Friday, July 21, 2017


Public radio and digital media folks will gather next month of the Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) annual Public Radio Content Conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference is happening Monday, August 14th through Thursday, August 17th.

Here are helpful links for the Content Conference:

Complete conference information is here.

Conference registration is here. Note that today (Friday 7/21) is the final day for lower registration dates.

Marriott Marquis Hotel info is here.

As I’ve done in past years, today we are featuring conference panels and events we feel are particularly notable. But, these are just a few of the panels and events. Check out the full conference schedule here.

 Monday, August 14

6:30pm – 9:00pm • Opening Reception at The Newseum

WAMU, the number one radio station in Washington, DC, hosts attendees for the Content Conference’s Opening Reception. The Newseum is a fascinating place regardless of whether you are a news hound or not. The last time I was at the Newseum I saw a terrific exhibit about covering the Beatles first appearance in the US.

The Newseum is, in part, a gift to journalists by Al Neuharth, the longtime leader of Gannett Media and creator of USA Today. The story goes that Neuharth felt sheepish about criticism of USA Today –  “best investigative paragraph, etc." – and wanted to be known for something more circumstantial. That desire led the Newseum.

Stop by and congratulate JJ Yore and everyone at WAMU for their leadership in public media.

Tuesday, August 15

Fred Jacobs
9:00am – 10:30am • Millennial Research Project

Fred Jacobs from Jacobs Media presents results from the ninth Public Radio Tech Survey and new research about millennial-age folks media usage and perceptions.

 Highly recommended.

Eric Nuzum
11:00am – 12:00pm • Eric Nuzum Presents Creative Visions for Managers

Former NPR Programming VP Eric Nuzum comes back home to share knowledge he has gained from his current gig as Senior VP of Original Content at Audible. Nuzum is a one-of-kind self-starter who has created remarkable media content himself and inspired others to to same.

Nuzum excels at defining a creative vision for managers and creative teams. He will share techniques he has used at NPR and Audible to motivate managers and teams to do their best work. Highly recommended.

Wende Persons
11:00am – 12:00pm • Classical Spark's Best Practices for Station Promotion

Wende Persons and other folks from Classical Music Rising are doing a wonderful job analyzing and refreshing the presentation of Classical music on the radio. Stop by and hear about their latest initiatives.

At this session you will hear first-hand from Classical music content creators discussing strategies to keep stations visible and valuable to their listeners and communities. Topics include station positioning, branding clarity, and Ten Tips for effective on-air promotion to keep people listening and coming back for more.

2:00pm – 3:00pm • Sound Like Your City

“Local” is an important part of a stations value and brand. This session explores secrets for creating a “signature local sound and identity. We’ve learned that embracing and promoting the Sense of Place is vital increasing listeners perceived value of a station. At this session, content creators will provide tips and best practices to build loyalty an inject new urgency and relevance for stations.

2:00pm – 3:00pm • Increasing Digital Impact At Classical Stations

This is a must-attend session for Classical music folks and certain to be of interest to anyone involved with music on radio and companion platforms. Classical Music Rising and other panelists will look at what’s “sticky” for music listeners.  Because we live and work in a rapidly shifting digital landscape, this is an opportunity to learn more about digital techniques and content that are being used now to increase listening and engagement. Highly recommended.

3:30pm – 5:00pm • Reveal Your Community

Al Letson and others from the Center for Investigative Reporting and the folks from PRX share their experiences about launching Reveal as a national program and template for community engagement. Hear how Reveal has been successful in getting local stations to become involved with long-form collaborative investigations. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 16

Allison Rockey
8:00am – 9:15am • Digital Disruption of News & Media

Join Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR's On Point, and other journalists who have learned how to go beyond “normal” and use new technologies to present news and other content of multiple platforms. Other panelists include Jeremy Gibson, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Washington Post, Matt Thompson, Deputy Editor of, and Allison Rockey, Director of Programming for Vox.

9:30am – 10:30am • Driven to Disruption

Your vehicle is becoming a multimedia experience and sometime soon we will have self-driving vehicles. With all of this technology (and perhaps some free time) what will the changes mean for public media?

Kristen Muller from KPCC and Umbreen Bhatti from KQED’s Innovations Lab host an interactive workshop focused on the challenges of ] autonomous vehicles and other changes to the ways listeners commute.

Roger LaMay
9:30am – 10:30am • What Is Next for Public Music Stations Digital Platforms?

WXPN GM Roger LaMay hosts a panel about new trends in digital platforms, mobile devices, and streaming services. They will examine how algorithms, Spotify, YouTube and Apple TV, etc. are changing the way we discover and enjoy music. LaMay has assembled an all-star panel including Hawk Mendenhall from KUT and Jennifer Ferro from KCRW. Highly recommended.

11:00am – 12:00pm • Identifying Talent for Public Media’s Future

New voices and managers are the key to public radio’s continuing success.

Al Letson
2:45pm – 4:00pm • Journalism in the Age of Trump

Al Letson, host of Reveal, presents a panel discussing ethics and responsibility of journalism in the so-called Fake News era. 

Letson is joined by New Yorker writers Kelefa Sanneh and Sarah Stillman about how journalism can best serve the public by maintaining a strong stance for truthful reporting on institutional power.

4:15pm – 5:45pm • Format Groups Meetings

Folks from NPR News stations, Classical, Triple A and Jazz stations discuss the current state and future of their formats.

Thursday, August 17

8:00am – 9:15am • PRX's Project Catapult

This highly anticipated session discussed PRX’s work with stations to utilize on-demand audio. Representatives from seven stations participating in the CPB funded Project Catapult talk about their process and what they’ve learned that works with their listeners. Highly recommended.

Tamar Charney
9:30am – 10:30am • On-demand Platforms Are All About the Audience

Tamar Charney, Managing Editor of NPR One, shares recent examples about how stations are using NPR One as part of their content strategy. Highly recommended.

9:30am – 10:30am Podcast to Radio, or Vice Versa?

What comes first, the radio program or the podcast? Stations are hungry for new content and much of the system’s creativity is going to new podcasts. Is it possible to have a “both/and” strategy instead of an “either/or” strategy?

11:00am – 12:00pm • Audience, Impact and Revenue From Content Events

In the coming year, PRPD and Culture Casts will conduct a study of station events and these events affect Audience, Impact and Revenue.

One goal is to establish metrics to establish benchmarks to evaluate content that most cost-effectively expands digital and broadcast experiences.

2:00pm – 3:00pm • The Trouble With Reality (and Journalism)

Brooke Gladstone
Brooke Gladstone, co-host of WNYC’s On the Media and Virginia Prescott, host of Word of Mouth on New Hampshire Public Radio walk us through the minefield of journalism in the 21st Century. In some ways there is nothing new happening today – we still have demagogues and stereotypes – but the methods of reporting stories has changed. Does public radio’s tradition hold up and how can we build on it for the future. Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


WYPR, Baltimore, has one of the fastest growing audiences in the public radio system. According to Nielsen Audio, WYPR added nearly 60,000 cumulative weekly listeners between June 2016 and June 2017. The 27% increase in estimated weekly listeners represents the growing clout of Your Public Radio.

One of the reasons for WYPR's success is the enterprise reporting that is heard on the station and elsewhere. An example is The Chesapeake Bay Collaborative, a journalism collaboration funded by grant support from several organizations with interest in the Chesapeake Bay.

WYPR’s broadcast partners in the Collaborative are Virginia Public Radio (Roanoke), Delmarva Public Radio (Salisbury, Maryland),  Delaware Public Media (Dover, Delaware) and WESM on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. One thing they all have in common is their proximity to Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest estuary.

Chesapeake Bay is in the middle of a watershed that spans 64,000 square miles, touching on six states. The area is important to the economy, a source of food and a destination for tourists and sporting folks. The Chesapeake Bay Collaboratives mission is produce reports examining a broad spectrum of issues affecting the Bay and its watershed. 

That is where the oysters come in.

According to a report by Pamela D'Angelo of the Chesapeake Bay Collaborative, in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. 

Pamela D'Angelo
The order authorized a plan to revive the wild oyster population through sanctuaries on restored reefs.

President Trump’s proposed budget eliminates funding for the oyster plan. 

This further complicates oyster habitat restoration. Trump is cutting federal funding for sanctuaries in four Chesapeake tributaries and monitoring of oyster growth.  It takes three years for an oyster to reach its prime. Save the oysters!

You can see and hear D'Angelo’s report here.

Also in the Baltimore ratings, WAMU from nearby Washington, DC continues to gain momentum in the Baltimore metro. Jazz formatted WEAA makes its first appearance in the “book” in recent years. Someone must have let the air out of the tires at Classical WBJC.


 NPR News is sky-high Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. 

According to June 2017 data from Nielsen Audio, WUNC added more than 30,000 estimated weekly listeners since June 2016 – a 27% increase.

WUNC was the top News/Talk station in the market with a 7.0% AQH share, far ahead of iHeartMedia’s WTKK (4.8% AQH share).


Both KUT stations added estimated weekly listeners between June 2016 and June 2017. Americana KDRP seems to be gaining listeners for it’s unique “only in Austin” music mix.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


There are very few successful radio stations owned by municipal governments. Typically city-owned stations are rife with bureaucracies and sluggish when making decisions.  Perhaps the best example of this type of station was WNYC-AM in New York.  The City of New York sold the station a couple of decades ago and New York Public Radio has blossomed ever since.

Today we have an example of a city-owned station that works: WRR-FM, the voice of Classical music in Dallas and Fort Worth. When WRR [link] began on AM in 1922, is was the first licensed broadcast station in Texas and the second federally licensed station in the United States.

According to WRR’s official history on the City of Dallas website [link] WRR was the brainchild of inventor Henry Garrett, a Police and Fire Signal Superintendent for the City of Dallas. Garrett thought a municipal radio station might be an excellent way to communicate with firefighters in the field. The city agreed and built the station.

WRR transmitted fire alarms but there was a lot of downtime. The station filled the time between first playing phonograph records. People liked it.

Over nine decades WRR has had several different programming formats: Fire Alarms and City Services (1920-1927), Talk (1927-early 1970s), Contemporary Hits (early 1970s-1974), and News/Talk (1974-1978). WRR became a fulltime Classical music station in the late 1970s.

WRR debuted on FM in 1948, one of the first FM stations in Texas. At that time the FM spectrum was wide open.  WRR applied for 101.1 FM – in the middle of the dial – at maximum power of 100,000-watts. Programming was simulcast on FM and AM until the City sold WRR-AM around 1980.

WRR is operated by the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs with a mission to provide access to the arts.  It is a commercial station that is run like a non-profit.

WRR looks like it is doing very well.  The station’s annual budget is around $2,000,000 and not a dime of the dough comes from Dallas taxpayers. Not owing anyone money is a great way to be sustainable.

WRR’s latest Nielsen Audio rating performance should generate ad sales. The estimated number of weekly cumulative listeners grew 10% between June 2016 and June 2017. 

Elsewhere in the DFW Metroplex, NPR News station KERA keeps building its audience. The estimated number of weekly listeners increased by almost 50,000 in the past year, up 12+ from June 2016.

In Portland, NPR News KOPB added nearly 70,000 new weekly listeners between June 2016 and June 2017. KOPB is the top rated news station in Portland with an 8.0% average-quarter-hour (AQH) share. 

The next highest news station in the market, KXL-FM had a 3.5% AQH share and an estimated weekly cume of 251,300 listeners.

WHYY in Philadelphia also increased its number of weekly cumulative listeners, up 9% compared with June 2016. 

Classical/Jazz dual format WRTI keeps losing listeners.   
Maybe it is time WRTI made a fulltime commitment to either Classical or Jazz.

In Atlanta WABE is roaring back.  Their weekly cumulative listeners grew 7% between June 2016 and June 2017.  Crosstown competitor WRAS had at first down book, dropping 17%.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Summit County in Colorado is a wonderland for skiing, hiking and healthy living.  According to the American Medical Association, residents of Summit County have the longest life expectancy in the nation: 86.3 years. But, locals will tell you it is a tough place to get over-the-air radio and TV signals.

The mountainous terrain around Breckenridge, the county seat, and other communities prevents most residents from receiving most Front Range electronic media. 

So residents developed a unique way to get FM and TV signals into the county: Summit Public Radio & TV (SPRTV).

SPRTV [link] is a non-profit cooperative that operates an “antenna farm” on Bald Mountain (elevation 13,690’) east of Breckenridge.  From this high peak, SPRTV receives distant signals and rebroadcasts them on translators. SPRTV specializes in bringing public broadcasting into the county. Listeners can hear NPR News from KUNC, Greeley, Classical music from KCME, Colorado Springs, and Jazz music from KUVO in Denver.

Stacy Towar
Now Summit County residents can hear The Colorado Sound, Triple A KJAC based in Greeley. According to a report in the Summit Daily News [link], Breckenridge residents can now hear one of their own on The Colorado Sound: Stacy Towar.  Leigh Girvin, outreach coordinator for SPRTV, told the Summit Daily [link]:

"We're kind of bringing her home [to a station that] features and promotes Colorado- based music, a growing part of the local economy.”

Meanwhile on the Colorado Front Range, Colorado Public Radio’s (CPR) KCFR continues to add new weekly cumulative listeners. The NPR News station had 10% more estimated weekly listeners in the June Nielsen Audio PPM ratings compared with June 2016. All three of CPR’s Denver stations (KCFR, Classical KVOD and Triple A KVOQ) increaded their number of weekly listeners in the past year.

One final Colorado note: Aspen Public Radio is looking for Chief Operating Officer.  The search is being handled by Livingston Associates.  For more information, check here.


In the Seattle-Tacoma June 2017 PPM ratings NPR News KUOW is now the top news voice in the radio market. KUOW’s 5.8 average-quarter-hour (AQH) share was significantly higher than much-hyped KIRO (3.6%) and Sinclair’s KOMO (3.0%). KUOW’s 400,700 estimated weekly listeners also topped KIRO (398,200) and KOMO (378,800).

NPR News and Jazz station KNKX had 2% more weekly listeners than predecessor KPLU had in June 2016. KEXP was up 16%.


NPR News station KNOW added almost 20% new estimated weekly listeners between June 2016 and June 2017 according to Nielsen Audio. KNOW’s broadcast signal and streaming audio reached 177,000 more estimated weekly listeners than CBS’ WCCO-AM in the June sweeps. KNOW had a 5.6% AQH share; WCCO had a 3.7% AQH share.

WCCO’s decline is notable because of the station’s legacy as the top News/Talk station.  WCCO-AM once had a 50% share of the markets’ listening. I wrote about WCCO’s sad decline about a year ago [link] in a post called The Night WCCO Gave Up on Radio.  New owner Entercom has its work cut out for it in Minneapolis.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Phoenix has always been a challenging place to establish a new noncommercial station. The last new noncom voice that was added to the market was KBAQ as a partnership between KJZZ and Arizona State University roughly 15 years ago.  

 But now a move by Latin Pop noncom KNAI might make 88.3 FM available to new owners.

This post is based on facts but my conclusion is wishful thinking. Because what I am suggesting is actually possible, I am going to send a copy of this story to Jim Paluzzi, Bill Shedd and Jon Hoban at KJZZ/KBAQ to let them know what I am thinking. 

As you might know, the Cesar Chavez Foundation has successfully operated KNAI 88.3 FM for the past two decades. According to estimates provided by Nielsen Audio, KNAI has more weekly listeners than any other subscribing noncom station in the market. However KNAI shares 88.3 with end-times ministry Family Stations.

The Chaves Foundation owns many stations in the western US
Last Friday, Radio Insight reported [link] that the Chavez Foundation is planning on converting KNAI into a commercial station via their purchase of now-silent FM translator K270BZ, 101.9 FM.The plan is that 101.9 FM will repeat KNAI-AM.

The sale has yet to be filed with the FCC.

Harold Camping, religious huckster
This will open up 88.3 FM full-time for other sharing station KPHF, owned by Family Radio. If you have been following station transactions in recent years, you know that Family has been selling stations ever since founder Harold Egbert Camping predicted the end of the world in 2011. The over-hyped apocalypse theory was part of a fundraising effort by Camping. It pissed off Family’s faithful and Camping died shortly thereafter. Family Stations has been in a downward spiral ever since.

Family already owns a Phoenix FM translator at 88.9 FM that repeats Family’s flagship station in San Francisco.  So, they might want to make a deal.

Bill Compton

Phoenix would be a terrific market for a noncom Triple A. 

Not only does it a verdant local music scene, there is a tradition of progressive rock radio since the legendary Bill Compton established KDKB in the late 1960s. 

So, maybe something good will happen in the Valley of the Sun.

Both KJZZ and KBAQ did well in the June 2017 Nielsen Audio PPM estimates.   

KBAQ was increased its weekly cumulative listeners by 10% compared to June 2016.


WAMU continues its news dominance in the nation’s capitol. 

Not only did the number of estimated weekly listeners rise by 7% above June 2016, WAMU is the top station in the market in average-quarter-hour (AQH) share. In June 2017 WAMU had an AQH of 9.3%, again topping commercial giant WTOP (8.7%).

In Boston, the epic battle between WBUR and WGBH continues with both stations adding weekly listeners since June 2016.