Friday, July 14, 2017


In the first batch of Nielsen Audio June PPM estimates, WNYC-FM had 966,200 weekly cumulative listeners, the weekly audience estimate for the station since PPM ratings started over ten-years ago. 

WNYC-FM now has the largest weekly audience in the nation, topping KQED by 3,200 estimated weekly listeners.

Combined with listeners on Long Island, WNYC AM/FM had a estimated 1,386,700 weekly listeners in June 2017.

Compared to Nielsen data for June 2016, WNYC-FM added 227,000 weekly listeners – up 23% in one year. Also, according to Nielsen estimates, WNYC-FM also had a 3.0% average-quarter-hour (AQH) share in June 2017, also a record-high number for PPM data.  WNYC-FM’s 3.0% AQH share puts it above commercial stations WNEW-FM (Hot AC), WCBS-AM (All News), WPLJ (Rock Hits) and WOR-AM (All Talk).

Speaking of KQED, Nielsen estimated they had 963,600 weekly cumulative listeners in the June 2017 PPM estimates. KQED added 181,200 weekly listeners since June 2016, a gain of 18%.

KQED continues to be the top station in the San Francisco Bay market with a 6.7% AQH share. KQED was far above the number two station, CBS All News O&O KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM (6.0).

We will have complete coverage of PPM results during the new few days, plus comparisons with June 2016 results. The following week, the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) will be begin releasing Nielsen Audio estimates for Diary markets in Spring 2017.

WNYC-AM was also up considerably in the June sweeps compared with June 2016. 

The biggest percentage gain in NYC was K-Love affiliate WKLV, up 27% in weekly cume, 108,000 estimated listeners.

New York stations also dominate the noncom listening in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Nassau-Suffolk is geographically a large metro. 

WSHU and WSUF from Fairfield, Connecticut, have a substantial number of weekly listeners.

Nielson Audio PPM results for June 2017 were off a bit for all four LA noncom stations that subscribe to the ratings. Compared to June 2016, KUSC had 115,700 fewer estimated weekly listeners, a drop of 15%.

In Chicago, the top performer compared to June 2016 was nifty Jazz/Blues station WDCB, up 2%.   

Other subscribing noncom stations were down.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Classical KDFC had 53,900 fewer estimated weekly listeners in June 2017 than they did one year ago, down 13%.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Each year the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) honors many types of radio broadcasters with NAB Marconi Radio Awards [link]. Most of the attention typically goes to big market stations and well-known national personalities. Today we are focusing on a category that often does not get much press coverage: Noncommercial Station of the Year.

Noncom stations nominated this year are: KPCW-FM, Park City, UT; WRHU-FM, Hempstead, NY; WSDP-FM, Plymouth, MI; WMSC-FM, Montclair, NJ; and, WPSC-FM, Wayne, NJ. The winner of this and other categories will be announced September 7 at the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner, part of the NAB Radio Show in Austin.

Lets take a closer look at the nominees:

WPSC, William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey

WPSC 88.7 FM [link] is known as Brave New Radio. Bravery is not a trait generally associated with radio stations but these folks earn it and honor it. The station serves folks in the northern New Jersey suburbs and exurbs of New York City.

WPSC has won numerous college radio awards in the past. This is its first nomination for the NAB Marconi Radio Award. Braveology is WPSC’s signature sound. Here is how the station describes their unique selling point:

Braveology is simply the best in college rock. Braveology is the home of indie rock and alternative music! Our unique formula, with just the right mix of new and independent artists, provides for great listening and great exposure for artists you won’t hear on commercial radio. From 9am to 5pm every Monday through Friday, tune in to get your indie fix!

When we say we play more new music than any other station, we mean it! This is truly Brave New Radio – not for the timid or undiscerning listener. We don’t regurgitate commercial radio station chart-toppers. We play the good stuff!

Braveology is both a mission and an attitude. Brave New Radio specializes in songs by local artists, North Jersey artists and groups. Because of the station’s proximity to the New York’s music scenes, WPSC is considered a way to get noticed in the nation’s top market.

WPSC – Brave New Radio – has one characteristic that distinguishes it from all other stations, commercial or noncom: The Bravery in Radio Award.

In April 2009, WPSC and William Paterson University (WPU) launched the Bravery in Radio Award, was created by WPU students, staff and professors. It recognizes brave leaders in the radio industry that have gone against the grain and brought new approaches to listeners.

Past Bravery in Radio Award winners include:

• 2009 - Les Paul, musician and recording genius

Paul was the first performer/producer to use multi-track recording to its full potential. His Les Paul Radio Show inspired new generations of artists of all genres to try new ways of recording and mixing their music.

2010 Bruce Cousin Brucie Morrow, New York disc jockey and cultural icon

Cousin Brucie is a New York radio legend who influenced, among many others, Howard Stern.

• 2011 - Howard Stern and Robin Quivers, satellite radio trendsetters

Stern and Quivers received the award in recognition of their pioneering work in the medium of radio. The award was presented live on the Howard Stern Show.
Howard Stern and Robin Quivers who accepted the award for their "pioneering work in the medium of radio." After some on-air ribbing of the award, Stern then sincerely accepted the award by saying "Thank you very much for this beautiful award. I do appreciate it - I’m not so jaded that I can’t be complimented by the students."

• 2012 – WNYC’s RadioLab

• 2014 – Elvis Duran, New York disc jockey

A 2017 Bravery in Radio Award will be presented this fall. Read more about the award here.

KPCW, Park City, Utah

KPCW [link] is the only public radio on the list this year. Local radio is sometimes difficult to establish in seasonal celebrity towns like Park City.  KPCW has thrived since it separated from a Salt Lake City community station in 2009.

According to documents on KPCW’s website, in 2016 the station had an operating budget of over $3.5 million, larger than many big city NPR stations. During 2016, KPCW received over $2.2 million in membership pledges, an amazing total for such a small market.

WRHU, Hempstead (Long Island), New York

WRHU [link] has been called the best small university to learn electronic media communications skills. WHRU is an important part of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Radio Hofstra University.

WRHU earned consecutive first place rankings in the prestigious Princeton Review and earned a Pinnacle Award "station of the year" by College Media Association. WHRU was chosen to be a radio home for the New York Islanders of the NHL. This association has provided Hofstra students opportunities to enter major sports broadcasting careers.

WSDP, Plymouth, Michigan

WSDP [link] markets itself as 88.1 The Park. One of the best high school stations in the nation, WSDP lives up to its mission statement:

88.1 the Park uses local radio to invest in the lives of young people and serve the Plymouth-Canton Community.

WSDP is proud of its heritage. Recently the station honored its founders, Plymouth High School English teacher Bonny Dore and principal Bill Brown. They started WSDP in 1972.

WMSC, Montclair, New Jersey

WMSC [link] is the quintessential college radio station.  Based at Montclair State University, just west of New York City.   

WMSC does it all with ONE (1) WATT (and a fortunate antenna location).

Ed Helvey

Montclair student Ed Helvey (Class of 1967) founded a radio club on campus in 1957. 

Since then WMSC has made real Helvey’s hope to connect thousands of commuters with the campus community. Montclair State is a commuter campus. 

WMSC provides an important sense of place.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


WBAI GM Berthold Reimers
WBAI GM Berthold Reimers told station listeners on Monday (7/10) that the station will hold a rally and press conference on Thursday (7/13) at 1:00pm. 

Reimers plans to announce how the station will respond to a motion for summary judgment filed by the Empire State Building (ESB). 

In that motion, ESB is demanding immediate payment of $2.2 million of missed rent payments for WBAI’s antenna on the top of the building. WBAI has not paid the rent since July 2014.

The summary judgment asks for immediate payment of the amount due or ESB will seize some of our Pacifica’s assets, meaning its FCC licenses.  Therefore, the debt is a problem for Pacifica’s entire national organization.

During an appearance on Michael Haskins’ morning drive program, Reimers told listeners to gather on the south side of New York’s City Hall at 12:30pm and walk together to the site of press conference.

WBAI's Empire State Building coverage
Reimers said he will announce on Thursday:

1. WBAI demands that ESB withdraw their motion for summary judgment.

2. Demand that ESB let WBAI out of the lease agreement and negotiate a new cheaper agreement.

3. If ESB refuses, WBAI will leave the ESB and move their transmitter and antenna to another location.

Reimers does not discuss what WBAI plans to do about the $2.2 million debt they owe ESB. It appears that Reimer’s strategy is to create a public outcry that somehow will convince ESB to drop their lawsuit and motion for an immediate judgment.

Reimers summed up his rationale:

“WBAI is being asked to pay for rights to the air, which already belongs to the people.”

You can hear an aircheck of Reimers appearance on WBAI here.


Reimer’s muddies the situation even further by throwing Pacifica’s national office under the bus. He said the ESB lease was negotiated, and signed in 2005, by management of Pacifica Foundation, the organization that owns the five Pacifica stations. Each station operates semi-autonomously with its own Board.

Then Reimer’s backtracks and talks about an alleged resolution he negotiated with ESB in July 2014. He told WBAI listeners:

I said [to ESB] we cannot afford to pay $12,000 a month – it would force us to go bankrupt. ESB said if WBAI would make token payments, they wouldn’t take us to court of anything.  It was a verbal agreement, nothing was written down or anything. It was a handshake understanding.

ESB said such an agreement was never made. Plus, ESB said Reimers was not authorized to negotiate on behalf of Pacifica’s national office because he wasn’t a member of the national organization’s Board of Directors.

Haskins opened WBAI’s one phone line for listener questions:

Listeners also pressed Reimers about related matters. One asked about WBAI’s fundraising strategies other than frequent, endless pledge drives. Reimers replied:

“We are living in New York City and there is loads of money out here. We have not received funding for some grants because we do not have a current audit to show them.”

“I think all of our paperwork is in order but sometimes in an audit you need to provide justification and it takes a while to find the documents. We don’t have enough staff to organize all that stuff. We should do that on a regular basis.”

Another listener pointed out that when the ESB/WBAI lease was signed in 2005, the WBAI staff knew fully what the cost of the lease was and agreed to pay that amount. Now WBAI is saying that the ESB took unfair advantage of WBAI.

Others said WBAI and Pacifica are in an impossible situation regarding the $2.2 million they owe. Dwayne, a WBAI listener from the Bronx said:

“ESB’s motion for summary judgment is impossible for Pacifica to defend. It is an issue of material facts. There is no doubt they owe the money.

Reimer’s had no reply.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


We have a podcast “two-fer” today.  First are the latest rankings of podcast publishers, followed by analysis by Gabe Bullard, Senior Producer of WAMU’s program 1A. Bullard asks whether the increased availability of listener usage data will cause some podcast producers to craft their content for higher ratings, not quality.


On the left is the most recent Podtrac Industry Audience Rankings. Podtrac provides monthly estimates of the audience reached by major podcast publishers. We have been sharing Podtrac’s data for about a year.  Podtrac seems to present the most accurate snapshot of actual podcast market penetration available in the general public.

click to enlarge

The chart on the left compares the estimated size of the Unique Monthly Audience in the US for May and June 2017. Month to month, the information for most of the producers is about the same.   

NPR is the nation’s leading podcast publisher. WNYC, PRX/Radiotopia and American Public media are steady performers. 

Big commercial operators like ESPN, The New York Times and CBS have a growing presence. Rising commercial company Wondery [link] is one of several companies that are trying to bring public radio sensibilities to commercial podcast.

Wondery is the home of Mark Ramsey’s podcast Inside Psycho which we featured last March [link].
Now let’s look at a publisher with dramatic recent changes. The This American Life cluster includes Serial and S-Town.  While a 22% decline in Unique Audience from May to June looks awful, put it in a larger context.

click to enlarge
The chart on the right shows Podtrac’s estimated Unique Audience for the This American Life cluster since the beginning of 2017.  

In March and April they received the S-Town Bump. S-Town was released in late March and, obviously, people responded in droves.  

 This is what a podcast hit looks like: A change in behavior by roughly 3 million people.


Gabe Bullard (pic by Linda Golden)
That is the question Gabe Bullard discusses in his A+ essay published last week by Nieman Lab [link].

Bullard tells the story of how radio broadcast ratings services evolved from the Diary system used by Arbitron to the PPM system now used in the top 48 markets by Nielsen Audio. 

Bullard seems to like the Diary method because it better demonstrates the respondent's intent.

Bullard asks whether the evolution in technology has caused a devolution in quality of content. And, will the same thing happen to podcasts in the new age of Apple Analytics and Podtrac.

Gabe Bullard [link] knows his stuff and has a clear writing style. He includes quotes from folks I know and trust such as Fred Jacobs, Tamar Charney, Mark Ramsey and Corey Lewis.

I will include a few short excerpts from Bullard’s story and add a few of my own thoughts.
GABE BULLARD: Then, starting ten years ago, Arbitron changed its methods. Instead of diaries, sample listeners in the largest radio markets were sent Portable People Meters (PPMs) — pager-sized devices that picked up inaudible frequencies in radio broadcasts and kept a log of everything a person listened to throughout the day.

KEN MILLS: PPM doesn’t measure what people want to listen to, rather it measures what people hear. (At least what the PPM meter hears.)

BULLARD: Not everyone will be responsible with the [new podcast analytics], though. The more apt comparison to what’s about to happen with podcasting could end up being like what happened with the browser-based web when tools like Google Analytics and Chartbeat came along, or when Facebook became the primary source of traffic. Some people used the knowledge of visitors’ habits to make their writing more compelling and their sites more user-friendly. Others gamed their headlines, led their stories with slideshows and autoplay videos, and moved more ads above the fold.

Maybe some podcasters will find out listeners drop off after 10 minutes and cram all their ads into the beginning of the show. Or maybe new producers will come in and game the system some other way. It’s not clear what a clickbait podcast might sound like, but if there’s money to be had in making it, we’ll probably find out soon.

MILLS: This is where public radio’s “halo effect” may be helpful. Public radio listeners support programming and stations because, as Bill Siemerring said, they can trust that the water is pure to drink. Podcasters must uphold this advantage.

BULLARD: The listeners don’t change, they’ll just be measured differently.

MILLS: Keep in mind that ratings and ranking mean different things to public media than commercial media. Commercial companies are looking for bulk audience delivery. Public media counts its listeners and visitors one by one. The intent is the difference.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Kevin Landrigan has been called a “New Hampshire news legend,” because of his many years of reporting on the state’s political scene. 

Now Landrigan has amped up the chorus of right-wing pundits advocating the elimination of funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

He imagines there is outrage about salaries paid to folks at New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR).

Landrigan reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader on July 8th [link] that High NHPR salaries don't dampen support for the broadcaster.

Then he cites a litany of annual salaries for NHPR senior managers to support his notion that NHPR and CPB don’t need federal support. Here is how Landrigan tries to make his case:

Betsy Gardella (photo credit
Matthew Lomanno)
“The head of NHPR Betsy Gardella, earned $263,430 in total compensation during 2015, according to the station's filing with the Internal Revenue Service. 

That's roughly double the salary paid to the governor of New Hampshire.”

Of course, that comparison is irrelevant.

He talks about salaries as if readers should be outraged. Then he uses the salaries to show how flush public broadcasting is as justification for defunding CPB. His rationale is shame on you for doing a good job.

Past efforts to nix CPB funding because some folks make decent salaries have not proven successful. As we reported in November 2016 [link] former Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) tried this approach in the 1990s when he lashed out at salaries for “public radio stars.” The people of South Dakota were not outraged by the compensation, they were outraged by Pressler’s attempts to eliminate a valuable service to people in his far-flung rural state.

Senator Pressler was “privatized” in the next election.
Landrigan’s salvo is part of an ongoing drumbeat by the right-wing to eliminate federal funding for a long list of programs they don’t like for various reasons. 

Public broadcasters should remain alert after Congress in May approved a stopgap federal spending bill that increased money to CPB and maintained funding for National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities.

Landrigan ominously says at the end of his story:

This fight will be renewed when that budget bill expires in September.

On this point, Lardrigan is probably correct.


KUOW is searching for a News Director. Senior management openings are usually rare at the Seattle news powerhouse but new management has recently been making changes. Jennifer Strachan became KUOW’s Chief Content Officer in June. The new News Director will report to Strachan.

At KUOW, the News Director oversees a 20+ person newsroom. The station is looking for a visionary individual who knows how to compete on all platforms.

Salary and benefits are competitive. (But, the salary is probably too much for Kevin Landrigan – see story above.)

The search is open until filled, however to ensure consideration, please apply by July 31, 2017.

Livingston Associates is handling the search. You can see more here.