeners. The personal connection is major.  

True enough, but podcasting and broadcasting are two different businesses. The metrics are hard to compare.

The assertion that "one podcast listeners is worth 10,000 public radio listeners" is taking it all from the podcaster's point of view.  From a broadcaster's perspective it is better to have 10,000 listeners than one because if you lose one listener you have 9,999 left.  Lose a podcast listener and you might be out of business.  Audience retention is the key.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DON’T MISS THE HIPPEST CONFERENCE IN NONCOMMERCIAL RADIO: THE ANNUAL NON-COMMvention


 
 The Hold Steady at the 2014 NON-COMMvention



My favorite radio and music conference is the annual NON-COMMvention – the central meeting place for folks involved with Triple A music on noncommercial stations. This year’s NON-COMM is May 13-15 in Philadelphia at WXPN and World Cafe Live.


The NON-COMM is a most enjoyable national gathering for a lot of reasons:  There is live music for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night.  The vibe is upbeat, casual and friendly. There are only a few panels and speeches, but they provide valuable information.  Radio and music industry “players” actually attend.

The NON-COMM began in 2000 in Louisville.  Triple A was beginning to emerge as a viable format for public radio stations.  Dan Reed, who was then programming WFPK in Louisville, brought together the known noncommercial Triple A universe – folks from WXPN, WFUV, WYEP and a few others.  Important coordination and buzz came from Dave Cheney, the founder of triplearadio.com – the best source of information about noncommercial Triple A.

The conference bounced between Louisville and Philadelphia in the 2000s.  It moved to Philly for good when Reed joined the staff at WXPN. WXPN opened World Café Live, an exceptional performance and party space.

I’ve attended four NON-COMM’s – two in Louisville and two in Philly.  I loved every one of them.   Oh, and the music I’ve heard: My Morning Jacket, X, Rodney Crowell, Nora Jones, The Blind Boys of Alabama all come to mind right now.

Dan Reed just anounced the first artist showcases: Brandi Carlile, Dr. Dog, The Tallest Man on Earth, Son Little, and Zella Day. There will be many, many more. I’m pleased to see that NPR CEO Jarl Mohn will be there. All of the meetings and live music showcases will be held at World Café Live, adjacent to the XPN studios.

Info about this year’s NON-COMM is at http://www.thetop22.com/non-commvention-2011/

See an excellent video about the NON-COMM at https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLfX3w8UX3BqOM7ZpqcETkYIX06PUsDT3D&x-yt-cl=85114404&x-yt-ts=1422579428&v=xtigjI2gr0Q#t=29


Monday, February 2, 2015

TO UNDERSTAND CPB’s STAKE IN HD RADIO “FOLLOW THE MONEY”



There have been lots of comments about my PubRadio post last week about CPB, iBiquity and HD Radio.  The most interesting reactions have come from NPR station managers and other public radio insiders.  One message – from a senior manager of a major public media entity – had this advice for me:

To understand what is going on with CPB, iBiquity and HD Radio, follow the money.

How much money has CPB invested in HD Radio?  I asked them but they haven’t replied.  Maybe CPB doesn’t even know.

One highly respected station manager, who asked me to keep his name confidential, put it this way:

CPB's HD grants were the fastest and easiest $75,000 anyone in public radio ever came by.
 [CPB’s] HD radio campaign was a stimulus for spending money on hardware. CPB temporarily assumed PTFP's role of subsidizing equipment replacement. Many stations justify HD adoption because they replaced aging analog transmitters.

There have been enormous opportunity costs for HD. CPB's millions might have been better sunk into stimulating journalism. Untold staff hours were wasted on HD - logistics, installation, promotion, programming.
Other station managers told me they used CPB Digital Conversation funds for new analog transmitters, studio upgrades and facility improvements.  HD channels were a second thought.  One manager told me his station uses their HD2 channel to deliver FM programming to their FM translators – The Poor Man’s STL.
RUNNING THE NUMBERS ON CPB's DIGITAL CONVERSION
Until CPB releases their total investment in HD Radio, here is a guesstimate of the cost of the Digital Conversion campaign from public documents:
CPB said in a press release approximately 300 stations participated in HD digital conversation.  The average conversion cost was $130,000.  CPB paid $75,000, or 70% of the project cost. Minority service and hardship cases got more money and a higher percentage.
Lets say CPB spent $75,000 for 200 stations -- $15,000,000
And, lets say CPB spent $85,000 for 100 stations -- $8,500,000
TOTAL: $23,500,000
If these numbers are correct (and I will gladly share CPB’s official numbers when/if they provide it), CPB has invested at least $23,500,000 in the HD campaign.  One communications blogger said it was even more:
To date, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has given member-stations approximately $50 million in HD Radio “upgrade” grants (some of them of the matching variety).

These estimates do not include station investments, licensing fees paid to iBiquity, programming or operating expenses.  As part of the agreement with CPB, stations MUST continue to support their HD channels or pay back the money.

The station manager quoted above added:

Pity the poor stations that are still touting their HD service that no one listens to.
 To this day, NPR still exploits station's HD innocence by charging $3,000 / year to run NPR on HD. How many stations flush $3,000 down that rat hole?

All I am asking CPB to do is come clean about the taxpayer cost for HD Radio, admit HD hasn’t panned out the way they hoped and join the effort to embrace a digital radio system that actually serves a meaningful portion the population.
Here is an example from CPB's files of HD installation cost at one station: