Friday, May 12, 2017



This past Wednesday (5/10) we reported on two new FM stations that broadcast from the residence of the station’s founders [link]. One of these stations, 97.5 KBUU-LP a/k/a Radio Malibu, raised reader Aaron Read’s eyebrows because of the opulence of the set-up. 

Aaron wrote:

FWIW, I believe Radio Malibu couldn't join NPR not because KPCC or KCRW, but because NPR requires a minimum number of five full-time staff from an affiliate station.

Also, that's a studio in his spare bedroom???? WOW. Those wooden wall baffles are usually a sign of Russ Berger Design Group, and he's not cheap! It looks rilly, rilly nice but I wonder how an LPFM could afford that.


I am glad that Aaron brought this up. It appears as if Radio Malibu is more about personal vanity than public service. The founder, Hans Laetz, obviously has plenty of money to spend on his hobby. But, I am not certain if this is what the advocates of LPFM had in mind when they created it.

The non-profit corporation that owns KBUU consists of Laetz and his family. Is this arrangement sustainable? Probably not. Radio Malibu doesn’t seem to have many ties to community it serves.  So, when Laetz passes on, the fate of KBUU is uncertain.

Aaron is correct that NPR requires a five-person pay staff for affiliation but I have seens this qualification waived if NPR rilly, rilly wants to be on in a specific area. It is more likely that NPR did not want to “take away Malibu” from KCRW or KPCC.


Reader Tim Campbell shared his thoughts about our post last June entitled The Incredible True Story of NBC’S 24/7 Radio News Channel [link]. The story was about NBC’s failed attempt at a nationally syndicated news format in the 1970s called NIS – the News & Information Service.   

Campbell wrote:

I remember NIS in Norfolk over WKLX 1350 (later rebranded WNIS migrated to 790 AM) and retained all news format after demise of NIS. I was a teen who was obsessed with radio under the hood stuff. Was always taken back why it failed to catch on ‘till I read this article.

For its time, I thought it was top notch NBC quality. The fact NBC O & O’s never bought in was definately a bad omen from corporate. It needed some big powerhouses (WMAQ, WNBC, WRC, KNBC, KPRC, KSD affiliates to help).


I am glad we could provide the full story. Campbell is correct when he points out that when NBC’s own stations passed on NIS, it was a sign of the lack of a market for NIS. it would prove to be a fatal flaw. If NIS had hung on for a while the outcome could have been different.  By the early 1980s satellite delivery was cheap, 24/7 networks like Transtar and Satellite Music Network were gaining new affiliates everyday and NPR had yet embrace modern programming techniques.


Tammy Terwelp, GM of KRCC

An anonymous reader commented on recent programming changes KRCC, Colorado Springs [link]:

I used to love KRCC, tuned in the other morning to almost surreal, monotone, NPR news-drivel, completely encompassing the entire daytime format. Sorry but I’m just not into it.


Back in the 1930s, Nielsen rolled out its first incarnation of an electronic radio listening measurement device called The Nielsen Audimeter.

The Audimeter differed from the current “Portable People Meter” (PPM) system in several ways.

It wasn’t “portable,” it tabulated what station the radio was tuned to, not what people were hearing, and required the respondent to have another piece of furniture in their home.

Listening was recorded on a ticker-tape that the respondent needed to change daily.  

The Audimeter proved to be so cumbersome it quickly faded away.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


NPR leads all other podcast publishers measured by Podtrac in their April Rankings. According to Podtrac’s, NPR’s podcasts had an estimated US Unique Monthly Audience of 11,357,000, up 12% from March.   US Unique Monthly Audience is a Podtrac metric that approximates Nielsen’s cumulative listeners.

This American Life (including Serial and S-Town) had the most one-month growth in US Unique Monthly Audience, up 32% in one month. 

The gains are likely from the launch of S-Town, which has had meteoric sales since it became available in late March.

Nine of the ten top podcast publishers gained in estimated US Unique Monthly Audience in April compared to March.   

PRX’s Radiotopia was the only publisher that lost ground, down 3% in April.

Overall, podcast publishers related to public radio held seven of the top 10 positions in April and control roughly 82% of the US Unique Monthly Audience.


Podcast Movement [link] is perhaps the nation’s largest annual gathering for folks involved in the podcasting industry. 

Now in it’s fourth year, Podcast Movement says in their promotional material they are expecting over 2,000 active and aspiring podcasters, as well as industry representatives and professionals, at the Anaheim Marriott August 23 - 25.

Registration fees are between $394 and $546 per person depending on how much conference access is desired. Attendees will have a choice of over 80 breakout sessions and panels, including sessions on the Technical Track, Creators Track, Business Track, Industry Track, and more!

On the left is a conference schedule.  Click to enlarge it.

Podcast Movement is produced by a for-profit company. It was founded and is operated by writer and podcaster Jared Easley and money-guy Dan Franks. Podcast Movement is frequently associated with commercial podcasters and vendors. 

However, this year the organizers have asked a handful of public media speakers to appear at the August event. They include: Jennifer Ferro, GM of KCRW; Dean Capello, Chief Content Officer, WNYC Studios; and, Tamar Charney, Managing Editor of NPR ONE. Also, Jacobs Media is a sponsor of the conference.

I am bringing this up because of the contrast with the story about the top ten podcast producers above. Other than Capello and Charney, I don’t see anyone from that list speaking at this year’s Podcast Movement.  To me, this is disconnected with reality.

Podcast Movement looks like it is vendors talking to other vendors. 

There is no harm in that. I recommend attending Podcast Movement if you have money to burn. 

It is the type of conference where random acquaintances and serendipity is a highlight. The action and  practical education will happen in hallways, lounges and coffee shops – the places where business gets done. Plus, it is close to LA.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Like many of you, I’ve always dreamed about having my own personal radio station. When I was in my early teens I had a .001-watt mini-station I built from a kit. It had a very, very small coverage area, maybe 100 feet or so. My neighborhood pal, Wicked Chuckie, and I played the hits and made more than a few fart jokes. However, the lack of listeners sunk the station after a couple of weeks.

Now a handful of LPFM stations and other new local noncoms are broadcasting from homes. Some are doing quite well. Today we will tell you about two of them.


Murray is community of around 800 people, 40 miles south of Des Moines. This is If they build it, people will come territory. That can-do spirit also powers KOSI 91.9 FM, Southern Iowa Community Radio.

I first heard of KSOI on the NBC Nightly News in March.  Here is a YouTube video of that story:

KSOI [link] is a passion project of Murray resident Joe Hynek.  Hynek did the prep work and filed an application in 2007 with FCC for what became KSOI. The FCC granted the construction permit in 2011. KSOI signed on August 1, 2012. Since then Hynek has operated KSOI for no compensation.

KSOI also has a very nice Facebook page [link] that the station uses to forward promote upcoming programming.

According to KSOI’s 2015 IRS 990, the station has only one paid employee, a part-timer who does the books and pays the bills. In 2015 KSOI had annual revenue of around $66,000.

Today KSOI broadcasts from Hynek’s living room.  The front porch of his house is a live music venue. Hynek recruits volunteers and trains them for air shifts and “specialty reporting.” According to KSOI’s website, volunteers produce local reports such as these:

Murray High School Announcements
By Future Farmers of American students • Weekdays at 6:50AM 

The Weather Lady
The Weather Lady
Staring Grandma Perry • Weekdays Hourly

Fishing and Hunting News
By Michael Miller • Monday through Saturday 7:15AM and 4:30PM

Funeral Announcements
By Angie Hynek (Joe’s mom) • Monday through Saturday 6:45 and 9:45AM

Almost all of these special reports are underwritten by local businesses.

Joe Hynek
Most of the programming on KSOI falls into two categories: music and sports. Volunteers play a wide variety of music styles: Classic Rock, Country and specialties such as Bluegrass, Jazz and Big Band.

The “unique selling proposition” of KSOI is the series of Front Porch Concerts. They are broadcast live weekly (during the warmer time of the year, weather permitting) from the front porch of Hynek’s house.

KSOI works because they are hyper-local and focused on the community.


97.5 FM KBUU – Radio Malibu – actually broadcasts from a bedroom in Hans Laetz’s house at 6402 Surfside Way in Malibu. The station is a friends and family project. Laetz is the station’s general manager, programmer and volunteer coordinator. His wife, Diane, and two of his three daughters help at Radio Malibu. Laetz says on the station’s website [link] that his wife and kids ‘…are remarkably supportive and tolerant about the radio station in the spare bedroom.” 

Studio in Hans Laetz’s spare bedroom
Radio Malibu was created in 2014 to fill a specific need: Bringing NPR programming to an area that has difficulty receiving Los Angeles stations. KBUU serves this area with 79-watts on a small tower just above the best beaches in America (the station website brags). The station signed on in 2015.

Hans Laetz
Joining NPR proved problematic. NPR declined to provide programming to Radio Malibu because of existing agreements with KPCC and KCRW. 

So Laetz began cherry-picking public radio programming that was available without a fee. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Folk Scene from WKSU, LeShow, the California Report and Democracy Now! are on the schedule.

The majority of Radio Malibu’s programming is done by local volunteers who have a particularly “Malibu” vibe:

The Best of the Bu, perhaps he most popular weekly program on the station, features Malibu singer songwriters, as well as mainstream and indie rock, both on and off the charts. The host is Ian Cohen, a writer for Pitchfork, who also has written for Rolling Stone, LA Weekly and GQ.

Big Rocks is hosted by Caryn Weiss, Owner of Weiss Artists, an internationally known agency that represents photographers. Caryn plays hot new indie tracks.

Come Together with Brooke Halpin and the Beatles is hosted by Brooke Halpin. Halpin is writer and composer who has a long association with the Fab Four. Halpin’s latest book, Experiencing the Beatles – A Listener’s Companion, will be released later this year. The program specializes in cover songs of Beatles; songs. As a composer, Brooke composed the music to the Academy Award winning film Molly’s Pilgrim, the PBS special More Than Broken Glass – Memories of Kristallnacht. 
Joyriding the Coast hosted by Lisa Cypers Kamen, an addiction and trauma recovery specialist who focuses on sustainable happiness, integrated wellbeing and mindful living.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Anticipation is building for the 2017 Triple A NON-COMMvention in Philadelphia next week, May 17–19. The good news is that it is not too late to attend what is usually the most enjoyable public radio conference of the year.

All of the meetings and live music showcases will be held at World Café Live, adjacent to the XPN studios.

Father John Misty performing at World Cafe Live
There is a special low registration price ($150) for radio station employees. The rate for music industry folks is $250. Day rates are $125 for attendees. 

Hotel rooms are scarce but a few are available – inquire locally. ATO Records is providing a shuttle that will run a loop between the venue and hotels.

Never been to a NON-COMM? Check out this YouTube video about the 2014 conference:

The complete schedule is here

Some the best sessions and performances scheduled include:


4pm – 7pm             Opening Night Party

7pm – 11:30pm        NPR & PRX Music Showcases
(performers include Ani diFranco, Blondie and Bash & Pop)


9:15am – 10:15am    Session: The Role of the Record Label in 2017 – The View from Within the Industry

10:30am – 11:30am   Session: Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk – Acting and Branding Local

Noon – 1pm           Music Showcase on The NPR Music Stage
                           (performers include The Pixies)

Dan Auerbach
The NON-COMMversation

WXPN’s Dan Reed and Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca interview Dan Auerbach, one-half of The Black Keys 

Auerbach is a very busy producer, a label entrepreneur, and a huge music fan. 

A Q&A session follows the discussion.

2:15pm – 3pm         Taping for NPR’s World Cafe

11:30pm – 2am        Co-Sign Late Night After Party

Radio Milwaukee, 89.3 The Current, and KUTX, Austin host a gathering for attendees to hear music from the fringes. There will be an open bar.

FRIDAY (5/19)

9:15am – 10:15am    Session: Public Radio Stations in the Digital Space

10:30am -11:30am  Concurrent Sessions

Community Station Breakout

Big Data: Metrics that Matter

Noon – 1pm  
Music Showcase on The NPR Music Stage

(featuring Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band)


People in Vermont love public media. Over the past four decades Vermont Public Radio (VPR) has leveraged this love into listening and citizen action. Though the state has only 650,000 people, Vermonters provide almost $9 million in support for VPR. Around a quarter of a million people listen to VPR in a typical week. Perhaps best of all, there may be a place for you to work at VPR.

Vermont Public Radio currently has two important jobs open:

• Managing Editor of Vermont Edition, VPR’s award winning weekday news/talk magazine

Patti Daniels
Patti Daniels, current Managing Editor of Vermont Edition, is stepping down at the end of August. 

Under her guidance, Vermont Edition recently won a 2017 Gracie Award for a November 2016 show entitled Ladies, Let’s Talk.

Daniels invited folks to apply for the job and added:

This is an incredible team and top-notch daily news production in a state that LOVES its public radio as much as it loves its beer and gorgeous outdoors. Please come be my successor and make a great show even better.

• Reporter/Editor to lead VPR’s investigative desk

Develop and lead VPR’s investigative reporting unit with projects for broadcast and digital platforms. Report short- and long-term project journalism and file stories for and newscasts.

You can learn more about both jobs here

Monday, May 8, 2017


Fred Jacobs released the results of Tech Survey 13 last Thursday (5/4) at the Worldwide Radio Summit in Los Angeles. As use of online and mobile devices and platforms continue to rise, broadcast radio remains the most ubiquitous media source for in-vehicle listening.

Tech Survey 13 probes the use and perceptions of various media sources by commercial radio station listeners.  Over 50,000 people were surveyed online in January and February of 2017. More than

Jacobs Media is now conducting the Public Radio Tech Survey 9 (PRTS 9).  The results will be released at the PRPD Content Conference in August. Here are some of the most important takeaways from Tech Survey 13:


On the right is a slide showing the composition of in-tab Tech Survey 13 respondents by radio format. As you can see most of the 50,000+ respondents were listening to music stations. 

The two spoken-word formats shown in the slide – News/Talk (N/T) and Sports (SPT) – comprise only 17% of the sample base. 

In past PRTS surveys the vast majority of the respondents listen to NPR News stations.


The Media Pyramid is perhaps the most-frequently quoted summary slide of Tech Survey results. The 2017 Tech Survey 13, compared to Tech Survey 12, indicates Smartphone ownership is now at a record high level, 87%. Use of Smartphones is so ubiquitous you can now call it a national standard.

Smart TV ownership is growing fast due the popularity of Netflix and other program providers. More than half of Tech Survey 13 respondents say they now own an Internet-connected television. Four in ten watch Netflix on a weekly basis.

Streaming video usage also continues to grow, likely driven by platforms such as YouTube.


Keep in mind that the majority of respondents to Tech Survey 13 listen to music formats. Apparently the defining advantage for radio is the ability to provide curation, information and events in the local community. Almost eight in ten respondents cite this as radio’s advantage. 

When examining listener preferences by format, the value of local content on commercial Triple A stations tops the list. This stat shows the importance of a hyper-local approach and reinforces what noncom “Music Discovery” stations are doing.


Again, keep in mind these are listeners to commercial radio, predominately music stations. Noncommercial, public radio listeners tend to listen to podcasts at a higher rate. It will be interesting to see how much bigger podcast listen is in PRTS 9. Respondents of millennial age are the heaviest consumers of podcasts.

One aspect of podcast listening reported in Tech Survey 13 that I find interesting is the adoption rate among all races. According to the survey Hispanic folks have the highest listening rate. Question for Fred Jacobs: What are they listening to? I am not aware of many podcasts for Hispanic listeners.

Podcasts plus Smartphone delivery is a marriage made in heaven. 

You might say that almost universal use of Smartphones helped establish the current podcast craze. 

I am part of the 30% that listens to podcasts on my laptop.


People seem to value broadcast radio in their vehicles. 

It seems like local really counts on the road. Both Bluetooth and Smartphone connections continue to grow but they haven’t (yet) caused a serious dip in radio listening.


Over the past few years the proportion of Tech Survey respondents who say they subscribe to SiriusXM keeps inching upward. 

Previous Tech Surveys have shown that millennial-age folks are the least likely to subscribe.  Jacobs says that much of the new listening to satellite comes from older, male demos.



No other platform  even comes close.