Friday, May 5, 2017


This is perhaps the last chapter in the sad story of WNKU, once a great Triple A noncom in the Cincinnati market. Northern Kentucky University (NKU) sold the remaining two WNKU properties – WNKE, New Boston, OH and WNKN, Middletown, OH – to Educational Media Foundation (EMF) for an undisclosed amount. Last year WNKU sold the primary station, WNKU 89.7 FM to Bible Broadcasting.

In a letter to WNKU's supporters, Louisville Public Media's (LPM) Michael Skolar said LPM offered $5 million to NKU for 105.9 WNKN – $3.5 million in cash and $1.5 million in services. 

NKU said “No way” to what seems like a terrific offer that would be a “win win” for all concerned.

LPB had planned to use WNKN as a repeater of Triple A WFPK, Louisville. The goal was retain the Triple A format in Cincinnati while pursuing a possible upgrade of WNKN's facilities.

Here is Northern Kentucky University’s only comment regarding the transaction:

Our first obligation is to our students, and we will make the decision that best satisfies the financial responsibility we have to them.  The Board of Regents has not voted on this. When it does, the action will be a matter of public record.”

KEN SAYS: Cold as ice. Of course NKU can do what they want with their FCC licenses. But the university’s lack of grace will now become part their brand. Look at it this way, there is one less “accidental broadcaster” now. Moving forward, folks at university licenses should ask this question: How committed is your university to the mission and purpose of public broadcasting?


Jacobs Media Strategies is looking for an up-and-coming programmer to join its consulting team. As readers of this blog know, Jacobs is an important player in both commercial and public media. I urge qualified folks in noncom to consider this chance to work with best in the biz.

Jacobs wants to hear from folks with experience in music scheduling (preferably on multiple platforms), compiling and analyzing data and has experience with Microsoft Office suite including Excel and Power Point. Creative copyrighting, social media expertise and experience critiquing on-air talent are a plus.

For more information contact


Commercial rock station KISW, Seattle has announced that their afternoon drive program The Men’s Room will be nationally syndicated starting Monday, June 5th. Westwood One will handle distribution and ad sales for the program.

In a world where content is king, even crappy content is a commodity. The Men’s Room has been a ratings mainstay on KISW since 2004. The show is a gross out combination of classic rock cuts and male-oriented banter. This program makes Beavis & Butthead look like scholars.

The Men's Room crew has a sausage festival
Here are some of the “rules” of The Men’s Room:


• No excessive or undue conversation in the restroom

• Keep eyes forward whenever possible

• Always close the stall door, even when going #1

• If you have an option, never use the urinal / Stall right next to a man who is already underway

• No phone conversations in a public restroom, however camera phone pictures are permitted

• Don't touch a man who is taking a leak
• Do not bring food with you to the bathroom. (John)

• If in a non-public restroom, and you use the last of the toilet paper, you must replace the roll

• Before you enter a stall, do a foot check to make sure no one is in there

Now this is what I call entertainment!

Thursday, May 4, 2017


SiriusXM keeps gaining momentum every quarter and noncommercial terrestrial stations should be concerned.   

Like noncom public radio, SiriusXM’s many channels are also “noncom.” Now they are making a play to increase the number of connected cars.

According to news reports, in the first quarter of 2017. SiriusXM revenue’s was up 8% to nearly $1.3 billion. Also last week, SiriusXM announced the acquisition of Automatic Labs Inc. [link], maker of the Automatic brand adapter. The adaptors convert existing cars and trucks into “connected” vehicles.

The Automatic adapter plugs into a vehicle’s standard diagnostics port. 

The manufacturer claims Automatic will work in any vehicle with an on-board computer. Not only does it connect to the Cloud via a Smartphone, the device accesses the vehicle’s mileage, gas usage, performance, and overall engine health.

According to Automatic’s website, adapter units sell for $129.95.

One stat terrestrial broadcasters should follow is adaption of SiriusXM by millennial-age consumers. Last year Jacobs Media’s Public Radio Tech Survey 8 (PRTS 8) found that among millennials, only 9% listened to SiriusXM compared to 21% for the all survey respondents. The chart on the left shows all of the device and platform usage in 2016 as reported by Jacobs. Soon we will have 2017 data for commercial and public radio.

Content curation is a term you hear a lot these days. It describes the mediation process that a curator uses when he/she takes content from various sources and reorganizing it into a story, theme or topic. Because of human curation, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The radio DJ is a curator, a role that is as old as recorded music. Now there is a wonderful movie playing at film festivals and art-house cinemas that tells the stories of four influential DJs from the 1960s and 1970s: I Am What I Play.

I Am What I Play features four legendary DJs: Meg Griffin, Charles Laquidara, David Marsden, and Pat O’Day. All four worked in the heyday of host-based rock radio before consolidation, voice tracking and algorithms. Today, hosts on noncom public media outlets provide the curation of Triple A, Jazz and Classical music. Check out the trailer for the film:

The full film is now available to stream or download (for a fee) in Vimeo’s On-Demand section. You can see it here

David Marsden at CHUM, Toronto

Roger King, producer of I Am What I Play, said in 2014 when the film debuted:

“As radio became more commercially-controlled and new media has taken hold, these DJ’s have had to carve out a new career space for themselves. Has free-form radio died, or has it reinvented itself in unexpected spaces?”

Pat O’Day (shown with his sons in Seattle)
When King completed the film, it opened to rave reviews in Canada but then it languished in the US. Because of word of mouth, interest in I Am What I Play never went away. A Facebook page [link] generated much of the current interest in the film.

Though some folks might say the message of the film is overly simplistic, it should be considered in context of time when the events portrayed occurred.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017



Publisher: The New York Times
Host: Michael Barbaro
Producer: Theo Balcomb

Since The Daily was launched earlier this year, it has quickly gained a lot of attention. It was 13th in the March Podtrac Rankings, topping longtime podcasts such as 99% Invisible and Hidden Brain. Additional information about The Daily is available here.

The Daily is a daily news-oriented podcast published by The New York Times.  Each edition is 15 to 25 minutes in length and features between one and four different stories. It is fed first thing each weekday morning and it is available for online and mobile listening. It is available on Android devices via RadioPublic.

Michael Barbaro

The podcast host is Michael Barbaro, a well known Times political reporter. Barbaro has spent most of his time at the Times working as a print journalist. In 2016, he launched his first podcast in 2016, The Run-Up, covering the election. The success of The Run-Up played a major role in management’s decision to shift him from writing to audio.

Theo Balcomb

Theo Balcomb is the senior producer at The Daily

Before joining the Times, she was supervising producer at NPR’s All Things Considered

Theo is highly regarded by her colleagues at NPR. Balcomb began her work at NPR in 2009 as an intern.


Tax Plan Explained, published Friday, April 28, 2017 [link]

An Illuminating Drive Across Venezuela, published Monday, May 1, 2017 [link]


These are two very different editions of The Daily.  One works fine (Tax Plan) and the other sounds like it was taken out of the oven before it was baked. (Venezuela).

• Tax Plan showcases Michael Barbaro’s best attributes. He is an easy-to-listen to conversationalist who obviously loves talking with other people. Barbaro is clearly in his element as host. He has successfully transferred his sharp writing and reporting skills to the audio platform.

The podcast begins with a breezy forward promotion of what will be heard during this edition. In addition to coverage of President Trump’s new tax proposal, Barbaro says we will hear “three short scenes” on other topics.

Barbaro sounds his best when he is talking with reporters. In this case, fellow Times reporters provide background thoughts on their stories concerning the tax plan. I love to hear the banter between articulate reporters and these do not disappoint.

The conversation is fast-paced but it never feels rushed. Coverage of the tax plan lasted 11.5 minutes, approximately half of the lengtht of this podcast.

The “three scenes” were all very strong. The first was a short discussion about GOP efforts to re-introduce the failed Health Car Bill.  The second explored arguments before the Supreme Court (with riveting raw audio from the testimony) regarding revoking US citizenship. The third, my favorite, was a first-person essay by a Facebook executive who learned a lesson about the power of social media.

Some observers say Barbaro practices “narrative news.” To me it sounds like good old-fashioned reporting.

Venezuela didn’t work out as well. It failed to include many of the elements that I  praised above. The entire 23+ minutes feature one story: A reporter’s 1,200 mile trip across Venezuela.  The reporter, Nicolas Casey is based in Caracas and has been reporting on a country as it teeters on the brink of collapse. Barbaro never says, that I recall, whether Casey works for the Times.

Casey’s travelogue wanders from place-to-place in Venezuela and he describes what he is seeing.  It is a monologue, not a conversation. Barbaro never gets a chance to do what he does best, interacting with reporters.  Instead, Barbaro sounds like a distant anchor in this piece.

To me, the low-point is the awful audio quality of Casey’s report. It sounds like he is in a boomy room. This makes his deadpan delivery even harder to understand. I began to loose interest around eight minutes into the program.  I exited soon thereafter.

Will I listen to this program again?  Yes, I certainly will.   

The Daily feels like is hasn’t jelled yet. The combination of Barbaro’s comfortable style, and the opportunity to hear other Times reporters talk about their work, will keep me coming back.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Thirty-five percent of respondents to the latest Jacobs Media Tech Survey 13 say they own a vinyl record turntable. According to Tech Survey 13, a significant portion of younger respondents do too.

All Access Media Group [link] has been releasing daily nuggets of information from Jacobs Media Tech Survey 13 to promote the upcoming Worldwide Radio Summit (WWRS) later this week in Los Angeles. The complete results of Tech Survey 13 will be presented Thursday, May 4th at the WWRS. To see the complete WWRS schedule, click here.

Not surprisingly, survey respondents from the Boomer generation have the largest percentage of turntable owners, 47%. But, as you can see in the chart on the right, 36% of survey respondents in Generation Z, the post-millennial folks, also own a turntable. Gen Z is comprised of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, long after the vinyl record album heyday.

According to Jacobs, the vinyl revival is being driven been by people who already own or have recently purchased a turntable.  Jacobs commented:

“Turntable ownership continues to grow, and it’s remarkable to see how widely popular they’ve become.”

Why do vinyl records have so much staying power? According to roots rocker and producer Jeff Tweedy, one reason is how well the sequence of album tracks can capture a story. Tweedy told the Guardian in 2015 [link]:

Jeff Tweedy
I’m not a curmudgeon, a luddite or anti-modern technology doomsayer. I just want to listen to the album and have a feeling that one part, has ended, and now I can take a little breather before I listen to the second part.

An album is a journey. It has several changes of mood and gear. It invites you into its environment and tells a story. I enjoy albums, and I assume that if I enjoy them there must be others who feel the same.

The decline of the album began with the advent of the CD. The maximum amount of music on a vinyl album is 50 minutes over two sides. The CD format is much longer. I don’t think there are many pieces of music – my own records included – that can sustain interest over 40 minutes without a break, and leaping around from idea to idea for that amount of time gets exhausting.

I still listen to whole albums and play them over and over. I think about records that really hit me as a kid.  Also, CD artwork also reduced the album’s impact.

I also like vinyl and I have a nifty collection of albums.  I prefer the full-spectrum quality of the sound. Digital files are often over compressed, something that is very noticeable when you crank it to 11.  Plus I am a believer in WXPN’s motto: Rhythms not algorithms.


Jacobs Media is now in the process of compiling Public Radio Tech Survey 9 (PRTS 9), the noncom cousin of Jacobs Media Tech Survey 13.

PRTS 9 will ask many of the questions to listeners of public radio stations. According to Jody Evans, CEO of PRPD, this year Jacobs is adding new questions about podcast usage, Smart Speakers such as Amazon Echo, headphone/earbud usage, streaming habits, and apps.  

This year’s PRTS 9 also will focus on listener usage and perceptions of NPR One.
Last year, 69 public radio stations participated in the survey and more than 29,000 listeners were in-tab participants.


Jody Evans
Jody Evans says the Content Conference is now accepting proposals for sessions at this summer’s conference August 15-18 at the Marriott Marquis [link] in Washington, DC.

Evans says that folks who are Interested may submit their ideas by email to before the closing date of May 15, 2017. Here is short list of the requirements:

Proposals MUST follow the criteria below or they will not be considered:

• Subject line of email reads “2017 Content Conference Session Submission”

• Proposed session should be one hour in length

• Include a session title in ten words or less
• Include a description of the session in less than 100 words

• Include the name, title and company for any speakers you envision as part of the session

• Designate a moderator and panelists for panel submissions

• Include your full contact information (name, title, company, address, city, state, zip, phone and email) at the conclusion of your submission

• Folks wishing to nominate themselves as a potential speaker not associated with any specific session can do so by email to between now May 15, 2017

Speakers will only be considered if the following criteria are met:

• Subject line of email must read “2017 Content Conference Speaker Submission”

• Include a list of no more than three areas of expertise you would feel comfortable speaking on.

• Attach your bio as a Microsoft Word attachment and not as part of the body of the email

• Include a brief explanation (50 words or less) as to why you would be a good speaker at the Content Conference

• Include any external links such as LinkedIn or company website in the body of the email

• Include your full contact information (name, title, company, address, city, state, zip, phone number and email) at the conclusion of your submission

Submissions will be considered only if they meet the above criteria.

The Content Conference and PRPD reserve the right to accept or reject:

• Any portion of a submission, or  an entire submission

• The Content Conference and PRPD reserve the right to utilize any idea or suggestion submitted, but not necessarily those parties that made the submission.

• Late submissions will not be accepted.

• All parties that have made submissions by the deadline will be contacted and informed as to whether or not their submission has not been selected for the Conference.

• Contact will be made via email no later than June 1, 2017.

• If you have any questions, please email and include the subject line “Content Conference Submission Question.” 

• Don’t track mud into the house.  Tuck your shirt in. Don’t talk back to mommy.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Last July, we reported on the partnership between American Public Media’s (APM) Marketplace and Edison Research [link] to do custom polling about economic issues.

They created a new key metric – the Marketplace Anxiety Index – to measure how people perceive there own, and the nation’s, economic well being.

The Marketplace Anxiety Index is important to both organizations. Marketplace is in the process a major reorganization [link] to transform its business model into a “full-on branded enterprise.” They want to have a bigger media footprint than just public radio.  Marketplace wants to leverage their content in more ways to increase the visibility and perceived value of their brand. The goal is to increase revenue to make Marketplace sustainable beyond support from stations and APM.

Edison Research [link] wants to continue their expansion into public polling, particularly voter analysis.  Many people don’t know that Edison Research has, since 2003, provided election exit poll information to ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press.

A good way both organizations to accomplish their goals is to invent an all-purpose metric such as the Marketplace Anxiety Index.  They hope that the Index will become a trusted, widely used metric.  If the Index succeeds, both brands will benefit from the increased circulation.


According to the most recent Marketplace Anxiety Index, there is now somewhat less Anxiety for folks in all demos (except between the ages 18 - 24.)

The Index uses a 0 to 100 scale.  The Anxiety Index now is 32. In October, just before the 2016 election, it was 36. The Index over time is shown in the chart on the right.

The Marketplace Anxiety Index is derived from a national survey of Americans ages 18 years and older via an ongoing online survey and telephone interviews. The most recent survey included 1,027 respondents, about half by phone and half online. The calculated margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3%. In other words, this is NATIONAL survey, designed to be cited by the nation’s leading news suppliers.

The most recent Anxiety Index, as reported by Business Wire [link], also indicates there continues to be a broad perception of inequality, a feeling that a small group of people is getting wealthier at the expense of a large group of people who are suffering.

Other key findings in the most recent Marketplace Anxiety Index polling include:

• 71 % of Americans think that the economic system is “rigged” in favor of certain groups. 

This is true across all demographic groups, among Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and across all income levels.

• 62% of Americans say that good jobs are difficult to find in the area where they live.

• When asked to describe the presidential election, 70% of Americans thought the word “embarrassed” described it well. Almost as many (69%) said “afraid” was a good way to describe their feeling about the election.

• About a quarter (24%) of Americans haven’t gone away on vacation in more than five years.

• Americans are also more dissatisfied with their choices for president than they were three months ago. Now that presumptive nominees have emerged, only 14% of respondents are “very satisfied” with their choices for president, with nearly half (47%) “very dissatisfied.”


We did a Google search for news reports using the Marketplace Anxiety Index. Outside of the public radio world, there weren’t many. This is clearly something that the Marketplace and Edison Research folks need to examine if they are serious about establishing the Index as a national standard.

Ironically, most of the attention to the most recent survey was by far-right publications. Websites such as Breitbart and Newsmax [link], spun the recent drop in the Anxiety Index in all demos (other than people 18-24) as proof that people are satisfied with President Trump’s job performance.  Here is a sample from Newsmax:

“President Donald Trump has the backbone to challenge the establishment and he is having success in fixing a broken system despite what the critics are saying. [The Anxiety Index proves] the resolve of the Trump administration to live up to the promises made to voters.”


I decided to take part in the Marketplace Anxiety Index survey myself. You can too. Find it here.

I learned I have more Economic Anxiety than most Americans. After completing the survey, I received this summary:

You scored 75 out of 100 on the Anxiety Index. That’s well above the national mean of 32. Maybe you’re anxious about losing your job or being unable to find a new one, worried about being able to afford monthly expenses or maybe your long-term financial goals like retirement are all common among people in this group.