Friday, February 2, 2018



We have received several comments and/or questions about our coverage of the Pacifica Foundation, it’s new Interim Executive Director Tom Livingston and the future of its five stations. This comment from an anonymous reader is typical:

Is there any chance Pacifica will switch WPFW, their Washington, DC station, to full-time Jazz music? This market needs a full-time Jazz Station? Also, is there any chance WAMU will acquire WPFW?

Tom Livingston
KEN SAYS: It is too soon to answer these questions because the future of Pacifica in unknown. There has been little new news about Pacifica this week. Our understanding that Tom Livingston did site visits last week and is  considering a range of options to present to Pacifica’s national board.

A comment on one of the Pacifica blogs sums it up the best:

Livingston really needs to set the tone right away with some big move. Something to show that things are going to change.

In other words, will Livingston’s proposed changes “go big” or “rearrange the furniture.”

“Going big” might include scrapping Pacifica’s dysfunctional governance system and consolidate everything under one board, ending the autonomy of individual stations or liquidate all of the assets and build a new venture online. In an earlier post [link], we recommended making Pacifica a national voice by simulcasting programming to all five stations from one common studio.

On the other hand, “rearranging the furniture” means putting band aids on some of the current problems and hope for the best.

In our opinion Livingston should “go big” and redefine the entire organization. This way Pacifica can stay true to its mission and move away from what clearly HAS not worked.


Regarding our post about WCVE, Richmond, Virginia and WVTF, Lee Costic of Richmond, a FM DX Enthusiast, wrote:

Great coverage of WCVE’s expansion! But I am curious where you got that Nielsen data. WVTF does have a translator on 92.5 in Richmond that carries their NPR/news service, branded as “RadioIQ.”

But WVTF’s Classical music service, branded as “WVTF Music” is not available over the air in Richmond. In Roanoke, “WVTF Music” is on WWVT, which used to be WFFC, a station with very small coverage. No WWVT translator stations reach Richmond, correct?

KEN SAYS: Our Nielsen Audio data comes from RRC – the Radio Research Consortium [link], an organization set up over 30 years ago to provide ratings data to noncommercial radio stations. Occasionally we get data directly from Nielsen or  

I need some help from readers in the Roanoke area. I thought I knew what happened when WVTF rearranged their two programming stream in July 2017. How ever now I am even more confused. You can reach me at

On the left is our Nielsen Audio ratings chart for Roanoke.  Can someone tell me if I have the correct stations with the actual formats?

WVTF has only added to the confusion with their poor choice of names for their two program channels.  As I understand it, NPR News is now on 89.1 FM, WVTF, but is called Radio IQ. Classical music is on 89.9 FM, WWVT, but it is called WVTF Music. I recommend give each program service an easier to understand name.


Our post about NBC Radio’s short-lived 24/7 news channel in the 1970s [link] continues to get reader comments. Our story concerned the failure of the channel because, in our opinion, it lack a vision and sounded dated, just at a time when FM stations were taking off.

We received a comment from Gil Gross, the former host of a talk show at KKSF in San Francisco, and before that a network news host at ABC and CBS radio networks. To put it kindly, Gross didn’t like the angle of our story:

NIS did not live up to its hype

There is a lot here to chew on and much of it is ridiculous. The quality of NIS, where I was a weekend and substitute anchor, was amazing. Describing [NBC executive] Alan Walden as “old school” is disingenuous. 

The idea that “going young” would have been better is just ignorant. NIS was not a “turd” as you called it.  Who the hell writes something like that?

KEN SAYS: I wrote the story and I stand by my description of NIS,


In January 2015 we posted an article about a company called The Radio Connection [link], a LA-based company that charges big bucks arrange internships at stations. The plan seemed like a scam to us. A reader using the initials “GR” wrote to us:

Can you guide to me a legit school for broadcasting in the Los Angeles area?

KEN SAYS: Readers, can you help? You can reach me at


  1. “Going big” might include scrapping Pacifica’s dysfunctional governance system and consolidate everything under one board,"

    Livingston cannot do the above. Only the board can do that and the board is not going to eliminate themselves. He'll be lucky if he can rearrange some furniture and even that I'm doubtful about.

  2. The last thing WPFW needs to do is become a "full time" jazz station, which for practical purposes it already is, just with lots of on-air pitching. WERA already has several excellent jazz shows and serves much of the same DC coverage area so there is no shortage of jazz radio. WPFW should start being a Pacifica station with diverse programming, not just music, that better reflects the entire metro area including MD and VA. But if the station can't be sustained, and if the interesting national programming model did not materialize, let the Foundation sell the license and use the funds to support the other stations, the affiliate and online ventures.

  3. Emerson College has a Los Angeles campus, and they have had an excellent radio broadcasting curriculum in the past. As I understand it, that curriculum has faded somewhat as fewer and fewer students are interested in formal education in radio. Also, I have no idea if the LA campus has any radio offerings; all the radio curriculum I know about is related to their Boston campus and WERS.

    That said, I question how much anyone would really learn even in a truly "legit" radio broadcasting school these days. Obviously some people "learn" differently than others, and might benefit greatly from a formal education environment. But I think radio is so difficult to get a career in that unless you already have the personality...the "drive", or perhaps "obsession"...about radio so strongly that you are willing and able to dive in and experiment on your own? You're probably not going to make it as a career. And certainly you CAN learn on your own pretty much most, if not all, of what you'd learn at a broadcasting school. You'll save a lot of money that way, too.

    You can, and should, go to your local public radio stations and ask to volunteer. Be honest. Tell them you're willing to do anything as a volunteer, but your long-term goals are to learn how to break into the industry. Therefore, if any opportunities come up to "intern" (likely unpaid) in specific departments: news, production, engineering, marketing, sales, etc then you'd love the opportunity if they feel you're ready for it. Concordant to that, if there's a local college radio station willing to allow you to be a volunteer on-air DJ, that's a place where you can hone your on-air presence and experiment a lot in a low-pressure environment.

  4. If the DC area actually "needed" a jazz station...meaning there's enough listeners clamoring for it to not only sustain a jazz station but also to make it profitable...then there'd be a jazz station. WETA would've "gone jazz" when they abandoned news/talk.

    Whenever someone says "such-and-such location NEEDS an (insert format) radio station," it really means "I really WANT an (insert format) radio station here just for me."

  5. "Our understanding that Tom Livingston did site visits last week and is not considering a range of options to present to Pacifica’s national board."

    I had assumed the above "not considering" was a typo for "now considering" but it is, in fact accurate. First of all, Livingston has only visited the two east coast stations. He cancelled the Texas station visit and has yet to visit west coast stations as of 2/6. Apparently when Livingston was asked what's he going to do, he said "whatever the board tells me to do." To anyone who's ever listened to the board meetings, they know the board is completely incompetent, at best, and is the reason Pacifica is in the mess it's in. The more savvy observers now think Livingston will do nothing and make sure he collects his generous paycheck. Why not? With few exceptions, everybody has their hands out for what they can get out of Pacifica on its way into oblivion.