Thursday, August 11, 2016


The Radio Research Consortium (RRC) is now almost finished distributing results from Nielsen Audio Diary markets for Spring 2016. As you probably know, Nielsen still uses written diaries to obtain in-tab listening in medium size and smaller markets. We are comparing estimated weekly cumulative listeners in Spring 2016 with Spring 2015.

Full-time NPR News stations (11) comprise over half of the Top 20.  There are 4 dual format stations, mainly NPR News & Classical.  Four of the Top 20 air Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) and one is full-time Classical music.

Most of the stations in the Top 20 added new estimated weekly listeners in the year since Spring 2015. Fourteen (70%) gained weekly listeners and 6 (30%) lost weekly listeners.

Stations airing NPR News are probably getting a “bump” from coverage of politics. The task now will be to keep these folks coming back after the elections.

Note stations in the Top 20 who far exceed their market size. WVPR – Vermont Public Radio News – is in Burlington, Nielsen audio market #144. They have more estimated weekly listeners than WFPL, Louisville (#55), WBFO, Buffalo (#57), KUAZ, Tucson (#62) and WAMC, Albany (#65).

Please keep in mind that Nielsen only published data for stations that subscribe to the ratings. Look for complete Diary market by format next week on Spark! starting with Triple A stations on Monday 8/15.


Earlier this week Chicago Tribune media writer Robert Feder broke the news [link] that Steve Robinson is stepping down after 16 years as executive vice president and general manager of classical WFMT. Robinson told Feder: 

Steve Robinson

Working at WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network has been the greatest privilege and challenge of my career. When people ask, ‘Oh, you run WFMT?’ I always say, ‘No, I run after it.’ And that’s because everyone at WFMT is immensely creative, knowledgeable, and passionate about their work, and all I’ve really done is try to harness this incredible talent to move the station forward.


Praise for Robinson is now pouring in.  The Chicago Business Journal [link] said:

Robinson was adamant in his efforts to ensure WFMT stood apart. [His] on-air announcers were a breed unto themselves — seemingly taking great delight every time they were required to effortlessly rattle off the fiendishly difficult names of classical music composers and artists.

Classical industry observers credited Robinson for occasionally airing obscure and challenging pieces. Business folks mentioned his strength in planning and hosting WFMT’s pledge drives that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in short periods of time. Radio biz folks cite his work on the WFMT Radio Network, a syndication service that is thriving.

Though he was born and raised in Boston, Robinson embraced Chicago like a native.  In 2007, the Chicago Tribune named him  “Chicagoan of the Year” in part because of his work to establish the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum.


I first got to know Steve Robinson in the early 2000s when he was head of Nebraska Public Radio Network and general manager of KUCV in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was in Lincoln doing consulting work for a client and I stopped by KUCV to see him.

That visit began a conversation with Robinson we are still having to this day. Robinson has mentored hundreds of folks including future APM executive Chris Kotz who started out working for him in Lincoln.

Speaking of Nebraska, I saw this post about him on the Chicago Tribune website from reader Randall Bretz:

I applaud your paper for recognizing Steve Robinson. He's a spark that ignites those around him. I watched and worked with Steve as he took Nebraska Public Radio from a single signal in the Capitol City to a state-wide network that touched all the people in the state. He did it with enthusiasm and excitement that helped create a real gem in our broadcasting service for the state. We miss him. The people of Chicago are fortunate to have him!

Robinson’s last day at WFMT will be September 30th. After leaving the station he plans to “stretch his entrepreneurial wings

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