Friday, January 6, 2017


Torey Malatia and the Providence skyline
Cheers abound in Rhode Island and elsewhere for a major coverage upgrade by Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) via the acquisition of WUMD 89.3 FM, North Dartmouth, MA. The new signal will give RIPR crystal clear coverage of Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts. This is a vast improvement of RIPR’s ability to serve the public.

Expectations are high for Malatia. The Providence Journal called him a “public radio rock star” when they announced he was been hired as CEO of RIPR in 2015. Malatia is well known in public media circles for leading WBEZ, Chicago’s rise from a sleepy school board station to one of the leading public media companies in the nation.

RIPR began over a decade ago when they acquired WRNI-AM from WBUR for $1.8 million.  RIPR then added three low-power FM signals but metro Providence coverage was still spotty. 

On the right is RIPR’s map showing the new 89.3 coverage compared to current coverage. On the RIPR website [link] Malatia said RIPR plans to spend an additional $1 million to move the transmitter for WUMD closer to central Providence.

RIPR has had difficulty competing with WGBH, Boston, because of its limited coverage.  According to Nielsen Audio/RRC data from Fall 2016, WGBH had an estimated 2.1 AQH Share and 101,000 weekly cumulative listeners compared with RIPR’s 0.7 AQH Share and 42,700 weekly cume in the Providence metro.

In November 2016 we reported on RIPR’s efforts to sell WRNI-AM to Latino Public Radio [link], a Spanish-language noncom that has been operating the station via a LMA.

Malatia may be a rock star to some folks.  To me he is forward thinking manager who attracts incredibility talented people. Torey Malatia has good karma.


Vidal Guzman with son Vidal III
Vidal Guzman, Senior Manager of Station Relations at Public Radio International (PRI) for over 22 years, tragically died Monday evening (1/2/17) while attempting to keep his 19-year-old son from drowning, according to press reports. Guzman and his family were on vacation in Puerto Rico. Guzman was 60. His son, Vidal Guzman III, is fine.

Guzman, a friend of many people working in public media, perhaps was best known for his work promoting PRI’s flagship news program The World. I worked in the office next to Guzman for three years when PRI was in Butler Square in downtown Minneapolis. He was a warm, caring, and generous man who would always take time to help others.  The thing I will remember the most about Vidal was his contagious laugh echoing through the hallways at PRI. 


• Regarding our post earlier this week [link] Brietbart: First To Go On the Block is CPB, Mike Savage, GM of WBAA, West Lafayette, IN and a media consultant wrote:

Mike Savage GM & Consultant
I along with others in the public radio system am concerned about future federal funding for CPB. We must continue to engage local legislators and our congressional delegationsons though listener/constituent meetings with them.

When congress hears how important public broadcasting funding is directly from listeners – that is a much more powerful message than broadcasters trying to contact congress directly.

Now that we are in 2017 – we have a milestone to message around – 50 years since President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act.

It is time to get busy!

• Regarding our December 8, 2016 post All Purpose Advice from Tamar Charney [link], commercial radio consultant David Martin wrote:

Bravo, Ken. Thanks for sharing. We can all learn something from Tamar (and from you). Cheers for your reporting.

David Martin is one of the most innovative and respected people working in commercial media.  He publishes the blog N=1 [link].  I deeply appreciate his praise.

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