Friday, January 27, 2017


A “perfect storm” may be developing that will pave the way for the Voice of America (VOA) to become an American version of Russia’s RTRussia Today. Rachel Maddow reported on Wednesday (1/25) that the Trump administration is taking advantage of changes in the governance of VOA by installing senior management that reports to the White House.

According to Maddow’s reporting on MSNBC [link], there is concern among some VOA staffers and other observers about the organization’s new management scheme headed by a CEO appointed by the president. In December 2016 the governance of VOA was changed from a non-partisan independent Board of Directors to new CEO management. The change was approved by the Obama administration. 

These changes, combined with the 2013 repeal of a law that had prohibited VOA’s programming from being widely heard within the United States, appear to be permitting a profound change in the purpose of VOA. VOA will now be controlled by an individual who reports directly the White House and will be able to transmit, even tailor, its programming to US listeners. Some observers fear that VOA is being morphed into a propaganda machine.

Maddow reported that President Trump on Monday (1/23) dispatched two aides to the $800 million broadcasting entity that includes VOA, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.

So you connect the dots. Speaker Ryan works to eliminate CPB.  President Trump builds his own State Radio.


I call the three markets just north of Los Angeles on US 101 the “Pacifica Coast Highway” (PCH) markets because all three are linked to LA by that freeway. If you take the PCH out of the San Fernando Valley of LA, you will pass through Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.  Each city has its own unique character but local stations face competition from nearby LA stations.

On the left is an informal composite of weekly listeners in the three markets combined. Only KCLU-FM is holding steady.  Los Angeles stations, in most cases via local repeater stations, registered notable gains in estimated weekly cumulative listeners compared to Fall 2015. KUSC was up 9%; KCRW was up 16% and KPCC was up 35%.

 Moving from south to north on the PCH, is Oxnard-Ventura. LA stations increased the number of weekly listeners to all three LA stations.

Continuing north to Santa Barbara, the “ears on LA” trend continues.  KCLU was an exception.   

San Luis Obispo’s KCBX was hit particularly hard, losing 23% of their weekly listeners. Note the Classical KDB’s listeners are now combined with KUSC because KDB now repeats KUSC nearly 100% of the time.

KCBX’s downward trend continues in its home market, San Luis Obispo. As we reported in July [link], KCRW has added a full-power repeater station, KJRW, which is certain the be a factor in future rating periods.

1 comment:

  1. What I don't quite understand here is how listeners are perceiving KCLU these days. Looks like they streamlined things so it's the same program lineup across all their frequencies (it was slightly, but noticeably, different between the 1340AM and the 88.3/102.3FM outlets). But in Santa Barbara specifically, especially for a diary market, I'm sure there's some listener confusion about what they're really listening to. The 1340AM signal is a monster considering how small it is, and it's prime audience is the commuters up and down the PCH who literally can't hear most of the FM's whilst inbetween Santa Barbara and Ventura. But now KCLU, thanks to the FM-translators-for-AM rules, has boosted K272DT 102.3 from a paltry 7 watts to a hefty 115w from their perch on Gibraltar Peak, some 2185ft AMSL.

    I recall listening to 102.3 whenever I could because I thought the lineup was a bit better and because it was FM and sounded better. But often I was tuned into the AM because the FM just wasn't receivable. That's probably a lot less true nowadays.

    So I suspect a lot of people in SB might be thinking they're listening to "KCLU-FM" because they're tuned to 102.3 (and partly because 102.3 used to literally be KCLU-FM and demonstrably different from KCLU-AM) but in reality they're listening "KCLU-AM" because they're listening to KCLU-AM's FM translator.

    BTW, KJAI (KLFF) is owned by SCPR/KPCC now, and reaches some of the Ventura market. It can't be heard in Santa Barbara (it's co-channel with KCBX's KSBX on 89.5) but it's not CCM anymore. That changed in the spring of 2014 according to the wikipedia page for KLFF.

    Also FWIW, the Santa Barbara market suffered from "over coverage" by public radio back when I was there in 2011-2012, and that was before KPCC added a translator there and KUSC took over KDB and allowed KCRW to expand. It's ridiculous now. There's repeaters for KCLU, KCBX, KCRW, KPCC, KPF, KUSC, plus local college outlet KCSB and a gaggle of religious radio outlets, too.

    They're all chasing the same pool of a 1000 or so uber-wealthy Santa Barbarians that love non-comm radio (including some hardcore religious radio fans, too - don't forget Westmont College is in SB). And only three...KCLU, KCBX and KCSB...can realistically claim to actually be specifically trying to serve the SB market. The rest are all out-of-market repeaters.