Friday, March 18, 2016


February 2016 is looking like a very good month for Classical stations, particularly compared with February 2015. According Nielsen Audio PPM data all five fulltime Classical stations in the six markets profiled today, the estimated number of weekly cumulative listeners went up over the past year.

Leading the way is WDAV in Charlotte – up 34% in the estimated number of weekly listeners. Bravo to Frank Dominguez & company!   

KBAQ in Phoenix increased their weekly listeners by 30%.  Also KQAC in Portland is up 20%; WCLV in Cleveland is up 19%; and WBJC in Baltimore is up 8%. This is terrific news for Classical music fans.

Meanwhile the “election bump” continues for NPR News stations.  Eight of the 10 News stations tracked today have increased their weekly listeners in the past year. WCPN in Cleveland had 22% more weekly listeners in February 2016 compared to February 2015.

Scroll down to see all six markets and analysis. Not all subscribing stations are shown because RRC is finalizing paperwork with some clients due to RRC new four-year deal with Nielsen.


Mixed Classical and Jazz WRCJ – Classical Days, Jazzy Nights – had a 22% drop in weekly listeners.  Without seeing hour-by-hour data we can’t say if Classical dropped more than Jazz or vice versa.  WUOM has many more listeners than what is shown in Detroit, particularly in Grand Rapids where they dominate the market.

United Farm Workers amazing KNAI added almost 100,000 new weekly listeners in the past year.  Check out this gutsy, appealing noncom station at [link]. 

 Both NPR News stations serving Baltimore increased weekly listeners. CCM leader WGTS also added estimated weekly listeners.

In Portland, only Jazz KMHD had fewer weekly listeners over the past year, declining 9%.

All four Charlotte area stations gained.  Note the 47% gain by South Carolina Public Radio’s WNSC. I’m certain Dale Spear at WFAE is watching this trend.

In Cleveland both of ideastream’s radio stations – WCPN and WCLV – we up.  WKSU was one of two NPR News stations that had a decline in weekly listeners.

© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // //
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+ (Diary markets)
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 6+ (PPM markets)
Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Today we have estimated results for five of the best noncommercial radio markets in the nation. We are showing Nielsen Audio PPM Weekly Cumulative Listener data for February 2016 and February 2015 and the changes over the year. Not all subscribing stations are shown because RRC is finalizing paperwork with some clients due to RRC new four-year deal with Nielsen.

Commercial broadcasters are noticing the increased listening to NPR News stations during the current election cycle. TomTaylorNOW [link] is posting a series of stories in his newsletter about big gains by NPR News stations in the most recent PPM ratings. Here is a sample quote from Tuesday 3/15:  

This presidential election season is tearing up the rule book, and it may be that listeners are turning to public radio more (and longer) for the latest.

Of course, public radio folks have known about this trend for some time.  It is usually followed by a theory “how to keep these listeners coming back after the election season.”

Nielsen Audio PPM results in five markets we have today proves that the “politics bump” may be happening. Six of the seven NPR News stations in the five markets are up, some substantially.

However there may be more than politics at play in Boston.  Estimated weekly listeners to WBUR are up 22% over 2015 and WGBH is up 20%.  These two stations are locked in an epic head-to-head battle that has boosted listening to both stations. The competition has added excitement and encouraged programming excellence at both stations.

Meanwhile, there is good news for Classical radio folks. Four of the five major Classical stations have gained weekly listeners over the past.  KVOD in Denver leads the way with 31% more listeners.

Scroll down to see all five markets and more analysis.


WCRB had a terrific February book. And it is nice to things turn around at WUMB.  WERS has been down in several recent PPM reports. It is nice to see WUMB on an upswing.

WAMU is likely another beneficiary of the “politics boost” increasing their one-year listeners by around 21%.

 Denver-Boulder is probably my favorite noncom radio market. This is the final book for KUNC as a dual format station.   

As of February 29, 2016 KUNC split into two stations: KUNC is now mainly NPR News and the new 105.5, using the call letters KJAC, is Triple A The Colorado Sound.

In Minneapolis-St. Paul KNOW, 89.3 The Current and Jazz KBEM are each up an estimated 15%.  KSJN is the only Classical station in these five markets to loose weekly listeners.

Uncertainty rules in Seattle-Tacoma. KPLU has “sort of” been sold to KUOW but there is uncertainty about what will happen next.  Longtime KUOW PD Jeff Hansen has left KUOW. Triple A KEXP stumbled and Northwest Public Radio’s classical repeater is making an impact.

© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // //
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+ (Diary markets)
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 6+ (PPM markets)
Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Nielsen Audio and the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) have begun releasing results for February in PPM markets. Not all subscribing stations are shown because RRC is finalizing paperwork with some clients due to RRC new four-year deal with Nielsen.

Today we have estimated results for six of the nation’s largest radio markets. Below we compare February 2016 results with February 2015 and look at one-year trends in Weekly Cumulative Listeners.

Something amazing is going on at KCRW in Santa Monica. In the past year KCRW has added over 200,000 weekly listeners – up 33% in the always competitive Los Angeles market.  How are they doing it? It appears KCRW is providing more news programming from NPR and other sources.

Weekdays from 3:00am to 8:00pm KCRW is all news and talk with the exception of Morning Becomes Eclectic with Jason Bentley which still airs from 9:00am to Noon. KCRW’s Triple A-ish music mix continues overnight 8:00pm to 3:00am. KCRW has made a considerable investment in Press Play with Madeline Brand.  It airs twice daily at Noon and a rollover at 7:00pm.

Other stations making notable gains include KERA, Dallas (up 26%) and WXPN, Philadelphia (up 14%).  Scroll down to see results for all six markets and further analysis.


Jazz continues to perform well in the largest markets.  WBGO added 11% more weekly listeners in the past year. WFUV was down a bit but still reaches a substantial number of weekly listeners. WNYC-AM had the biggest decline, 28% fewer weekly listeners in one year. Perhaps it is a reflection on AM in general.  Maybe WNYC-AM should get a FM translator.

Jazz continues to perform very, very well at KKJZ – estimated weekly listeners are up 13% over the past year. KPCC held its own versus KCRW.

KQED came back strong after recent declines in estimated weekly listeners. NPR News stations typically draw more listening during competitive political campaigns, so this may be responsible for part of KQED’s gains.

Commercial station of interest:
KFOG 623,400

This is another awesome performance by KERA.  They added over 100,000 weekly listeners from February 2015.

Commercial station of interest:
WRR 304,200

There appears to be an interesting Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) battle happening in the Metroplex. The stations are competing: Locally owned KCBI is the traditional leader; KVRK is satellite delivered Way FM; KJRN is a very sophisticated operation.  I love the brand name.  The Adventists are doing some great radio.

 This is the last book for Classical KUHA.  KSBJ brought the frequency and it is re-emerging with a Christian Hip Hop station.

Nice gains by WXPN. WHYY may have gotten a “political bump.

Provided by RRC, Inc. for use by subscribers only
© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // //
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+ (Diary markets)
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 6+ (PPM markets)
Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Readers may recall our coverage in June 2015 [link] about WHQR, Wilmington, North Carolina, adding a second station to provide 24/7 classical music for listeners in the Lower Cape Fear area. With the new station, WHQR's primary signal at 91.7 could provide 24/7 NPR News.

The creation of Wilmington’s new INSTANT FM station was accomplished by acquiring an FM translator to repeat WHQR’s HD-2 signal. “HD Radio” is mentioned only in the legal ID.

Now WHQR is taking it one step further: They acquired another FM translator with more power. It blankets the Wilmington metro. Classical HQR is now on the air at 92.7 FM. The coverage is shown in the map at right.

Classical HQR is also still on the old FM translator at 96.7. That frequency will be phased out over time. The transition to 92.7 was made possible with money from WHQR's emPowering Our Future capital campaign, which has so far raised $1.15 million for the station.


Wilmington bigwigs throw the switch to begin HQR Classical
In 2014 GM Cleve Calliston led an effort to acquire an FM translator, W244DH 96.7FM.  Through careful FCC filings, they moved the translator to Wilmington. Classical HQR debuted with a high-profile public event on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.  Ever the promoter, Calliston invited local bigwigs to "throw the switch" at a launch party.

Though classical music on 96.7 FM pleased many people, some folks were beyond the coverage area. Enter 92.7 FM, the new home of Classical HQR. The station has several locally produced programs and is deeply involved in the music and arts scenes. Calliston told us how things are going:
Cleve Calliston
Here is a question we ask at pledge time: Which station do you listen to the most often? The results show Classical HQR is gaining listeners:

—55% say they listen to News only
—7% say they listen to Classical only
—38% say they listen to Both

This market hasn’t been surveyed by Arb/Nielsen since 2011. Anecdotally I talk to many people who say they switch back and forth a lot.

Most of what we do is C-24. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to maximize value in the 3 1-minute segments per hour. Each has 1 underwriting credit — not scheduled, but added value for underwriters with significant contracts. Membership continues upward a little bit. Underwriting is up 28% this year so far.

In our case, we felt that classical was kind of in our DNA — And we definitely had listener interest in classical. I think we’ve rolled this out in a good way.


It is well known that listeners donate and underwrite what they value. WQHR just doubled its value. They say “money can’t buy love” but classical music touches the heart. 

Think of the added value for WHQR that is shown in an editorial in the Wilmington Star News:

Monday, March 14, 2016


As you have probably heard, the latest edition of The Infinite Dial was released last week. The research project is a joint effort by Edison Research and Triton Digital. Since 1998, Edison and various partners have annually produced annual The Infinite Dial reports. The Infinite Dial is longest-running survey of consumer usage of media on all platforms and devices.

The Infinite Dial is an important mirror of the evolving media preferences because it shows trends over time. The Infinite Dial is filled with fascinating facts and perspective. I urge you to download the entire report and/or view the excellent summay video. Both are at [link].

Today we will take a look at what I believe are results of particular interest to noncommercial media folks.  Since a number of readers are involved in radio and other audio platforms we will highlight the threats and opportunities shown in The Infinite Dial.


Total media consumption has grown from 7 hours, 22 minutes per day in 2001 to 8 hours, 47 minutes per day in 2016. Think about it, are there any other human activities that take up so much time?  I seldom get 8 hours, 47 minutes sleep.

Takeaway for noncom folks: This is the field where the battle is fought. It is good news that daily media consumption is up because it lifts all media. However, there are only 24 hours in a day and use of various media compete for finite periods of time. A new listening habit can replace an older habit.


Smartphone ownership and usage continue to grow in all demographics. Even Boomers are moving to mobile devices. Ownership and use of Smartphones for people Age 55+ has more than doubled since 2013.  For younger folks, mobile isn’t a choice, it is a way of life.

Takeaway for noncom folks: This is where the content-delivery action is now and for the known future. Smartphones are a logical place to hear radio programming.  Make certain folks know how and where to find you. Make it easy for Boomers to adapt.


FM/AM radio is still the king of the car. Broadcast radio usage in vehicles even increased slightly from 2015 to 2016.

Takeaway for noncom folks: If you are in noncommercial radio, folks in vehicles are your best customers.  Super-serve them.


This trend surprised me even though I have seen it in action.  Recently my mom was in hospice care.  She asked me to get her a transistor radio so she could listen classical music from Minnesota Public Radio. I found there were almost NO stand-alone radios for sale at Target, Wal-Mart and every other big box store I tried.

Takeaway for noncom folks: Fewer radios mean less radio listening at home making radio in vehicles even more important. Here is suggestion for a pledge-drive premium: A nice, simple FM/AM radio.


Use of online platforms to access radio/audio programming, either broadcast streaming or online-only providers such as Pandora, continues to rise in all demos. The majority of 12-54s are regular online radio listeners—and that listening is becoming more and more habitual.

Takeaway for noncom folks: The fidelity of online streaming audio varies from source to source. It isn’t uncommon to hear online channels sound like they are coming from the Space Shuttle. Exceed listener’s expectations for audio quality.

Nearly 100 million Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a fast growing segment of the population. According to The Infinite Dial there are now an estimated 35,000,000 weekly podcast listeners – 13% of population. Folks who listen to podcasts frequently hear an average of five podcasts per week.

Takeaway for noncom folks: If you are at a radio station, do your podcasts promote and enhance your brand? To often station distributed podcasts don’t follow broadcast promotion basics. Make certain all podcasts mention the station at least every 10 minutes and forward promote other programming on the station.


This is good news for noncom Triple A folks. However online and mobile platforms are reaching a growing share of “Music Discovery” listeners.

Takeaway for noncom folks: Use social media to enhance the “Music Discovery” halo. How about podcasts that are designed involve listeners who want to participate in the "discovery." Strategically use digital media to involve listeners in the station.