Friday, November 6, 2015

UPDATE: CPB DELETING FUNDING TO SMALLEST NONCOM RADIO STATIONS



UPDATE: 4pm CT 11/06/15

Two kind readers sent me links to download CPB’s 2013 document Recommendations for Changes to Radio CSG Program Policies [link]. This document lays out CPB’s plans for station cuts such as KZMU, Moab.
The story is more complex than what I first reported.  According to my sources, there is no Diss List. But, as I reported, there are changes in the minimum NFFS that will affect small stations.  NFFS is only one of the factors CPB uses to evaluate stations that receive Community Service Grants (CSG). Criteria also includes the type of station including Minority Audience Service Stations (MASS) and Rural Audience Service Stations.
Rather than a list, CPB has several formulas. Here is a chart that provides an overview of the changes:



There is much more in Recommendations for Changes to Radio CSG Program Policies that will appear in near future. Thank you folks who sent the information



UPDATES

From Tom Thomas of the Station Resource Group (SRG):

I read your posting about the rising levels of non-federal financial support (NFFS) that CPB will require for public radio stations it supports with Community Service Grants.

Your note and the accompanying tables misses the mark on several points in ways that will likely cause needless alarm for some stations and blunt CPB’s message to others.

First, there is no “diss list,” as you put it. CPB adopted a multi-year phase-in of higher minimum NFFS levels for some categories of stations. Stations that currently receive CSGs but do not meet these higher criteria will be subject to a multi-year phase-out of their support. There are many steps that stations at risk might take to avoid that outcome over the next several years. Stations that lose their support are eligible to regain it if they qualify in the future. Station budgets are fluid things.

Second, there is not a one-size-fits-all minimum NFFS level. For example, CPB supports a dozen stations in very rural areas that qualify as “sole service” stations – there is no other broadcast radio or television service available to their coverage areas. There is NO financial requirement for these stations. When they document their situation, CPB writes a check for $100,000. WVLS in Dunmore, WV, one of the stations in your table, fits this model. If the sole service station also qualifies as a minority station, which two-thirds of them do, they get $150,000.

Another example, stations that meet certain criteria as both rural and minority services currently have a minimum NFFS of $100,000. That will not change under the revised CPB policies. I counted 17 stations in your table that CPB considers both rural and minority. CPB supports a total of about 35 stations in this category, many of them operated by Native American tribes and groups.  A couple are close to the minimum NFSS, but most significantly exceed it. In recognition of the special circumstances many of these stations face, CPB has not only kept in place the lower financial requirement, but also continued to match their local support at a rate that is 75% greater than the match for non-rural, non-minority stations.

Third, some stations will be expected to meet a higher minimum than you mention in your piece. Stations that do not qualify as rural services, which previously had a minimum NFFS requirement of $200,000, will see their requirement rise to $500,000 by 2018. Just as there are some stations in rural communities like KZMU that have a significant uphill climb to meet their new requirements, about a dozen stations with more densely populated coverage areas also have some serious fundraising work ahead of them.

We have collectively grown the size, reach, diversity, and impact of the CPB-supported public radio system by careful calibration of the funding criteria and continuing evaluation of the results. These new standards emerged from the latest iteration of this process, a comprehensive CSG review in 2012-2013. The full report and recommendations over the review committee can be found on CPB’s website:

An early decision that has shaped today’s public radio system was that it would be foolish for CPB to write a check to every noncommercial, educational radio station, of which there are several thousand, and instead make more meaningful investments in what has become several hundred. Wherever the line gets drawn, there will be some stations on the “wrong” side, including some that I have worked for and with and cheer on in their efforts.

From Sally Kane at NFCB:

Thanks for covering the CSG issue for our community stations. Almost all the stations on your list are NFCB members. 

One thing I noticed is that you have a quite a number of Native stations on the list and those should come off because they are exempt form the threshold metrics and the increase to 300 K due to their MASS and RASS status. 

The ones that are around 250 to 320 K have been aware of this for about three years now and an impressive number of them are rallying and likely going to make the threshold in FY 17. It's very confusing how the lag time with numbers at CPB is a full year as a number of these stations are really increasing their NFFS and FY 12 wouldn't show that. Thats when the changes first came down.

The report below contains this new information. 

Noncom media blogs are buzzing about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s notification of KZMU, Moab, Utah, that the station will lose its CPB funding next year. The Moab Times recently published [link] an article about KZMU and the impact of CPB’s cuts.

For those readers not familiar with the lingo, “NFFS” is the total amount of support a station receives from sources other than CPB. This is an important metric because it shows the station’s track record of gaining listener support. Some observers feel universities have an unfair advantage because they can claim lots of in-kind institutional funding.

I tried to find information about the cuts at CPB’s website and found nothing. I sent a message to CPB and will update this column if/when I hear back from them.

New lists of affected stations will be posted when I receive them.

NICE MOVE BY SALLY KANE AT NFCB

Many of the stations are NFCB members.  I just listened to a very nice interview on of Kane on KZMU [link].  She was in Moab to help KZMU establish a “friend’s group” to diversify the stations local funding sources.




Thursday, November 5, 2015

JOIN KPBS WHERE PUBLIC TV NEWS IS AS SMART AS PUBLIC RADIO




A few years ago I was a subcontractor on the CPB project dealing public radio and TV newsrooms.  The project was, in part, to find the best news synergies between co-licensed public radio and TV stations. We found several shops with merged radio and TV news departments, but most collocated NPR and PBS go there own ways.
This is NOT the case at KPBS AM/TV [link] in San Diego. Led by Mike Marcotte and others, KPBS merged their newsrooms over two decades ago. Today KPBS radio, TV and digital excel in multi-platform reporting. Now KPBS TV is looking for an anchor/reporter for KPBS Evening Edition, who has public radio news experience.  KPBS Evening Edition airs Monday through Friday at 5:00pm.
Dwane Brown

KPBS says they are looking for the next Gwen Ifill or Hari Sreenivasan of PBS Newshour. Dwane Brown, the previous anchor/reporter, left KPBS to be the first NPR newscaster based out of NPR West.
San Diego stories often become national or international stories, particularly issues involving the border. KPBS is one of the organizations behind The Fronteras Desk [link], a multimedia news cooperative covering developments on both sides of the border. We recently covered [link] another Fronteras Desk partner, KJZZ, Phoenix and their new Mexico City bureau.
You can see the complete job description here [link].


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

MARY LUCIA RETURNS TO “89.3 THE CURRENT” NOVEMBER 9th


After a hiatus of seven months, Mary Lucia is returning to her shift at 89.3 The Current. As we reported in August [link], Lucia was the victim of a stalker. The perpetrator pleaded guilty in late August to felony stalking and terroristic threats. Before sentencing, the felon (who we are not naming) is undergoing a mental competency hearing in December. Meanwhile, he remains in jail.
According to published court records, the stalking started in 2014 after Lucia sent a sympathetic e-mail to a listener who wrote grieving about his dead dog. The stalker then sent Lucia almost daily e-mails, made numerous phone calls and sent flowers, sausages, candy and a picture of a picture of himself wearing a mask. He ignored restraining orders and kept coming to Lucia’s home leaving bottles of wine, books and notes.
Lucia had hoped to return to the air much sooner but the harassment and legal wrangling took much longer than expected. Now more comfortable about her safety, Lucia announced her return in a letter to listeners:
MARY LUCIA Photo Credit: Star-Tribune
As many of you know, I took a leave from work in April to deal with an ongoing stalker that has turned my world upside down for nearly two years.

After multiple trial postponements and legal curve balls of which I have no control, I'm a little heartbroken to say this has gotten far more complicated than I could've imagined. Thus, it is still ongoing. Because of that, I can't really talk about the case. Man, silence is not always golden nor empowering.



I can say that I don't think I've worked harder in my life than in these last six months.
I've never been a "Why me?" person. In fact, if anything, I'm a "Why NOT me?" type. What makes me so damn special that horrid things shouldn't happen to me? Believe me, I've never lost perspective that someone always has it worse than me. How you deal with this trauma is what is important. Character building and all that crap.
 
Mary Lucia with pals Lefty & Crash Photo by Shelly Mosman

I've realized I'm strong, but I'm not that strong. I've needed help and still do in order to be the person I know I am capable of being.

I've been on a never-ending quest for inspiration. In my time away, I've consumed books like air as that is as close to meditation as I can get. I will always be interested in other people's stories. All nonfiction. Biographies of people who are creative and somewhere along the line got the stuffing knocked out of them, maybe fell from grace but found a way to creatively reinvent themselves. Throw in an insane upbringing and inevitable chemical-dependency problems and you've got me hooked!

I won't lie, I've been knocked around quite a bit and been forced to accept things I still find unacceptable. I've felt lost and powerless. But I've tried to keep a sense of curiosity about my life. Believe me, gallows humor doesn't hurt either. I've always said the day I stop finding humor in the darkness is the day I cash it in.

After much careful thought, even though this whole drama is far from being over, I'm returning to work and genuinely feel excited to reconnect with my buddies at The Current, and of course with you my friends, the listeners.

As Bob Plant said, "Been a long time since I rock and rolled."

Thanks as always for your kindness and thoughtfulness.
 --- Mary Lucia, November 2, 2015.

ONE OF MINNEAPOLIS' MOST INFLUENTIAL CURATORS & HOSTS

For years, the Twin Cities has been blessed with progressive rock radio tastemakers, helping create several potent music scenes. Mary Lucia is part of a long line of influential hosts including Tony Glover at KDWB; John Pete, Randi Kirschbaum and Allen Stone at KQRS; Kevin Cole at KJ-104 and others at REV 105.
In the early 1990s, heirs of the Cargill Foods family bought three struggling FM signals and brought them together the create REV 105.  Lucia joined Cole (now at KEXP), Brian Turner and others on the air at REV 105, one of the greatest commercial progressive rock stations in nation. REV 105 was sold in 1994 because hyper ownership consolidation drove the value of FM licenses sky high.
The spirit and fun of REV 105 lives on today at 89.3 The Current, particularly with Mary’s long-awaited return.
See the Star-Tribune coverage at [link].

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NONCOM MARKET PROFILE: BOSTON


A reader sent me a request for a profile of noncommercial radio in the Boston market.  I am pleased to look into Boston because it is one of cradles of noncom broadcasting.  Years before CPB began in the early 1970s, Boston broadcasters were pioneers of public radio and TV.

MARKET PROFILE: BOSTON

METRO POPULATION: 3,800,000
MEDIAN HOME COST: $391,000 (US AVERAGE: $152,000)
MEDIAN AGE: 37.3 (US MEDIAN: 36.4)
% ADULTS COLLEGE GRADUATES: 43.1 (US %: 27.2)

BALTIMORE NONCOMMERCIAL RADIO DIAL
Nielsen Audio Market Rank: 10

FREQ
CALLS
FORMAT
OCTOBER 2015 AQH %
OCTOBER 2015 WEEKLY LISTENERS
ESTIMATED ANNUAL BUDGET
(000)
88.1
WMBR
Eclectic Music Mix
NA
NA
$114,000
88.9
WERS
Triple A
0.6
172,300
$1,000,000
89.7
WGBH
NPR News
2.7
316,900
$15,000,000
90.3
WZBC
College Rock
0.7
68,000
$300,000
90.9
WBUR
NPR News
3.1
411,300
$32,704,000
91.5
WMFO
Eclectic Music Mix
NA
NA
$4,000
91.5
WMLM
Student News & Sports
NA
NA
NA
91.9
WUMB
Triple A
0.1
42,100
$1,593,000
95.3
WHRB
Classical & Jazz
NA
NA
$119,000
95.5
WBRU*
Modern Rock
NA
NA
$1,323,000
99.5
WCRB
Classical
2.0
225,000
$6,000,000
102.9
WBPG
Gospel Music
NA
NA
NA
104.3
WRBB
Eclectic Music Mix & Sports
NA
NA
NA
* WBRU is a commercial station owned by a nonprofit corporation; Providence metro
Data Sources: Nielsen Audio PPM October 2015, CPB, IRS 990 Filings, US Census

NONCOMMERCIAL STATION SALUTE: WMBR


Boston is home of very tasty noncom stations, both big and small.  The very big include WBUR, WGBH and WCRB.  WERS and WUMB are sort of big. But the station with perhaps the most heart – WMBR – does the most with the least.

WMBR [link] has been serving listeners since April 1961 when it debuted as WTBS-FM. In the mid-1970s, Ted Turner was building his cable empire. Turner wanted the call letters WTBS.  He made a deal with MIT to purchase them in exchange for a gift of $75,000 to help the station move its transmitter. The call letters WMBR began in November 1979.

WMBR always has had a diverse mix of music and spoken word programming. The programming staff includes MIT students and community folks. For awhile WMBR was the local outlet for Pacifica/NFCB programs like Democracy Now!  Those programs are gone now, replaced by volunteer programs with names like James Dean Death Car Experience, Vegan Soul Food and Cambridge Happy Hour.

Perhaps my favorite program on WMBR is In the Margin hosted by AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt, Bob Roffi and Chuck Rosina. In the Margin is heard Wednesdays from 4:00pm – 5:30pm and via podcast at [link].

Monday, November 2, 2015

KUSP DEBUTS EXCELLENT NEW TRIPLE A FORMAT



On Sunday, November 1, 2015, KUSP, Santa Cruz, activated its new music-intensive format.  It is terrific! Take a few minutes and listen at [link].

KUSP’s new sound has smooth momentum and pacing, tight execution and hosts who are unobtrusive and informed. The vibe is confident. During the first hour I heard newish tunes from Calexico, Bhi Bhiman and Gary Clark, Jr. and tasty blasts from past by Amy Winehouse and Shuggie Otis.

When we first began covering KUSP earlier this year, I recommended that they switch to Triple A. I  said then the Triple A music community would rally to support it.  It appears this has happened.

Here is the new KUSP program schedule:


WHAT I LIKE ABOUT KUSP’S NEW APPROACH

• KUSP’s music is on when people are the most apt to be listening to radio: Weekdays 6am – 7pm and Saturday morning and midday.

• KUSP kept the best volunteer-hosted weekly programs such as Ask Dr. Dawn [link], Geek Speak [link] and the 7th Avenue Project [link].

• There is ample classical and jazz music during evening and weekend hours.  The programs are connected to the local music community and are involved in their events.

• KUSP’S new schedule respects budget constraints.  As KUSP works to satisfy its creditors, I can see only one national program that requires a carriage free: This American Life. Smart and frugal.

• Their isn’t a single old-school Pacifica/NFCB program such as Democracy Now. KUSP has become a no whining zone.

GOVERNANCE THAT WORKS

One of the biggest improvements at KUSP is a new, realistic system of governance. This allows folks at the station to concentrate on serving listeners, not fighting endless in-house turf battles. KUSP has only TWO (2) official committees: the Board of Directors for the 501c3 that owns the station and a Community Advisory Board. Note: There is no programming committee.

KUSP’s new self-description, KUSP’s Story [link], tells about the station’s founding but quickly turns the page to 2015. I like the way they handle Lorenzo Milam’s role in the context to history:

KUSP’s origins spring from the community radio movement instigated by Lorenzo Milam and Jeremy Lansman, among others. Milam and Lansman worked to start stations in communities all over the country during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, a time when FM frequencies were comparatively easy to obtain. Santa Cruz was fertile ground for grassroots radio. With a six hundred dollar budget to get on the air, KUSP was born.

Milam was a truly a visionary in the 1960s and 70s but he and followers never grew up. Bygones!

Here is how they explain KUSP's transition to now:

USP’s programming evolved through the years, reflecting changes in the communities we broadcast to, changes in the creative community of programmers who work at the station, and changes in the media landscape...