Friday, July 29, 2016


We have been talking about WXXI in Rochester quite a bit this week.  Yesterday we reported on a new FM translator that WXXI is moving to Rochester to repeat NPR News station WXXI-AM.

I received an excellent comment from an Anonymous reader who seems to know the situation quite well. I added the information on the right to help those of us who aren’t Rochester-ites understand what the reader is talking about.

Anonymous wrote:

I'd wager more that WXXI is thinking about moving the classical content on 91.5 to 1370 + the FM Translator, and then putting news/talk full-time on 91.5 and making 88.5 full-time Triple-A music.

Simulcasting the news/talk of 1370 on 88.5 during drive-time periods has been confusing yet quite successful. The ratings for 1370 have spiked because people say they're listening to 1370 when they're really listening to 88.5FM. 

That's not surprising; Rochester is a diary market and the branding for WXXI's news/talk is all about "1370-1370-1370-1370".

Insiders have lamented for years that WXXI didn't bite the bullet and put news/talk on 91.5 a long time ago. But there's reasons for that. Especially back then, and even now to some degree, there were a lot of major donor prospects that listened to classical. And WXXI lacks the legal control over WRUR 88.5 to just make it all news/talk.

But adding an FM translator to 1370...while obviously it's not gonna cover the huuuuge area that 91.5 does...will allow them to still provide classical on FM to a core market: Brighton, Victor and Fairport NY. All three towns are immediately next to each other, and all are between Pinnacle Hill (where 91.5 & 88.5 are now, and presumably where the translator will broadcast from) and Baker Hill (the next most likely location) and it's a quite-wealthy area where a lot of those major-donor classical prospects likely live.

I can’t vouch for what Anonymous is saying but I agree with the philosophy: Put NPR News on the signal that has the potential to reach the most people.


WXXI is owned by the “WXXI Broadcasting Council,” a nonprofit corporation.
The organization owns PBS WXXI-TV, WXXI-AM, WXXI-FM, City 12 Cable TV channel, various digital services, Reachout Radio reading service and WXXY-FM (which covers a small part of market).

WXXI also operates, via Local Marketing Agreements, WEOS, licensed to Geneva, NY, in partnership with Hobart and William Smith Colleges; and Triple A WITH-FM, Ithaca, which is in the Syracuse Nielsen Audio market.

WXXI-TV, channel 21, began broadcast in 1966, several years years prior to CPB and PBS. In 1974 WXXI-FM 91.5 went on air – one of the first NPR stations in the nation. WXXI-AM 1370 was added in 1984. It allowed WXXI-FM to become a full-time Classical music station. WXXI-AM became a full-time NPR News station but its limited coverage area and fidelity hurt the development of the NPR News audience.

According to their IRS form 990, in tax year 2014, WXXI had combined revenue of $11.3 million. Norm Silverstein, WXXI’s President and CEO, received compensation of around $400,000 in 2014.

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