Friday, February 20, 2015

RETRO FRIDAY: WDGY WELCOMES THE BEATLES 1965

IN THE TWIN CITIES IN 1965 TWO AM STATIONS FOUGHT FOR THE YOUNG ADULT MARKET: WDGY and KDWB. THE BEATLES CAME TO MINNEAPOLIS ON AUGUST 21, 1966 FOR A CONCERT AT METROPOLITAN STADIUM. I WAS THERE IN THERE IN THE CROWD.

TODAY'S CLIP: HOW GOT WDGY GOT TO "PRESENT" THE BEATLES AND HOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE, TOLD IN NEVER-BEFORE SEEN VIDEO COVERAGE OF EVENT.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

FOR SALE: A $1,000,000 FM TRANSLATOR


There is gold in analog FM translators!

A few years ago, FM translators were primarily used by FM broadcasters to expand their reach or fill in gaps in their coverage areas caused by terrain. Now FM translators are in demand and changing hands for big money.

In recent years, the FCC extended the use of FM translators for AM and HD Radio stations.  Since then the demand for FM translators has gone through the roof.  Consider this translator for sale in Miami:




The Construction Permit (“CP”) for the Mighty W231CU – 6 watts of power on 104.3 – is being sold by iHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel.  The ink isn’t even dry on the CP – the FCC granted it January 14, 2015.  Here is the projected coverage area:

Is this translator worth one million bucks?  Apparently iHeartMedia thinks so.  If it sells for that amount, iHeartMedia will make a bundle. Obtaining the CP cost perhaps $25,000 (my guesstimate). So iHeart’s profit on this license to serve the public could be $975,000.  It is like printing money.
One million dollars for an FM translator isn’t even a record amount. That honor goes to W292DV – 106.3 FM broadcasting from the heart of Manhattan:



W2922DV sold for $3,500,000 in December 2014.

I am not saying anyone is trafficking in licenses but the above examples appear to be windfalls on the sale of public property.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WMHT TOPS THE FALL 14 NIELSEN AUDIO DIARY CHARTS









I ran the numbers on the Fall 2014 Classical stations I know of in Nielsen Audio Diary markets.  My criteria for including a station in my chart is at least 12 hours per day airing classical music.  If I have missed any classical stations, please let me know.

WMHT in Albany is the most listened-to Classical station in diary markets that does not also carry Morning Edition & ATC.  If you combine the listening to repeater WRHV in Poughkeepsie, you can see a station shining.

Stations in bold on the chart air full-time Classical music.
ARBITRON FALL 2014 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+
Data Copyright Arbitron Inc. Courtesy RRC


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.
 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GREAT FALLS NONCOM FACES LOSS OF CPB FUNDING: “BUT ITS NOT THE PROGRAMMING”


KGPR-FM is community licensee in Great Falls, Montana – a city of around 80,000 folks near the foothills of the northern Rockies. KGPR has been serving the Great Falls area for around 30 years.  For about 12 hours a day, KGPR simulcasts Montana Public Radio originating from Missoula.  This is their source for Morning Edition and ATC. The rest of the day KGPR airs local music shows from Great Falls.

New CPB rules require stations like KGPR to have $100,000 of Non Federal Funding Support (“NFFS”) or loose funding.  This seems like a sensible rule to me. 

But, it has put KGPR’s management in dilemma: Change station programming so it will attract enough listener support to reach the $100k NFFS minimum, or loose almost $97,000 in CPB support – 58% of the station’s operating budget.

According to an article in the Great Falls Tribune, Tim Hodges, president of the KGPR Board, says current local programming must be preserved:

What we are talking about here is the preservation and expansion of locally produced programing,” said Tim Hodges, president of KGPR’s board of directors.  “It’s up to this community over the next few years to decide whether it wants to have a presence on public radio.
Hodges seems to be implying KGPR’s current local programming is the only way the community will have "a presence on public radio."  But the problem is that current local programming looks like it repels listeners.

KGPR breaks away from NPR programming from Montana Public Radio’s whenever it wants to: rock and pop some days from 10:55am to 12:30pm; classical and jazz on various days; a local “open phones” show on Tuesdays from 3:00pm to 3:30pm. This is the programming Hodges says must be preserved.

Plus KGPR has a screwy deal with Montana Public Radio.  They provide national programming in exchange for around $32,000 a year in cash AND Montana Public Radio can keep all the pledge revenue from the city except one zip code.  Money from that zip code goes to KGPR after it pays processing fees to Montana Public Radio.

Tim Hodges, president of the KGPR Board prepared PowerPoint slides for a town hall meeting to rally local support for the station.  Here is his agenda for the meeting:

Do you see anything about assessing KGPR’s current local programming at the meeting? No way, even though Hodges has scheduled ample time for “leg stretching.”

The future of KGPR? According to Hodge’s presentation slides there aren't many choices:


KEN’S ADVICE: Somebody at Montana Public Radio can do a major favor for public radio listeners in Great Falls by offering to absorb KGPR.  I know I am 30,000 feet from the problem and I don’t know the details on the ground.  But even at this distance, I can smell the stink of the current situation.

Monday, February 16, 2015

READER COMMENTS & QUESTIONS



I have writing my blog for almost five months.  I love this work - in some ways I feel I have found my calling, so more is on the way.  I appreciate your comments and suggestions including different opinions.  I even enjoy critiques of my spelling and word choices!  Most people comment to me directly at publicradio@hotmail.com.

• From Rick Greenhut, Director – Broadcast Business Development at iBiquity Digital Corporation, responding to my questions in my February 11th post [ibiquity: “HD Radio has never been healthier”]:


Question One: Are iBiquity’s “HD listeners” actually listening to HD stations or FM translators?

Greenhut: Unclear. Our analysis was done using audience estimates from listening Nielsen attributed to HD2/HD3/HD4 channels ONLY. Nielsen cannot separate the native HD listening from analog translator rebroadcasts, so we can't break that out…
Question Two: iBiquity claims HD Radio is succeeding because it is available in many new vehicles – can you tell how many of these buyers are actually tuning to HD Stations?

Greenhut: There is no way to tell. Nielsen no longer breaks out in-car listening in PPM markets, and the current diary only specifies location as "At Home" or "Some Other Place". No one knows.
Question Three: When will HD Radio reach the “tipping point” – when listening to HD Radio surges to levels comparable with FM radio?

Greenhut: What I can say with confidence is that we've reach[ed] an inflection point, that point where the growth curve takes a dramatic swing upward. We've reached critical mass in a number of areas that accelerate growth - the number of receivers (25 million+), the number of stations (2,200+ converted), the number of HD2/HD3/HD4 channels (almost 1,600) and most importantly, the number of automakers including HD Radio Technology in their offerings (all).
This supports my assertion that despite the availability of HD Radio receivers and HD stations, listening to HD Radio is NOT occurring at a level that makes it sustainable.  To me, if someone is listening to HD Radio on an FM translator they are actually listening to analog FM, not digital technology.  iBiquity says over five million people are listening each week to HD Radio. But, in reality, it is “unclear” if they are listening to HD or FM and the five million number can't be trusted.

• Regarding my February 9th post about the declining number of talk programs on NPR News stations [NEW STUDY SHOWS A 37% DROP IN LOCAL TALK PROGRAMS SINCE 2007]:


From a former NPR executive producer who asked his remarks be confidential:

I totally agree with [well known programming consultants] that local call-in is almost always a failure, because listeners simply don’t respect and don’t want to hear from their (“idiot”) neighbors.
From an anonymous reader posted on 2/10/15:
As a person who works in public radio, and as a listener, I'm glad for the decline in call-in talk programs. In theory, they are interesting, dynamic, timely, and democratic. In practice, they are boring, formulaic, only sometimes timely, and dependent on and dominated by an overly-opinionated minority of listeners who are willing and available to call. They are also inherently plagued by the awfulness that is phone and cell-phone audio. There are now a lot better ways to solicit and incorporate listener interaction than live calls.

Why do so many people in public radio think that localism is one of terrestrial radio's selling points? Do any of these local shows draw anything near the audience that one of the national mid-day shows would on that station? If few people are listening, how much public service is being accomplished by these shows?

Listeners, voting with their ears, are not asking for more localism. People who work at local public radio stations want localism because it makes us feel relevant, but feeling relevant doesn't make us relevant. Thanks for providing this forum and for bringing up the issues.

Another confidential station PD also questions the concept of “localism”:

It is fascinating since the push for the last number of years has been local local local… What would be an interesting next step, is whether “local” inserts into national programming have increased. Are people finding other means of “localizing.”

 

• Regarding my February 10th post [FOR SALE: FM TRANSLATOR SERVING “WEALTHY PHOENIX”] about an FM translator for sale in “wealthy Phoenix” and the FCC loophole that allows religious NCE broadcasters to feed far away translators and not broadcast local content:


I can’t believe that religious NCE broadcasters have the ability to gum up the FM dial with “robo-stations” preventing other’s from being heard. Can anything be done to stop this practice?

• From an anonymous reader regarding difficulties playing my films on iPad and iPhone:

I love your RETRO FRIDAY posts. It's great to hear clips of radio from the 'good ol' days' when personalities had personality.  But they don’t work on my iPad.

I have heard this complaint from others.  At present, iPads and iPhones can’t “read” media using Flash technology.  Google, which hosts my blog, is not compatible with all diital devices.  I appreciate these comments and I am working on it.  Does anyone have suggestions?  Thank you for reading my blog.