Friday, April 21, 2017


Wednesday (4/19) was a special day for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Not only did MPR honor its founder – Bill Kling-- by putting Kling’s name on their HQ, MPR’s KNOW had perhaps its best performance ever in the Nielsen Audio March PPM estimates.

Bill Kling (Photo: Star Tribune)
The new name – Kling Public Media Center – had been in the works since Kling retired as CEO of both MPR and American Public Media. 

The actual change was held off until now so that it coincided with MPR's 50th anniversary.

In a press statement, Jon McTaggart, President and CEO of American Public Media Group, said about Kling:

“His entrepreneurial spirit and passion for public service continue to inspire us as we begin our next 50 years. What Bill has done – not just for Minnesota and MPR, but for public media audiences across the country – is unique and lasting. The creativity and innovation within the walls of the Kling Public Media Center will always be a living testament to what Bill began a half century ago.”

Bill Kling (left) and his posse in 1978 (Photo: MPR)
KEN SAYS: Bill Kling was public radio’s most consequential change agent. He embraced both sides of public media’s “public/private” partnership.” He brought competition to the noncommercial radio biz when it needed it most. 

In 1983, when NPR almost went bankrupt, Kling’s American Public Radio brought a new entrepreneurial spirit, and better programming, to the biz. Some folks called Kling Darth Vader because he pushed public radio to go beyond a subsidized economy.

Public media is better because of Bill Kling’s contributions. Thank you and congratulations!

In the March 2017 Nielsen Audio PPM estimates, NPR News station KNOW had perhaps its strongest showing ever.  Not only did KNOW have a weekly cume of almost half a million, it moved to third place in the market in average-quarter-hour share. KNOW’s AQH of 6.5% was topped only by two music-intensive commercial stations.

KCMP aka 89.3 The Current also increased its weekly listeners compared to February.  Today, Friday, April 21st, is the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death. The Current’s coverage of his death and fan reaction became a global moment.

The number of estimated weekly listeners to WAMU declined slightly from the previous month but the station is still number one in AQH share (11.0%). Commercial competitor WTOP had a 9.9& AQH share.

In Boston the seesaw battle between WBUR and WGBH moved slightly in WBUR’s direction with a 6% jump in estimated weekly listeners compared to February. WCRB also posted a nice gain in weekly listeners. 

Commercial Triple A station, which shares considerable listening with public radio stations, had 304,800 weekly listeners in the March PPM ratings.

The March book brought good news for Colorado Public Radio (CPR).  All three of its stations were up compared to February.  NPR News KCFR was up 6%, Classical KVOD was up 5% and Triple A OpenAir KVOQ was up an amazing 26% in one month.


Friday is my favorite day of the week and Friday night is my favorite night. On Friday, everything is possible and on Friday night dreams can come true. Sometimes on Fridays I look at job listings and fantasize about applying for something interesting.

Today I am dreaming about becoming General Manager of KJHK, Lawrence, Kansas. Or, more realistically, there is Jayhawk alum reading this post that would be perfect for the job.

KJHK [link] has been rocking Greater Lawrence since 1975. According to Kaitlin Brennan. a recent KU graduate and KJHK veteran, the station’s sound “has gone from a “grungy-alternative,” counterculture bent to a more varied format, with music, film, news and sports. We’re still edgy, but more mature.” However, KJHK still maintains a “no Nickelback” policy.

KJHK’s studios and offices are located in a state-of-the-art 1,400-square-foot space in the Kansas Union. The station left the journalism department a few years ago and now is fiscally part of the student union. KHJK has an $80,000 annual budget that comes from student fees and underwriting sales.

The job pays around $50,000 a year, enough to have a nice life in Lawrence, a lovely college town. More information is available here

Thursday, April 20, 2017


A friend of mine recommended a news report that appeared on VICE News about the impact of defunding CPB on small rural communities.  

VICE reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro traveled to Petersburg, Alaska and profiled KFSK, a public radio station that fills vital information needs in the remote area. You can see the VICE story here.

The story aired on VICE News Tonight on HBO April 10th. I particularly like the way the story highlights CPB’s support for rural stations, pointing out that they are often in Republican-leaning areas.  Here is a sample:

Public radio is often associated with big-city liberalism, which makes it a constant target for defunding by Republicans, despite the fact that all public broadcasting put together represents only 0.01 percent of the federal budget. But cutting public radio could hurt the people who voted for Trump — remote, rural, largely Republican voters.

Last November voters in Petersburg overwhelmingly favored Donald Trump.  However they strongly disagree that CPB should be sacked because of the ways defunding will hurt KFSK and the community.


Common wisdom used to be that news listening tends to decline 10% to 15% in the months following an election. But not this year. The combination of Trumpism and splendid coverage by NPR and local stations, seems to be keeping estimated weekly listeners close to the often record levels in many markets.

Nielsen Audio data for only a few markets – including the largest ones – has been released so far. Today we are featuring March PPM estimates for the top five metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Some of the NPR News stations with the largest number of listeners saw modest declines.  For instance estimated weekly listeners to KQED, WNYC-FM, WBEZ and KPCC were 1% to 4% lower compared to the prior month. KCRW gained weekly listeners. KERA stayed the same.

In New York City, Classical WXQR saw a 13% drop in weekly listeners, the biggest one-month change in the nation’s largest market.

Weekly cumulative listeners to Classical KUSC were up 6% compared with February. Jazz KKJZ continues to show strong listening.

In Chicago, estimated weekly listeners to WDCB were down a bit but the station is still in its typical zone. Apparently Classical WFMT is currently not subscribing to Nielsen because their data was not available for February and March.

In the Bay Area, four of the five noncoms for which we have data, were down a bit. KALW saw some decent gains in weekly listeners over the past few months but now it has returned to its typical performance – weak.

Triple A KKXT in Dallas had a 14% increase in weekly listeners compared with February. EMF’s KYDA saw a nice increase in weekly listeners to its satellite-delivered Air1 format.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Bill Crosier
The pixels were almost dry on our report [link] from Wednesday (4/12) praising Bill Crosier, the interim director of the Pacifica Foundation, for bringing business reality back to the beleaguered organization. 

Then Crosier’s plan ran into trouble at KPFA.

On March 30th, Crosier released the Pacifica Financial Recovery and Stabilization Plan, part of a past-due report he had made  to the California Registry of Charitable Trusts [link].

(Cartoon courtesy of Pacifica in Exile)
Then last week members of the Board of KPFA, Berkeley, say they are creating a new 501c3 organization called Big Tent Radio to acquire Pacifica's assets, or at least those of station KPFA. According to several reports, representatives of Big Tent have contacted celebrities and prominent supporters of progressive causes, claiming that Pacifica is “collapsing”, and asking them to be on the board of their new organization.

In a memo on Friday (4/10) to employees of all five Pacifica-owned stations, Crosier said, in part:

“As commercial media interests dominate our society and non-corporate journalism and culture struggle for survival, Pacifica, like most independent media networks, is facing financial, organizational, and technological challenges.

We are working to improve Pacifica's finances, and we are making progress. Major donors are approaching us, asking how they can help. It is certainly not correct to say that Pacifica is “collapsing”. In fact, that is very misleading. We are actually improving our financial stability.

I am bothered that any local board member would falsely spread negative rumors about Pacifica. There is an ethical issue…it's wrong to falsely (and secretly) spread false rumors about Pacifica, in order to get support for this new clandestine organization.”

KEN SAYS: I hope Crosier’s plan prevails. Turning Pacifica around is heavy lift because its reputation has been toxically tarnished by the endless infighting. Like past internal battles, KPFA’s secession effort is not about better programming or broadcasting in the public interest. It is all about political agendas, egos and the mistaken notion that Pacifica needs be destroyed in order to save it.

“If a Serial episode was a mountain peak, then S-Town was the Himalayas.” - Andrew Kuklewicz, PRX chief technology officer

NiemanLab reports [link] that PRX chief technology officer Andrew Kuklewicz shared data about the launch of S-Town on Medium that demonstrates the impact of releasing all of series’ episodes at one time. 

The chart of the right is a display of downloads of S-Town during the week it was launched. 

The “mountains” you see show the instant interest in S-Town.

Even though S-Town was only on the market for three days in March, it zoomed to #4 on Podtrac’s March Rankings. 

March was a banner month for Ira Glass and company, the folks also behind This American Life (TAL) and Serial

In fact, TAL productions has three to the top four positions on March 2017 Podtrac top 20 podcast chart.

Podtrac releases two charts per month (the March chart is on the left), one that tracks the performance of podcast publishers and the other that lists individual podcasts. 

Both charts are generated by Podtrac’s proprietary analytics and are based on their US Unique Monthly Audience. The publisher chart contains specific metrics but, strangely, the podcast chart contains no statistical information.

This is sort of like publishing the standings for a baseball league and not listing how many games each team has won and lost. Without the stats, what is actual difference between #1 and #6?

If Podtrac wants their charts to be an industry standard, they need to show us the data.

As in previous months, the top 20 podcasts is dominated by producers with ties to public radio. Seventy percent of the podcasts on the chart originate from public media shops.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


One of the reasons for Classical music's enduring popularity on the radio is the curation provided by programmers and on-air hosts. They make certain the right recordings, performances and artists are heard in context and flow.  It is both an art and a science.

Wende Persons

The same loving curation is on display on Classical Music Rising’s (CMR) nifty new website: click to see it here

Wende Persons and her team have made available the “go to” site about the business of Classical music on the broadcast radio platform and companion digital platforms.

I am featuring CMR’s site today because such a resource would be very helpful for marketing noncommercial Triple A and Jazz on radio and companion digital platforms.

Lets go under the hood of the CMR site:


From the moment you reach the home page, you know you know you are a place with “all things Classical.” The vibe is calm and confident.  There is plenty of activity but it is never congested.  The look makes navigation easy. I particularly appreciate the detailed menu at the bottom of the page.


Only the most recent information is presented, including the January 2017 Public Radio Classical Audience from NPR Audience Insights and State of Play, an undated by obviously recent compilation of data by Tom Thomas and Terry Clifford from SRG and Walrus Research.

State of Play (sample chart on the right) brings together information from Nielsen, AudiGraphics, Edison Research, Triton Digitals and custom analysis from Walrus Research. The information is relevant and there never is an overload of data.  As Joe Friday said: Just the facts, mam.

• TALENT PAGE [link]

Want to find stats about the Classical music workforce? This page has the most recent data from the Classical Radio Workforce survey. (A sample chart is on the left.)

For the first time I can recall, separate breakouts are presented for workers at All Classical station, Mixed Format stations and folks working for content providers such as NPR, APM, PRI, PRX and WFMT.


Want to see examples of marketing campaigns that have successfully generated listener tune-in for public radio stations? This page has it.

I am very impressed with the report from the 2016 PRPD Content Conference Branding and Marketing for Classical Radio. (Sample image on the left.) This was an all-star panel of Classical radio programmers show how their station uses outside media to build awareness and encourage listening.


CMR provides links to two recent and comprehensive guides about the legal aspects of Classical music use on radio stations and digital platforms.

The first is A Guide to Copyright Law for Noncommercial Radio Stations by John Crigler and Melodie Virtue from the law firm Garvey, Schubert & Barer. It provides the basics of musical content in various media.

The second is Digital Music Licensing Guide by Spencer Weisbroth from Weisbroth Law. It provides a detailed overview of the evolving world of music on digital platforms.

But wait, there is more. CMR offers a comprehensive list of all of the noncommercial Classical music stations in the US. That list can be downloaded here.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Peter Dominowski
When the Board of Northeast Indiana Public Radio (NIPR) in Ft. Wayne hired Peter Dominowski to be their new President/GM in 2013, they expected good things to happen. As time has gone by, Dominowski continues to surpass expectations. The latest chapter is the announcement on Tuesday (4/11) of a $4.5 million campaign to build and equip the new headquarters of NIPR.

The new site will house NIPR’s two programming services: NPR News 89.1 WBOI and Classical 94.1 WBNI.

210 East Jefferson Boulevard
NIPR bought a legendary Ft. Wayne building in 2016 for a “fire sale” price, $145,000. It is definitely a “fixer upper.” The building has 14,000-square-feet, three-levels was designed by famed Fort Wayne architect A.M. Strauss almost 100 years ago.  Located at 210 East Jefferson Boulevard, the new NIPR HQ is seen as an important part of the renewal of downtown Fort Wayne.

Mayor Tom Henry told the crowd at the announcement event that the new building positions NIPR to be a cultural hub that will add downtown vitality. The new HQ is about twice the size of NIPR’s current home.


Peter Dominowski announces campaign
New studios for WBOI and WBNI will be located on the first floor along with a digital news center and the Podcast Café where folks can produce their own podcasts. On the lower level NIPR will have an auditorium-like multipurpose room that will seat around 120 folks for cultural and community events. The second level will have administrative offices and meeting rooms.

NIPR also plans to take advantage of the high-traffic, downtown location by installing a large digital sign with news and information on the front of the building.  The renovation will preserve many of the building's historic features, including pink marble facing on the front.

The fundraising effort is called the Sound Future campaign. NIPR hopes to be in their new home in 2019.


Peter Dominowski Wins Otto Award
I’ve worked with Peter Dominowski ever since I began working in public radio in the 1980s. Dominowski was an early champion of Classical Countdown, the countdown show I produced in LA.  We worked together on research and planning for the program that became The World at Public Radio International (PRI). Our work continued on many projects after I started my own consultancy in 1997.

Dominowski has always been about "Improving the listening experience for millions of audience members." 

That quote comes from the 2012 PRPD conference when he received the Don Otto Award for excellence in public radio programming. That is what Dominowski is doing in Fort Wayne. He is taking what he learned over years while working with the best and brightest in public media and giving it to the people of Fort Wayne. Way to go, dude.


 In January of 2017 we reported [link] on efforts by former employees of the late-KUSP in Santa Cruz, to buy another station. The group organizing the effort is Central Coast Community Radio (CCCR), led by author and activist Rachel Goodman.

In January CCCR announced it had signed a conditional agreement to purchase KSRI (90.7 FM) for $265,000. KSRI’s current owner is the Educational Media Foundation (EMF), the same organization that bought bankrupt KUSP in late 2016 for $605,000.

CCCR needs to raise around $300,000 by the end of April to complete the purchase. So far, things have been slow.  CCCR is using a crowd-sourcing fundraising site [link] to solicit the funds. As of 10:00am CT on Sunday (4/16) the campaign had raised $82,778.

You might think that such an effort would create significant community interest but that hasn’t happened yet. However, the good folks of Santa Cruz seem to have little enthusiasm about Goodman’s projects. Her plan for the new station sounds like a flashback from the 1970s.

According to the weekly street-paper Good Times [link], CCCR asked local folks in a recent survey to describe what they want to sound like. The winners were “The old KUSP” followed by “Radio of, by and for the people.”

Of course, CCCR doesn’t mention the fact that this approach and awful management is what sank KUSP to begin with.


Another factor leading to KUSP’s end was the fact they could not compete with cross-market KAZU. 

Ironically KAZU just bought three translators that used be owned by KUSP. EMF sold 89.3 K207CN Santa Cruz, 91.3 K217EK Palo Colorado Canyon, and 95.3 K237EV Big Sur Valley CA, for five thousand dollars ($5,000).  Talk about a bargain! The three translator will repeat KAZU.