Monday, February 13, 2017


WAMC turned the uncertainty of continued federal funding of CPB into gold with a massive on-air fund drive on Monday 2/6. Alan Chartock, CEO of WAMC, told the Daily Freeman newspaper [link]: 

Alan Chartock
“Everybody at WAMC is beyond shocked. We always expect this will be a fast fund drive, but, from the time we sat down at 6 a.m. until the last moments of the program around 6:30 p.m., we couldn’t believe what was happening. The skies opened up and every WAMC supporter was there.”

According to Chartock, WAMC’s fund drives typically take four days or more to complete. 

The station had already raised $570,000 toward its goal when the fund drive kicked off at 6 a.m. Monday. By the end of the day, WAMC had raised $1,055,000. Chartock summed it up:

"It was all Donald Trump. Ironically, the president is now our best fundraiser."

Fellow Trumpians also drove WAMC listeners to the phones. The Albany Times Union reported [link] that some listeners made pledges to WAMC in honor of the non-existent Bowling Green terrorist massacre that Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway cited recently.

Also last week, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) introduced legislation to defund CPB [link]. Lamborn is using the argument that CPB needs to vanish so that the money “could be put to better use rebuilding our military and enhancing our national security.” Expect this notion to be prominent when the new budget is released.

Some public media leaders such as Chartock, aren’t waiting to see new budget from Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The budget is due to be released later in February.  It is expected to include massive cuts in funding for CPB, NEA, NEH and many other programs to pay for tax cuts for corporations and individuals.

KEN SAYS: It appears that many public broadcasters are content to let Trump and Ryan introduce their budget before reacting. They say "don't get listeners worried" and point out that "CPB has friends in high places." So be patient and don’t over react.

I am with Chartock. The election of Donald Trump, plus the Republican Congress, sets the stage for the most serious threat to CPB in its history. The rationale for defunding is different this time. Consider Rep, Lamborns assertion above: The money “could be put to better use rebuilding our military and enhancing our national security.”


As you probably know, we have been republishing podcast rankings from Podtrac since the middle of 2016.  We often take the most recent month’s data and compare it with a previous month. 

According to data from Podtrac, all of the top 10 publishers saw significant drops in the estimated number of listeners between October 2016 and January 2017.

As you can see in the chart on the left, the number of listeners dropped between 2% and 40% during the period. 

This causes me to have doubts about the veracity of Podtrac’s rankings.  Perhaps there are good reasons for this aberration.  I sent the email below to Podtrac’s media representative.  If/when I hear back, I will update this article.

Here is my email to Podtrac:

To: Joshua Martin at Podtrac <>

Hi Joshua,

Thank for sending me the latest Podcast Industry Audience Rankings.  I am the publisher of SPARK!, a news blog about public media and particularly public radio. My blog is read by more than 300 unique visitors on each business day. Many of my readers are public media programmers, producers and managers.

I have been featuring Podtrac rankings since you began distributing them. I re-publish your charts or custom charts that use your data with complete attribution. Today is assembled a chart of Unique Monthly Audiences from October 2016 compared to January 2017.  Attached is a copy of my chart.

As you can see, all ten of the top podcast publishers lost a considerable number of listeners between October and January. What could explain this drop?  Has Podtrac changed its methodology?  Is there really a major drop in the number of people listening to podcasts?

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