Thursday, July 12, 2018


Max Wycisk, retired CEO of Colorado Public Radio
Any professional person, regardless of their field, can pinpoint a person, place and time when they got their first break in the biz. Now Colorado Public Radio (CPR) is making first breaks an annual affair with the Max Wycisk Fellowships, a program that offers yearlong, paid opportunities for young professionals to learn and develop their public media skills.

The Wycisk Fellowships are named for Max Wycisk who retired last month after leading CPR for 40 years. Since the Fellowship program began in 2015. In just the last year, CPR raised $1.19 million to support the project.The Fellowships typically are awarded to folks who are in their final years of college or have recently graduated.

Choosing each class of Wycisk Fellows is a competitive process. The Fellowships are promoted on-air and on CPR’s social media pages. Applicants are then vetted and matched with the internal needs at CPR. The Wycisk Fellows work in various departments at CPR and receive $30,000, plus benefits, in compensation.  Thank of it as a paid internship.

So far, most of the Wycisk Fellows have been placed in CPR’s newsroom. They can specialize in one of four tracks: Reporting and editing, Program hosting, Digital media or CPR’s signature talk and interview Colorado Matters.

The 2018 the Max Wycisk Fellows are:

Joella Baumann

Joella Baumann is a CPR News fellow who recently graduated from Metropolitan State. 

Prior to coming to CPR, she was an intern at The Denver Post and has written for Denver Urban Spectrum

Hayley Sanchez

Hayley Sanchez is also a CPR News fellow who graduated from CU Boulder a year ago. 

She worked as an intern at The Denver Post, as well as at The Witness in DC and The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon. She was also a Dow Jones News Fellow at The Arizona Republic

After the one-year fellowship is concluded, participants are free to take their skills anywhere they choose.  Half of the graduates have remained employed at CPR.

READER TIP: Westword, a weekly newspaper in Denver, recently published an excellent story about CPR’s new CEO Stewart Vanderwilt. You can see it here.  

The June Nielsen Audio PPM ratings brought good news to Colorado Public Radio: All three of their channels (noted with CPR on the chart) increased their estimated weekly listeners compared to June 2016.

Meanwhile, Denver’s K-Love repeater lost ground.  Nationally K-Love stations are losing weekly listeners.

Yikes! No good news for WAMU. Theey continue to trail commercial news/talk WTOP in both cume and AQH share. In the June book WTOP had an estimated 1,108,100 weekly listeners and a 9.5% AQH share. WAMU had 8.3% AQH share.

Another month of Nielsen Audio PPM data, and another month of devolution at Classical/Jazz combo WRTI.   

We are planning to do a investigative story about WRTI. Perhaps they will be our next Weakest Link – the most awful performing public radio stations in the nation.

There is an interesting backstory about KXNG 91.7 FM.  For many years it was KTRU, a highly regarded college station licensed to Rice University. 

In 2011 Rice sold the license to the university of Houston, who also owns NPR News/Talk KUHF. It had a Classical music format until 2016 with the call letters KUHA. June 2016 was the last time KUHA was measured by Nielsen Audio.

KUHA couldn’t raise enough money to pay the mortgage and the license was sold in 2016 to KSBJ, one of the nation’s most successful Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) broadcasters. The call letters were changed to KXNG.

KXNG [link] is now known as NGEN Radio – short for “next generation” radio – that airs hardcore Christian Rock, hip-hop and Christian rap. Apparently that format has found believers. In 2016, before the sale closed, KXNG operated on less powerful frequency.

1 comment:

  1. KXNG was a bizarre story to say the least. KUHF's old GM John Proffit made a gigantic gamble and overpaid steeply for the old KTRU, and while he technically made the "correct" move of taking KUHF all-news and separating out the classical to its own signal on KUHA, it didn't pay off. The debt became an albatross around KUHF's neck. Proffit eventually left, and KUHF later sold off the license and I think barely made back what they paid for it (never mind the operating costs of the intervening years).

    Oddly enough, Rice University regretted the sale almost immediately and tried to keep the little fill-in translator they had on the campus but for whatever reason they couldn't. Which was a shame; Rice later leased an HD2 off of the Pacifica outlet in town (KPFT) for several years and could've fed the translator with least giving them coverage of the campus and surrounding environs. Fortunately Rice got an LPFM in the last window and they're broadcasting on that now. It's not a bad signal for what it is. The only real downside is some SOB is camping on the "KTRU" call letters and won't give them up to Rice unless they pony up big bucks. That's why their calls are "KBLT-LP" but they brand as "ktru" (kay-true) anyways.

    I'm not really sure why KUHA didn't work for KUHF. I think part of it was that the classical audience was a bit of a puffer fish. They were very loud and very angry, but there just weren't all that many of them; not enough to sustain an all-classical signal, anyways. But one could argue they were mad because the KUHA signal was oddly too small for the market. Despite 50,000 watts and good height, it transmits a ways outside of the center of the market and there's some adjacent-channel rimshots that limit it. Plus the sprawl of Houston is so severe that it's almost hard to comprehend. You'd think a 50kW signal with good height in such flat country would cover an entire market but no, Houston is still too big to be covered by that "small" a signal. You really need a full 100kW Class C to do that. So maybe KUHA didn't reach enough listeners, or maybe some listeners felt slighted by their favorite programming being shunted to an "inferior" signal.

    In retrospect, KUHF definitely paid too much for KUHA but it was a defendable move at the time. There were clear signs the mixed format of news/classical was leading the whole enterprise into fiscal trouble. And there was decent evidence that simply killing off classical (or moving it to web-only and/or HD2-only outlets) would've been self-defeating.

    It was a shame, really, nobody involved in the sale of KTRU to KUHF ended up happy with the outcome.