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.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Media scholar Tom Taylor [link] said it best in his newsletter on Wednesday:
The real D.C. blizzard is translators!
Noncommercial operators should know we are entering The Last FM Gold Rush.  FM is the best thing going about terrestrial radio. HD never happened.  AM radio has languished but now the FCC is letting AM’ers move to  the FM dial via rebroadcasting programming on FM translators. The FCC is allowing AM’ers to move open translators up to 250 miles away. Existing translators may be sold to AM’ers, often for big bucks.

Taylor reports that pending translator sales are already clogging the FCC and much more activity is expected. The FCC’s waiver-window opens Friday, January 29, 2016.

The FCC’s action to Move-AM-to-FM is expected to be a two-year process. The FCC’s plan is based on the counter-intuitive notion of that AM will be better when its on a FM station. This is really happening and public radio must act now before the FM spectrum has been claimed by others.
In addition to Move-AM-to-FM many commercial and noncom stations have added new FM stations via HD channels on translators.  We recently reported about American Public Media’s (“APM”) Triple A The Current moving into Duluth [link]
Noncom faces a unique burden because of the FCC’s policy of letting noncom operators feed programming to repeaters and translators far outside local coverage areas. One of the biggest winners in The Last FM Gold Rush is the Education Media Foundation (“EMF”) who owns hundreds of FM translators in almost every state in the nation.
So, public radio needs to Use It or Loose It because expanding FM service will get much harder soon. When folks say "public radio needs to do something" it is generally a reference to the Corporation for Public Radio (“CPB”).  CPB is an example of what works in Washington – it has made us a better America.  But, CPB lives in a fishbowl and needs to be cautious.
Most of the news coverage about the FCC’s plan has focused on opportunities (or the lack thereof) for scarce FM spectrum in the largest markets. For noncoms, it is not about the largest markets – the real opportunity is to expand service in medium-sized markets where more local noncom voices are need. So, this opportunity is for you in Omaha, Scranton, Jacksonville, Lexington, Indianapolis and probably where you live.
Ken Mills

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Following the advice of Robert Frost, today we look north to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Three public radio noncommercial broadcasters control most of the estimated Nielsen Audio listening. Maine Public Broadcasting, New Hampshire Public Radio and Vermont Public are all community-based operations. All three have traditions of excellence in programming and community service. Scroll down to see all of the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont markets.

I am not seeing a conclusive trend in this one-year comparison of weekly cumulative listeners, except that folks seem to be choosing local stations a bit more often.

Turn your attention to WMPG, Portland, one of the few wildcards in the market. WMPG seems to be stuck in the old-school Pacifica gear – self-imposed smallness. Too bad because they are missing opportunities to thrive.

The only other noncoms that likely have significant listening are repeaters of Walmart of CCM – K-Love.

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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Communities on Colorado’s Front Range have many things in common. In some ways it is mega-city that stretches from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs or even Cheyenne, Wyoming to Pueblo.  Three examples of commonalities are I-25, the Denver Broncos and a tradition of great radio stations.

I lived in Fort Collins for two years managing KCSU and almost three years in The Springs doing affiliate sales at Transtar Radio Network. I loved the place, particularly Fort Fun.  Any radio person arriving in Colorado knows that magnets point to KOA-AM and Universal Coordinated Time is available 24/7 from WWV.  There are likely devices in your home that use WWV to set their time.

 Denver radio stations have a huge influence on the Front Range. Each of the three Nielsen Audio Diary markets – Fort Collins/Greeley, Colorado Springs and Pueblo – have outstanding local/regional noncom stations. KCFR, Denver, has a strong and growing presence in all three markets via repeaters.  Scroll down to see individual market ratings.

Fort Collins and Greeley are about 30-miles apart.  KUNC is the dominant noncom player and is also a factor in the Denver metro. If you hypothetically combine KUNC’s Nielsen Audio’s weekly cumulative listeners in Denver, they reach over 120,000 weekly listeners. (CAUTION: The methodologies and sample size are different for PPM and Diary markets.)

Changes are happening: Around March 1st KUNC will debut its new 24/7 Triple A station and KUNC will switch to 24/7 NPR News. Last year Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) OpenAir added a repeater – 88.3 KVXQ – in Ft. Collins and it is already drawing listening.  Other noncoms that likely draw measurable listening are College Rock KCSU, progressive community alternative KRFC and the ubiquitous CCM K-Love, found at several spots on the dial.

 I give the highest praise to KRCC for its performance in both Colorado Springs and Pueblo. KRCC’s combined weekly listeners total more than 100,000. (CAUTION: There may be overlaps in the two samples.)  When I worked selling 24/7 satellite-delivery commercial formats at Transtar, I volunteered at KRCC to keep my noncom heart alive.

Over half of the noncommercial signals serving Colorado Springs air some form of Evangelical Christian programming. The BIG CCM in the market is Salem Broadcasting's commercial KBIQ.

In Pueblo you gotta love College Rock KTSC Rev 89, one of the highest rated college stations in the nation. They not only provide excellent instruction, they serve the whole city. Check KTSC out at [link]. 

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.


Monday, January 25, 2016


Today we feature three almost contiguous Nielsen Audio Diary markets with close affinity to Los Angeles: Oxnard/Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo. For many residents of these three counties they are LA exurbs but each community has it’s own personality. This map provided by KCLU shows the three market area: