Friday, February 10, 2017



On January 31st we reported [link] on a post by consultant Mark Ramsey concerned his research about Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) listeners and donors. Ramsey’s conclusion is that the magnitude of giving to CCM stations is steady or rising, but the total number of givers is declining. And, the donors are getting older and less aware the programming they support. Check out Mark's blog at [link].

Ramsey also had timely feedback about differences towards supporting non-profit media by younger and older generations. Ramsey concluded that many younger folks don’t embrace philanthropic giving and expect something more than “free music.”  I wondered aloud if public stations were in the same situation.

Mark Ramsey wrote:


Thanks for the comments, Ken!

How well this applies to Public Radio news stations depends on what the metrics are for these stations. For one thing, public radio content is increasingly unbundled from the linear broadcast thus (hypothetically) opening up more channels for support.

I'm guessing that 90% or more of a public radio news station's audience ignores pitches at pledge time. In Christian radio it's closer to 95%. The argument for supporting public radio is obvious but have you given me - the donor - that non-donors don't get for free.

KEN SAYS: It is always good to from Mark Ramsey! Mark was the person who recommended I start this blog. I’ve also observed changes in foundation expectations for programing they support. They place greater value on tangible results, rather than “feel goods.” Philanthropy and crowd sourcing can get you started but eventually you need to put meat on the donor table.


Earlier this week we reported on the growing problem of hackers hijacking Barix STL devices, often Emergency Alert Systems, causing the station to air a continuous loop of rappers YG & Nipsey Hussle singing “FDT – F*** Donald Trump.”

Reader Kevin Trueblood wrote:

Many of the "hacked" stations we password protected. They just used either a weak password or it was brute force defeated.

Barix has been vulnerable to these attacks because it can be programmed to play just about any media file and any web stream in existence. This is different than other vendors like Tieline and Comrex who don't allow that to happen.

The big reason they are the top choice for LPFM stations is they are cheaper than other vendors as well. And yes, they probably were setup with someone with some technical knowledge but not a lot. Stations need to prevent the Barix box admin ports from being visible to the outside world to prevent this in the future.


Aaron Read wrote:


What's your thoughts on KRCC doubling-down against a superior-resourced "foe" in CPR, vis a vis the "fight" between KUSP and KAZU? 

Theoretically, wouldn't KRCC be better off ceding the news space to CPR and doubling down on music?

KEN SAYS: The situations are very different.  Unlike KUSP, KRCC has been sanely managed since the station began. The problem at KRCC is that Colorado College (the licensee) and previous KRCC management have been napping while the media world changed around them. I have confidence that folks at KRCC now know the situation and are acting on it.


In August 2016 we published the news that R&B singer Percy Sledge had died [link]. We toasted Sledge’s memorable hit record When a Man Loves a Woman and what it meant to the DJs who played the song back then. We received a comment from a reader who that we keep his name confidential.

The confidential reader wrote:

I've been meaning to send you an e-mail for quite some time telling you that I am enjoying your articles. I really liked the one about you playing ‘When a man loves a woman’ by Percy Sledge in 1966. Great story. Good thing, however you weren't working in [redacted] at that time. The Top 40 stations here never played that song. Unbelievable, but true.

Me in The Window on Main Street, July 1969
KEN SAYS: Thank you so much for writing.  It is true that some Top 40 stations in the mid and late 1960s didn’t play certain records because they felt they were too racy for their children. Meanwhile the kids were out back listening to taboo songs on their transistor radios, the “mobile devices” at that time.

The story in post – The Night I Channeled Percy Sledge – is one of my most amazing moments from my earliest years in radio. Back then I felt that the songs I played were messages to people I knew. The songs said what I really wanted to say. I was searching for someone like the young woman outside the station's showcase windows who sang and danced to that song with me.

So do a favor for me.  Read my story below while you listen to Percy Sledge:

My story:

I had just started my first radio job as a ‘KISD Good Guy’ in Sioux Falls.  KISD’s air studio was in a large glass display window on a busy street. We called it The Window on Main Street.

People would walk and drive by the showcase window all day and all night. Folks liked to see the DJ live on the air.  I felt sort of like a monkey in a zoo.

The Window on Main Street was located in a seedy neighborhood close to several notorious strip clubs. 

I worked the graveyard shift, so sometimes the people watching got interesting after the bars closed at 2:00am. Sometimes drunk bar patrons would pee on the window.

That night I decided to play ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’. As usual, I walked the ramp, a DJ term for introducing a song by talking over the instrumental intro. Then I got up for the air chair and walked by the The Window on Main Street.

A beautiful young Native American woman appeared on the other side of the glass, just inches from me. I think she was a dancer at one of the bars.

There was a speaker playing outside the window and she was singing along with Percy while looking through the glass at me. I went with my vibe and started singing along with Percy too. She and I were both mouthing the words and sorta dancing with each other.  We both sang passionately. She and I both craved every word that Percy sang. We lived the song together. For a brief moment we had lonely connection. We were both crying as we sang together.

The song began to fade and I jumped back behind the control board. I hit a station jingle, and played the next record – ‘Pushin’ To Hard’ by The Seeds.

When I looked up, she was gone. But I remember her whenever I hear ‘When A Man Loves A Woman;. Thank you, Percy.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


When I talk with people who inquire about my program marketing consulting one of the first questions I ask is Have you got a program clock? You would be surprised how many program producers don’t have one. I ask the question to separate the people who know what they are doing and those who do not.

The program clock is the architecture behind the content.  Clocks provide a template that maximizes the program’s flow, makes certain the hottest content is heard frequently and provides stations with a roadmap to what comes next. Clocks are a good way to make sure there is a balance between what is familiar and what is new.

Even freeform podcasts make use of some elements of a clock: Introductions of who is speaking, what topics are being discussed and basic storytelling technique. Effective podcasters know how to reintroduce themselves periodically and combine old elements with new ideas.

However, some clocks are used as control devices, to make certain nothing unexpected ever is heard. This is true for both music and news. The clock can be used to “red line” some things out of the program mix.

Today we are featuring several radio program clocks. –Please note that some of the examples may be dated. Click on the images to expand them.


You are probably familiar with variations of this clock but the basics remain the same. Most of the events happen at precise times to interface with automation systems. 

One aspect of this clock has always baffled me: Why doesn’t the news start at the top of the hour? 

The one-minute billboard seems useless and often means the top story of the day it repeated three times in the first few minutes of the hour.


I use the Marketplace clock when I am talking with clients how to maximize their underwriting opportunities within a program.  Marketplace is the master of monetizing a a program clock. 

I can see as many as nine places in the clock on the left to place on-air credits.

Back when General Electric was their primary funder, Marketplace embedded GE’s advertising theme song We Bring Good Things to Life into the program’s theme song.



This clock was in use when Imus in the Morning was simulcast on MSNBC. 

Because It needed to work for both TV and radio affiliates, it was absolutely precise.   

Don Imus is/was a master at keeping the sound of the show loose while hitting “hard posts.”

#4 WABC 1932      

Set the way-back machine for this one. Wake me up when it is time for Anne Leal at the Organ. She does a hot version of Stairway to Heaven.

(Click to enlarge)


This commercial radio clock is guaranteed to cause listener tune-out. 

Note the block between :20 and :42: over half of the time is devoted to commercials.


Fact: WWV is the most powerful noncommercial station in the nation: 250,000 watts to be exact.

WWV is operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

WWV’s signal originates from a secure compound near Fort Collins, Colorado. 

A sister station that serves the same purpose is in Hawaii. You probably have devices in your home that rely of WWV’s exact time.  And, no, they don’t play requests unless you want to know the current time.


Clocks keep the trains running on time, no what they contain. 

 Gun Talk is a sophisticated commercial radio weekend program that is designed to air via automation. 

An old friend of mine from Transtar Radio Network, Skip Joeckel [link], tells me demand is currently rising for Gun Talk.  

Sign of the times, I guess.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Last week [link] we brought you the news that WCHQ, a LPFM station in Louisville, was suddenly hacked and began airing an anti-trump song that contained profane lyrics. The cause of the hack was unknown at first. It turns out the hacker(s) entered WCHQ’s transmission chain via an Emergency Alert System (EAS) manufactured by Barix, a company based in Switzerland [link].

It turns out that WCHQ is not alone. According to the FCC and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) they are one of more than a dozen similar hacking incidents at stations using Barix STL devices. SBE issued this cautionary advisory on February 4th at the urging of the FCC:

It has come to our attention that unauthorized persons recently may have illegally gained access to certain audio streaming devices used by broadcasters and may have transmitted potentially offensive or indecent material to the public.

We believe that the reported cases involved unauthorized access to equipment manufactured by Barix, which some licensed broadcasters use for studio-to transmitter (STL), remote broadcast (remote) and similar audio connections.

We understand that the unauthorized access to the devices may be due, in part, to instances where the licensee fails to set a password for devices with no default password, or to re-set default passwords on the Barix device.

Stations that have Barix devices are asked to take immediate action. Failure to do so leaves the station vulnerable to a sudden appearance of rappers YG & Nipsey Hussle singing “FDT – F*** Donald Trump” on a continuous loop. Here is their sort of catchy tune:  

On Monday 2/6, another Barix Box was hacked at WFBS-LP in Salem, SC. A week earlier KQES-LP in Bellevue, WA, was hacked and aired YG & Nipsey Hussle for six days. It also happened at KCGF-LP in San Angelo, TX and the folks at the station could not figure out how to turn YG & Nipsey off. Reports of similar attacks have increased dramatically since Trump’s inauguration.

LPFM stations seem to be the choice for hackers, perhaps because most LPFM stations apparently don’t have the resources to secure their audio and transmission equipment. Stations are responsible for the programming they air.

Authorities do not know the source of the hacks but the attacks appear to be coming from an international location.


Another reason the hackers are targeting Barix Exstreamer devices may be because of the ample information the company makes available. 

I went to the Barix site [link] and had no problem accessing schematics, protocols and password entry. (An example is on the right.)

While this information is helpful for Barix clients, it is available  to anyone.  Perhaps Barix should require passwords to gain access to its devices.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Most of the full-time Classical music stations in medium and small size markets added new weekly cumulative listeners between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016. According to Nielsen Audio estimates 62% increased their number of weekly listeners; 38% had declines.

We are currently tracking 23 stations including two that originate PPM markets. We have Nielsen Audio data for 21 of the stations. For ease of reading we have organized the stations into three groups, ranked by the number of Fall 2016 estimated weekly listeners.

KBSU, Boise, had the largest numeric gain (12,200) and Colorado Public Radio Classical stations outside of Denver had the largest percentage gain (41%).

WXXI-FM, Rochester, had the largest numeric loss (13,400), and WDPR, Dayton, had the largest percentage loss.


Arizona Public Media originates two full-time channels: NPR News on KUAZ and Classical on KUAT. 

Both stations are growing their audiences. In addition to listeners in the Tucson metro, KUAT [link] blankets most of southern Arizona and has many listeners outside the metro.

Andy Bade
A big reason for KUAT’s success is the work of Andy Bade, Classical Music Program Coordinator and Afternoon Host. Bade lives the music. He provides listeners the latest news about events and people in the Tucson music scene.

Bade recently earned a PhD in choral conducting and sings in the Tucson Symphony Chorus and Tucson Chamber Artists.

Also, WMHT in Albany, KUCO in Oklahoma City and Northwest Public Radio in Spokane added substantial numbers of estimated weekly listeners.  We discussed KUSC's impact in earlier posts. Like KCRW and KPCC, KUSC keeps making inroads into the exurban LA markets of Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Oxnard-Ventura and San Luis Obispo. In the Fall 2016 PPM ratings for Los Angeles, KUSC had 740,300 estimated weekly listeners.


Like the Boise State Broncos of college football fame, the two BSU program channels, Classical KBSU and 24/7 News KBSX, know what it is like to win. 

KBSU [link] is involved in every major aspect of the Boise classical music scene.

Carl Scheider
Boise radio legend Carl Scheider is a popular on-air host. He hosts Idaho Music, a weekly program that features upcoming events and performances, plus interviews of Idaho artists.

Scheider also hosts Private Idaho, a weekly eclectic music mix show based on his extensive knowledge of several types of music. He has spent over 30 years behind the mic including stints at commercial Country KQFC, Classic Rock KLCI and Triple A KF95.

Other stations of note that greatly increased their number of estimated weekly listeners are WUOL in Louisville, KWTU in Tulsa and KLRE in Little Rock.


Full-time Classical stations in smaller markets are lifelines for the faithful. This is certainly true at WBNI [link], which serves northeast Indiana from Fort Wayne. Each of the 13,400 estimated weekly listeners to WBNI are treated like family. 

WBNI keeps classical fans up to date with Symphonically Yours, hosted by Rob Nylund. He is a retired research scientist who moved to Indiana from the Bay Area.  Nylund worked at KSJS in San Diego.

Also, Colorado Public Radio’s Classical channel is doing very well outside of the Denver metro. It is nice to see Maine Public Radio’s Classical channel up and running.

Monday, February 6, 2017


I lived in Colorado Springs in the mid and late 1980s.  I have never seen a city that is more polarized politically, socially and economically. Friends in the Springs tell me the divide has only gotten worse. Consider these current headlines:

YIN: Representative Doug Lamborn introduced legislation that would strip federal funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

YANG: KRCC GM Tammy Terwelp announces a new schedule that puts fresh news first.

Recently we published [link] a case study examining KRCC’s programming choices given the escalated presence of Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) News channel on a full-power repeater station.  Though we are not taking sides in this competitive situation, we are showing options for KRCC to succeed against a sophisticated big-market public media company.

The chart on the right compares CPR’s news programming (during key hours when the most people are listening to radio) with KRCC’s current schedule and new schedule that begins March 6th.

KRCC’s GM Tammy Terwelp is making some excellent competitive changes. I have highlighted in RED some of Terwelp’s best moves:

1. KRCC is dropping music during daytime hours and is moving music programming to the evening.

2. News will be "first and fresh" on KRCC. For example, KRCC will be dropping the Morning Edition rollover from 9am – 10am and adding John Hockenberry’s The Takeaway

KRCC is doing the same thing at 2pm, when they will air The World’s first feed. Being first with the day's news encourages tune-in.

3. KRCC is also putting fresh news first at 3pm with the addition of Marketplace’s first feed.  This is when many west coast stations air Marketplace.

4. KRCC will begin airing A1 from 10am – Noon. The new WAMU/NPR program is perhaps the best choice to compete with CPR’s excellent talk and interview program Colorado Matters.

Perhaps Terwelp’s most important change will take more time to develop: creating local news capacity.   

As we noted in case study, KRCC now has virtually no local news presence. 

Competitor CPR has three dozen people on their news team including one that will be based in the Springs.

Terwelp told Colorado College’s newspaper The Catalyst [link]:

We’re working on our strategic plan right now.  We really want to expand our news department and our local content development. We have to be producing content that people are interested in, that is relevant, and that matters.

Vicky Gregor

Other changes as of March 6th include moving KRCC’s daily music programming, hosted by Vicky Gregor, to 7pm – Midnight. Blue Plate Special will be moving to Saturday evening.

Terwelp is putting into practice what she learned at shops such as WBEZ, Chicago and WESA, Pittsburgh.   

She has been part of several innovative  public media shops in the past two decades. Terwelp is also doing consulting and project work.  

Check out her personal website [link].


You might say Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) is persistent.  Or maybe he just likes to suck up to the alt-right in DC. As he has done seven (7) times in the past, Lamborn is introducing a bill to eliminate federal funding for CPB. He describes CPB as “a superfluous government program.”

Lamborn is hoping that the Trump administration and GOP Congress will help him get the defunding legislation passed this time. He is using the argument that CPB needs to vanish so that the money “could be put to better use rebuilding our military and enhancing our national security.”

Lamborn added in an interview with the Denver Post [link]:

“American taxpayers do not want their hard-earned dollars funding superfluous government programs just because that is the way things have always been done. I am totally convinced in a free market where you did not inject taxpayer subsidies, the programming would stand on its own two feet.”

In the interview, Rep. Lamborn said the cuts aren’t personal because "likes" certain public broadcasting programs. He said defunding is necessary now because “…we have to pick and choose our battles. It’s just one of the ways we can deal with the spending problem in Washington.