Friday, October 14, 2016


Not only are public media folks in awe of KEXP‘s new $15 million dollar creative facility, the design industry has taken keen interest. A recent article in the trade publication Archpaper [link] praises the work of project collaborators SkB Architects, and WSDG-Walters-Storyk Design Group. Both firms are based in the Seattle area.

KEXP's new location before constrution
KEXP’s new headquarters is in the shadow of Seattle Center’s iconic Space Needle. But the designers faced challenges from the start. The structure was originally built as an exhibition hall for the 1962 World’s Fair. It was a bleak and dark environment, something designers knew they needed to change.

Shannon Gaffney, SkB cofounder and co-lead designer on the project told Archpaper:

“We wanted to bring the outside in. Circulation was a challenge and required striking the right balance between openness and decompression, public and private. It was like a puzzle.”

Gaffney said the designers were particularly pleased with KEXP’s public gathering space, a 4,500-square-foot area with a coffee shop and showroom.

By weaving together public-private elements in the new space, KEXP is able to connect more closely with its listeners while the public can hear (and watch) musicians, meet friends, study, have an espresso, and peek into the daily workings of an indie public radio station.

The public gathering space is open and light-filled, pulling together exposed silver and white ductwork with turquoise accents, low-key stenciled concrete floors, and roll-up garage doors. It’s an effect that transforms the area into an indoor plaza and public extension of the courtyard to the east.

Many of its materials were donated. This includes the dark wood paneling, sourced from Puget Sound, that frames the glass-windowed DJ looking into the space. When not being used for live concerts, the gathering space converts into a lounge.

Another room that is receiving ample attention is KEXP’s 50,000-item music library. Gaffney says the library embraces KEXP’s spirit of public-private partnership.

Funding for the KEXP complex was raised by an on-air campaign and augmented by foundation, corporate, local entrepreneur and local government support. KEXP began broadcasting from the new digs in December 2015. The grand open was in Spring 2016. English singer-songwriter-guitarist Robyn Hitchcock was the first artisit to perform at the new KEXP. The first song he played was Viva! Sea-Tac.”  Viva KEXP!

Here is a photographic tour of KEXP’s new home:

Entry and outside view
Master Control
"The Green Room"

Performance studio

Thursday, October 13, 2016



Portland Radio Project (PRP) is now on-the-air 24/7 via KSFL-FM 99.1 FM. Initially launched as an online station in 2013, PRP and another noncom organization were granted a LPFM construction permit in 2014. The FCC stipulated that each of the two organizations would have 12 hours to program each day.

As time went by, PRP thrived and the other noncom org, Portland’s Q Center – a gay and lesbian outreach organization, wasn’t doing well. So Q Center transferred their 12-hours per day to PRP. The FCC approved the consolidation recently. Now 99.1 FM is PRP, all day and all night.

91.1 is not a typical LPFM facility. A combination of good planning and good luck is allowing 91.1 to reach a considerable portion of the Portland metro. Take a look at PRP’s coverage shown on the right. 100-watts combined with a great transmission site can cover a significant area of a major city. Some locations experience terrain interference but KSFL is a player based on it’s area served.

PRP’s format is hard to categorize.  Much of the music is Triple A but there is ample time for folk, blues and jazz. The station’s mission is to give voice to local musicians, nonprofits and businesses. This means there are also quite a few talk shows on PRP, so they aren’t a “pure” music station.


PRP joins one of the most eclectic noncom FM radio menus in the nation. On the left is a new Portland noncommercial dial guide. It is hard to find another city with this much variety.

KOPB, KQAC and KQAC are the biggest players with major noncom formats. 

KBOO was one of Lorenzo Milam’s first independent community stations. Though some of KBOO’s programming is still “old school Pacifica,” KBOO apparently isn’t hung up on Pacifica’s ineffective governance system.

And PRP has an on-air competitor: Triple A leaning KXRY – Xray FM [link]. Xray has been around longer and is operated by radio pros, so it will be interesting to see whether the market can support both stations. I wrote about Xray in my first post for this blog, September 29, 2014 [link].
But wait, there are more unusual LPFM stations in the Portland area. 95.1 KISN-LP calls itself Good Guy Radio [link], a flashback to a legendary Top 40 station that rocked Portland back in the 1960s.

Then there is a one-of-a-kind LPFM: 100.7 KQRZ-FM by and for Ham Radio enthusiasts [link]. KQRZ has four hours of Ham Radio News every day.  The rest of the schedule is filled with “crooner” music such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Get your fix of Slavic treats (I’d like an order of Sarma, please) on 102.7 KIEV-LP a/k/a Slavic Community Radio.


Last Monday (10/10) Mind & Soul Radio, KXNB-LP 101.3 FM [link] signed on in Omaha.

Mind & Soul Radio is Omaha’s first African-American community station. (Many people don’t know that Omaha has a sizable Black population.) The new KXNB features news and music, including classic hip-hop, R&B and Gospel other genres. One of the founders of Mind & Soul Radio is Michael Scott, a former TV anchor. Scott does weekday morning drive, mixing music with news and callers.

Another founding volunteer, Doug Paterson, told the Omaha World Herald [link]:

This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I’ve been fortunate to have worked with several start-up theatre companies…[but KXNB] brought a kind of unique urgency…to respond to needs in North Omaha. KXNB will be an entirely fresh  voice in Omaha radio.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


In a nod to the growing influence of the Nashville new music scene, World Café and NPR Music are partnering to expand coverage from Music City and the Southern US. The new World Café Nashville will be providing expanded coverage including studio sessions, interviews and concert performances.

World Café Nashville, is being launched with two special events at City Winery in Nashville October 27th and 28th. On Thursday (10/27), a VIP reception for members of the music industry and media will precede a solo performance by acclaimed country singer-songwriter Eric Church. Then on Friday (10/28) there will be a celebration party featuring The Intoxicating Sounds of Steelism and Nashville's Femmes Fatales – Lera Lynn, Caitlin Rose, and Ruby Amanfu. Admission to both shows is free. Tickets to be distributed via World Cafe and WMOT.

World Cafe host David Dye said about the new Nashville partnership:

“This commitment to a deeper dive on World Cafe into the music of Nashville and places like Muscle Shoals, Memphis, Atlanta and New Orleans is central to our exploration of regional roots music, whether it be Americana, R&B, gospel, blues or rock. This will be musical discovery with a southern accent.”

Ann Powers

Ann Powers, a Nashville-based critic and correspondent for NPR Music is also contributing content to World Cafe Nashville.


As we reported in early September [link] WMOT [link] gave up years of being “second fiddle” (pun intended) to Nashville Public Radio’s NPR News WPLN and Classical WFCL and became Roots Radio 89.5 FM. With the switch, WMOT became an important voice for Americana, bluegrass and roots music, not only in Nashville but around the globe. 

The influential Nashville music blog Talking Bluegrass Music [link] gushed with praise for WMOT:

Suddenly, there were musicians coming 'live at me from my computer--musicians whom I had grown to know and love since discovering bluegrass music in the early 1980s. How good is that! Oh yeah, very good!

Photo courtesy of the New York Times
One of the world’s most influential on-air hosts, Peter Allen, died last week in New York.  Younger folks may not know the name but Allen changed the radio host’s role at live broadcast events. During the 29+ years (1975 – 2004) he was the voice of Metropolitan Opera, he perfected a conversional and inclusive delivery that still is heard on classical music radio today.

I had my own brief connection with Allen.  Back when I was a kid (keep in mind, I am older than dirt) I loved to visit my maternal grandparents, in part, because of the 1939 Zenith radio in their home. The Zenith was a huge tube-type radio that had an amazing ability to hear faraway AM stations. (The Zenith could also be used to heat the house!)

One Saturday afternoon, I happened upon Allen and Met Opera on WBBM, Chicago.  Allen was different from any announcer I had heard previously. He wasn’t just “announcing” the opera, he was doing play-by-play coverage of the entire event. I imagined that Allen was in a “control center” like the ones used for broadcasts of space flights.

In James Barron’s wonderful tribute to Allen in the New York Times [link] Barron described Allen’s on-air technique: 

Beginning in 1975, he delivered a kind of recitative, telling listeners what would happen as a given opera unfolded, and even what was happening before that, from the moment the lights went down to the moment the Met’s great gold curtain went up. “The bravos rise as he mounts the stand, smiling to the house, bowing to the house, now turning to conduct,” Mr. Allen said one Saturday in January 2000 as the Met’s artistic director at the time, James Levine, arrived for a performance of “Der Rosenkavalier.”

Allen was also a host on WQXR-FM back when it was a commercial classical station. Listen to Julie Burstein’s salute to Allen when he retired from the Met in 2004 on WNYC at [link].


Broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera began in 1931 and continue today on noncommercial classical stations. Now, MET performances are also streamed online and are broadcast on Sirius/XM.

Allen was the second broadcast host for Met Opera. The first host, Milton Cross, spent more than 40 years welcoming listeners with a more “pompous” announcing style that was more typical of announcers at the time.

Met Opera broadcasts are also notable in radio history because of their long-time sponsor Texaco. The oil company was the sole sponsor from 1940 until 2003. During much of the 63 years when Texaco was the sponsor Met Opera broadcasting were carried live on the NBC radio network.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I love to promote open jobs for people who are just getting started in the biz. Maybe you are at your first or second job and want advance your career at a respected station in a major market. Here are two jobs you might want to check out:


Twilight in the Valley of the Sun
Live and work in one of the fastest growing and most diverse markets in the nation while being part of the Classical music world. KBAQ, the classical music voice for Phoenix [link], is now looking for an Assistant Program Director and Producer.

The woman or man chosen for the job will host classical music programming, interact directly with listeners and assure KBAQ’s high quality production values. 

The assignment includes assisting with music choices, producing on-air content, doing interviews and scheduling announcers and board operators.

KBAQ is looking for someone who knows and loves classical music, is enthusiastic about reaching a general audience and has experience with on-air fundraising.

Livingston Associates is assisting KBAQ in this search. More info is at [link]. Applications are due this week.


KUOW, one of the nation’s leading NPR News stations, has an outstanding opportunity for a Producer who will work on local news segments for KUOW’s daily news magazines.

The person chosen for this gig will track news, research topics and pitch segment ideas to the Managing Producer. Other tasks include pre-interviewing and booking guests, providing hosts with background research and
qriting host intros and interview questions.

Note: The person doing this job will be a “first-responder” in breaking news situations that may require evening and weekend work. Duties also include interacting on social media platforms. This is a full-time job with generous benefits and work/life programs. Get more information at [link].


How does a university-licensed public radio station reach out to students and staff? The answer at NPR News station WNIJ, Rockford [link], is to share what they know about the process that creates news.

Northern Public Radio’s WNIJ just completed the inaugural WNIJ News “Public Radio 101” seminar.  Twelve participants spent several evening in September learning the basics about how news is covered, from finding a story, getting the facts, doing interviews and assembling the ready-to-air package.

“Public Radio 101” Seminar Participants
According to WNIJ Managing Editor Victor Yehling, the seminar was intended for students pursuing news and communication careers and staff members that want to know more about the news reporting process. It also provids a way for WNIJ to showcase itself within the university community.

Seminar topics included the ethics and values of public radio news, news story terminology and structure, using sound to enhance stories, vocal techniques and preparing “print” versions of audio stories for the station website. The tools for “Public Radio 101” are online at [link].   

“Public Radio 101” includes:

The session provides tips about downloading and using Audacity audio software, recording techniques, multi-track editing and mixing.

Want to look, walk and talk like a news reporter? This session is for you. Learn how your appearance and style impacts people’s perception of you and your work.

In the news biz, often the first “gatekeeper” you will face is in the newsroom. This session discusses understanding a story assignment, finding the “headline” in a story and knowing the human dimension, such as Who stands to win/lose in this story.
WNIJ’s next “Public Radio 101” seminar is being planned for January 2017.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Let’s say you are a fan of composer Elliot Carter (1908 – 2012), the Pulitzer Prize winning architect of atonal and complex music.  Then you might be interested in having the master reel-to-reel tape of Carter being interviewed in 1960 on KPFA, Berkeley.  Recently you could by it for $31.89 on e-bay.

As Pacifica's turds circle the bowl, it appears staff and/or volunteers may be going rogue and are cashing in on Pacifica's valuable booty. This is part of the latest chapter in Pacific’s painful slide into oblivion.

The primary concern to many archivists, scholars and collectors is the fate of Pacifica’s audio archives.  The collection includes an estimated 60,000 reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl records and transcription discs. According to several sources, less than 25% of the analog catalogue has been digitized.

It is alleged (but not independently confirmed) that several dozen KPFA master tapes were listed on ebay because Pacifica failed to pay the rent on a storage unit in Rosemead, California. The owner of the storage company allegedly sold some the tapes to pay the past-due rent.

This does sound plausible but it also could be that the tapes “walked out the backdoor” as so often happens when a venture is failing. Before the ship goes under, there is a temptation to “liberate” things that might be of value.

Listings for Pacifica's master tapes have been deleted from ebay. However, lots of other items from Pacifica’s history are currently for sale on ebay.


Meanwhile, Pacifica’s interim Executive Director Lydia Brazon told Pacifica’s Board of Directors on October 6th that she hired an appraiser to tally the value of the assets of Pacifica’s LA station KPFK.  Brazon said similar appraisals are pending for other Pacifica properties.

Lydia Brazon

Brazon told the Board that the appraisals were necessary for the organization to obtain loans and grants. Of course, appraisals are also used for sale purposes and bankruptcy proceedings. Brazon tried to reassure the Board when she said:

 The point is, we must know the true value of our assets. Certainly NOT in order to sell them but rather to leverage them for credit lines, a mortgage or…to lease.

Pacifica’s hope appears to be that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will put them back on the CPB dole. Brazon said $2.5 million of “…guaranteed funds from CPB” are due to Pacifica.  Before this can happen Pacifica must complete an audit of their FY 2014 finances. The reason the audit is not being completed is because apparently Pacifica hasn’t paid the auditors.


Blogger Chris Albertson [link] reports that "bathroom sabotage" has been occurring at KPFK, Los Angeles. Apparently disgruntled staff members are jamming the toilets with paper towels causing messy overflows.

Here is a memo KPFK’s GM Leslie Radford sent to the staff: