Friday, May 22, 2015

READER QUESTIONS & COMMENTS



Thank you for the excellent feedback.  I love covering the noncom media beat. 

• REGARDING MY POST ABOUT STATIONS RUNNING FREE PROMO FOR THIS AMERICAN LIFE POSCASTS [LINK]

From a recently retired Program Director of a combo operation with an NPR News FM and a PBS TV station:

Re the Ira Glass thing....some of us way back when discussed the need for CPB to write their Childrens Television Workshop contracts (and other similar grants) to reflect that a share of the entrepreneurial returns on those investments come back to the stations. Can you imagine what a piece of the Big Bird or Elmo franchises might be worth after 50 years?!?! 

KEN: I wish I had the dough between Elmo’s toes. I have seen contracts that contain clauses stipulating revenue sharing for ancillary projects. These aren’t unusual in the commercial media biz.

Ira is certainly NOT required by stations to share the loot.  My purpose in bringing it up is to demonstrate that stations have leverage also.  I know Ira’s aim is true and I love his success.  Just remember who brought you to this party.

• REGARDING MY POST ABOUT LORENZO MILAM’S GHOST LIVING AT KUSP [LINK]

From John Herald:

JohnHerald is a handle. For various reasons - one of which is I'm still on our board fighting the good fit - I must remain anonymous.

Laws in many states protect association-based nonprofits from wanton takeovers and rogue boards. KUSP's situation may be the downside of this, but the upside is that licenses that were acquired with the sweat and blood of community members (volunteers) to serve certain purposes are protected from those with other agendas.

I've always felt that one of the great things about America is that people can get together in their living rooms and start a Little League, a fund drive or in our case, a community radio station. One of not so great things is that when grassroots efforts yield success, the corporate wolves show up at the door and want the keys claiming they can make the resource more effective and more profitable.

Don't mock Milam. He may not have had all the right prescriptions, but ultimately he was right.

[UNABRIDGED VERSION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST]

KEN: Nicely written. Thank you for being in touch.  I have a question for you: What was Milam right about?  

WHEN LORENZO MILAM WAS RIGHT

• He foresaw a nationwide movement of citizens taking control of a little bit of the public airwaves.  He instigated the building of hundreds of noncommercial, independent community radio stations.

• He underscored the need for community stations to have a firm firewall that keeps programming free from pay-to-play.

• He made it possible for oodles of volunteers, many unsung hometown folks, to step forward with remarkable specialty programs.

ON THE OTHER HAND

From a practical standpoint, Milam was naïve and practically worthless.  His advice on programming was to air harps, kazoos and Tibetan bells. He thought stations should and could be operated like a commune. He thought almost all money was tainted except for the money he made.

Lorenzo Milam is an artifact from another era.  Wasn’t he one of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers?

Community radio needs to move beyond the commune days and streamline its governance and programming. Then maybe it can be a REAL factor in improving society.

• REGARDING MY POST ABOUT NIELSEN AUDIO WINTER 2015 RESULTS FOR SYRACUSE [LINK]

From engineering wizard Aaron Reed:

WRVO has always embodied the idea of the scrappy underdog who works hard to earn every listener. I haven't always agreed with their programming decisions, and they certainly were a competitor to us at WEOS so I'm a little biased, but you can't ever argue that they didn't hustle.

WAER always seemed to be on top of the ivory tower. But they did their thing and the rest of us in the region weren't sorry they did. After all, the jazz they played WAS pretty good jazz, and it meant more NPR news listeners for the us! :)

I think the idea of them being a sports station, but in a public radio vein, is an interesting idea but the devil would be in the details. [For example] …the politics of WAER stomping on WJPZ, the 100 watt student station at Syracuse which has a long and storied tradition of being the starting place of many very famous broadcasters.

[UNABRIDGED VERSION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST]

KEN: Good point. Back when I did sports play-by-play I worked with a couple of grads from that program.  They were terrific journalists and sportscasters.

I do believe that sports programming is a future growth area community stations. Deb Benedict is showing the way for stations like WTIP, Grand Marais, Minnesota [LINK].  They air high school football games. People love it and support it. It is a COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE.

COMPLETE COMMENTS:

JohnHerald


5/18/15

Description: https://bay173.mail.live.com/ol/clear.gif

To: publicradio@hotmail.com





Laws in many states protect association-based nonprofits from wanton takeovers and rogue boards. KUSP's situation may be the downside of this, but the upside is that licenses that were acquired with the sweat and blood of community members (volunteers) to serve certain purposes are protected from those with other agendas.

I helped found a community station that had "Swiss democracy" bylaws, and once we obtained our license, I convinced our membership that the best way to protect the license was to turn over the station's management to the board. Unfortunately, the board changed from founders (not a rag tag group by any means) to include so-called community leaders. Within nine years of our going on the air, the board was ready to turn over the station to the local PBS affiliate. As it turned out, our association's bylaws retained enough rights for our members that we were able to take the board to court and stop the takeover. One local newspaper ran this headline: Merger Dead, Bullies Flee.

I've always felt that one of the great things about America is that people can get together in their living rooms and start a Little League, a fund drive or in our case, a community radio station. One of not so great things is that when grassroots efforts yield success, the corporate wolves show up at the door and want the keys claiming they can make the resource more effective and more profitable. What they really want is the power and control to re-purpose the enterprise to suit their definition of success.

Don't mock Milam. He may not have had all the right prescriptions, but ultimately he was right.

P.S. JohnHerald is a handle. For various reasons - one of which is I'm still on our board fighting the good fit - I must remain anonymous. Laws in many states protect association-based nonprofits from wanton takeovers and rogue boards. KUSP's situation may be the downside of this, but the upside is that licenses that were acquired with the sweat and blood of community members (volunteers) to serve certain purposes are protected from those with other agendas.


Aaron Read has left a new comment on your post "NEW RATINGS DATA: WINTER 2015 NIELSEN AUDIO DIARY ...":

Ahhh, WAER. Now here's a situation I actually can comment semi-intelligently on! :)

WRVO has always embodied the idea of the scrappy underdog who works hard to earn every listener. I haven't always agreed with their programming decisions, and they certainly were a competitor to us at WEOS so I'm a little biased, but you can't ever argue that they didn't hustle.

WAER always seemed to be on top of the ivory tower. But they did their thing and the rest of us in the region weren't sorry they did. After all, the jazz they played WAS pretty good jazz, and it meant more NPR news listeners for the us! :)

I think the idea of them being a sports station, but in a public radio vein, is an interesting idea but the devil would be in the details. First off is that while Syracuse sports is very popular in the region, it's not what regional listeners turn to public radio for. It would take an awful lot of time, money and effort (marketing) to change that perception.

Second is that it would put WAER into direct competition with several major commercial outlets. That's problematic enough, but it would also mean wresting away the rights to the games...not a trivial task as these aren't directly controlled by Syracuse University; they're controlled by whomever buys the rights for all D1 sports coverage (ESPN, I think) from the NCAA. This would be most important for basketball, but it's also true for football.

Third is also the politics of WAER stomping on WJPZ, the 100 watt student station at Syracuse which has a long and storied tradition of being the starting place of many very famous broadcasters. They are a formatted Top 40 station (or at least they were) but they also cover a lot of the "lesser" SU sports that WAER would have to claim in order to be "the SU sports station." That wouldn't be impossible, but it would likely raise some hackles amongst faculty and staff.

There's another factor to consider here: at WEOS we aired a lot (100+ games/yr) of HWS sports. Now unlike SU sports that have regional appeal, HWS sports are just not that popular outside of alumni and parents. Invariably we'd get complaints from NPR News fans about our football & lacrosse game coverage, and the webcast stats indicated that the biggest draw (by a wide margin) was when Hobart played Syracuse lacrosse because our webcast was the only one that wasn't PPV and all the SU fans flocked to it. :)

This is not quite analogous to the idea of WAER becoming all-sports/talk, but it still would give me pause: public radio listeners don't look to public radio for sports/talk. And judging from the qualities of the callers to my local sports station, I'd say an awful lot of sports/talk listeners aren't interested in public radio; the quieter, reasoned analysis that's a hallmark of public radio is the antithesis of what I typically hear on my local sports/talk stations. As I said, it would take an awful lot of effort to change that perception on either side.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

NEW RATINGS DATA: WINTER 2015 NIELSEN AUDIO DIARY MARKETS


We’ve been focusing on Nielsen Audio PPM data for several weeks. Now it is time for results in Diary markets for the just-completed Winter Quarter.  I will be aggregating and examining the info by format.  Today we look at three interesting cities and a couple of pleasant surprises.

OKLAHOMA CITY • NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET 48

STATION
FORMAT
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
KGOU
NPR News
& Jazz
1.8
61,500
KGOU
Repeater
NPR News
& Jazz
0.5
24,200
KOSU
NPR News & The Spy*
1.3
41,000
KUCO
Classical
1.0
33,400

KGOU is doing pretty well but they have spotty coverage in some parts of very large metro area. KOSU takes a pretty good chunk of the NPR News listeners.  KOSU also has a presence in the Tulsa metro.

*PLEASANT SURPRISE #1: THE SPY



For many years KOSU has aired College Rock during the late night hours.  Now they’ve bundled all of rock hosts together under a very appealing brand name: The Spy. The Spy creates a narrative that pulls all of hosts together.  The brand works excellent online and mobile. [LINK] I am sure Rachel Hubbard had a lot to do with this innovative way of showcasing college talent.

TUCSON • NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET 62

STATION
FORMAT
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
KUAT
Classical
1.7
42,000
KUAZ AM/FM
NPR News
5.1
91,200
KXCI*
Triple A+
1.6
33,900

*PLEASANT SURPRISE #2: KXCI



KXCI [LINK] is one of my favorite noncom community station success. A decade or two ago, KXCI was another aimless sandbox following the advice of Chairman Milam. Now KXCI is a focused community convener and curator. KUSP should emulate KXCI. The station board turned a lemon into a tequila sunrise – my favorite drink when I am in Tucson.

SYRACUSE • NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET 89

STATION
FORMAT
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
WAER
NPR News
& Jazz
2.4
33,200
WRVO
NPR News
3.7
47,800
WRVO
Repeater
NPR News
0.4
3,900

WRVO is a very good station but I’ve always expected more from WAER.  Look at who owns them: Syracuse University – home of the Newhouse School of Communications.  Newhouse has launched the careers of hundreds of the best journalists and sports broadcasters. In a perfect world, WAER could be the Sports Anchor for public radio.

ARBITRON WINTER 2015 TOP-LINE ESTIMATES FOR 04/30/2015 
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+
   
These data are provided for use by Nielsen Audio/Arbitron subscribers ONLY, in accordance with RRC's limited license with Arbitron Inc. Format distinction is soley the responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PRAISE FOR ERIC NUZUM AS HE LEAVES NPR


Eric Nuzum, for 11 years VP of Programming at NPR, will leave the network in early June for a new job at Audible.com.  Eric will be missed within NPR and at NPR stations across the nation. He made positive and lasting contributions to public radio and public media during his tenure.

ERIC NUZUM • AUTHOR,SCHOLAR, CURATOR, COMMUNICATOR


Nuzum more than filled the shoes of his predecessor Jay Kernis.  Kernis, when he was in charge of programming at NPR, was a brilliant strategist and coach but he also had a tin ear.  The Bryant Park Project seemed to be his Waterloo. A revolving cast of senior executives led to Kernis’ exit.

Eric Nuzum has a great ear and an intuitive feel for strong communicators. Kernis could be aloof and scientific  Nuzum is so approachable he seems like someone you’d like to invite to your next party.

Now Nuzum is going to Audible.com – a major player in the online book biz.  He will become Audible’s Senior Vice President of Original Content Development.  He is a great choice for the gig.

I love to hear about folks who are successful in both noncom and business.  The two worlds feed each other knowledge, survival skills and perspective. 

Eric has been in public radio since he was 19. Take it from someone who has been in the commercial media fast lane, this may be an adjustment for Eric.  But, I am sure he will swim with best of them.

LET ME HEAR YOUR BODY TALK

I first met Eric about twenty years ago when I was Director of News at PRI.  Eric was at WOSU and produced a national show called Body Talk – a doc talk advice program.  He invited me to be on a panel at the old Public Radio Conference (“PRC”) about creating successful radio programs.  As I recall, it was a packed room and it went overtime.

That’s when I thought to myself: Eric Nuzum totally gets it.  He thinks nationwide. He’s got the ear of a customer.

We talked often at conferences.  Both of us are fans of writer Chuck Klosterman – a friend of Eric’s. Fargo Rock City – one of the greatest rock n roll books ever written – was out then.

Eric then released his own book: Parental Advisory: Music Censorship In America.  It is still the definitive reporting on the congressional hearings on music lyrics. They were championed by Tipper Gore and featured testimony from Frank Zappa and many others. I recommend the book which is available at [LINK].

All of us who have worked with Eric wish him well.

ONE MORE THING ABOUT ERIC NUZUM

Did you know that Eric owns a painting by serial killer John Wayne Gacy? Yes, it’s true.  I didn’t believe it until he sent me a photo.  Creeped me out, man!

I think it was this one:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MORE NPR NEWS STATION BATTLES



Recently we’ve been posting news about radio station battles between two NPR News stations competing in the same market.  In Boston WBUR and WGBH are going head-to-heard with very similar programming.  In Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KAZU may soon the only local NPR News voice in the market.

There are a few more situations where two stations compete for the NPR News audience.  Sometimes both stations, and their listeners, win.  In a few cases, one station dominates the market by such a wide margin you have to wonder if the lesser station folks even care.

Below are six markets (all Nielsen Audio PPM markets) with competing NPR News stations. For comparison we are using Winter 2015 data. 

We are also using a nifty metric called NFFS.  That stands for Non Federal Funding Sources (“NFFS”).  It is the total revenue received by each station NOT including CPB grants or money from other federal sources. I like this metric because it demonstrates each station’s ability to generate revenue from listeners, underwriters and local sources. The NFFS was compiled by CPB for fiscal year 2012.

SPECIAL BLENDS – WHERE THE LISTENERS ARE THE WINNERS

Perhaps you’ve heard the programming theory that competitive situations increase listening to both stations.  These two examples back that notion.

MARKET #2 – LOS ANGELES

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
KCRW
1.3
488,200
$17,846,000
KPCC
2.0
662,000
$17,970,000

MARKET #13 – SEATTLE-TACOMA

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
KPLU
3.1
299,600
$6,648,000
KUOW
4.2
302,400
$10,788,00

YOU CAN DO BETTER

MARKET #37  – COLUMBUS

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
WCBE
1.2
79,500
$1,612,000
WOSU
3.1
135,500
$4,331,000

WOSU is NPR News 24/7; WCBE combines the major NPR shows with Triple A.  WOSU continues to pull away from WCBE.  In a perfect world, WCBE would go Triple A 24/7. But this is not a perfect world and WCBE is owned by a school board. These stations are sometimes run by clueless bureaucrats.

MARKET #9 – ATLANTA

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
WABE
3.4
399,600
$8,408,000
WRAS
0.3
61,200
$6,136,000

WRAS, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s NPR News station for 14 hours a day, has been increasing audience since they began the operation via an LMA in 2014. But the tasty College Rock that airs the remaining hours isn't pleasing news listeners or alt music fans.  WABE seems to be waking up.

MARKET #12 – DETROIT

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
WDET
0.8
131,100
$3,739,000
WUOM
1.7
181,100
$6,664,000

To me, WDET lacks focus and momentum.  WUOM serves much of southern Michigan, branding itself Michigan Radio. Smart move!

MISSING AN OPPORTUNITY

MARKET #4 – SAN FRANCISCO

STATION
AQH SHARE
WEEKLY CUME
NFFS
KALW
0.3
84,800
$9,150,000
KQED
5.1
733,300
$25,781,000

I’ve written about KALW’s lameness before.  I’ve been hoping that someone from KALW can tell me WTF they are doing. My theory is they don’t care and like the way things are now: Insignificant and almost irrelevant.

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