Friday, June 19, 2015

COMMENTS, QUESTIONS & UPDATES



• REGARDING HD-TO-FM INSTANT FM STATIONS

Previous Coverage:

WHQR BRINGS 24/7 CLASSICAL TO WILMINGTON VIA NEW “INSTANT FM STATION”

NEW “INSTANT FM” – PRIDE 96.7 DEBUTS IN MINNEAPOLIS

WUFT TURNS "HD RADIO LEMON" INTO "FM LEMONADE"


QUESTION FROM REGINA DEAN, WUOT, KNOXVILLE

Hey, Ken.
I'm curious about what kinds of coverage (in terms of square miles and/or population) do these 'new FM translators' have?  At a previous station years ago, we fed four translators in four different communities --- but each translator's reach was only a few miles and didn't cover even all of a relatively small town.......of course, there was virtually no cost associated with them.  But unless I knew a good portion of my 'main' signal's population was covered, I'm not sure selling a small-powered translator as a 'new FM replacement signal" would be a good idea.

KEN: I agree that someone should NOT promote an FM translator as a “new” station unless the signal covers almost all of the home metro area. WUFT and WHQR felt confident in the geographical reach of their translators before they announced their new stations.

FM signal coverage is a matter of physics – height of the antenna, power of the transmission.  I am have not been in Knoxville but I looked up the city on Radio-Locator [link] and there appears to be several dial positions available.  I also noticed that religious NCE broadcasters including Educational Media Foundation are active in Knoxville. I suggest contacting Cleve Callison regarding a consulting engineer.

QUESTION FROM RYAN BRUCE, KBRP, BISBEE, AZ

I have been following your blog posts about instant FM, and I am curious about the possibilities.  One is can an LPFM own a translator, which I am assuming it cannot?  

KEN: An LPFM station CAN have an FM translator.  Keep in mind that translators are repeaters so they MUST be fed by another FM station, AM station or HD Radio station. There is plenty of unused FM spectrum available in Bisbee.

QUESTION FROM STEVE MARTIN, WASHINGTON DC

Saw your post about WUFT  -- isn’t WAMU doing the same thing with their Bluegrass Country HD channel which is also broadcast on the 105.5 FM frequency?

KEN: Yes, 105.5 FM repeats WAMU HD2. In the May Nielsen Audio PPM’s WAMU’s Bluegrass Country station had a 0.1 AQH share and 37,500 weekly listeners. They could do much better.

CONFIDENTIAL COMMENT: CEO, MAJOR PUBIC RADIO ORGRANIZATION

Specifically about iHeartMedia’s cozy translator relationship with religious NCE broadcast Educational Media Foundation (“EMF”):

One complication not yet clear is the recent changes to PSOA (public LMA) rules – I’m not sure how the FCC will treat these agreements for religious non-comms; if EMF can recover only costs, and not split revenue, this activity may be far less attractive.
KEN: Thank you for this comment – I hadn’t heard about this rule before I received your note. PSOA is a rule recently enacted by the FCC that limits the amount of windfall revenue a nonprofit organization can get from leasing out a TV translator to a commercial TV broadcaster.  The uncertainty involves whether it applies to FM licensees.

MY INTERVIEW ON K-HIGH RADIO

Previous Coverage:

NEW RADIO BUZZ IN COLORADO SPRINGS: “K-HIGH MARIJUANA RADIO”


Last week I was interviewed live on K-HIGH radio [link] in Colorado Springs by my favorite JOINT JOCK Maranda Harris:

MARANDA HARRIS • JOINT JOCK


Listen to a portion of the interview only if you like to hear a bunch of stoners talking about radio. Click on this link:

https://soundcloud.com/kenmillsagency/ken-k-high-06-11-15-edit

Thursday, June 18, 2015

LOCAL TALK TOPS NPR NEWS IN MILWAUKEE



Common programming wisdom is that NPR News programs like Morning Edition draw more listening than local public radio talk programming. An emerging situation in Milwaukee is putting that wisdom to a test. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network on WHAD tops NPR News station WUWM in several Nielsen Audio PPM metrics.

Comparing May 2015 to May 2014, WHAD increased AQH share from 1.4 to 2.1.  During the same one year period WUWM’s AQH share declined from 3.2 to 1.6.

WUWM still has a larger weekly cume than WHAD but the gap between the two stations has gotten smaller.  Between May 2014 and May 2015 WUWM lost around 40,000 weekly listeners.  Here is the topline PPM data courtesy of RRC:

MAY 2015


MAY 2014

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

MEET THE STATIONS

Both stations have strong coverage of the Milwaukee metro but their schedules are much different.  Here are the lineups for the hours when most people listen to radio:

MONDAY – FRIDAY 6am – 7pm


WUWM
WHAD
6am – 7am
Morning Edition
Joy Cardin Show
7am – 8am
Morning Edition
Joy Cardin Show
8am – 9am
Morning Edition
Joy Cardin Show
9am – 10am
BBC Newshour
On Point
10am – 11am
Lake Effect
On Point
11am - Noon
Fresh Air
Larry Meiller Show
Noon – 1pm
Here & Now
12pm: Larry Meiller Show
12:30pm:
Chapter a Day
1pm – 2pm
Here & Now
Kathleen Dunn Show
2pm – 3pm
Here & Now
Kathleen Dunn Show
3pm – 4pm
ATC
Central Time
4pm – 5pm
ATC
Central Time
5pm – 6pm
ATC
Central Time
6pm – 7pm
6:00pm: ATC
6:30pm: Marketplace
To the Best
Of Our Knowledge
Friday:
On the Media

SATURDAY 6am – 3pm


WUWM
WHAD
6am – 7am
Marketplace Weekend
People’s Pharmacy
7am – 8am
Weekend Edition
Garden Talk
8am – 9am
Weekend Edition
Zorba Paster
On Health
9am – 10am
Best of
Car Talk
Wait, Wait
10am – 11am
Wait, Wait
Whad’Ya Know?
11am - Noon
Ask Me Another
Whad’Ya Know?
Noon – 1pm
TED Radio Hour
Best of
Car Talk
1pm – 2pm
On the Media
Zorba Paster
On Health
2pm – 3pm
Marketplace Weekend
People’s Pharmacy

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

We asked people in charge at both stations.  Here is the view from Michael Arnold, WPR’s Director of Content:


And the view from Dave Edwards, GM at WUWM:







Arnold says this appears to be a trend, not a wobble:





IS THIS AN ONLY IN MILWAUKEE PHENOMENON?

Michael Arnold says WHAD’s success is due, in part, to the uniqueness of WPR’s talk-based format on the Idea’s Network. But he also cites WGBH’s midday talk program as evidence that there are exceptions to notion that NPR News always trumps local talk:





MILWAUKEE LISTENERS ARE THE WINNERS

Dave Edwards agrees with Michael Arnold that the two stations are expanding the public radio news choices. Edwards put it this way:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WHQR BRINGS 24/7 CLASSICAL TO WILMINGTON VIA NEW “INSTANT FM STATION”



I received a lot of response to Monday’s column [LINK] about WUFT’s new classical FM station, created by repeating an HD channel on an FM translator.  I call these INSTANT FM STATIONS. These are FM stations.  HD Radio is mentioned only in the legal ID.

Cleve Callison at WHQR, Wilmington, North Carolina sent me a note saying they have done something similar last September.  WHQR debuted Classical HQR at 96.7 FM [LINK].  The listener response so far has been very positive.

CLEVE CALLISON

TOUGH CHOICES: NPR NEWS OR CLASSICAL

When Callison became GM of WHQR a few years ago the station had the very familiar tension between NPR News and classical music listeners.  Ties to classical music are in the DNA of WHQR.  Back in the early 1980s, the station founders were fans of the Met Opera.  You don’t want to piss these people off. Callison continued WHQR’s dual format until he could find a solution.
,
Like many other public radio stations, WHQR took CPB’s offer and added an HD2.  But, as we all know, HD Radio has not found consumer acceptance.  Commitments to CPB for the dough require stations to keep the HD going.

It was impossible to apply for a new FM station.  The HD2 channel had almost no listeners.  Then, a couple of years ago, WHQR acquired FM translator W244DH – 96.7FM, from a broadcaster located an hour north of Wilmington.  Through careful FCC filings, they moved the translator to Wilmington. Here is CLASSICAL 96.7’s coverage area:



THE PROUD DEBUT OF CLASSICAL 96.7

CLASSICAL 96.7 started with a high-profile public event on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.  This was the launch of a NEW FM STATION. Callison invited local bigwigs to Throw the Switch:



The response was immediate and very, very positive from Classical and NPR News listeners.  At the same moment CLASSICAL 96.7 started, Callison deleted classical hours on WHQR’s primary station at 91.3 FM and added more news.  He hoped classical folks wouldn’t see the smaller coverage area of 96.7 FM as a demotion.

This did not happen.  Classical listeners love 24/7 music.  WHQR had the best fundraising year ever in 2014.

Callison said at launch party:

WHQR was founded in 1980 and went on the air in 1984 thanks to the devoted work of listeners hungry for classical music on the radio. Now that vision will realize its long-cherished dream: a 24-hour classical FM station with [local hosts] Jemila Ericson, Pat Marriott, favorite syndicated programs -- and music, music, music.

ATTENTION SOLE SERVICE STATIONS: YOU CAN DO THIS TOO

Don’t wait. Act now while FM spectrum is available. 

Commercial broadcasters and religious noncoms like the Educational Media Foundation are trolling your market right now for HD-to-FM translators for their new INSTANT FM STATIONS.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NEW “INSTANT FM” – PRIDE 96.7 DEBUTS IN MINNEAPOLIS

 
Claiming to be the first LGBT FM radio station in the nation, PRIDE 96.7 [LINK] has signed on in Minneapolis.

PRIDE 96.7 is iHeartMedia’s third new Instant FM station in the market. iHeart now has EIGHT competitive FM signals in the market.  Rumor has it they have more Instant FM stations on the way.

To create PRIDE 96.7 iHeart purchased an FM translator K244EQ FM 96.7 from a Wisconsin broadcaster for $300,000. iHeart’s PRIDE RADIO streaming audio is broadcast on KQQL-FM’s HD3 signal.  The HD3 feeds K244EQ.  Soon FM 96.7 will broadcast from the Twin Cities best site – atop the 57-story IDS Center at 170 watts.  Here is PRIDE 96.7’s projected coverage area:



WELCOME TO CALHOUN BEACH

The new FM voice is a marvel of signal spacing and legal creation.  To accomplish the translator move from Wisconsin iHeart got the FCC to approve a new, previously unknown, city-of-license: Calhoun Beach, Minnesota.

Calhoun Beach could be any of the beaches around Lake Calhoun.  To local folks “Calhoun Beach” usually refers to the northwest corner of the lake that borders the hipster area of Minneapolis called Uptown.

CALHOUN BEACH AT NIGHT

Calhoun Beach has a historic place in Twin Cities broadcasting. The Calhoun Beach Club was the original studio location for WTCN-TV in the 1950s and 1960s.  (WTCN is now KARE-11 TV.)  It is a fashionable address.  Condos and apartments at The Calhoun Beach Club are priced far above public media wages.

CALHOUN BEACH CLUB


WHAT PRIDE 96.7 SOUNDS LIKE

As some of you may know, I am In the Life but I am probably not in PRIDE 96.7’s target demo.  The emphasis is on dance music, synthesizers and lots of women artists.  The prevailing mood is party, love and lust.  You can see their playlist at [LINK].

The on-air hosts are upbeat, friendly and never obtrusive. Even though PRIDE 96.7 is about one week old, they are talking A LOT about people and events in the community.

LESSONS FOR NONCOM RADIO

This train is moving fast. Public radio should conduct an organized effort to get public radio’s HD channels on FM before the FM spectrum is full. I recall CPB sponsored FM frequency and underserved area studies in the 1980s and 1990s. Why not map FM translator opportunities now?

Commercial broadcasters like iHeartMedia and religious noncom broadcasters like the Educational Media Foundation (K-Love) are gobbling up the FM dial. Seize the day CPB—help turn those HD Radio lemons into FM lemonade.



Monday, June 15, 2015

WUFT TURNS "HD RADIO LEMON" INTO "FM LEMONADE"


HD RADIO LEMONS
 
FM LEMONADE

A decade ago, like many CPB-funded FM stations, WUFT in Gainesville added HD Radio channels.  Now HD Radio hasn’t panned out as was hoped.  This fact-of-life has left quite a few public radio stations stuck with the expense of providing HD Radio channels that reach few, if any, listeners. In other words, HD Radio is a lemon.
Now WUFT [LINK] is creating lemonade by putting it’s HD2 channel on a local FM translator.  These new Instant Stations are no longer HD Radio, they are for-real FM stations.  The one thing that HD Radio is very, very good at is feeding FM translators.
Like iHeart Media, Educational Media Foundation (“EMF” – the purveyors of K-LOVE) and other commercial broadcasters, WUFT is expanding their services by adding FM signals to expand programming choices for Gainesville area listeners.
Check out our other recent columns about other new INSTANT FM stations at:

EMF CREATING NEW “INSTANT FM” STATION IN LA

ANOTHER NEW “INSTANT FM STATION” IN MINNEAPOLIS


INSIDE WUFT’S PLAN
WUFT is licensed to the University of Florida.  The UF College of Journalism and Communications operates WUFT-FM (and it's repeater WJUF-FM), PBS affiliate WUFT-TV, two commercial stations WRUF-FM (Country) and WRUF-AM (ESPN Sports).
WUFT-FM is almost full-time NPR News. WUFT-HD2 is full-time Classical, airing Classical-24 24/7 .It is the cheapest way to run the channel.  Like HD Radio elsewhere, WUFT’s HD2 channel has not attracted much listening. Beginning in October, WUFT’s Classical service will debut on 92.1 FM via translator W2748BT.
WUFT has big plans for it’s new FM station. According to news reports, WUFT will replace C-24 with local hosts. I bet this will work Big Time.  WUFT is providing a model for other public radio stations in similar situations.
(Also this fall, WUFT will debut a second FM translator that will repeat WRUF-AM.)
“Securing these two new FM frequencies for the College is significant,” said Randall Wright, executive director of the College’s Division of Multimedia Properties. “The new WUFT-?FM Classical/Arts will provide a radio broadcast format not currently available in this market, helping to position our public media for another phase of growth from both a membership and underwriting perspective,” he said.
PUBLIC RADIO: MAKE LEMONADE FROM YOUR HD RADIO LEMONS NOW
WUFT is providing an example of what noncom stations, particularly CPB-funded licensees, can do with their HD channels. Many licensees who got into HD Radio agreed to CPB requirements that they keep the HD channels going for years. In many ways these are CPB LEMONS.
Now CPB and the public radio system have the chance to make the LEMONS into FM STATION LEMONADE.  But CPB and other public radio leaders should act quickly.  The word out and public radio is already behind the curve.  Open FM spectrum is in limited supply. Religious broadcasters are gobbling up spots on the FM dial. Public radio: ACT NOW.
We will continue to report of this fast developing story.