Friday, March 4, 2016



Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is hiring a Producer/Technical Director for their signature daily talk show On Second Thought, hosted by former NPR host Celeste Headlee.
Celeste Headlee
GPB Radio is a statewide network with a major presence in metro Atlanta via WRAS.  As we reported on 1/14/16 [link] WRAS led the nation in NPR News audience growth over the past year. In Nielsen Audio PPM data for Fall 2015, compared with Fall 2014, WRAS scored a 40% increase in estimated weekly listeners.  This is even more impressive when you consider NPR News is WRAS on less than 18 hours per day. 

On Second Thought (OST - link) is GPB’s signature one-hour, daily news talk show, airing live at 9 a.m. weekdays. Frequent topics include politics, health care, education, music, literature and race. OST has focused segments called The Breakroom, The Gripe Bag, Georgia Playlist, On Set In Georgia, and Break It Down

GPB is particularly interested in hearing from folks who are equally comfortable diving deeply into the editorial and technical aspects of live radio. You see the job information here.
Sean Powers

Thanks to OST producer Sean Powers for posting this opening on the Public Radio Local Talk Producers Facebook page.



According to a report in Media Life Magazine [link] a new study from Nielsen says the percentage of adults who read newspaper content on mobile devices has shot up from 13 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2015. The greatest share of newspapers readers still read print editions.

While the way people consume papers may be evolving, the makeup of that audience is not. Newspaper readers in general remain older, more highly educated and affluent.   

Here are three interesting charts from the Nielsen study:

CHART ONE shows newspaper readership by platform. Note that the “Web Exclusive” is only 5%.

CHART TWO shows the readership by platform since 2011.  Note the decline in “Print Exclusive” and “Print/Web” over time.

CHART THREE shows the demographic breakdown of folks that read printed newspapers. Note the Age 50+ index.



Lynne Clendenin, Chair of the Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) Nominating and Governance Committee, has notified PRPD members that the organization is now considering new Board candidates. PRPD members will vote on the Board seats between March 21 and March 25, 2016.

Three positions are up for election this year. One seat is open due to term limits (Jackie Sauter, North Country Public Radio) and two appointed board members (Jon Hoban, KJZZ and Kerri Hoffman, PRX) are running to maintain their seats on the board. Candidates may apply directly to PRPD or a member may nominate another member. PRPD requires Board members to either be employees of a member station or organizations or an individual member.

Other folks on the PRPD Board in addition to Clendenin are Board Chair Tamar Charney, NPR One, Board Secretary Abby Goldstein, WYEP and PRPD President Jody Evans (ex-officio); and members Bill Lueth, KDFC, Michael Arnold, Wisconsin Public Radio, Bill Anderson, KCUR, Ben Adler, KXJZ and Matt Abramovitz, WQXR.

Act now if you are interested. Applications must be received by Thursday, March 11, 2016. More information is available here.


Radio lost one of its best DJs ever last week. The amazing Charlie Tuna died at age 71. He is perhaps best known as one of the Boss Jocks at KHJ in Los Angeles, a station that changed radio’s presentation style in the 1960s. KHJ heavily influenced popular culture by breaking artists such as The Byrds, The Mamas & Papas and rocking Bob Dylan.

I’ve always felt a bond with Charlie Tuna.  Like me, he grew up in Flyover Country – I love to folks from the middle-of-nowhere reach number one. I listened to Charlie (aka Art Ferguson) when he was on KOMA from Oklahoma City.  Charlie rocked the plains and prairies before he moved to LA.

Here is a tribute to Charlie Tuna that was posted on YouTube:

Video link:

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I saw an article in Radio World [link] that caught my eye: Three Radio Careers for the Next Generation by Dick Taylor. I have been reading Dick’s excellent blog [link] ever since I heard about it on Tom Taylor NOW [link].  Taylor is a longtime radio guy who is now passing along his knowledge to students at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

Taylor’s blog goes behind the scenes of the commercial broadcasting biz. But it is not a retro site; instead it is focused on radio/audio now and in the near future. 

Recently Taylor and one of his students conducted a research project with the 
Kentucky Broadcast Association [link] and 
its 300 member stations.

goal of the research was to understand how the jobs landscape for radio/audio newbies is changing. They looked at job skill trends in recent years and asked Kentucky broadcasters to project five years in the future.   

Taylor identified three core skills that are likely to grow.  Here they are in Taylor’s words plus my thoughts:

1. Sales
The job most in demand will come as no surprise, I’m sure. Radio has a never-ending need for trained, professional sales people. Since I started in radio, it seems, a desire to hire good sales people has always been on the lips of general managers and sales managers.
For colleges, this represents an opportunity to offer more courses in this area for their broadcast majors. Radio stations have never had more products to sell. Beyond commercial air time, sponsorships and events, the amount of content that can be sponsored online has mushroomed.
KEN: Readers may think that sales aptitude is important only for folks who want to work in commercial radio/audio. But, knowing the basics of sales is important and an increasingly valuable for independent contractors and noncom workers.
So often when folks think of "sales" they picture stereotypes like Herb Tarlek from WKRP. Sales skills are more than that – they are an essential survival tools for the gig economy. Fundamentals such as how to prospect for new business, closing techniques and persuasion are universal human skills that can be applied anywhere.
2. Internet content creators
A second job that is growing in demand across the radio industry is for people who can create original content for radio station websites. Not cut-and-paste artists who “borrow” others’ website content and repurpose it, but innovators who can act as a combination journalist/advertising/public relations specialist and populate radio station websites with engaging, compelling original content that is of interest to people in the station’s service area.
KEN: Radio stations are becoming multi-platform content factories. Content is the variable that drives all media. How to implement and use research, the ability to put data in context and learning how to spot trends in demand.
3. RF broadcast engineers
Not that it has ever been easy to find great radio engineers, but the talent pool has changed. Consolidation chased a lot of them out of the business; others became consulting engineers to groups of radio stations. Computers and digital put new demands on radio engineers to learn new technologies or leave. Many who stayed or went into private consulting are now reaching the age of retirement.
KEN: I am a bit surprised to see this skill-set mentioned in Taylor’s research.  I hope it is true. “RF” means “radio frequency” – the basic distribution of content on wireless signals such as FM. Some observers say that broadcast radio will go away but I don’t agree. Radio has advantages over wired-media and is an ideal companion to many digital platforms and devices. Again, think of radio stations as content factories. Engineers are essential.
This summer the Kentucky Broadcasters and WKU are hosting the 4th annual Radio Talent Institute workshop [link]. The Institute is an incubator and orientation to help identify and bring new talent into the radio/audio industry. 
It is a ten-day series of classes that cover the basics: on-air work, programming strategies, digital production and use of interactive media. Each participating student goes through sales training 101 and can become certified as Radio Marketing Professionals by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). The certification is a ticket into media sales employment. According the KBA, 70% of the students with this certification and other essential skills get their first job in radio or a related field after graduation.

Students must apply today 3/4/16 to qualify.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


This is an updated version of a post that first appeared on July 20, 2015.

Let’s shine a light on a noncommercial broadcaster that truly excels in public service, innovation and fiscal responsibility: Louisville Public Media (LPM) link.  

LPM provides an excellent example for all noncom broadcasters because their success is built great programming, wise leadership and putting the needs of listeners and community first – not narrow ideologies and inside agendas.


In 1949 the FCC granted a license for a new 10-watt FM station to the Louisville Public Library. WFPL FM 89.3 signed on in February 1950. During the early years WFPL concentrated on educational programming.

WFPL Began Broadcasting in 1950
These were tough years for FM broadcasting because the FCC moved all FM stations to a new part of the spectrum making existing receivers obsolete. Most commercial broadcasters gave up on FM. 

In 1952, Louisville’s powerhouse WAVA-AM donated its FM license, equipment and tower to Louisville Public Library.  The unbuilt station became WFPK FM 91.7.  The library was the first organization in the nation to own two FM licenses in the same market.  At the time WFPK aired classical music.

In 1976 the University of Louisville signed on WUOL FM 90.1.  WUOL also aired classical at that time.  

Gerry Weston, now GM at WICN, Worchester

In 1987, the Louisville Public Library cut ties to the stations because of budget problems. Manager Gerry Weston led the effort to create a new nonprofit organization to operate the two stations: Kentucky Public Radio.


By 1993 the University of Louisville decided to exit the radio business. WUOL was folded into Kentucky Public Radio, Inc. and operated as the Public Radio Partnership. (Kentucky Public Radio still the legal name of organization.)

In 1996 LPM focused on a unique format for each of the three stations: NPR News 24/7 on WFPL, Triple A on 24/7 WFPK and Classical 24/7 on WUOL.

LPM had a successful $5,000,000 capital campaign and began broadcasting in 2000 from their new broadcast center in the heart of downtown Louisville.


Donovan Reynolds
 In 2006 Donovan Reynolds became GM. In 2008 the organization’s operating name became Louisville Public Media. LPM puts community needs first and continues to grow.

 In tax year 2013, LPM had more than $5,467,000 in gross revenue. Expenses for the year totaled $4,759,000, providing an operating margin of over $700,000.

LPM’s 2013 revenue came from a healthy variety of sources. Pledging brought in around $1,700,000; underwriting was $1,900,000.  CPB provided $276,000 – a scant 5% of total.

All three of the stations do well in the Nielsen Audio ratings. According to the Fall 2015 data WFPL had 110,100 weekly cumulative listeners, WFPK had 62,400 and WUOL had 31,700. This is a very healthy cluster of stations. Reynolds and PDs Stacey Owen at WFPK, Daniel Gilliam at WUOL and WFPL Manager Editor Brendan McCarthy, are doing terrific work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016



The first thing I did Monday morning was check and see if The Colorado Sound – KUNC’s new 24/7 Triple A station – had made it on the air.  It IS and it sounds awesome.

105.5 The Colorado Sound [link] is KJAC-FM based in Greeley, serving Denver, Fort Collins and the Colorado From Range.  KUNC 91.5 FM is now full-time NPR News.

The Colorado Sound is an up-tempo mix of current Triple A tunes and progressive rock favorites with a distinct Rocky Mountain High flair. It sound is clean and uncluttered.  The hosts never over-stay their welcome. They provide a human-heartbeat as they guide the flow.  105.5 is an exceptional radio station.  Congratulations to all involved with the launch of 105.5.  Today is Mike Henry Day on the Front Range.



According to two sources, Jerry Paris, WPFW’s General Manager, has told other Pacifica managers that the Washington, DC station no longer will call itself Listener Supported. The change in verbiage is said to be because WPFW is close to finalizing a major underwriting deal.

It will be ironic if the deal happens because for 67 years Pacifica has not allowed underwriting on its stations. Perhaps it is another sign of the ever-deteriorating financial situation at Pacifica, once an important noncom broadcaster that has fallen into disgrace.



Colvin & Earle
Noncommercial media’s hottest programming conference just got a few degrees hotter with the announcement that Colvin & Earle, a new collaborative project by Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle, will perform at the May conference.

Also appearing at the NON-COMM is the legendary band Soul Asylum. NON-COMM artists announced earlier include Bonnie Raitt, The Jayhawks and Big Head Todd & the Monsters.

The NON-COMMvention takes place at World Café Live in Philadelphia May 18-20, 2016. More information is here [link].  




The New York Times announced on 2/23/16 that it had chosen three journalists to spend two years in its newsroom as part of a fellowship named for the media columnist David Carr.
The Times created the fellowship to honor Carr who died in 2015. David Carr had a writing style that was both plain-spoken and elegant. His weekly column – Media Equation – chronicled the ways in which technology affects the media industry and culture as a whole. Carr had a unique ability to see trends coming from way down the road and dependable bullshit meter to separate hype from reality.
The three winners are:

JOHN HERRMAN, co-editor and media reporter for The Awl [link].
Herrman, 28, is known for his thoughtful essays about the Internet and technology. Hewill work with The Times’ media group and write primarily for the Business section.


AMANDA HESS, staff writer at Slate [link].
Hess, 30, covers the human side of web culture for Slate. She will join The Times’ Culture section.  


GREG HOWARD, reporter for Deadspin [link].
Howard, 27, writes about race and sports at Deadspin.  He will work with The New York Times Magazine.
Congratulations to the winners!

I was one of more than 600 applicants who applied for the Carr Fellowship. I wrote about it last September [link] in my blog’s one-year anniversary post.
I knew I didn’t have much of chance to get a Fellowship. I am a newbie reporter and my beat, noncom media, is a small corner of the multi-media stage. I enjoyed going through the application process and learn more about improving my writing and reporting.

Monday, February 29, 2016


My column on Thursday 2/24 about college radio [link] got a lot of response. Somehow it went viral and was clicked by over 1,100 unique visitors. Because of the level of interest, I would like to expand on the info and provide some useful comments from readers.

Before I get to specifics, I hope I haven’t given the impression that college radio isn’t providing listener enjoyment and valuable experience and training. I come from a college radio background – I was an advisor at KASR (now KASC, Arizona State University, Tempe) and KAUR (Augustana University, Sioux Falls) plus I’ve done consulting work for other stations such as Radio K.

I like Jennifer Waites’ profiles of college stations on Radio Survivor [link].  Jen excels at capturing the vibe at the stations she visits. She also provides important background and context about the diverse variety of college programs.

Here is where I am coming from: College radio's self-imposed smallness is a threat to its future. The key to long-term success in noncommercial media is independent financial sustainability. If there is no margin it is tough to fulfill the mission.

As a group, College stations are the smallest players in noncom radio. There are fewer and fewer stations each year.  Station licensees are increasingly focused on tangible results, not just feel-goods.

It doesn't have to be this way. College radio has a lot going for it. Students are adept at combining the radio platform with digital, mobile and social media. Students are doing excellent work -- check out the CBI National Student Electronic Media Convention awards at [link]. College rock music is one of the few growing segments of the music business. Students have a native feel for new sounds and trends. This intuition is contagious.
I wonder if a "Bill Kling" type leader will emerge within college radio. Kling was the founder of Minnesota Public Radio, American Public Radio and American Public Media. He inspired the public radio system to move beyond government subsidies. Public radio has become a successful noncom business that is an important part of American democracy.

So, college radio needs to become more significant or it will be increasingly be another bug that spats on the windshield on a hot July night.


I received some push back from Will Robedee, Executive Director of College Broadcasters, Inc.(CBI):

The data presented does offer an opportunity for stations to show how they are underfunded, but because of the problems with the data, anyone using it should scrutinize the data before quoting it. While I am not trying to find fault with the data presented, I want those who view it to understand the data in context. 

The “small” common denominator is also potentially misleading because it does not take into account audience size in any measureable way.  There are some student stations which have a large audience.

To show college radio's smallness, I decided to quantify two variables: Total Station Revenues (TSR) and audience estimates from reliable sources, not anecdotes.

I used budget data I have for 110 college stations. The average TSR for these stations is around $41,000 per station, per year. 

The chart of the left shows how college station TSR compares to other types of noncom radio.

To track audience sizes I reviewed the 900+ noncom stations listed in Fall 2015 Nielsen Audio Diary markets plus stations in PPM markets. There were only four college stations that subscribe to Nielsen, shown in the chart on the right. I challenge anyone to provide tangible proof of a "large" college radio audience.


David Black who runs WSUM at the university of Wisconsin, Madison wrote:

Thank you so, so much for the recognition of our sta6on and all the hard work we have done. The students are the bedrock; watching them take ownership while they are here and then passing along a station that is even better than what they found when they got here is very gratifying. 

David Black
 I should point out that most of our funding comes from student activity fees but we draw on as many resources as we can to keep the opera6on going at a high level. We were also fortunate to have…[well-constructed] studios and a digital backbone. All of those resources put the responsibility squarely on me to utilize them to the best of our ability.
[Your data] is important because I remind the student government every year that they should always be the top shareholder because that makes it the boss and insures that the station remains student-run. Thank you again for the recognition.

All the best, Dave Black, General Manager, WSUM Radio.

Even at what I consider the best college station in the nation, fees from students are essential for WSUM’s continued operation. Student fee funding is a mixed bag – What the students give they can also take away.

Here is an illustrative example from my own back pages about the downside of over-reliance on student money.

I was General Manager of KCSU at Colorado State in Fort Collins from 1985 – 1987.  At the time KCSU was CPB-supported and aired NPR News Magazines during the drive times, Classical between the tent poles, Jazz and Folk in the evening and CMJ Rock overnight. Typical for the era.
1986 News Coverage of a KCSU Format Fight

KCSU had an annual budget around $330,000. CPB put in around $60,000 a year and we brought in $70,000 or so from pledging and underwriting. Colorado State University put NO university funds into the station.   

Instead KCSU received roughly $200,000 per year in student activity fees administered by the Student Senate.

As you know, when a student registers for classes he/she pays tuition and a student activity fee.  As I recall, the activity fees were around $600 per semester per student, quite a bunch of dough.  If students didn’t like a certain fee item, they could make their case before the Student Senate. They often did.

Every semester a few CSU students felt the dough oing to KCSU should be used differently, because, as many students said:  

I don’t listen to the station. 

Every semester there was the possibility that student funds to KCSU would be cut. In the 1990s the students won the battle. KCSU dropped CPB funding, NPR, etc. and became a very good college station. This makes sense because KCSU could not compete with NPR News stations KCFR and KUNC. Maybe it should have always been a college station. 


From the CBI email list
By posting this in your blog, you are again posting information without context.  The quote you attribute to me is accurate, but does not contain the previous comments concerning budgets and more importantly the input from people who are not willing to share their data or not on the CBI email list (contact me for information on joining the listserv). 
I stand by my statement that the data is important and useful.  Many small stations can use this data to substantiate the need for increased funding.  The point was and is that the data is likely to not be accurate as was attested to in subsequent posts to the CBI list. 
You also quoted me saying that “The “small” common denominator is also potentially misleading because it does not take into account audience size in any measureable way.  There are some student stations which have a large audience.”
Your response to that was “There were only four college stations that subscribe to Nielsen, shown in the chart on the right. I challenge anyone to provide tangible proof of a "large" college radio audience.”  You identified four college stations which have subscribed to Nielsen.  Is four a valid sample?  Not in my book or likely any else’s book when the universe is over 1,200  and growing.  That is why I suggested stations view the data in context.
I will agree with you that in some, perhaps many, situations, the lack of an adequate budget is highly detrimental to growth of audience and also put the station at risk for putting fiscal resources elsewhere.  With respect to fiscal resources, the reverse is also possible.
I also agree with you that audience size can matter.  Nielsen is not the only measurement vehicle available.  Social media and streaming listeners are metrics not currently measured by Nielsen.  These are metrics which student stations can and should be recording data because audience size does come into consideration from those funding student stations and media outlets such as TV, video, blogs, social media, podcasts, etc. 
The bottom line is that I generally agree with many concepts in your post, but as I mentioned previously, those using the data posted should do so with caution as the data is useful (thanks for gathering it), but not to be taken as highly accurate.  The posts on the CBI list highlight some of the inaccuracies.  Yes, this is a new era for college media outlets and they need to pay attention to what is happening around them.  Further, despite the old school tradition of many student media outlets boasting that audience size does not matter, it does for the sources of funding in many (if not all) cases.  If not now, sometime in the future.  My problem (again) was with the legitimacy of the data, despite how useful it may be.  Posts to the CBI list show inaccuracies and lack of data concerning the size of audiences. 
I respect and appreciate your weighing in on this subject.  You should also consider whether this data, as reported is useful of detrimental.  Student station managers may view this one way, administrators another.   
Ken, this is a good topic for discussion and CBI is all about promoting student media and helping students develop, maintain and grow their operations.  That is why CBI exists, has listservs, conducts its awards program and holds its annual convention.  I expect the convention session proposal form to be on-line before the end of March and I invite you to propose a session on this topic. 
Will R


I was surprised to a get a grumpy note, from a person I won’t name, taking me to task for listing their station's format as “CMJ Rock.” I've republished the chart at the bottom of this column.

The note to me read:

We haven’t subscribed to CMJ for over 10 years. In fact we don’t report to any music charts.

This negative opinion about College Media Journal (CMJ) seems personal to this individual.

In 1984, REM credited college radio for its success.
I think this is a shame because CMJ is a terrific resource.  At the stations I advised CMJ was an important benefit for the students.  They loved feeling part of something bigger and groovy: free music by hot new artists; occasional comp passes to live shows. CMJ enhanced the experience for the students.  Sharing the music of the moment makes college radio contagious and is a good way to learn by doing something you love.

Sir, please reconsider CMJ affiliation. 

Here are the top 20 college stations, ranked by budget size: