Friday, February 19, 2016


As we reported yesterday, the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) has recently signed a new agreement to provide Nielsen Audio data from noncommercial through 2020. The new deal requires paperwork from each subscribing station. So, the January PPM data for some noncom stations is not available until the paperwork is completed.  January PPM data for these stations is listed as “Pending” in the charts below.

Also today, I compiled a list of commercial stations that program Triple A and Modern Rock.  These stations tend to share listening with public radio stations in their markets.  Scroll down to see the list.


Noncommercial radio is happening on the Front Range. All three Colorado Public Radio Stations – KCFR, KVOD and OpenAir KVOQ – gained weekly listeners since Fall 2015.

Meanwhile KUNC, Greeley [link], is preparing to sign-on 105.5, a 24/7 Triple A station very soon.  On February 29, KUNC is scheduled to begin 24/7 NPR News. KUNC’s new schedule is on the right. 

Here is the latest info for the new station that was posted on the KUNC website:

From Neil Best, President & CEO

We are [close to] launching our two new services - news, information and storytelling at 91.5fm and music discovery at 105.5fm. I am pleased to share with you that while the timeline feels tight, at least to us, plans are coming together and we will be ready on Feb. 29.

I want to introduce you to the newest members of the team: Margot Chobanian and Ron Bostwick will join Benji and Keefer, hosting music discovery on 105.5fm.

The first voice you will hear at 6 a.m. Monday morning, Feb. 29 on 105.5fm will be Ron’s. While new to KUNC, many of you will recognize him. For many years Ron has been the host of the pre-taping segments at eTown. He also conducts the on-stage interviews with film stars at the Boulder International Film Festival. On the radio side Ron has been on-air at KFMU in Steamboat Springs and KBCO in Boulder. Ron will be hosting music on 105.5fm from 6-10 a.m. weekdays.

Margot Chobanian comes to middays on KUNC. A native of Michigan, Margot started in radio in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with stops in Detroit, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Atlanta. From oldies to alternative to Triple A, Margot brings a wide range of experiences to us. She says she is really looking forward to being able to talk about music on-air with you - the audience. Away from the microphone Margot is involved with animal rescue, as witnessed by the four dogs she and her husband have brought with them from Atlanta.

All of us are really looking forward to introducing our two new services on Leap Day. Between now and Feb. 29 we will be sharing more details. Stay with us during this exciting time!



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 6+

Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Radio Research Consortium (RRC – link) has renewed its arrangement to provide ratings information for noncommercial stations. The new deal runs from 2016 until 2020.  Congratulations RRC!

For over three decades RRC has provided noncom data, first from Arbitron and now from Nielsen Audio. RRC’s service for noncom radio has helped public radio and CCM stations grow their audiences and expand their public service. RRC’s new deal is terrific news for all of us in noncom media.

Nielsen and RRC provide data for a Holiday month but I don’t spend much time with these ratings.  The end-of-the-year holidays disrupt typical listening patterns and some commercial stations switch to All Christmas Music formats – not something that happens with noncoms.

I’ve never understood the All Christmas phenomenon but the commercial station results confirm that it draws lots of listening.  For instance, KOST-FM in LA doubled its listening in the Holiday ratings with 24/7 jingle bells.

Speaking of Christmas music, here is a true story from my back pages: Years ago I was a jock at a hot Top 40 station.  Management at our crosstown rivals insisted that their PD airs “lots of Christmas music” during the week before the holiday.  The PD decided to rotate Christmas songs with hits from the current rock playlist thinking core listeners would like it. So, every other song was a Christmas song. This created segues like Little Drummer Boy into Smokin’ In the Boys Room and Oh Come All Ye Faithful into Walk on the Wild Side. I asked a friend of mine WTF and he told the PD had a bi-polar disorder!


Nielsen Audio and RRC is now starting to release data for January PPM markets. Some major stations have not finished the paperwork for the 2016 – 2020 term, so their January numbers have not been released yet.  I have market them “Pending” in the charts below.


Some serious mojo is rising at North Texas Public Broadcasting.  Both of their stations KERA and KXT had nice gains since the fall. Jeff Ramirez and company are doing great work in Dallas.

It is nice to see that commercial Classical WRR-FM is subscribing to Nielsen Audio again.  The City-of-Dallas owned station once was a backwater of city government. Now it is leading a vibrant classical and arts scene in the Metroplex. Check them out at [link]. 
*WRR-FM is a commercial station. Data provided by

The listener drop at WNYC-AM is likely due to the fact that most of the station's broadcast hours are during the time when it must use its nighttime coverage pattern, which is far smaller than its daytime coverage.

WGBH continues to gain ground on WBUR.  Both stations are doing great.  NPR News listening in Boston has increased since the stations became head-to-head competitors.

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 6+

Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Today we have an archive post. This column below originally published on Thursday, February 26, 2015.  It is one of my favorites.

Tanya Ott

Tanya Ott is one of the best teachers in public media.  She is Vice President of Radio at Georgia Public Broadcasting.  I’ve worked on a couple of projects with her and I am amazed by the way she shares her knowledge.

On Friday 2/20/15 I saw a post on the AIR list from Tanya. She was replying to this question about how to get a job in public radio news:

I've been working on getting my resume together to start applying for producer/reporter jobs at local NPR member stations, and I've run into an issue: I'm not entirely sure what an air-check is.

Would anyone be able to chime in with their two cents on what a station might be looking for when they ask for an aircheck with an application?
Thanks in advance for any input you might have!
Here is Tanya’s Reply:

Tanya Ott’s reply:

I've worked in and managed public radio newsrooms for 26 years and hired many dozens of reporters, hosts and producers.

My advice (besides highlighting your best work) is this:

1. Match your aircheck to the job description.

If you're applying for a host position that occasionally reports front load your aircheck with hosting samples, then include some reporting towards the end.
And vice versa for a reporter position that occasionally fills in as host. (I still call an aircheck a “reel” .... And yes, I do still know how to splice reel to reel tape.)

2. Research the station and know that they do.

At my current station (and my last station) our focus is long-form reporting. In fact, my last station didn't do any traditional "spot" news on a regular basis... so putting a bunch of :45 voicers or wraps on an aircheck would have been kinda pointless.

3. Do not telescope or montage your reporting if you're applying for a reporter position.

I want to hear not only your voice and how well you write in and out of tape, but I'm also judging your reporting prowess on the narrative arc and structure of a piece.

4. Provide a written summary of the items on your aircheck.

List the type of story (feature (wrap, voicer, audio postcard, live election coverage, etc) and length of the piece,  Then I can easily get to what I want to hear. This may not be as necessary if you're simply pointing a potential employer to your online resume/work samples.

5. You may be asked to submit a sample of your newscasts or hosting.

This can be tough if you haven't held a host position or newscasts. It's okay to record a "mock" newscast, just indicate that in your cover letter and/or the aircheck rundown. And make sure it's as close to what a normal newscast would sound like (ie include a weather report, etc).

Hope this is helpful! -- Tanya Ott


I want to underscore two of Tanya’s points:

• Absolutely do research the station before you apply. 

This will help you with the way you approach the station.  I always listen to a client’s station or program to catch a vibe of the shop I will be consulting.

• Absolutely do provide a printed rundown of your “reel.”

For me there is nothing worse than getting an unknown, unmarked audio file. Provide a “guide” for the people who will review your work.

Here are a couple of my own recommendations for audio or video job demos:

• Remember, the first thirty seconds of the demo are really, REALLY important. 

They are the listener’s first impression of you. I’ve never hired anyone based on thirty seconds of content but I have discarded many applicants because of obvious deficiencies in the first few moments of their reel. 

• The total time for the reel should be five minutes or less. 

Put the total time for the reel on the rundown.

Happy hunting.  We need new people in public media.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Last Wednesday (2/10/16) WBAI’s Treasurer, R. Paul Martin, distributed an internal memo summarizing the current states-of-accounts for WBAI and Pacifica Foundation’s national office.  The bottom line is Deep Red: WBAI is swimming in debt. 

As of February 3, 2016, WBAI was about $956,000 in debt NOT including an unspecified amount owed to the national Pacifica Foundation and other Pacifica stations. The national office has been keeping the lights on at WBAI for several years.
R. Paul Martin, WBAI Treasurer

You can download Martin's  memo here [link].

Beyond the long-term debt, WBAI appears short of day-to-day operating cash. According to Martin’s memo:

• WBAI has not paid for its transmission site atop the Empire State Building for two months. The monthly fee for the site is $12,000.

• WBAI was $6,000 short of the money needed to make its February 1, 2016 payroll. Pacifica’s national office made of the difference.

• WBAI’s off-air fund raising events are not of sufficient magnitude to off-set losses in on-air pledging. Too much money is being spent on premiums for large donors. Martin’s memo says some of the premiums are of a nature to have negative impact on WBAI’s listeners. [Martin.s words]

• KPFK, Los Angeles, recently lost an initial round of arbitration with 18 employees. If upheld, KPFK will owe a very large bill to pay [Martin’s words] that may exceed $100,000. Plus, there are other employee grievances still pending.

• Neither WBAI or WPFW, Washington, DC currently have Business Managers and the accounting for these stations is lagging behind. Martin says the delay makes it impossible to file overdue audited financial statements. If Pacifica can’t get its FY2O15 audit done by June, Martin says we lose CPB grant money again. [NOTE: I don’t know if it is true that Pacifica is still qualified to receive funding from CPB. I hope not because, in my opinion. Pacifica is not deserving of this support.]


Potion and pill promoter Gary Null has had a program on WBAI for 39 years. The Gary Null Show is still on WBAI Monday – Friday from Noon to 1:00pm.

As previously reported, in January 2015 Gary Null & Associates filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, that alleges copyright and trademark infringement. Martin’s memo says Pacifica can’t afford to loose the suit because Pacifica’s insurance for such lawsuits has a $250,000 deductible.
Undated photo of Null Wellness Retreat
 Fundraising ties to Null are another area of concern. According to Martin’s memo, Null recently conducted a raffle for one WBAI coontributor to attend a Null-sponsored wellnesss retreat.
The promotion brought in $200,000.  WBAI’s proceeds were around $6,000, 3% of the amount contributed. WBAI provided Null with oodles of free on-air publicity. Martin says: There were questions regarding the conformity of this arrangement to the charity laws of New York.

Here is how WBAI promoted Null’s retreat on its website:
To show our appreciation, we are offering the opportunity to be chosen for a free week-long retreat with Gary Null at his Dallas, Texas facilities along with free airfare! The retreat, Sunday, April 17th to Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 will include:
A full week of health supportive activities; Yoga, power walking, water aerobics, and individualized gym exercises
• Lectures on meditation, and self empowering themes by Gary who will do an original lecture each evening for two hours
• One free personalized health counseling session
• Gourmet vegan meals, plus juices throughout the day
• Free time to relax in natural settings to detoxify, rejuvenate and re-energize.
Make a pledge or become a BAI Buddy by calling 212.209.2950

Most of the $200,000 apparently went to Null to pay for one WBAI contributor to attend the retreat. I wonder if Null charged WBAI for the Free time to relax, detoxify, rejuvenate and re-energize.
Gary Null is like a bad habit that WBAI and Pacifica can’t quit. He is a long-time station personality who raises money for the station while he sues them at the same time. In my opinion one of the major reasons for Null’s suit is build a legal wall around him so WBAI can’t cancel his daily show.  Without this free exposure daily exposure in NYC, Null’s businesses would loose a valuable pipeline to his customers.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Philip Shappard, National Operations Manager for Radio at Moody Bible Institute (MBI) kindly provided me with the baseline material detailing MBI’s foundational role establishing national satellite-to-FM translator operations. MBI called the new FM service “satellators” and dreamed of a national satellator network.

Ironically, Moody’s satellator network was never built but the FCC ruling initiated by MBI opened the door to today’s proliferation of religious noncommercial satellite-fed FM translator stations. Today we will look at the provisions of the FCC’s 1988 rulemaking and its relevance now.
In Shappard’s letter (scroll down to read it) he cites a key FCC document summarizing the 1988 ruling.  You can download it at [link]. 

Moody Broadcasting Institute (MBI), based in Chicago, is a long-time noncommercial religious broadcaster and program syndicator. By the early 1980s MBI had seen the success of satellite distribution of radio programming. NPR was an early leader in the use of satellite distribution.  Satellite Music Network (SMN) and Transtar were distributing 24/7 music formats to stations by reliable and rather inexpensive satellite feeds.
MBI filed a rulemaking petition with the FCC in 1985 to allow programming to  be fed to FM translators nationwide. At that time there were many open, unused spaces in the noncom part of the FM dial (88.1- 91.9).
MBI’s 1985 proposal met fierce resistance from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NPR and others. After extensive comment periods, the FCC finally made a ruling in 1988. They added provisions advocated by NAB. NAB's restrictions that caused MBI not to pursue their satellator network. Though MBI did benefit from the FCC's 1988 ruling, they built the foundation for Educational Media Foundation (EMF), American Family Radio, Pensacola Christian College and many others to establish nationwide networks through satellite-fed FM translators.
MBI received little credit or press attention at the time for their pivotal role in the FCC’s action. Most of the coverage was about NAB’s efforts to deny, delay and restrict the change. But, in the end, MBI prevailed.
In 1992 the FCC revised the 1988 ruling.  It clarified delivery methods and opened the door a bit for independent FM translator operators to repeat satellite feeds in some situations. 1992 is when EMF’s 24/7 K-LOVE format began its amazing growth. EMF inspired many other religious noncom operators to create their own satellator networks. Today a substantial portion of nonncom FM translators are  satellators.
Below are specific items in the FCC’s REPORT AND ORDER Adopted March 24, 1988; Released: April 15, 1988 By the Commission [I’ve added BOLD emphasis of key phrases]:
• By this action, the Commission is adopting changes to its rules to allow noncommercial educational FM translator stations assigned to reserved channels and owned and operated by their primary stations' to receive signals for rebroadcast via any technical means the licensee deems suitable.

The Commission authorized FM translators for the specific and limited purposes of providing FM radio service to underserved areas, extending additional FM service to underserved areas, and improving service to areas within the predicted 1 mV/rn contours of primary FM stations.

• The Commission…was concerned about the use of translators as a means to expand competitively the service area of a primary FM station. Consistent with these objectives and concerns, the Commission authorized FM translators for the specific and limited purposes of providing FM radio service to underserved areas…

• Moody stated that signals delivered by satellites could be distributed to remote locations, thus extending service to underserved areas.

• [The Commission] also stated that it appeared that this proposal would not impede the growth of full service radio stations since noncommercial educational translators would continue to be authorized only on a secondary, non-interference basis.

In addition, [The Commission] stated that [they] did not intend to change [the] policy requiring translators to… permit the establishment of a network of only translators.

My how things have changed. Satellite-fed FM translators now operate in most the nation's largest markets, hardly under-served area. The FCC did not want national networks of satellite fed FM translators but that is what we have now. You and I can hear K-LOVE almost anywhere in the country via translators. Translators can now repeat any primary station they choose provided the owner of that station approves. They can even repeat commercial stations, HD channels and AM stations.  Today EMF owns an estimated 500 translators. They buy, sell, trade and lease them like real-estate brokers in a boom town. 

It is clear that this is not what the FCC intended in 1988 or 1992. Perhaps the FCC should reconsider its satellite-to-translator policy.
MBI is a very successful noncom broadcaster.  It has reinvented itself many times.  Now MBI programming is available online and on mobile devices. Here is how Philip Shappard of MBI told the story in his email to me:
Hi Ken,
I just read your blog detailing the history of FM translators. I was hoping to see in your timeline mention of Moody Bible Institute’s foundational role in petitioning the FCC for the change in FM translator rules that allowed for alternative means of program origination. 
Robert Neff
 Original proposals of rulemaking change were first submi6ed by MBI under the leadership of the late Robert Neff, Vice President of Moody Radio at the time with vision and technical assistance from Jim Goodrich, a former radio station owner from Montana who used translators extensively and brought that expertise to Moody upon his arrival in 1979. Our communications attorney, Jeff Southmayd guided the entire legal process for MBI.
I have the original petition in my possession along with knowledge of the circumstances that led to the creation of the Moody Broadcasting Network in 1982. While we expanded into many affiliate relationships with Christian broadcasters across the country in the 80s and 90s, it was first the desire to feed a network of satellite-fed FM translators that led us to use our more than fi[y-plus years of experience and good standing before the FCC and make the first proposal for alternative means other than off-air signals to feed FM translators.
It was a very long road from the original proposal of rulemaking change before the Commission in the early 80s until the rule change was actually effective in April 1988. After eight long years of petitioning, pushing and praying, we at long last were able to submit applications for “satellators” as we first called them. 
Moody Bible Institute's Theater.Chapel

 It was from this foundation that we believe God used the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Radio to open up the doors for relatively new organizations such as Education[al] Media Foundation, American Family Radio, Pensacola Christian College and others to establish and expand their ministries through satellite-fed FM translators.

I believe if you check the public records at the FCC, you will find my recollection is factual. The FCC has provided access to the rulemaking change with an historical accounting of the process at /Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0714/FCC-88-125A1.txt 
Moody Radio's Studio A in 1945
 I hope you find this helpful in telling the story of Moody Bible Institute’s role in the expansion of FM translator use. In addition to Harold Enstrom’s contribution, I would hope that you could give mention to Mr. Jim Goodrich who had the vision, knowledge and desire to see Moody Radio expand across the United States serving unserved and under-served locations, especially in the vast Western state region.
All the networks and broadcasters who have benefited from the use of satellite-fed FM translators owe Mr. Jim Goodrich, Attorney Jeff Southmayd and the Moody Bible Institute a debt of gratitude for the many years and thousands of dollars it took to make FM translator broadcasts available to locations beyond the off air signal range of a primary radio station.
Thank you. Phil Shappard