Friday, July 24, 2015

KGOU VS. KOSU: THE BATTLE FOR OKLAHOMA CITY


Earlier this week we posted the Nielsen Audio top-line data for Oklahoma City.  There was a mistake in the chart.  I double-checked with the RRC whether listening to KROU, a repeater of KGOU, was separate or included in the KGOU total.  Turns out I had it wrong in the earlier post – KROU’s listening was included with KGOU. Here is the correct Spring 2015 data for Oklahoma City (“OKC”):
 
These data are provided for use by Nielsen subscribers ONLY,
in accordance with RRC's limited license with Nielsen Inc.
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+

Data Copyright Nielsen Inc.

It looks like a close contest between KGOU and KOSU for the NPR News 
crown.  As I’m sure you know, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma 
State University, compete on many platforms. While the football battle 
between the Sooners and the Cowboys is big news.  Less well known is 
the battle for news listeners in the state’s largest city and capitol: 
Oklahoma City.

I decided to dig deeper to learn who has the advantage in three key areas: 
Basic operations, Coverage and Programming.

1. STATION BASICS


KGOU
KOSU
LICENSEE
University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University
LOCATION
Norman
Stillwater
DISTANCE FROM OKC
33 miles
92.4 miles



2014 REVENUE
$2,085,000
$3,272,000
MAJOR REVENUE SOURCES
CPB: $161,000
Pledging: $498,000
Underwriting: $467,000

CPB $346,000
Pledging: $444,000
Underwriting: $210,000
*Allocation from OSU: $1,500,000

2014 EXPENSES
$2,105,000
$2,055,000
2014 GAIN (LOSS)
(20,000)
$1,217,000
* According to KOSU audit, the licensee made a one-time allocation of $1,500,000. 
If the allocation is not included, KOSU’s 2014 operating loss would have been around 
$283,000.

Norman is three times closer to downtown OKC than Stillwater, according 
to Google Maps. This should give KGOU the advantage. In many ways 
Norman is an exurb of OKC.

Revenue and expenses for the two stations are similar. Both stations had an 
operating loss in FY 2014 if you don’t count OSU’s one-time grant of 
$1,500,000 to KOSU. Sources for the financial data comes from 2014 audits 
as posted on each station’s website.

2. COVERAGE OF OKC METRO

Here are the coverage maps for KGOU and repeater KROU:



 

 


In 2005, KOSU moved its 91.7 signal to a tower between Edmond and Guthrie, greatly increasing the signal in the Oklahoma City metro. Here is the KOSU map:



For our comparison, let’s call the two stations even in their coverage of OKC.

3. PROGRAMMING

Here is a comparison of the programming on each station during the dayparts when the most people listen to radio:


MONDAY – FRIDAY 6am -7pm


KGOU
KOSU
6am-7am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
7am-8am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
8am-9am
Morning Edition
Morning Edition
9am-10am
Diane Rehm
On Point
10am-11am
Diane Rehm
On Point
11am-Noon
Various Weekly Programs
Here & Now
Noon-1pm
Here & Now
Science Friday
Fresh Air
1pm – 2pm
Here & Now
The Takeaway
2pm – 3pm
To the Point
The World
3pm – 4pm
BBC Newshour
3:30pm Friday
World Views
ATC
4pm – 5pm
ATC
ATC
5pm – 6pm
ATC
ATC
6pm – 7pm
ATC
6:30pm Friday
World Views
6pm Marketplace
6:30pm ATC

SATURDAY 6am – 7pm


KGOU
KOSU
6am-7am
6am World Views
6:30am Left, Right & Center
Weekend Edition
7am-8am
Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition
8am-9am
Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition
9am-10am
RadioLab
Best of Car Talk
10am-11am
Whad’Ya Know
Wait, Wait…
11am-Noon
Whad’Ya Know
This American Life
Noon-1pm
This American Life
Moth Radio Hour
1pm – 2pm
Weekend Blues
Wits
2pm – 3pm
Weekend Blues
The Dinner Party

KOSU has a big schedule advantage over KGOU.  Notice how the news happens first at KOSU. Starting ATC as 3:00pm local means lots of tune-in for KOSU.  KGOU has a listener DEAD ZONE between 11:00am to Noon when each day there is different weekly program.

Another questionable choice on KGOU’s daytime schedule is To the Point.  This isn’t the show from WBUR, it is a talk show that airs on KCRW.  Warren Olney is a good host but I can’t understand the value of an LA-centric program in the middle of the day in OKC.  I’d rather listen to the first feed of The World on KOSU.

It is the same pattern on Saturday morning and early afternoon. KOSU gets the jump on KGOU with the first play of TAL.  KOSU wisely follows TAL with Best of Car Talk and Wait, Wait…, proven audience and pledge drive winners.

No wonder KOSU has been closing in on KGOU.
 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ROCHESTER, SYRACUSE, ALBANY & CHARLOTTESVILLE NONCOM SPRING RATINGS



I love it when the numbers for the smaller markets are released. I started my broadcasting work in Sioux Falls (then Arbitron market #208) – one book a year.  The report came in the mail – a white package that looked like a legal document.

The GM and/or the PD would open the package and distribute copies of the report around the room.  Pages turned at a fast pace.  Then, a groan, a cheer, a oh shittttt – the whole range of emotions. Someone asks the PD: How did we do?

Now, let’s do the numbers.


Memo to Jeanne Fischer: Put WRUR on an HD2 and then repeat it on an FM translator.

WRVO has done an awesome job over the years of becoming the biggest NPR News player in Syracuse.  However, it appears WAER also is letting them have it. Classical WCNY doesn’t appear because they don’t buy the data.

Albany is an excellent public media city/area.  WAMC and WMHT have had strong local support for many years.  You’ve got to love feisty WEXT The Exit growing their number of weekly listeners. Quite a few folks like their news with maple syrup, Vermont Public Radio style.
WVTF, Roanoke blankets Charlottesville with a full power repeater.  Triple A WNRN is on my short-list of the Best Community Stations In the Nation.

These data are provided for use by Nielsen subscribers ONLY,
in accordance with RRC's limited license with Nielsen Inc.
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+

Data Copyright Nielsen Inc.

 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WGBH LICENSE CHALLENGE: FCC AFFIRMS IT WANTS NO ROLE IN FORMAT CHANGES


Last week the FCC denied a petition that challenged WGBH-FM’s license renewal because the station moved its classical music to WCRB in 2009 and cancelled other music programs.

A Boston media advocacy group – The Committee for Community Access (“CCA’) charged in their petition that WGBH’s format change was a …near-total expungement of music from the airwaves. The change, CCA argued …was done to transform the station into a full-time news and talk station, and therefore limited format diversity in the Boston area.

By declining to get involved, the FCC again confirmed that it does not regulate programming changes.  The hands-off policy began with the famous WNCN, New York case in 1974.

Scroll down to read the WNCN story and see a video about the abrupt 1974 format switch from classical to rock music.

DO PUBLIC RADIO LISTENERS HAVE A RIGHT TO BE SERVED?

CCA took a unique approach, asking the FCC to hold public radio licensees to a higher standard than commercial licensees when it comes to adequately serving the listening public. The CCA petition said that public radio listeners have a …First Amendment right to be served.

The FCC didn’t agree.  In denying the petition, the FCC said: The FCC’s Format Policy states that market forces and competition determine the formats of individual radio stations, not the commission itself.

Further, the commission renewed WGBH’s licensee and reaffirmed their 1974 WNCN decision to stay out of programming changes.

WHEN BEETHOVEN ROLLED OVER IN NEW YORK 

In 1974 WNCN was one of two commercial classical FM stations in New York. (The other was WQXR, now a noncom operated by WNYC.)  WNCN was owned by National Science Network and was intended for background music (along with commercial messages) intended for doctor and dentist offices.

National Science Network decided to take advantage of rising FM license values and sold 104.3 FM to Starr Broadcasting for $3,000,000.

Starr was a privately owned company that wanted to go public.  It was run by two recent Dartmouth graduates, brothers Peter and Michael Starr.  Conservative writer and spokesman William F. Buckley was behind Starr brothers financially.  It was almost like family.  Peter and Michael Starr were Buckley’s yacht boys out on the Hamptons.

[Disclosure:  I worked for Starr Broadcasting in 1967 – 1969 when they owned Top 40 stations in Kansas City, Omaha and Sioux Falls.]

The Starr Brothers were under pressure by Buckley to establish a base in New York in anticipation for the upcoming stock offering. When Starr bought the license for WNCN in 1974, they announced their intention to change the call letters to WQIV and dump classical music and air kick-ass rock. WNCN’s listeners were outraged.

MEET THE WNCN LISTENER GUILD

The classical music fans organized The WNCN Listener Guild to try to deny the sale to Starr and the switch to rock n roll. The Guild filed petitions with the FCC arguing many of the same points CCA made recently against WGBH’s license renewal.



Up to this point, the FCC’s role in format changes was not clear.  The FCC used The Guilds’ complaint as a test case for new policy: Let market forces, rather than regulation, determining a station’s programming.  This is a core Buckley philosophy.

In the FCC ruling in favor of Starr and Buckley, the commission said:

…the public interest is best served by promoting diversity in a radio station's entertainment formats through market forces and competition among broadcasters, and that review of an applicant station's format changes…would not advance the radio-listening public's welfare, and would deter innovation in radio programming.

And this is still the way it is today.

The Guild continued its legal efforts until 1980 when the US Supreme Court refused to intervene.  Meanwhile, Guild members tied up Starr’s stock scheme.  It turned out that WQIV was a quick flop.  Starr sold 104.3 in less than a year.  Today the station is rocker WAXQ.

You can hear the tension behind the scenes as the ownership and format changed on November 2, 1974 in this mini-movie I created earlier this year: