Friday, April 15, 2016


Two recent reports point to streaming as the key reason behind music’s first year of significant total revenue growth since 1995. A recently report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says global music revenue rose 3.2% in 2015 from the previous year. The IFPI says $15 billion was spent around the world on music last year.

IFPI’s report confirms data recently released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) which indicated that digital is now the biggest share of the American music industries. Revenue spent on music from digital sources was up 10.2% to $6.7 billion. Streaming music accounts for an estimated 43% of the digital revenue in 2015.

In the US, streaming music was 34.3% of all recorded music revenue in 2015. RIAA says the report confirms that streaming music continues its rise in both cultural and financial importance for the music industry.


 Nielsen Audio’s March PPM estimates confirm that competition between NPR News stations WBUR and WGBH has resulted in increased listening to both stations. The estimated number of weekly cumulative listens grew between February and March by 12% at WBUR and 6% at WGBH.

Here are the March results for Boston and four other key markets:

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, April 14, 2016


Nielsen Audio has just released March PPM estimates for the Denver-Boulder radio market and the news is very positive for KUNC and the new Triple A station, The Colorado Sound. On February 28 KUNC switched to 24/7 NPR News and the debut of KJAC 105.5 FM.

KUNC’s estimated weekly cumulative listeners went up over 8% and The Colorado Sound tallied 38,200 weekly listeners in its first Denver-Boulder book. Things seem to be working according to plan. 

Here is the overview of noncommercial station listening in March:

Technically KUNC and The Colorado Sound are not even in the Denver-Boulder market. They originate from Greeley, part of the Fort Collins-Greeley market. Fort Collins-Greeley is a Diary market that is measured by Nielsen Audio in the Spring and Fall. Listening to the two stations in their home market will not be known until Spring data is released in late summer. Fort Collins-Greeley is a decent sized metro with a 12+ population of 607,700.


There has been a lot of anticipation about how The Colorado Sound would perform in such a competitive radio market. All of the competing noncom stations have very sophisticated programming and financial abilities. There are several progressive rock and Triple A stations serving the Front Range including commercial heavyweights KTCL (645,400 weekly listeners in March) and KBCO (517,500). Both stations are owned by iHeartMedia. Some observers feel iH has pissed away KBCO’s heritage position. (A discussion for another time.)

All five major noncommercial radio formats are doing very well in Denver-Boulder.


Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) NPR News outlet KCFR had at 5.6 Average-Quarter-Hour (AQH), number two in the market. Several stations have a larger number of estimated weekly listeners than KCFR.  The high AQH is due to listener loyalty and longer time spent listening to KCFR.

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, April 13, 2016


Broadcast FM and AM radio are remaining the King of the Road according to a new study by Edison Research [link]. Hacking the Commuter Code provides in-depth information about audio preferences by folks who have a twenty minute or more daily commute to work.

The study includes 1,117 participants who commuted to work in the late fall of 2015. The average commute by respondents was 35 minutes. Streaming audio continues to grow its share in vehicles: 42% of respondents say they listen to non-broadcast services such as Pandora and 36% say they listen to streaming broadcast stations. Fewer than one in five respondents (17%) say they listen to podcasts during their commutes.

Edison provided these takeaways:

In-Car Audio is a dynamic space

The newer the car, the more options commuters have for listening to audio.  When people have more options, it is clear that they them, or at least try them out.

Easy access to changes leads to lots of switching

In the car consumers have the buttons right at their fingertips at most times.  This leads to many people switching regularly.  A large majority of respondents say they switch around regularly.


Nielsen Audio is in the process of releasing PPM ratings data from March. Overall radio listening in five of the markets continues to be strong, particularly Triple A and Classical stations. Triple A WXPN increased its estimated weekly cumulative listeners by 15% from February 2016. KKXT, Dallas and WFUV, New York were also up. 

Here are results from the first five markets:

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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


As you know, Garrison Keillor is retiring from A Prairie Home Companion (APHC) and will be replaced by musician Chris Thile.  Pubradio folks who have been around for a while may recall that Keillor retired once before. Things didn’t work out so great and folks hope the mistakes from back then are not repeated.

Noah Adams

In 1987, Keillor retired and left A Prairie Home Companion to move to his wife's native Denmark. Soon after that, he moved to New York. To replace Keillor, American Public Media (APM) hired then All Things Considered (ATC) co-host Noah Adams.  The replacement program was called Good Evening From Minnesota With Noah Adams. It debuted in January 1988.

The public radio system was much smaller in 1988.  When Keillor left APHC the program was carried on around 180 stations.  At the time, ATC was NPR’s biggest show and the hiring of Adams was seen as a shrewd move by APM. Noah Adams was, and still is, a “bankable” public radio personality.

APM sold Good Evening to stations as something new that continued the traditions of APHC. Good Evening tanked within a year and Adams moved back to ATC in February 1989.  Reality didn’t meet expectations because APM never positioned Good Evening as a new and different program. Program Directors and listeners hoped for “Garrison 2.0.” Reviews of the first reviews of Good Evening were revealing:

• From the Christian Science Monitor newspaper January 13, 1988:

Headline: Noah Adams show bows in old Keillor time slot. For `Prairie Home' fans the new `Good Evening' has a semi-familiar sound

For frustrated ``Companion'' fans, the new show has a semi-familiar sound. Adams reads letters from listeners and says he'll keep it up - offering ``letters from history,'' as he said Saturday, and ``letters as literature.''

The difference, of course, is what departed with Keillor himself. The new show seems less idiosyncratic, less likely to duck suddenly into one of the creative comic byways that were always lurking in Keillor's imagination. It was positively sobering, in fact, to hear opening credits for funders of the new show and realize they were legit - that the show was no longer brought to you by the mythical ``Powdermilk Biscuits.''

The new program pokes gentle fun at its own cracker barrel image - but without the wry reflectiveness you always sensed echoing in the recesses of Keillor's cavernous voice.

Keillor's monologue…was the art of radio. Keillor's show was an all-embracing feeling that wrapped itself around a listener and also seemed to contain the show itself.

• From the Philadelphia Inquirer February 1988:

Everything about Good Evening had a familiar ring, from the soothing baritone voice of host Noah Adams, through the tone and cadence of the presentation, to the type of music and the wryly humorous skits. The ghost of Garrison Keillor lives on in Good Evening.

There was no news from Lake Wobegon, of course. That cast of characters, which became dear to four million listeners over 13 years, has up and gone to New York with Keillor.

Whether Good Evening, Minnesota Public Radio's new live radio variety show, can scale the same heights as Companion will depend on Adams.

Adams, who inherited Keillor's time slot, his spot on the stage at the World Theater in St. Paul and, no doubt, a good many of his listeners, made little effort to take his show in a different direction. The theory is that there is an audience that still wants something like Keillor's down-home, soothing style.

From the beginning, the folks at Minnesota Public Radio have promised that Good Evening would be more urban than Companion, more diverse in its musical offerings, less a star vehicle than Keillor's show. If Saturday night was any indication, those promises have been only partially fulfilled.

As for the more urban sound, well, it just wasn't there. Adams, who was suffering from a lingering case of laryngitis Saturday night, he may have been at center stage, but he did not command center stage the way Keillor did. Whether he ever will, of course, is the big question. 

1989 Promotional Poster

The answer to the question was “no.” On November 1, 1988, APM announced that Noah Adams was “retiring.” Good Evening stayed around for a while.  Then Keillor returned to host American Radio Company, APHC with a different name.  Eventually it became APHC again.


Chris Thile
• Like 1988, new host Chris Thile will be compared to Keillor. Has APM differentiated Thile enough? Does Thile have chops that Keillor didn’t?

• Is APM being too “safe” – putting a new face on an old brand? APHC is one of the most expensive programs in noncommercial radio. 

Has the new program with Thile earned this big payday? Will stations pay a slightly discounted fee for a program that doesn’t have Keillor?

• Is APHC an institution or a personal creative vehicle for Keillor that can not be replaced by anyone else?

Monday, April 11, 2016


Need evidence of the value of FM translators? Look no further than Jersey City, New Jersey where translator W248CG (97.5 FM) is selling for $1.6 million, perhaps the most ever paid for a translator.

 We did a feature article on the impending auction of W248CG in December [link].  The price tag is no doubt related to the fact that it generates an awesome signal into Manhattan, Brooklyn and suburban New Jersey. The projected coverage area is at right. 

The winning bid was made by Cantico Nuevo Ministry, the operators of  Radio Cantico Neu (“Radio New Song”) a Spanish language Catholic organization that owns several AM stations in the New York City area. The new 97.5 will repeat WJDM-FM, Elizabeth, NJ, via an HD channel owned by another broadcaster. So, this is both an Instant FM and a byproduct of the FCC’s Save AM By Moving It to FM ruling.

Edward (“Ted”) Schober

Perhaps the biggest winner is the mastermind and owner of W248CG FM 97.5, New Jersey contract engineer Edward (“Ted”) Schober. Schober is a consulting engineer with little broadcasting experience. According to his bio, most of his previous work has been with the military and local governments. Schober applied for the translator in 2014 and the FCC granted it in October 2015.


Last Friday (4/8/16) the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a comprehensive article about the reality of American Public Media’s (APM) struggle to keep A Prairie Home Companion alive following the departure of long-time host Garrison Keillor. 

Garrison Keillor - Photo: Star-Tribune
The article – Garrison Keillor's impending departure has 'Prairie Home' affiliates concerned – includes comments by public radio station folks such as Mark Vogelzang of Maine Public Broadcasting, Michael Arnold of Wisconsin Public Radio and Betsy Gardella, president of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Want a sample? Here is a quote from former Wisconsin Public Radio director Jack Mitchell:

“The show is basically dead without [Keillor],” he said. “I can’t imagine anybody replacing him. It may continue, but stations won’t be willing to pay as much, income will go down, the show’s budget will not be what it was.”

I recommend reading the article because it provides a succinct summary of the challenges facing APM and public radio in general. You can see the article here.


The University of Houston is looking for a new Director of the Center for Student Media (CSM).  The current Director, Matt Dulin, is leaving to take a similar gig at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Houston’s media program is highly regarded. At the CSM , students are engaged in journalism, publishing, promotion, marketing, advertising, media production, graphic design, radio broadcasting and management. The Director is in-charge of  COOG Radio, The Daily Cougar, the Student Video Network and two major student magazines.

To learn more about the CSM at [link]. The complete job description and application information is at [link].