Tuesday, October 31, 2017


John Kornblom
John Kornblom, thinks in these difficult times, it is essential to have an American voice in the German capital. 

That is why Kornblom, a former American ambassador to Germany (1997-2001), led the effort to keep NPR radio programming on Berlin’s 104,1 FM. 

That station, KCRW Berlin, is on the air and is getting noticed by Germans and international folks alike.

NPR has had a radio presence in Berlin for over two decades. The station, 104,1 FM, evolved from being an Armed Forces Radio operation that began after World War Two. 

Earlier this year NPR decided to end their support for NPR Berlin after years of losing money to keep the station going.


Kornblom was interviewed recently by the German publication Tagesspiegel [link]. He sounds giddy as he describes the opportunity in Tagesspiegel: 

“As a target group we have the English speaking community in Berlin in mind…especially the large group of young people from abroad who do not speak German. That so many young foreigners want to make Berlin their home is one of the city's greatest strengths.”

KCRW, the California cult channel and partner for the Berlin project, is famous for its modern mix of pop and independent, electro and world.

click to enlarge
A portion of the station's current program grid is on the left. Kornblom discussed KCRW Berlin’s programming during a typical day:

From 5 o'clock in the morning there is news from Washington. The Berlin program windows are gradually being built up and expanded.

The night program will be telegraphed to Berlin. "And I'll tell you," says Kornblum: "There is nothing comparable in Berlin yet!  I'm from Detroit, There, techno had started in the 80s.” 

Much of KCRW Berlin’s schedule consists of NPR, APM and PRI favorites such as All Things Considered, The World and Marketplace. Kornblom intends to develop Berlin-based programs once the station has become established.

When NPR pulled out their support, rather than let the station fade away, Kornblom founded a charitable organization to be the local fiduciary for the new KCRW Berlin. He recruited associates and audio folks to staff the station.

Kornblom brought together a group of Germans, Americans and other nationalities to establish KCRW Berlin, including Richard Gaul, who was public relations director at BMW and Anne Kuchenbecker, deputy director of the Aspen Institute in Germany.

KCRW’s contribution to the project is their sexy brand name, programming and operational expertise. Kornblom said one of the reasons he choose KCRW as a partner is because of KCRW’s reputation for airing an eclectic music mix.

Kornblom has lived in Berlin since his ambassadorship ended in 2001. He is a leading expert on transatlantic economic and political affairs and a sought-out business consultant.

KCRW Berlin is being operated now with private funds. Moving forward, Kornblom said the station will follow the NPR method of underwriting. He describes it as a mix of sponsorship and patronage.

However, Kornblom intends to keep a close watch on the bottom line. He told Tagesspiegel:

"Without a strong financial support from Berlin it will not work."


Nielson Audio began releasing October ratings for PPM markets on Monday. The estimates for this sweep will be closely watch because it has been one year since October 2016, the high point of the election season.

There are eight NPR News/Talk stations in the top five markets. Six of the eight increased their estimated weekly listeners in the past. WBEZ had the biggest gain, up 111,000 weekly listeners (20%).

We will have more of the October numbers and trends tomorrow.

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