Kit Jensen, Chief Operating Officer of Cleveland’s public media organization ideastream [link] has announced her intention to retire in early 2018. Jensen is one of the people I like to call public radio’s greatest generation – the men and women who built today’s public radio system.
Jensen began her work in Cleveland in 1987 when she became GM of NPR News/Talk station WCPN. At the time, she saw that public broadcasters in Cleveland were operating independently and often not in harmony. Jensen knew that all of the organizations could benefit from greater synergy. This led Jensen and other like-minded individuals to design and create ideastream.
The organization began to take shape in 1999 when WCPN and PBS affiliate WVIZ-TV began discussions about merging their stations. ideastream officially began in 2001 with Jensen as its COO. The new organization quickly became successful and built its new headquarters called the Idea Center ® in Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland in 2010.
Classical WCLV-FM became part of ideastream in 2012 when they became a noncommercial station.
As COO, Jensen was in charge of station operations, technology, content and community engagement.
Today ideastream includes 5 public TV program streams, WCPN, WCLV, training for teachers and caregivers and Civic Commons, a digital community engagement platform.
Before moving to Cleveland, Jensen, now 67, co-founded Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) in Anchorage. She managed APRN from 1978 – 1987. She has been on the NPR Board of Directors twice, 1983 – 1989 and 2010 – 2016. Jensen also served on the board at Public Radio International (PRI) from 1997 – 2009.
During her time operating APRN, she became known for a deal she arranged to satisfy a seven-figure debt to an Alaska bank. Rather than paying the debt with cash, Jensen persuaded the bank to accept underwriting announcements in trade. Sweet deal.
Dave Kanzeg, who worked with Jensen for over 27 years as the programmer for WCPN and WSIZ-TV, shared his thoughts about Kit Jensen:
Prior to my retirement in 2014, I spent twenty-seven years working with Kit. She took WCPN, once a floundering station with almost-terminal indebtedness, into a powerful local voice and essential community asset.
Working for Kit Jensen felt like having a graduate level education with an especially gifted thesis advisor; one who constantly pushed to seek greater understanding and higher levels of performance from me and my staff.
The most profound lesson she taught me was to turn my programming attention (and that of my staff) 180 degrees--from concentrating on the transmitter's output to concentrating on the IMPACT of the output on audiences.
OCTOBER 2017 NIELSEN AUDIO PPM TRENDS
Jensen is probably proud of WCPN’s latest ratings. In the October 2017 survey WCPN added over 45,000 new weekly listeners, up 31% from October 2016.
Elsewhere in Ohio, it appears to be business as usual in Columbus. I keep WCBE in the chart because it attracts a considerable number of listeners with its dual NPR News and Triple A format.
In Cincinnati, I appears that NPR News/Talk WVXU is continuing to gain new weekly listeners. WVXU’s October 2017 estimated weekly listeners were up 7% over October 2016.
Check out WOBO [link], a one-of-a-kind community station that offers (as their slogan says) Something for Everybody. WOBO’s volunteer shows are like a retro time capsule.