Friday, January 6, 2017


Torey Malatia and the Providence skyline
Cheers abound in Rhode Island and elsewhere for a major coverage upgrade by Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) via the acquisition of WUMD 89.3 FM, North Dartmouth, MA. The new signal will give RIPR crystal clear coverage of Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts. This is a vast improvement of RIPR’s ability to serve the public.

Expectations are high for Malatia. The Providence Journal called him a “public radio rock star” when they announced he was been hired as CEO of RIPR in 2015. Malatia is well known in public media circles for leading WBEZ, Chicago’s rise from a sleepy school board station to one of the leading public media companies in the nation.

RIPR began over a decade ago when they acquired WRNI-AM from WBUR for $1.8 million.  RIPR then added three low-power FM signals but metro Providence coverage was still spotty. 

On the right is RIPR’s map showing the new 89.3 coverage compared to current coverage. On the RIPR website [link] Malatia said RIPR plans to spend an additional $1 million to move the transmitter for WUMD closer to central Providence.

RIPR has had difficulty competing with WGBH, Boston, because of its limited coverage.  According to Nielsen Audio/RRC data from Fall 2016, WGBH had an estimated 2.1 AQH Share and 101,000 weekly cumulative listeners compared with RIPR’s 0.7 AQH Share and 42,700 weekly cume in the Providence metro.

In November 2016 we reported on RIPR’s efforts to sell WRNI-AM to Latino Public Radio [link], a Spanish-language noncom that has been operating the station via a LMA.

Malatia may be a rock star to some folks.  To me he is forward thinking manager who attracts incredibility talented people. Torey Malatia has good karma.


Vidal Guzman with son Vidal III
Vidal Guzman, Senior Manager of Station Relations at Public Radio International (PRI) for over 22 years, tragically died Monday evening (1/2/17) while attempting to keep his 19-year-old son from drowning, according to press reports. Guzman and his family were on vacation in Puerto Rico. Guzman was 60. His son, Vidal Guzman III, is fine.

Guzman, a friend of many people working in public media, perhaps was best known for his work promoting PRI’s flagship news program The World. I worked in the office next to Guzman for three years when PRI was in Butler Square in downtown Minneapolis. He was a warm, caring, and generous man who would always take time to help others.  The thing I will remember the most about Vidal was his contagious laugh echoing through the hallways at PRI. 


• Regarding our post earlier this week [link] Brietbart: First To Go On the Block is CPB, Mike Savage, GM of WBAA, West Lafayette, IN and a media consultant wrote:

Mike Savage GM & Consultant
I along with others in the public radio system am concerned about future federal funding for CPB. We must continue to engage local legislators and our congressional delegationsons though listener/constituent meetings with them.

When congress hears how important public broadcasting funding is directly from listeners – that is a much more powerful message than broadcasters trying to contact congress directly.

Now that we are in 2017 – we have a milestone to message around – 50 years since President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act.

It is time to get busy!

• Regarding our December 8, 2016 post All Purpose Advice from Tamar Charney [link], commercial radio consultant David Martin wrote:

Bravo, Ken. Thanks for sharing. We can all learn something from Tamar (and from you). Cheers for your reporting.

David Martin is one of the most innovative and respected people working in commercial media.  He publishes the blog N=1 [link].  I deeply appreciate his praise.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” The same can be said about the environment in which you work. If you are working in a toxic shop, changes are you will smell toxic too.

Today’s message is for folks who are looking for their second or third job in public media. You know the basics but you want to move into a faster lane where you can learn from the best and hone your skills.  You might be looking for a place where you can stay awhile or one that is a ticket to anywhere in the biz.

When considering a new gig, here are some positive traits and a couple of not-so-positive factors to be aware of:


1.) Demonstrated financial success

CPB-funded stations are required to post their financial disclosure statements on their station website. Almost all CPB stations do this but some hide them a bit.  You want to see a good distribution of revenue sources.  Use caution if the organization receives over 15% of their income from CPB and/or an institution such as a university or state government. The key question is: Will this operation continue to be sustainable?

2.) Wise use of related digital platforms

A shop doesn’t need to be on every digital platform but it should be outstanding on any every platform they are on. Check all of the social media links.  Look for recent, substantial activity, not a “cob web” page.

3.) Some, but not a lot, of turnover, particularly in management

You want to work where new people enter the mix occasionally and some current employees move up the internal ladder.

4.) A place where freelancing is not only permitted, it is encouraged

It is important to be able to have your work appear on national programs, blogs and social media. This goes for volunteer and paying work. Look for a shop that takes pride in employees that are entrepreneurs of their creative talents.

5. ) Learn about the alumni

Ask for the names of people who have previously worked there and where they are now.  Then contact some of them for their thoughts on the place you are considering.


1.) Be careful of public media shops that are part of academic departments. These places often have internal turf battles and sacred cows that have nothing to do will media.

2.) Be cautious about shops that have lots of employee turnover or virtually no turnover.


Here current openings at three places with proven track records of treating employees well and encouraging personal growth:

Vermont Public Radio
All Things Considered Host & Reporter

VPR’s John Van Hoesen is looking for a multi-skilled individual to be part of the statewide news network.   

VPR has two distinct program streams: NPR News and full-time Classical music.

VPR is one of the most forward-thinking smaller market shops.  They are known for excellent public service in a place that really appreciates and supports it. 

VPR just moved into a brand new facility with the latest toys. More information is at [link].

WXPN, Philadelphia
World Cafe Producer  

World Café is now in its 25th year as a daily national Triple A program. They are looking for a producer to assist hosts and contributors in developing creative ideas, research, post-production and editing. 

WXPN is particularly keen to find candidates who are deeply immersed in the world of music, particularly AAA. Check out the gig at [link].

Regional Reporter for Southern Colorado

We have reported about Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) growing statewide news presence several times in the recent past.

Now CPR is looking to fill a new position: General Assignment Reporter & Backup host. The “beat” spans from Colorado Springs to the New Mexico border to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains.

The reporter chosen will cover education, environment, government, health, arts and business stories with in-depth feature reports for radio, digital and social media platforms. CPR is particularly interested in hearing from folks who have a passion for news and 3-5 years journalism experience. See more info here [link].

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio in Albany, has been on the front lines of public media since 1981. 

Chartock is known as an opinionated fellow with a keen eye for political trends. 

He recently released his Fearless Predictions for 2017 in a letter to WAMC members [link].

Chartock is not optimistic about continued funding for CPB.  He predicts:

The new President will submit a budget that eliminates all radio funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That will mean about $400,000 dollars out of the WAMC budget.

Chartock foresees a “perfect political storm” that may cut or eliminate a large number of government programs. Republican legislators are now compiling their “bucket list” of changes they want to happen. Federal funding for CPB is likely to be on the dis list.


Chartock cautions his readers that his predictions are things he doesn’t want to happen, things he wants to happen and things that will happen. It is left to the reader to decide which is the case for each of his predictions.

Below is the complete list. I have edited slightly Chartock’s verbiage for brevity and clarity:

• Donald Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted in the Senate.

The grounds will be conclusive evidence of collusions with the Russians to fix the elections. His fate will be sealed because of the leadership in the Senate of six Republicans led by John McCain and Lindsay Graham. The senators will be honored as super patriots.

• WAMC will receive more contributions than ever before in its history.

Donors will say, “We can’t afford NOT to do this. The future of the country is dependent on the First Amendment. We can’t do without OUR radio station.”

• WAMC will lead a charge when NPR raises its rates.

Chartock says WAMC can pay more but he is concerned about the fate of all those other little stations that won’t be able to cut it. NPR will have to learn to live within its mean just as WAMC and every other station does.”

• A MAJOR foundation will decide it is time to make awards to NPR stations around the country.

The foundation President will say: This is where the best work is being done and we have to support it. NPR brass will not be pleased.

• Donald J. Trump will unleash a fierce attack on the First Amendment.

Trump will use his personal family resources to sue news organizations in spurious attacks about media reporting. He will literally bankrupt many of the news organizations that he attacks. The Washington Post will win several Pulitzer Prizes. The New York Times will win one.

• Mort Zuckerman will sell the New York Daily News.

• The New York Post will cease publication.

Chartock also includes several predictions that are deeply personal or appear to be local Albany topics:

• I will receive more anti-Semitic threats.

• Two WAMC staff members will become parents for the second time.

• Chartock will lay down the law to his beloved staff members who smoke.

• WAMC will be offered a huge incentive to move its operations to a suburban community.

However, Chartock will advise against taking the multi million-dollar offer because “Our work is here where the rainbow really shines.” Albany’s City government will become so concerned that WAMC will move out of Albany they will name the Central Avenue Intersection with Quail Street, “WAMC Square.”


Larry Monroe
For over three decades Larry Monroe made Austin radio sing. Monroe was the voice of alt-country, rockabilly and Americana music programs first at KUT and more recently KDRP. reported [link] that Monroe was taken to the hospital Friday morning (12/30/16) with respiratory problems. He died a short time later. He was 71.
Stewart Vanderwilt, GM of KUT, praised Monroe for his work at both stations:

“He was, and will always be a part of KUT’s music legacy. After 29 years at KUT, he extended his career and influence at KDRP. We share our condolences with his longtime partner, close friends and radio fans far and wide.”

He’s a legend, plain and simple.

A private burial service will take place in Hartford City, Indiana. A public memorial service in Austin is being planned. Details have not yet been finalized.

Monroe created and hosted programs such as Blue Monday, Segway City, Texas Radio, Phil Music and Folkways. Audio of several of Monroe’s programs is available at [link].

Monday, January 2, 2017


The radical right-wing info site Brietbart laid down a marker [link] recently when they called on President-elect Trump and congressional republicans to axe funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  

The reason: Trump needs the cash for infrastructure and defense. In other words, CPB is NOT essential. 

The truth isn’t far from the surface [I’ve re-blogged the entire piece below].  It is all about public radio and television violating (what Beitbart says) is a clause in CPB’s charter that “requires strict non-partisan programing.”

The article then cites anecdotal evidence referring to a 2016 NPR “article” describing Trump’s election as nostalgia for a whiter America.”

Public media’s response so far has been muted. The most recent coverage I could find in Current is from November 30th [link] The gist of that article is Don’t Worry, Be Happy because we have friends in high places.

This is a myopic view of the situation.  Things are different this time. The alt-right has the leverage and ability to gut CPB and many other programs they feel are not essential. Folks, this is really happening. The leaders of public radio ahould chart their own course in order to stay in business after the Trump axe falls.

I am not yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. I hope people who say “we’ve got it covered” are right. If so, I will apologize for wasting your reading time and offer you a refund.


With President-elect Trump promising to pay for his infrastructure and defense spending by defunding non-essential federal spending, one of the first programs on the block could be the almost $500 million spent on public broadcasting.

Despite repeated efforts to kill federal funding of public broadcasting since Republicans won the House in 2010 and Presidential-nominee Mitt Romney made it a campaign promise in 2012, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are spending $470.7 million in U.S. taxpayer cash to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) this year, which provides 15 percent of PBS television and 10 percent of NPR radio broadcasting funding.

Although their charter requires strict non-partisan programing, the public broadcasters are accused of leaning left. An NPR article described the 2016 election results as “nostalgia for a whiter America.”

After Joel Pollak, who serves as Breitbart’s Senior Editor-at-Large and In-house Counsel, defended its Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon from false and defamatory claims of antisemitism and “white nationalism” in a Nov. 16 interview, NPR’s ombudsman/public editor Elizabeth Jensen recommended that the taxpayer-funded radio news service bar future live interviews of conservatives, who may be “normalizing hate speech.”

Instead, guests with presumably controversial views should be pre-taped, she said, so that their opinions might be “contextualized.” (NPR clarified on Monday evening that it will continue to air live interviews with conservatives.)

The CPB was supposedly founded as a non-partisan not-for-profit corporation in 1967 as part of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society.” The President trumpeted that by signing the bill, “It announces to the world that our nation wants more than just material wealth; our nation wants more than a ‘chicken in every pot.’ We in America have an appetite for excellence, too.”

Originally funded with a $5 million grant, the CPB quickly became controversial for its liberal programing, such as Washington Week in Review, Bill Moyers, The Great American Dream Machine, and the documentary Banks and the Poor, which alleged that many major banks discriminated against poor customers.

The Carter administration was unsuccessful in 1978 when it tried to convince a Democratic Congress to appropriate $200 million to CPB for each of the next five years.

But since then, U.S. taxpayers have spent generously on public broadcasting — over $10 billion in the past five decades. Despite recessions, CPB’s budget has only been trimmed four times during the period.

In keeping with President Johnson’s statement that “our nation wants more than a chicken in every pot,” public broadcasting not-for-profits are known for paying egregiously high executive compensation. According to the latest data available for the 2013 fiscal year, PBS’s Paula Kerger pocketed $779,954 in salary, NPR’s Gary Knell banked $756,575, and CPB’s Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $434,364.

It is extremely difficult to break down exactly what portion of salaries is paid by taxpayers through CPB, PBS and NPR program grants.

The launch of the Great Society coincided with the beginning of the end of America’s blue-collar prosperity. Over the next 40 years, working class Americans have seen their wages shrink as factories and mines and shops in their communities were shuttered.

It was working class Americans that just gave President-elect Donald Trump his improbable victory. They want the type of tax cuts and infrastructure spending that will put back the “chicken in every pot.“ Many see little or no benefit in continued federal spending on elitist public broadcasting.