Friday, March 3, 2017


SXSW, a truly unique global music, media and lifestyle event, gets underway in Austin a week from today (3/10) and noncommercial music stations will add to the fun. Among the many, many tasty happenings is the VuHaus Radio Day Stage on Friday (3/17).

Radio Day Stage is presented by VuHaus in conjunction with 89.3 The Current, WFUV, KEXP, KXT and KUTX. The show is from Noon to 6:00pm in the Austin Convention Center.  Perhaps best of all, VuHaus will be streaming most of acts live, so you can enjoy the party. The live feed will be available on, VuHaus station websites, NPR Music or  More information is available here.

The music line up for Radio Day Stage is mixture of the hottest new bands and even newer artists and bands.  Scheduled to appear are:

Hippo Campus – 12noon (personal favorite of mine)

Lizzo – 1pm

Chicano Batman – 2 pm

Spoon – 3pm (another personal favorite)

Valerie June – 4 pm

SXSW is filled with fun and educational sessions.  This year there are 24 different “tracks” including Brands & Marketing, Intelligent Future, Film & TV Industry, Music Influencers, Experiential Storytelling, Journalism and many more. Complete SXSW information is available here.


Mike Henry is moderating the panel "Alt Radio: Balancing Discovery vs Playing the Hits," on Friday, March 17, from 3:30 - 4:30pm. Here is the session description:

Despite the myriad tools at our fingertips to "discover" new music, the Commercial Alternative format failed to break more than a handful of artists, particularly in the past year. How do stations, programmers, and DJs find new music and actually play it? We’ll discuss micro options like “Download Discovery” features, specialty & locals-only shows, battles of the band, but also the bigger obvious ways like simply listening to your audience more and seeking out great music personally.

Mike Henry (second from left) at the 2015 NONCOMvention

 In addition to Mike Henry, the panel includes Jeff Morad, PD of WEQX, Manchester, VT; Lazlo, PD of KRBZ, Kansas City; Leslie James, PD of CD102.5, Columbus, OH; and Mike Kaplan, Head of Clear Channel Alternative Rock programming. Read more about the session here.

The Current is making available an excellent guide to SXSW.  See it here.


I’ve been to Austin many times but I’ve never been to SXSW.  If I was going to be there I’d check out the queertastic events and activities, a major component of SXSW. The Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce invites all LGBT folks to Oilcan Harry’s for drinks, dancing and networking on Friday night 3/10.  Complete info is here.

Of special interest is the SXSW Queer Filmmakers Brunch, sponsored by aGLIFF, the organization that sponsors the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Fest. The brunch is on Saturday (3/11).  More info is available here

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Left: Rosetto Kasper; Right: Francis Lam
Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splended Table, has announced [link] her retirement effective at the end of 2017. Her soothing voice has been advising listeners on cooking, cuisine and new recipes for 21 seasons

Her replacement is New York Times Eat columnist Francis Lam, who has been a contributor to the program since 2010. Lam will take over as the new host on March 10th

Rossetto Kasper is one of my favorite hosts. I will miss her enthusiasm and dry sense of humor. My favorite segment of The Splended Table is “what to do with five leftovers in your refrigerator.” The goal is to make something good using only the five ingredients.

As a sometime starving artist, I put her “make something with those leftovers” to work many times.  As I stare at my almost empty fridge, I wonder “what would Lynne do.”

Another reason I like Lynne’s work is that she is not a fine dining snob. Her motto seems to be “let’s make something extraordinary with ordinary ingredients.” As an amateur cook (my hobby) I have learned much from her.

Rosetto Kasper and Producer Sally Swift (Photo: Pioneer Press)
I played a small role in the start of The Splended Table. Back in 1996 when the program began, I was Director of News at Public Radio International (PRI). PRI, at that time still distributed MPR programs. 

Relations between PRI and MPR were strained and PRI was uncertain if they wanted to represent The Splended Table. 

At that time, PRI was distributing Zorba Paster on Your Health, a program with lots of food and recipes, so they could have said "no."

After I got to know Lynne and her producer Sally Swift, I knew this was an exceptional program.  I insisted to top PRI management that the network market and distribute The Splended Table, which they did.  PRI was associated with the program until PRI and MPR parted ways in 2000. I am glad I spoke up when I did. I am sure The Splended Table would have been a hit no matter who distributed it/

Rossetto Kasper told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

“Mind you, I've been lucky. I've have gotten to wear a lot of hats in the food world, but nothing has surpassed these two decades with The Splendid Table. I have had the best gig in the business.”

Best wishes and thank you, Lynne.  Now what can I do with these low mien noodles that stare at me every time I open the fridge.


John Valenta
Tom Taylor Now [link], reports that the former WDCB, Chicago engineer, John Valenta, who stole over $400,000 from the station will be sentenced to at least six years in jail. 

We last talked about Valenta in December [link] when he tried to justify his actions by implying he was entitled to the money because he deserved, and was denied, a full-time job.

Among his scams was creating a non-existent transmitter that constantly needed parts and lots of overtime by Valenta. Valenta plead guilty to felonies rather than have a jury trial. He faces a minimum of six years in prison. Sentencing will be May 19.

Dan Bindert, GM of WDCB, told Chicago Tribune columnist Robert Feder [link]:

“I’m pleased that this chapter in the station’s history is in the past…justice has been served.”

Bindert is the guy who blew the whistle on Valenta. Feder deserves credit for bringing the incident to light.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Lots of folks have noticed that News and Talk stations of all types are experiencing a bump in Nielsen Audio PPM ratings for January 2017.  Typically, listening estimates tend to go down after a national election.  Not this time.

The volatile political developments surrounding President Trump’s election and inauguration continue to be on the minds of listeners. According to Nielsen Audio estimates, the News-Talk format is seeing its best numbers since just before the 2012 election.  Some NPR News stations are setting all-time records.

The trend may continue for a while. President Trump seems to like confrontation and there is no sign he will change his ways.

The January PPM survey period was from January 5 to February 1. News-Talk stations were up in all age-cohorts. Perhaps the most notable jump was the record high AQH shares for listeners ages 18–34. Most other formats dropped in 18-34 listening. Nielsen’s News-Talk cohort includes commercial news and talk stations plus noncom NPR News stations.

Today we are looking a estimates for five PPM markets: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Portland and Seattle-Tacoma. Six of the seven NPR News stations in these markets increased their number of weekly cumulative listeners between Winter 2016 and January 2017. The estimated number of weekly listeners was up over 20% for WRAS in Atlanta, KUT in Austin and WYPR and WAMU in Baltimore.  The only station that had a decline in weekly listeners is dual-format KNKX, Seattle.

Speaking of Sea-Tac, perhaps the honeymoon period for KNKX is over.  Without seeing hour-by-hour data it is impossible to say whether the losses were greater for News listeners or Jazz listeners. Triple A KEXP added weekly listeners, as did Classical KTVI, a repeater of Northwest Public Radio’s classical channel based in Pullman.

WRAS in Atlanta is an amazing success story. They have gained weekly listeners in almost every survey since they began around two years ago. WRAS is Georgia Public Broadcasting’s news flagship even though it only airs news programming 17 hours a day. Elsewhere in Hotlanta, Jazz WCRK and CCM WVFJ were also up.

The January book likely caused smiles at KUT and KUTX.  Both stations had sizable increases in estimated weekly listeners from Winter 2017 to January 2017.  No data is available for Classical KMFA. Alt-country, Americana, Rockabilly and bluegrass hometown gem KDRP made an infrequent appearance.

In Portland, Oregon, KOPB gained 30,000 estimated weekly listeners in the past year. Data for Jazz KMHD was not available.  The two CCM stations listed are repeaters of K-LOVE. Nice to see KBOO make an appearance in the Nielsen data.

NPR News is doing very, very well in Baltimore. Both hometown WYPR and DC’s WAMU gained weekly listeners.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has increased its profile in the Duluth-Superior market by purchasing the license for KZIO 104.3 FM and a related translator. The purchase price is $300,000. Though no announcement has been made, it is anticipated that 104.3 will become the new home for The Current.

The Current is now heard in Duluth on translator W215CG 90.9 FM, which simulcasts WSCN-HD2. The Duluth market appears to be important for MPR.  MPR also has full-power repeater stations for its News and Classical regional networks.

 The Current in Duluth has added a few hours of local original programming but during most hours it repeats KCMP from St. Paul. Duluth-Superior is one of the most competitive noncom markets in the nation. By our count, when 104.3 becomes a noncom there will be 12 noncommercial stations serving the market. 

A Noncommercial Dial Guide for the market is on the right.

An upgrade of The Current’s coverage of the market likely means more problems for local Triple A station KUMD. 

As we reported in early February, according to Nielsen Audio, KUMD lost 42% of its weekly cumulative listeners between Fall 2015 and Fall 2016. Ratings for The Current in Duluth are not available but the perception is that The Current gained many of KUMD’s listeners.


The metro population of the “Twin Ports” is around 280,000 and it is the nation’s 165th biggest metro. It is an international seaport. But the area has been losing population for a number of years. Wages, education levels and housing costs are lower than the national average.

Meanwhile, MPR serves two other out-state markets with much more potential for The Current: Fargo-Moorhead and Sioux Falls. Both markets are around the same size as Duluth-Superior but have been growing at fast paces. MPR operates two full-power stations in Fargo-Moorhead (metro population: 240,000). In Sioux Falls (metro population 252,000), MPR operates three full-power stations. Two of the stations repeat MPR News.

Fargo-Moorhead is a college town where wages and education levels are far above the national average. Sioux Falls is the home of Sanford Health which has brought thousands of highly paid researchers and physicians to the city. Neither market currently has a Triple A station.


As expected, WXPN has named Talia Schlanger to succeed David Dye as host of World Café. The change is official on Monday, April 3rd. Schlanger, 31, has been an interim host for the past several months.

Schlanger’s choice is a generational change for the program. She had been a journalist, producer and host for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), based in Toronto. She was also an actress in professional theater productions, including the first US national tour of Green Day’s American Idiot.

Schlanger is a music fan first. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer [link]:

“Like our listeners, I’m here as a music fan first. Discovering, sharing and connecting over artists is our collective passion, and it’s my mission to serve that as best I can on World Cafe. David Dye is so beloved and respected because for 25 years, audiences have been able to feel the genuine curiosity, excitement and care he has for the music he plays and for the artists who make it. 
I know this is a big change, but I hope our devoted World Cafe crowd will feel the same degree of passion and care coming from me as we charge forward with amps blaring.”
WXPN will pay tribute to David Dye for his 25 years as host and producer of World Cafe with a private special event in Philadelphia on March 1. Listeners, members and donors are being invited to a tribute concert for Dye this Friday, March 3rd.


In San Francisco both NPR News stations, KQED and KALW, had impressive one-year gains in the January 2017 PPM estimates, compared with January 2016. KQED’s estimated 984,500 weekly cumulative is likely a record high. 

KALW appears to be coming to life with a 35% increased in estimated weekly listeners during the same period.

In Boston, WGBH saw dramatic changes in weekly listeners between January 2016 and January 2017. It’s estimated weekly cume grew by 26%. WBUR’s weekly listeners also grew.

There was no bump for KERA in the Dallas-Fort World metroplex.  There appears to be fluid situation among CCM listeners. Education Media Foundation’s K-LOVE repeater KYDA is now the top noncom station in the market.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Michael Skolar
Late last Friday (2/24) we received a message from Michael Skolar, President of Louisville Public Media (LPM) regarding WNKU. (Scroll down to see Skoler’s complete verbatim message.)

One sentence caught my attention:

“We are now looking at options for how we might help save WNKU as a community-focused, Triple A station. We’d love to find a way that makes financial sense for us to help keep WNKU’s service to the local music community not just alive, but thriving.”

Skoler did not specify what options LPM is considering. However, Skolar said that Stacy Owen, PD of WFPK, once worked at WNKU and has connections in Cincinnati.

The ball is still in Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) court.  Though the deal for Bible Broadcasting to acquire WNKU is done, the sale is not final until the FCC gives its approval. It possible, though not likely, NKU could change its mind.

Skoler clarified LPM’s discussions with NKU to date. LPM did not offer a Local Management Agreement (LMA), their intention was always to purchase WNKU. Apparently NKU’s decision to sell to Bible Broadcasting was a surprise.  Though LPM was still in negotiating with NKU, they never had a chance to make a counter offer.


Date 2/24/17
From: Michael Skoler
President, Louisville Public Media

I joined Louisville Public Media in December, heading back into local public radio after more than six years running digital for PRI and many prior years at WGBH, MPR, APM and NPR. I saw your newsletter today mentioning WNKU and thought I would clarify LPM’s interest.

I know that Cincinnati Public Radio proposed an operating agreement for Northern Kentucky University, but we never did. We were looking at purchase of WNKU’s original signal when I joined LPM and we had hired Public Media Company to help us evaluate the opportunity. For all the reasons you mentioned in the newsletter, we knew that the University was looking for a sale.

As a new leader, I needed to get up to speed on our own shop and how a purchase might affect it. I asked for time and Public Media Company heard from WNKU’s broker that there was no other pending offer. We were surprised to suddenly hear of the sale without any warning or a chance to make an offer.

We are now looking at options for how we might help save WNKU as a community-focused, Triple A station. Stacy Owen, the PD of WFPK, was a host and music director at WNKU, so she knows the market and still has strong connections in Cincinnati. WFPK often features Cincinnati bands and we sometimes host concerts with them in Louisville. We’d love to find a way that makes financial sense for us to help keep WNKU’s service to the local music community not just alive, but thriving.


Both commercial and noncommercial news and talk stations appear to be benefiting from news regarding the transition and early weeks of the Trump administration. Common wisdom is that listening to news and talk stations goes down after elections are over. Things are different now because of inflammatory statements, controversial plans and a growing resistance to Trumpism.

Nielsen Audio has released estimates for January 2017.  We compared the new data with listening in January 2016. WNYC-FM, WAMU and KNOW all had major increases in estimated weekly listeners.

In New York, even WNYC-AM appeared to benefit from the hot news cycle. The number of weekly listeners grew by 41% from January 2016 to January 2017.  WNYC-FM’s estimated 907,900 weekly cumulative listeners may be a record high for the station.

Also in New York, Classical WQXR posted a nice gain of weekly listeners.  Jazz WBGO and Triple A WFUV both had declines.  There is one new station on the chart: WKLV airs satellite-delivered K-LOVE.

WAMU is currently the top station in the DC market according to Nielsen Audio average quarter hour share rankings. Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP leads WAMU in weekly cumulative listeners, but that gap is tightening.

KNOW’s estimated weekly listeners may also be a record in the Twin Cities. Triple A KCMP a/k/a 89.3 The Current continues to be a strong performer. 

Jazz noncom KBEM may have also set a new high in weekly listeners, up 35% in the past year.