COMMENT ONE: YES, THINGS ARE UGLY IN MEMPHIS
In our post last Wednesday (4/5) about Good, Okay and Ugly performing NPR News stations in PPM markets [link] we singled out WKNO in Memphis for consistent poor performance in Nielsen Audio ratings.
We wondered why this is happening.
We reported that according to Nielsen, WKNO had 49,300 estimated weekly listeners in the March 2018 PPM ratings.
NPR stations in similar size markets do much, much better. During the same month, WJCT in Jacksonville had 109,800 weekly listeners, WMFE in Orlando had 128,400 and WNPR in Hartford had 120,600.
Two readers with ties to WKNO sent off–the-record comments and asked their names not be used, a request we always honor. One comment came from a current WKNO employee and the other was from a former employee. Both said the causes of WKNO radio’s lameness are:
(1.) WKNO is a joint public TV and radio licensee where TV gets most of the money and all of the senior management’s attention.
(2.) A bonehead decision by WKNO’s president Michael LaBonia in 2007 fatally damaged WKNO-FM’s ability to establish an all-news second station.
In the mid-2000’s WKNO did create an all-news second station on WKNA-FM, licensed to Senatobia, Mississippi and WKNQ, licensed to Dyersburg, Tennessee, exurbs of Memphis. The news stations were beginning to establish themselves.
Then in 2007, LaBonia surprised everyone by announcing WKNO had sold both WKNA and WKNQ to religious broadcasters for $2.8 million. LaBonia told local reporters at the time that the two stations were no longer needed because WKNO was making a major commitment to HD Radio:
"We haven't abandoned the goal of providing two full-power services to the market. We're just changing the approach to achieve that goal."
|WKNO-TV's nifty news set|
Of course, that plan didn’t turn out well because consumers didn’t (and still don’t) want to listen to HD.
Later it turned out that the $2.8 million was used to build a new 35,000-square-foot facility for WKNO-TV, one of LaBonia’s pet projects.
WKNO hurt its image and has made no effort we can see to establish an all-news second station.
KEN SAYS: The reason I am bringing up WKNO’s questionable priorities is because the key to future of radio is to insist on excellence in programming and service. Lazy stations like WKNO hurt everyone in radio. Calling out laggards like WKNO is one reason Spark News exists.
COMMENT TWO: MEASURING THE PERFORMANCE OF COLLEGE STATIONS
On Thursday (4/26) we published March 2018 Nielson Audio data for Triple A, Alternative Rock and Americana stations in PPM markets [link]. We put a spotlight on WERS-FM, Boston calling it the “top performing” college station in the nation. That brought this reader comment:
FWIW, WERS has professional hosts during drive times (or at least morning drive) last I checked. I highly doubt [WERS is] the #1 college radio station in the country. Just off the top of my head, both WSOU at Seton Hall and WRHU at Hofstra cover a lot more people down around NYC.
The numbers also demonstrate that KTCU in DFW absolutely crushes WERS, with a weekly cume just shy of 400,000. You can see it here in this report from RRC [link].
KEN SAYS: KTCU is not listed in report you cite. You are probably correct when you say WSOU and WHRU “cover” more people than WERS. However, “covering” is not the same as “listening.” I can’t recall seeing a college station that reaches more estimated weekly listeners than WERS and are Nielsen subscribers. There may be college stations that don’t subscribe to the ratings that have more weekly listeners than WERS. But, I doubt it.
COMMENT THREE: IS THE PLETHORA OF TRANSLATORS PREVENTING NEW FM STATIONS?
On April 11th we published a story about the growth of FM translators and the impact on the FM spectrum [link]. In that post we opined that the expanded use of FM translators to rebroadcast AM and HD stations was preventing new full-power stations to be established. That statement brought this anonymous comment:
Translators do not prevent the addition of new FM stations because translators are an unprotected class. If there is room to put a full power station on a channel that has a translator on it, the translator has to go away when the full power station is licensed. The real reason there isn’t growth in the number of FM stations is simply that the band is full in most well populated areas. That, and filing windows create huge mutually-exclusive application chains that cannot easily be broken.