Friday, May 18, 2018


Perhaps it is a sign of the times that the Public Radio News Directors (PRNDI) are featuring a training workshop on active shooter situations at it annual conference June 20th through the 23rd in Philadelphia [link]. The odds of such an event happening in any one place are extremely small but these incidents can happen anywhere any time.

The active shooters training session reflects a shift by the News Directors to a more practical, nuts-and-bolts approach to reporting the days news. 

PRNDI members have played an important role in public radio’s recent and dramatic rise in audience ratings and importance to the local community.

This year’s conference is the 33rd for PRNDI and it looks to be one of the best. PRNDI has evolved over the years from station folks meeting NPR editors to become a gathering where training, capacity building, collaborations and smart journalism on multiple platforms take center stage.

This year’s PRNDI conference is actually two gatherings in one.  The opening two days, Wednesday (6/20) and Thursday (6/21), are dedicated to training for news managers and editors. The fundamentals of fact-based reporting are stressed. Public media news consultants Michael Marcotte and Judith Smelser are in charge of the training. 

Andrea de Leon won the
Leo C. Lee Award in 2017

Then, on Friday (6/22) and Saturday (6/23) sessions with a wider focus are featured.

Station folks and leaders from NPR, PRX and other organizations lead sessions such as Creating A Safe Newsroom Environment, Covering Mid-term Elections, The Future of Digital Content Sharing for Public Radio and Covering Mother Nature: Breaking News Coverage During Natural Disasters.

Two sessions we highly recommend are Anatomy of an Investigation with Reveal and Can Public Radio People Afford to Work in Public Radio?

In the Reveal session (Friday 6/22 1:15pm – 2:30pm), producer Laura Starecheski will discuss how an investigation of lending discrimination in one city became a national story. Starecheski will demonstrate how Reveal built the investigation, created a dataset to share with stations and picked coverage partners from around the country.

The session about affordability on a public radio budget (Friday 6/22 10:15am – 11:30am) will explore the need for smart recruitment and retention to avoid loosing key employees.

The PRNDI conference closes on Saturday (6/23) with the annual PRNDI Awards and presentation of the Leo Lee Award. This year Keith Woods will be honored.


Add KCFR in Denver to the list of stations that have retained their weekly listeners since the 2016 election and continued to increase their average-quarter hour share. 

According Nielsen Audio PPM data,  the estimated number of weekly listeners grew 15% from April 2014 to April 2018. KCFR’s AQH share increased 26% during the same period.

One note about Denver’s April book: Commercial news/talker KOA jumped way up because of their coverage of Colorado Rockies baseball.

Estimated weekly listeners to KNOW in Minneapolis-St. Paul have fallen a bit since the 2016 election but KNOW’s AQH share remains near a high point. 

KNOW has experienced impressive growth in both metrics since April 2014.

Commercial news/talker WCCO also benefited from a baseball bounce. Play by play of the Minnesota Twins returned to WCCO this year after several unhappy years spent on a Twins-owned FM station. It looks like baseball works best on AM.

KNKX, Seattle-Tacoma is an outlier in the Four Year PPM trends.  As you can see in the chart on the left, the station had slightly more estimated weekly listeners when it was still known as KPLU. 

KPLU became KNKX in 2016 when it successfully established its own independent ownership organization.

Note how consistent KNKX’s weekly listeners are during the entire four-year period. This brings up an important question: Has KNKX’s dual format of Jazz and NPR News reached it’s ceiling? 

Both Jazz and news are top-notch, but if someone wants NPR news at 2:30pm, the only local choice is KUOW.  There are very few dual format stations left in major markets these days because usually don't work. By trying to serve two different groups of listeners, neither is satisfied with the part-time service.

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