Thursday, May 12, 2016


Radio Insight reports [link] that the FCC has revoked the license of WOOK-LP 103.1 FM because the licensee tried to intentionally deceive the Commission. In the words of the FCC:

The conduct here by [the licensee] shows a disturbing willingness to ignore or seif-servingly misinterpret Commission's regulations and disclosure requirements, to ignore a Commission request to provide required information, and to submit inconsistent documents to different governmental agencies. Accordingly, we will require that a copy of this letter be submitted with any future application filed by or on behalf of any of them or to which any of them is a party.

Perry Redd
Prior to the most recent action, the case took a number of confusing turns involving two feuding founders, a 501c3 organization called Sincere Seven (S7), a disputed Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement (FSA) and failure to disclose the felony criminal conviction of one of the founders.

According to the FCC S7 was merely a "front" used for gaming the Commission's point system and filing a false application. Most of the improper conduct concerned Perry Redd and William Tucker.  Redd is still listed as Executive Director on the station’s website [link]. Redd is a convicted felon and the conviction was not disclosed in the Application


Many of the NPR News stations we have seen so far in Nielsen Audio’s April PPM estimates lost weekly cumulative listeners from March to April.  Case in point: Weekly listeners to WBUR and WGBH both dropped 10% in one month. WAMU was down 2%. KUOW, Seattle bucked the trend and was up 6%.

Triple A KEXP, Seattle, had an impressive gain in weekly listeners, up 22% from the previous month. The weekly listeners to other Triple A stations stayed about the same. Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) station KSBJ was up 8% with an estimated weekly cume of 875,000.  This is likely the largest noncom audience in the April data.

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.


If you are attending the 16th Annual NONCOMMvention in Philadelphia next week, say congratulations to Mike Henry and folks from 105.5 The Colorado Sound. Their “baby station” is the fastest growing noncommercial radio station in the nation!

According to Nielsen Audio’s April PPM estimates for the Denver/Boulder market, KJAC aka 105.5 The Colorado Sound increased its number of weekly cumulative listeners 59% from March to April. Since KJAC spun off from KUNC on February 29, 2016, it has established a significant audience at a quick pace.

No doubt Neil Best, GM of KUNC and 105.5 The Colorado Sound is smiling today.  Not only is 105.5 The Colorado Sound doing well, NPR News station KUNC is maintaining its audience following the split.  Keep in mind that the April PPM numbers are just part of the picture.  KUNC and 105.5 The Colorado Sound have lots of listeners outside of the Denver market.  When the Spring 2016 Nielsen Audio Diary markets are published this summer, we will know how many estimated listeners they have in the Fort Collins/Greeley market.

Here are the April PPM results for the Denver/Boulder market:


Yet another FM translator is for sale in Fort Collins. K248CH 97.5 can be yours for $140,000 according to a broker newsletter. It is currently owned by a noncom religious broadcaster but can be used by a commercial entity.  As the ad says: A Perfect Solution for Your AM or HD Problem!

The current owner is Grace FM, a small network of stations from Colorado Springs. Apparently Grace FM has fallen on tough times. Its format is on the far right wing of Evangelical Christian dogma. Much of the programming on Grace FM is hosted by apocalyptic preachers. The programming is so awful I found myself hoping for an early appearance of the rapture!

Fort Collins is one of the nation’s most crowded noncommercial radio dials. I count 17 noncoms that put a city-grade signal into the city of around 100,000 people.  See for yourself on this noncom dial guide:

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, May 11, 2016


Jim McGuinn
I urge you to check out Jim McGuinn’s guest post on the Jacobs Media blog last Friday 5/6. McGuinn’s essay 5 Things The Current Knew It Had To Do When Prince Died
[link] is not only a moving first-hand account of events following Prince’s death, it provides essential reasons why 89.3 The Current matters so much to listeners in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. 

Rather than try to paraphrase McGuinn’s essay (again, please read it), other noncom stations, regardless of their format, can implement some of the tactics The Current used covering the story.

The relationship between Prince and The Current was long a deep. Prince publically praised The Current.  This gave the station credibility locally and nationally. The Current embraced Prince’s interest in helping new, emerging artists by providing them exposure. When you heard Prince talk on the station, you could feel the trust the notoriously private musician felt.


 Following Prince’s sudden death on Thursday, April 21, The Current went wall-to-wall with his music and comments by those who knew him. That evening crowds began gathering in downtown Minneapolis near First Avenue, a club Prince made famous.   

The Current and sister NPR News KNOW began live coverage of the scene.  The crowd grew to more than ten thousand. An all-night wake spontaneously happened. I sat listening to it at my home but I felt like I was there. The live broadcasts provided a needed catharsis – every fan’s voice counted.

The ability to be live, in-the-moment, on-the-scene is one of radio’s most powerful programming tools.  Though there are occasional burps, they don’t matter if the story is urgent.  Get out of the studio when you can and become part of the audience – feel it as they feel it.


Listeners to The Current that night knew The Current was in the center of the event. The broadcasts, station website and social media had the essential information which was amplified globally by all sorts of media. The Current quickly set up a web page for folks to share their emotions and leave remembrances of Prince.


…it is about the music and the people who love it.  I never once felt that the coverage was self-promotional.  I felt comfortable as a listener unlike the way I sometimes feel when cable news outlets like CNN exploit news for their own benefit.

Well done Jim and everyone at 89.3 The Current!


Nielsen Audio has begun releasing estimated listening data for stations in markets measured by PPM. The early results are encouraging for Triple A music stations. WFUV, New York, increased its number of weekly cumulative listeners compared to the previous month by 7%. KKXT, Dallas was up 8%.  KCRW had its largest number of weekly listeners in recent memory.

Classical stations also did well: KUSC now has the largest number of weekly listeners to any noncom station in Los Angeles. WQXR’s weekly listeners grew by 3%. WRR and KDFC remained solid.

Here is the data for six of the nation’s biggest 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, May 10, 2016


Last Friday (5/6/16) newsroom employees at Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) announced, and MPR confirmed, a petition for a union election was given the go-ahead by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The election is scheduled for May 17. A simple majority means MPR must accommodate an employee union.

The employee action in St. Paul is an echo of a similar, successful union campaign at sister station KPCC in Los Angeles in 2013. The same union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is involved with both unionization efforts.  At KPCC, newsroom employees voted 35 to 26 to join SAG-AFTRA. Both stations are operated by parent company American Public Media (APM).

Angie Andresen
Angie Andresen, a spokeswoman for MPR, told City Pages [link]:

"MPR respects everyone’s right to have a voice in whether or not they want to be represented by a union, and we’re committed to an inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and heard."

Last winter editorial employees met privately and held an initial union vote. A petition for a unionizing election was filed with NLRB in April.

The union effort may have been prompted, in part, by a recent layoff of 11 newsroom employees, 13 percent of the newsroom staff.

The employee group is thought to include reporters, producers, show hosts and news anchors. According to the City Pages report, employees of MPR's 89.3 The Current music station would not be included in the election or the union. 

Jon McTaggart
 In late April MPR CEO Jon McTaggart sent a staff-wide email discouraging employees from "involving a third party”. McTaggart said:

"For nearly 50 years, MPR has been and continues to be a progressive employer that attracts, develops and rewards the very best people in public media. While always striving to do better, we have a long track record of being supportive and responsive to employees’ needs and concerns. I believe that, by working even more closely together, we can find a better path that builds on our unique history."

Beyond the comments by Andresen and McTaggart, mum is the word.  When MinnPost reporter Brian Lambert asked one of leaders of the employee group for comments [link], he was told to contact SAG-AFTRA’s local bureau.  The local shop sent him to SAG-AFTRA’s main office in LA where he was tersely told “No comment.”


APM/MPR does not want a repeat of a 2013 KPCC SAG-AFTRA vote. KPCC’s employees approved the union shop. The vote meant 65 KPCC reporters, producers, show hosts and news anchors choose to be represented by the Hollywood-based union.

Prior to the KPCC vote, a website called "Reasons to say NO to SAG-AFTRA" [the site is still online at link] went up with arguments against the union from some of the station's top names, including show hosts Larry Mantle, John Rabe and Alex Cohen. Verbiage on the website said:

"…over the past few months, you’ve heard from many of your co-workers who support using SAG-AFTRA as representation. Not all of your colleagues feel this way. There are reporters, producers, hosts, anchors, and digital staff who feel the union is not the best option."

Longtime KPCC talk show host Larry Mantle said on the site:

“…what I love about our workplace culture, and what I understand is comparatively rare at other media companies. When I visit NPR or other public radio stations, I get a very different feel than I do at KPCC. We hear that regularly from visitors who've been elsewhere.”

“Given how valuable our culture is, and how I think it could change as a result of unionizing, I've decided to vote against SAG/AFTRA membership. I think unionizing would create a more consistent, but more rigid, relationship between employees and management, regardless of how we customize our contract or management procedures.”

The union vote happened without incident.  KPCC’s newsroom is now a SAG-AFTRA union shop.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Last Thursday we reported [link] on the plan crafted by Chicago Public Media (CPM) and WDCB to expand the radio reach of CPM’s Vocalo. There are two sides of every deal.  A Chicago reader told me that my reporting (and most of the coverage by others) neglected the benefits to WDCB and Chicago jazz and blues music fans.  

According to the deal between the two broadcasters, WDCB will now be simulcast on CPM’s WRTE 90.7 FM. This move will bring WDCB to the heart of Chicago: The West Loop plus the Near North Side, United Center, Near West Side, University of Illinois-Chicago and thousands of commuters on the Kennedy and Eisenhower Expressways.
Dan Bindert

WDCB [link] has served Chicago’s western suburbs for 39 years with 5,000-watts at 90.9 from Glen Ellyn in DuPage County. 90.9 does have an excellent signal covering a wide swath of metro communities from Aurora to north shore suburbs and to Northwest Indiana. But, WDCB’s signal was not reliable in much of Chicago’s center. Now WDCB will serves thousands of new potential listeners because of the addition of 90.7.

Dan Bindert, Station Manager of WDCB, said in a press release:

“Jazz and blues music have always been incredibly important to Chicago’s cultural identity, but it’s been almost decade since a major public radio jazz outlet has had a signal originating from the center of the city. [The new 90.7 coverage] will offer much-improved reception for many city residents.”


WRTE 90.7 operates with six (6) watts of power.  On paper this doesn’t seem like much.  In reality, it depends on the location of the transmitter and the line-of-sight view of the area being served. WRTE’s antenna is 300’ above the average terrain. A map of the projected new coverage area is on the left.

The transmitter is located near the junction of the Kennedy and Eisenhower Expressways, two major Chicago freeways that often have bumper-to-bumper traffic. Since in-vehicle listening is radio’s sweet spot, jazz and blues on WDCB will now be a choice commuters can count on.

Six-watts means that 90.7 probably won’t penetrate the concrete fortresses of Chicago’s Loop or get past the wall of buildings on Lakeshore Drive but otherwise the signal is surprisingly good for a big chunk of territory in mid Chicago. A lot of people live, work and play there.

WDCB 90.9 already covers  parts of the heart of Chicago. Now 90.7 gives West Loop listeners better local coverage and provides a huge marketing boost. Legendary venues and clubs such as Andy’s and The Jazz Showcase are in 90.7’s reach.  Likewise blues meccas including Buddy Guy’s Legends, Blue Chicago and M Lounge.

The new coverage will also increase WDCB’s national standing. According to Nielsen Audio PPM estimates, WDCB typically has between 150,000 - 165,000 weekly cumulative listeners. This looks small compared to other jazz stations in the largest markets. WBGO in New York typically has 350,000 weekly listeners and KKJZ in Los Angeles often tops a half-million weekly listeners. Observers who aren’t familiar with WDCB’s challenges might have misread the ratings to be a programming issue.  It is not. After a few books, we’ll probably see a growing number of WDCB’s audience reach.

Another positive is WDCB’s alliance with CPM and WBEZ. The deal to improve coverage for both WDCB and Vocalo is being praised as a “win/win” for both stations. Listeners to both are the biggest beneficiaries. The deal is model for others to emulate.


The Chicago area has long been known as an under served public radio market. By my count, there are 21 noncommercial stations between 88.1 and 91.9. Only two (WBEZ and Moody Bible’s WMBI) has close to full market coverage. Many of the 21 stations serve small geographic areas.  Some have been in their locations for decades. This means they are “grandfathered” in place often making it impossible to establish new stations that want to serve the whole metro.

In the biz, trying to fit new stations or translators into congested areas is called “shoehorning.” Broadcast engineers are using sophisticated software and directional antennas that allow new signals to be added to dense urban areas. Let’s hope the CPM/WDCB deal inspires others to find ways to increase their noncom public service.