Friday, January 29, 2016


A few years ago the Public Radio Program Directors (“PRPD”) conducted extensive research on Sense of Place. It provides ways to know the essence of a city or area – the distinguishing characteristics of a place according to the folks who live there. Every place has its own unique attributes.

Today we have Nielsen Audio Diary data for three markets – Cape Cod, Eugene and Tucson – that have a deep Sense of Place. We compare the number of weekly cumulative listeners in Fall 2014 and Fall 2015. Scroll down to see all three markets.

CAPE COD: I’ve never been to Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod but my fantasy is that it is like Anthony Bourdain describes it in Kitchen Chronicles. Bourdain lived there in the 1970s and 80s and became a master chef while imbibing in food, sex, drugs and rock n roll. Sounds good to me.

Radio is distinctive on the Cape because of two notable stations: WCAI and WMVY. WCAI is part of Jay Allison’s Atlantic Public Media, a very influential multi-platform programming creator and educator.  WCAI mainly repeats programming from WGBH, Boston, but does offer The Point – a terrific local daily talk and interview program hosted by Mindy Todd. Check it out at [link].

It is nice to see Triple A WMVY in “the book” this time. WMVY is a gutsy and innovative programming factory based a bit to the south on Martha’s Vineyard. WMVY has an awesome coverage area via repeaters and translators thanks, in part, to radio guru Aaron Read. See more about WMVY at [link].  

Other stations that likely have measurable listening, but don’t subscribe to Nielsen, are old-school community noncom WOMR and commercial Classical WFCC.

EUGENE: This is the ultimate college town with a twist, several in fact. Eugene is home to the late writer Ken Kesey, his family and farms.  Kesey’s Merry Pranksters created the counter-culture described in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Acid Test. There are plenty of Merry Pranksters still on the bus today in Eugene.

KLCC PD Don Hein

KLCC has been the NPR voice since the 1970s.  In recent years KLCC has been challenged by repeaters of KOPB, Portland and Jefferson Public Radio, Medford. Credit KLCC PD Don Hein for evolving KLCC’s sound and keeping it on top of the noncom market.

Triple A KRWM has lots of listeners but doesn’t purchase the ratings so their data is not available.

TUCSON: My first experience in Tucson was unforgettable. Back when I was doing progressive “underground” rock I went to Tucson with friends who had these amazing peyote buttons. I think of Tucson like the world described by Carlos Castenada in Journey to Ixtlan.

Today Don Juan (character in the book) probably works at KXCI, a popular Triple A station that got a life after escaping its Pacifica beginnings. Tucson used t be known as a noncom backwater but things have changed. KUAZ and KUAT are both highly successful public radio stations. You can also find CCM K-Love at several places on the dial in case you want to repent.

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

Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Ken! Although credit must be given to David Maxson, Joe Gallagher and PJ Finn, too! :) For those interested in the gory details:

    WMVY also is a big player in the annual Newport Folk Fest, a massive three-day outdoor concert event at Fort Adams every July. I'll bet their ratings book gets even bigger this summer! :)

    Also worth noting is that WBUR acquired the old WMVY signal on 92.7FM (now called WBUA) and then put the new, hefty WBUH 89.1FM on the air out in the Lower Cape.

    These signals supplemented and then eventually replaced the 1240AM signal they had on full-time, as well as the (very) small FM facilities WSDH and WCCT (Sandwich High School and Cape Cod Regional Tech HS) that rebroadcast WBUR most of the day. They've undoubtedly made a big difference since WBUH came on in April 2014, as now WBUR had two hefty FM signals covering the Cape instead of a weaker AM. And that's doubly so considering they're competing against the hefty one-two combo of WCAI/WZAI and - to a lessor extent - direct reception of WGBH's 89.7FM signal and also WUMB's repeaters on the Cape.

    Finally on a more personal note, I visit Provincetown usually once or twice a year, and it is indeed very nice...almost TOO nice. This recent Boston Globe article speaks volumes about the problems the town faces:

  2. Hey - a friend of mine noticed something I'd missed: what's going on with WCRB's numbers plunging so steeply?