Friday, May 8, 2015

ANOTHER NEW “INSTANT FM STATION” IN MINNEAPOLIS



Repeating a trend seen in markets across the country, a new FM station is about to sign on in the Twin Cities via the back door. 

iHeartMedia, the nation’s largest commercial radio broadcaster is working with the Educational Media Foundation (“EMF”), one of the nation's largest noncommercial broadcasters, to create a new FM station at 102.5. 

iHeartMedia didn’t apply for a new FM station, they got it the new-fashioned way: simulcasting an HD channel on an FM translator.

EMF owns translator K273BH – 102.5 FM – licensed to Fridley, a small suburb of Minneapolis. EMF has upgraded the translator to 250 watts and secured a transmission spot on the IDS Tower, the best nroadcasting location in town. Take a look at the K273BH coverage map below. How much do you believe the “stick value” of this station is worth?
 
THE NEW HOT 102.5 - A HELLUVA TRANSLATOR

I’d say it is worth at least $20,000,000 – maybe more. This “scratch and win” payday is possible because of the lameness of HD Radio.

After seeing that HD Radio was failing, the FCC agreed to allow HD channels to be rebroadcast on FM translators. Translaors can be leased from another owner. In this case, iHeartMedia is going to repeat KCTZ HD2 on the new 102.5.  Presto! A new FM station thanks to HD Radio.

EMF has been repeating K-Love on 102.5.  (K-Love is beamed to Minneapolis via satellite from Sacramento.) EMF saw the current FM translator gold rush coming.  They now own dozens, maybe hundreds of FM translator licenses and construction permits.  I bet EMF’s translator revenue exceeds its underwriting revenue.

IS THE NEW 102.5 A FLANKING MOVE BY iHEARTMEDIA?

Published reports speculate that the new 102.5 FM will play Urban Contemporary – rap, hip hop and dance club hits. iHeartMedia already owns or controls nine stations on the FM dial.  One of them is Alt93.3, operating on translator W227BF at 93.3 FM.

iHeartMedia will probably operate the new 102.5 like they do 93.3 – as a bottom-feeder that exists to protect another of their stations from getting competition.  Rumor has it that iHeartMedia has secured the name Hot 102.5, and it is designed to protect their very profitable (and excellent sounding) Contemporary Hits station KDWB.This is called a "flanking move" in the radio programming biz.

HD RADIO – "KING OF THE BACKHAUL"

Though HD Radio has failed to gain any success broadcasting to listeners, it is now part of a lucrative formula to create new FM stations. FM is the spectrum where the action, and money, is.  HD signals are a cheap, easy way to transmit 24/7 programming to FM translators – known as a “backhaul” in the biz. This is a long way from what the creators of HD Radio promised.

HD Radio was created to eventually replace FM and bring digital audio broadcasting to the US.  Ironically, HD Radio now is a back door way to get on FM.

ibiquity claims HD Radio has several million weekly listeners.  This assertion is disingenuous because ALL of the rated HD Radio stations are repeating their programming on FM translators, like the new 102.5 FM will be doing soon.

People who are listening to programming created for HD on an FM translator, are NOT listening to HD Radio.  They are listening to good old FM.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

THE BEST NEW THING IN PUBLIC MEDIA: “FINDING AMERICA” FROM AIR



FINDING AMERICA [LINK] is the latest LOCALORE project from AIR. I love it! FINDING AMERICA builds collaborative relationships between independent public media creators and public radio and TV stations and their companion digital platforms.

Here is the way FINDING AMERICA works:  Stations and media creators apply to participate.  AIR will choose 15 media creators and match them with 15 stations for collaborative local storytelling projects.  AIR pays the media creators. The stations host the projects but are not paid by AIR. Details are at [LINK].

THE STATIONS GO FIRST

AIR will be accepting applications from interested noncom radio and TV stations now through May 31, 2015.  The competition is primarily for CPB-funded stations but other noncom broadcasters will be included on a case-by-case.

I salute one of the application requirements: Each station applying must enter a video or audio clip (no longer than three minutes) to introduce to the station.  The intro clip should talk about what makes this station and this community unique. Stations are encouraged to talk in the clips about their strategic vision, programming philosophy and recent community service activities.

FINDING AMERICA has already received a couple dozen station intro clips. Stations who have applied include WLRN-FM, Miami; KCPT-TV, Kansas City (one of the best PBS stations in the nation); WBHM-FM, Birmingham; KWSO-FM, a Native American station in rural Oregon and Wisconsin Public Radio and TV.

A WONDERFUL SIDE BENEFIT OF FINDING AMERICA

The clips the stations are submitting are also terrific self-promotion vehicles.  Often the hardest story for a station to tell is its own. By focusing on what makes each station unique, stations are putting their best foot forward.

I watched several of the intro clips. I can feel the pride the station folks feel about where they live and work. I feel like I’ve been to KRTS-FM Marfa, Texas, after seeing their video postcard.  I’d love to volunteer at KBCS, Bellevue, Washington.  Every station should this kind of promotion.

FINDING AMERICA CONTACT INFO

Network Manager, Adriana Gallardo: AIR HQ: 617-825-4400
Email: adriana@airmedia.org

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

DOES VOLTAIR DISTORT NIELSEN AUDIO PPM DATA?


DOES VOLTAIR DISTORT NIELSEN AUDIO PPM DATA?

I received an anonymous comment to yesterday’s post about the WBUR/WGBH NPR News battle in Boston. The writer had two questions:

What's "Boston Today"? Were you referring to RadioBoston?

You are correct. It should have read “Radio Boston.” Thanks for pointing out the typo.

Also, any analysis based on ratings in any PPM market has to be suspended indefinitely until the whole Voltair mess shakes out. Until then you don't know who's using Voltair to boost their numbers and who isn't, so [how can] you compare anyone using Nielsen numbers?

Let’s fact check your assertion.

WHAT IS A VOLTAIR?

A Voltair is a blackbox device that enhances the robustness of the Nielsen Audio digital watermark. The readability of a digital watermark is the way PPM works.  

THE VOLTAIR AT WORK • COURTESY OF THE TELOS ALLIANCE


Voltair boxes are the product of The Telos Exchange [LINK] a television and radio technology company based in Cleveland.  The folks at Telos figured out Nielsen’s proprietary algorithms for the watermark each station embeds in it’s signal to be measured in the PPM ratings.

A Voltair is like Your Watermark on Steroids.  Telos sells the device as a ratings booster.

THE CASE FOR SAYING VOLTAIR SKEWS PPM DATA

The writer of the anonymous comment clearly believes that stations that use a Voltair to goose their watermarks are making Nielson Audio PPM data unreliable.

The Voltair debuted in April at the NAB Show, so there is not much research quantifying it’s impact. The hype is It Really, Really Works – more aspirational than a track record.

The Voltair discussion brings up lingering doubts about the reliability Nielsen Audio's PPM system.  PPM was cooked up at Arbitron and was bought by Nielsen. Some observers say Nielsen should not have kept the PPM system proprietary to make it harder to bootleg.

THE CASE AGAINST SAYING VOLTAIR SKEWS PPM DATA

First, Voltair does skew PPM results but the real question is how much.  We don’t know the answer yet.

Over the years a number of devices have claimed they boosted ratings. I’ve used a lot of them, particularly loudness enhancers. They seemed to work, a little. But at the end of the day, it is the programming that really determines listenership.

I’ve found over the years that folks who complain about the ratings tend to work at stations that aren’t doing well in the ratings.  I think saying Voltair makes PPM data unreliable is killing the messenger who has a message you’d rather not hear.




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

WBUR VS. WGBH: AN AMAZING NONCOM RADIO BATTLE



Public radio stations seldom go head-to-head for format supremacy in a major American city.  It is happening right now in Boston. I've never seen anything like it before.

WGBH is making a serious challenge to WBUR, Boston’s long-time NPR News leader.  WBUR is also one of the most profitable noncommercial stations in the nation.

When I say head-to-head it means many of the same programs at the same time.  Consider this comparison of programming for the hours when the most people hear radio:

MONDAY – FRIDAY 6am – 7pm

TIME
WBUR
WGBH
6am – 7am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
7am – 8am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
8am – 9am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
9am – 10am
BBC Newshour
Morning Edition
10am – 11am
On Point
The Takeaway
11am – Noon
On Point
Boston Public Radio
Noon – 1pm
Here & Now
Boston Public Radio
1pm – 2pm
Here & Now
Boston Public Radio
2pm – 3pm
Fresh Air
The Takeaway
3pm – 4pm
Radio Boston
The World
4pm – 5pm
ATC
ATC
5pm – 6pm
ATC
ATC
6pm – 7pm
6:00 ATC
6:30 Marketplace
6:00 Marketplace
6:30 ATC

SATURDAY 6am – 3pm

TIME
WBUR
WGBH
6am – 7am
BBC Newsday
On the Media
7am – 8am
On Point
Studio 360
8am – 9am
Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition
9am – 10am
Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition
10am – 11am
Wait, Wait
Innovation Hub
11am – Noon
Best of Car Talk
Wait, Wait
Noon – 1pm
This American Life
Dinner Party Download
1pm – 2pm
On the Media
This American Life
2pm – 3pm
Wait, Wait
The Moth

THE CONTENDERS

WBUR and WGBH are evenly matched in the basics: great signals, well-known brand names, plenty of resources and a willingness to invest them.  WGBH appears to be making some progress.  According to Nielsen Audio, comparing data from 2014 and 2015, WGBH appears to be adding listeners at the expense of WBUR. Check out the changes in weekly cume listeners.


 2015 WINTER PPM
2014 WINTER PPM


WHY WBUR VS. WGBH IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CO-FORMAT BATTLES

It is not unusual for two stations in the same market to air Morning Edition and ATC at the same time. In most cases, one of the stations airs news fulltime and the other exceeds with a companion format.  Think of KPCC & KCRW or KUOW & KPLU. Everybody wins, particularly the listeners.

There are also stations trying to find a way to exist in the shadows of a major NPR News station in the same market. Think KQED & KALW.

HOW WGBH CAN OVERTAKE WBUR

WBUR is mainly a national station.  It plays big national (and international) shows plus its own programming created for national syndication. The editorial scope is very broad.

WGBH can counter by keeping the programming focus on Boston and New England. WGBH’s best hope and weakest link is Boston Public Radio, a local news and talk program heard Monday – Friday 11am – 2pm. This program appears to be WGBH’s unique selling point, so its got to be good.

HOW WBUR CAN KEEP ON WINNING

Don’t worry about WGBH.  Keep focused on what you do so well – what you are doing now.  People like programming with national and international connections.  Radio Boston is a terrific local show.

WHAT TO DO IF ALL ELSE FAILS

Buy them out.  That’s what Bill Kling did in Minneapolis/St. Paul. 

Back in the 1990s WCAL competed with Minnesota Public Radio, airing Morning Edition and ATC at the same times.  For a few months WCAL used the promotional slogan NPR Without MPR to underscore the fact that MPR preempted major segments of NPR programming and WCAL didn’t.

Kling hated it.  Rumor has it he asked, then told, WCAL’s management to quit using the phrase. Being true Minnesotans, they did.

A decade later MPR bought WCAL for several million dollars.  WCAL became 89.3 The Current.  A friend who was there when the deal was set told me Kling repeated the story about NPR Without MPR and chuckled to himself.

Monday, May 4, 2015

COMPARING PPM 2014 – 2015: JAZZ STATIONS CREATE LOTS OF NEW LISTENING



Nielsen Audio and RRC have released PPM data for Winter Quarter 2015 (January 1 – March 25, 2015).  When compared with Winter Quarter 2014 (January 4 – March 26, 2014) 10 typical Jazz stations increased their weekly cumulative listeners almost 9%.

To quantify changes in listening over time, I’ve selected 10 stations in each of the five major noncommercial radio formats: NPR News, Classical, Triple A, Jazz and Contemporary Christian Music (“CCM”).
The 10 stations I’ve chosen for each format are 24/7 in the format, represent different parts of the country and are considered leaders in the format.  Lets look at the station groups by format.

JAZZ STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
WINTER 2015
WEEKLY CUME
WINTER 2014
WEEKLY CUME
WCLK
Atlanta
9
159,600
143,200
KUVO
Denver
20
115,700
75,500
KUNV
Las Vegas
32
51,000
60,500
KKJZ
Los Angeles
2
461,000
453,300
KBEM
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
77,100
60,800
WBGO
New York
1
304,800
287,600
WHOV
Norfolk
43
80,000
64,700
WUCF
Orlando
33
71,400
64,100
KMHD
Portland
23
136,100
99,500
KSDS
San Diego
17
56,900
73,200



1,513,600
1,382,200

Nine of the ten typical Jazzl stations gained listening from 2014 to 2015.  This reflects format wide growth – a very, very good sign given the multi-platform environment.  Radio is loosing one to two percent of total listening annually, so Jazz stations are doing well despite that trend.

NPR NEWS STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
WINTER 2015
WEEKLY CUME
WINTER 2014
WEEKLY CUME
KUT
Austin
35
192,400
196,900
WFAE
Charlotte
24
143,700
176,200
WBEZ
Chicago
3
542,900
416,200
KPCC
Los Angeles
2
794,200
702,300
KNOW
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
329,700
304,100
WNYC-FM
New York
1
752,400
753,900
WHYY
Philadelphia
8
347,400
338,900
KOPB
Portland
23
287,500
338,700
KUOW
Seattle/Tacoma
13
250,500
376,100
WAMU
Washington, DC
7
586,900
600,100



4,227,600
4,209,400

Four of the ten typical NPR News stations increased weekly listening from 2014 to 2015. WBEZ had the biggest gain; KUOW had the biggest decline.

TRIPLE A STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
WINTER 2015
WEEKLY CUME
WINTER 2014
WEEKLY CUME
KUTX
Austin
35
98,800
101,600
WTMD
Baltimore
21
68,000
58,300
WNKU
Cincinnati
30
56,100
58,700
KKXT
Dallas
5
242,200
286,300
WYMS
Milwaukee/Racine
34
58,400
59,500
KCMP
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
283,700
269,400
WFUV
New York
1
355,300
377,900
WXPN
Philadelphia
8
235,600
221,600
WYEP
Pittsburgh
25
96,200
86,000
KEXP
Seattle/Tacoma
13
152,900
106,400



1,647,200
1,625.799

Five of the ten typical NPR News stations increased weekly listening from 2014 to 2015. KEXP, WYEP and 89.3 The Current (KCMP) had the biggest gains.

CLASSICAL STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
WINTER 2015
WEEKLY CUME
WINTER 2014
WEEKLY CUME
KMFA
Austin
35
74,400
105,200
WCRB
Boston
10
208,100
180,200
WDAV
Charlotte
24
86,100
110,000
KUSC
Los Angeles
2
708,400
761,100
KSJN
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
168,200
187,000
WQXR
New York
1
474,300
605,100
KQAC
Portland
23
170,700
156,600
KDFC
San Francisco
4
340,300
187,600
KING
Seattle/Tacoma
13
291,600
304,600
WETA
Washington, DC
7
384,900
386,700



2,907,000
2,964,100

Three of the ten typical Classical stations increased weekly listening from 2014 to 2015. KDFC was the biggest gainer; WQXR had the biggest decline.

CCM STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
WINTER 2015
WEEKLY CUME
WINTER 2014
WEEKLY CUME
KLDV
Denver
20
311,200
289,100
KSBJ
Houston
6
873,900
808,100
KJNW
Kansas City
34
134,800
121,900
KSOS
Las Vegas
32
163,200
141,600
KTIS
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
438,400
511,600
WPOZ
Orlando
33
329,500
363,300
KFLR
Phoenix
14
216,300
156,200
KLJY
St. Louis
22
335,800
381,000
WCIE & WJIS
Tampa/St. Petersburg
18
216,100
217,500
WGTS
Washington, DC
7
415,400
388,300



3,434,600
3,378.600

Six of the ten typical CCM stations increased weekly listening from 2014 to 2015. KSBJ and WGTS has the biggest gains; KTIS had the steepest decline.

DATA © NIELSON AUDIO
Provided by RRC, Inc. for use by subscribers only
© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // www.RRConline.org // RRC@RRConline.org
Format designations & trends are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC. Contact us publicradio@hotmail.com