Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Welcome to Sacramento, California, an emerging noncommercial radio market with a proven leader and a fascinating upstart LPFM.

Capital Public Radio (CPR) [link] leads the market in noncom revenue and listening via NPR News station KXJZ and Classical KXPR. CPR is a very successful noncom shop with annual revenue exceeding $11 million in FY 2016 according to audit data on the organization’s website. During the same year, CPR claimed over $4.5 million in listener support and $2.6 million in underwriting. This is big league noncommercial performance!

On the right are the October 2016 Nielsen Audio PPM ratings for the market.

CPR’s KXJZ is the noncom leader and KXPR out-performs Classical stations in similar size markets.

Sacramento is the home of the Educational Media Foundation (EMF), the nation’s largest Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) broadcaster. EMF’s satellite-delivered formats, K-LOVE and Air1, are local stations here.

The biggest “X factor” is KQEI, a full time repeater of KQED, San Francisco. While KQED reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners, KQEI languishes with almost no one listening. How can this be? KQEI has an excellent signal but it gets no traction. KQED should either sell it or get serious with something other than a news format. Right now KXJZ is eating KQED’s lunch.


Capital Public Radio’s documentary series, The View From Here, will air the culmination of its year-long examination of undocumented immigration in California. The last episode in the series California Dream, Undocumented aired last weekend on KXJZ. You can hear it and early shows in the series online at [link].

The documentary features the struggles and challenges of undocumented immigrants in California. It originally aired as a three-part series in late 2015 and the spring of 2016. It is a homegrown effort. In 2015 CPR brought together a diverse group of educators, students, community leaders, policy analysts, legal advocates, workers and labor leaders to discuss undocumented immigration.

 Joe Barr, CPR’s Chief Content Officer, said the series put a human face on an issue that’s dividing the country:

“We're proud of our effort to create journalism that delves deep into an issue that has garnered so much attention during this election. It is rare that radio stations are able to devote the resources necessary to deliver this kind of long-form reporting.”


Sacramento also has other notable noncom stations but none is better than 93.3 KZHP-LP, known as K-ZAP]. I got a contact high just looking at the site [link].

Back in the progressive rock era, KZAP was one of the most recognized and loved stations in the country. I was a “cousin” of KSAN, KMET, KDKB, XTRA and KINK – all highly (punned intended) regarded west coast stations.

The original KZAP, which went off the air on January 20th, 1992, when it was eaten up by corporate consolidation.

Then, a group of rock radio veterans, led by Tom Cale, Dennis Newhall, and Diane Michaels, later joined by John Saltnes got an LPFM license. On July 4th, 2015 at 9:33am the new K-ZAP signed on. Bingo!

The old KZAP air studio
KZHP has an excellent transmission point near central Sacramento and covers most of the market. The music mix leans toward current Triple A and there are plenty of nuggets from old days.

Other noncoms of interest include 90.3 FM KDVS, from nearby Davis [link] that mixes alternative rock with political talk shows. KDVS says it is more than a noncommercial station, it is Anti-Commercial Radio.

Also, notable are 96.5 FM KUBU-LP, a public access station; 97.5 FM KDEE-LP airing urban contemporary music and the markets most under-developed noncom, full-power 91.5 FM KYDS, a high school station where the motto is
"Tomorrows DJ's, Today's Hits."

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