Thursday, August 10, 2017


In the monthly Podtac rankings of podcast producers both PRX/Radiotopia and the New York Times had impressive gains over the past month. PRX added an estimated 1.6 million Unique Monthly Listeners in the July data compared to June, up 34%. The estimated number of Unique Monthly Listeners to Times podcast was up over 24%.

The three biggest podcast publishers – NPR, WNYC & the This American Life cluster – stayed about the same. CBS dropped out of the top ten.


In the Spring Nielsen Audio Diary markets, big NPR News stations continue to perform well. In Albany, WAMC increased its estimated number of weekly listeners 15% in Spring 2017 compared with Spring 2016. 

Several other NPR News stations put signals into the geographically large Albany-Schenectady-Troy Nielsen Audio metro area.

I learned about a very interesting type of community station in the Albany ratings: WBTN-AM in Bennington, Vermont [link]. I am calling their format “Hyper Local” because you will hear about anything or anyone in Bennington on WBTN. 

WBTN’s local approach is embodied in the station’s mission statement:

WBTN’s programming and emphasis are to serve the community by being a channel for local voices to inform, educate, and entertain our listener community both on the air and over the internet.  WBTN provides live, local, immediate and relevant news and programming to our community.  It collaborates with community members to develop and broadcast locally produced content.  It acts as a platform for organizations and community-wide agencies to take their message to the public.

However, there is one exception to the local mix on the schedule: From 5am to 6am each morning WBTN airs a nationally syndicated show called America This Morning, hosted by Gordon Deal.  

This Morning is a straight-ahead headline news program that is syndicated to commercial talk stations.

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WBTN must have worked out a sweetheart deal to carry this commercially sponsored program. 

The program asks affiliates to carry 12-minutes of inventory per hour. As you can see on This Morning’s program clock on the right, it is clearly intended for commercial stations.   

Maybe this works for WBTN but it seems out of character to me.

Other than Detroit, Grand Rapids is WUOM’s – a/k/a Michigan Radio – most important market. 

Though it originates very little local program, WUOM’s repeater WVGR, dominates NPR News listening in the GR area. 

Two news challengers are beginning to rise as potential competitors to Michigan Radio. WMUK from Kalamazoo and Grand Valley State’s WVGU-FM both had impressive gains in estimated weekly listeners.

Grand Rapids is also served by WPRR – Reality Radio – a community station with a definite point-of-view. WPRR [link] makes no attempt to be “fair and balanced” with it’s strident pro-union and social justice programs. 

On WPRR, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! Sounds like a program for political moderates.

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, Ken...from 5-6am is usually pre-sunrise for most of the year in Bennington VT, and WBTN drops to a mere 85 watts for nighttime power. Perhaps they air that show just to fill the time until the sun rises and the power increases to a full 1000 watts?