Tuesday, March 7, 2017


In an effort to make more public radio news programming available to Western North Carolina listeners, WCQS [link] debuted a new full-time News and Information second station yesterday (3/6). With the addition of the second station, the organization is now Blue Ridge Public Radio (BPR).  The new station is called BPR News.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times [link], the move coincides with a heavy investment in BPR’s local news capacity. WQCS will continue its dual format of NPR newsmagazines and Classical music.

BPR News originates from WYQS, licenseD to Mars Hill, NC.  Mars Hill is located about 25 miles north of Asheville. WYCS feeds it’s programming to FM translators in Asheville (107.9),
Brevard (101.5),
Bryson City (99.1), Hendersonville (103.1) and
Waynesville-Hazelwood (98.3).

David Feingold

Regarding WYQS’ relatively small coverage area, BPR CEO David Feingold says WYQS is mainly a “digital play.” 

Over-the-air broadcast service is secondary to BPR News’s online and mobile streaming apps such as NPR One and the new BPR News app. 

Finegold’s logic is that BPR News can be heard anywhere in the world via online and mobile devices.

KEN SAYS: I hope Feingold’s plan works.  However, I recommend a different approach. Of course, digital is the wave of the future but we aren’t there yet. Over 90% of radio listening is still comes from broadcast signals, particularly by listeners in vehicles. It is cool to have listeners in Ghana, but it is unlikely they will support BPR. A local service needs the biggest coverage signal possible.

I would put BRP’s new 24/7 news station on the strongest signal available. That is WCQS’ monster signal.  Here is a comparison of BPR’s two signals:

In WCQS's large coverage area the are a lot of listeners who don’t have a second choice for NPR News.  So, as they say, “fish where the fish are.”


  1. A caveat to your "fish where the fish are" claim.

    As someone who works in public radio and regularly visits Asheville, listens to the station, and travels the area, the mountainous terrain of Western North Carolina makes consistent terrestrial (and occasionally internet) listening challenging. It's not a stretch, for example, to have multiple presets on your car radio just to listen to a program consistently.

    I know what I'm looking for, and it's difficult for me to find the stations even when I'm within the respective coverage area.

  2. Umm. So you take a news station and put it on a signal that is already covered by a news station - I think that's what you're saying. Along with "fish where the fish are."

    Thinking about fish in a lake, there's only so many fish. One fisherman can grab all he wants. But, every time another fisherman hits the banks, the number of fish each fisherman can catch decreases as the other fisherman start catching fish.

    In other words, put a second news station where there's already a news station, and the news audience gets split, resulting in listenership decreasing for the incumbent, and a very small audience for the new service. Nice.

    My guess is that the classical/news service pays the bills for the whole organization, and probably will for some time. Putting the money signal on a smaller station will just cause a drop in membership and underwriting. Before you know it, the organization finds it needs to lease the signals or sell the properties all together. I can think of three "satellator aggregators" who wouldn't mind spending many, many times cash flow for those stations. Double nice.

    Radio is a business - something many people in the business do not understand. Without your bottom line, you're nothing. So, like all businesses you protect the bottom line all you can. Which, I'm sure, is the reason they did what they did. Personally, I wish Feingold and co muck luck and great service.