Monday, September 12, 2016


Some stations really matter, even years after they signed off.  One legendary station – WHFS – is chronicled in a work-in-progress documentary called Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS. You can see more about WHFS and the documentary at [link].

WHFS mattered back in the 1970s because it was a mirror of life & times and influenced many folks who went on to careers at NPR, WAMU, WETA and other noncom shops nationwide. WHFS matters today because its DNA is a core attribute of Triple A “music discovery” stations.

WHFS 102.5 was a mission-driven commercial station, something you rarely see today. In the 1970s,102.5 blasted into the Washington, DC market from Bethesda, Maryland. It became an iconic source of music and culture in the days before FM radio turned totally corporate.  WHFS’ impact was similar to that of WBCN in Boston, WMMR in Philadelphia and KDKB in Phoenix. It was more than a radio station, it was a way of life.

Jake Einstein
WHFS was a mom-and-pop operation that began in the early 1960s playing “elevator music.”  The call letters reflect the times: W-High Fidelity Stereo. By the late 1960s co-founder and GM Jake Einstein was looking for other programming options. His son, Damian Einstein, convinced him that rock n roll was the future of FM. So WHFS began adding hours of progressive rock and fans enthusiastically responded. Soon WHFS was a full-time “underground” station.  The good times lasted until 1983 when WHFS was absorbed by big-money broadcasters.

Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS, brings to life the people, the music and the feel of the era.  The documentary is currently in production, and is being financed in part by a Kickstarter campaign. The goal is to complete the film in time for the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. The film’s producer is Jay Schlossberg, a former WHFS employee.

To see what it is all about , watch the excellent trailer for Feast Your Ears:

Direct link:


Today we have Nielsen Audio PPM weekly cumulative listeners estimates for August 2016 compared with June 2016. I call the five markets profiled today – Washington, DC, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver-Boulder, Boston and Seattle-Tacoma – essential because some stations in these markets are influential trend-setters and innovators.

The competition between WBUR and WGBH keeps intensifying. Both added weekly listeners between June and August. The audience growth by both stations confirms the notion that rivalries tend to increase listening to both stations. WCRB, like quite a few Classical stations nationwide, was down a bit in the two month trends.

In Washington, DC WETA followed the same declining pattern I’ve been seeing with other Classical stations. To me, the BIG story in DC is the loss of weekly listeners at CCM flagship WGTS. Is there something going on with listening to CCM stations?  I ask because we recently reported [link] that 75% of CCM stations in Diary markets lost weekly listeners between June 2015 and June 2016. Also, DC could support a 21st century version of WHFS.

In the Twin Cities, CCM KTIS-FM was also down a bit. Triple A KCMP a/k/a 89.3 The Current continues to be holding weekly listeners after the big bounce they got from their coverage of Prince’s death and fan reaction.

(Speaking of Prince, I give my highest recommendation for you to watch the YouTube video of his guitar solo during While My Guitar Gently Weeps at a tribute concert for George Harrison [link].  Gave me fucking shivers…)

The August PPM numbers were a mixed bag for Neil Best & company in Greeley.  NPR News KUNC had perhaps their largest number of weekly listeners ever in Denver metro.  Meanwhile new Triple A KJAC 105.5 The Colorado Sound dipped a bit.

In Seattle-Tacoma this may be the last “book” KPLU which is in the process of becoming the new KNKX.  KING was up nicely.

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