Friday, August 10, 2018



An anonymous reader wrote this to us: Thank you for printing the ratings for Oxnard-Ventura and Santa Barbara but where is the data for San Luis Obispo?  I like the way you’ve combined the info for these three markets in the past.

KEN SAYS: After receiving advice from RRC that we are running the risk of double-counting listeners in contiguous markets by mashing multiple Diary markets together, we are going to put more focus on individual markets.  Occasionally we will provide compilations of Nielsen data for multiple markets.  When we do this we will clearly denote the fact that there may be duplication.

On the left are the Spring 2018 Nielsen ratings for San Luis Obispo.

Right now KCBX [link[ is doing pretty well.  

 However, many of the specialty programs on their schedule are like a trip back to the 1980s. 

Mid-days on KCBX are particularly weak because of a checker-board of shows that no have no affinity with each other. 

For instance, on Monday afternoon on KCBX you can hear Democracy Now!, followed by TED, than followed by A Conversation With the Reluctant Therapist, a local mental health call-in program hosted by The Reluctant Therapist herself, Elizabeth Barrett [link]. Seriously.


Don McCullan
Regarding our story about KAWU and KUFM in Albuquerque [link], Spark News reader Don McCullan from Colorado Springs commented:

McCullan: The Spanish Music on KANW is very unique and is a mainstay in KANW. Its locally based and it would not be played anywhere else. KUNM should be the station to abandon its hippie ways and become the NPR News station. Right now it seems both are making money and there is no rush to change things.


Robert Conrad
We received several kind comments about or story last Tuesday [link] about Robert Conrad’s efforts to keep Classical music on the air in Cleveland during the go-go days of commercial station consolidation. Then Conrad paved the way for WCLV to switch to noncommercial broadcasting and became a part of ideastream.

Among the folks who sent comments were two former commercial radio icons that were close to mega Cleveland consolidation.  Both asked us not to publish their names:

Person One: I was the primary management consultant for [one of the companies involved in the six station deal] back then.  You and Mr. Conrad did a good job of keeping track of the twists and turns of transactions. Thank you for this story!

Person Two: Great story to read, even though I knew most of it. I like it when you tell stories about radio back in the day.  Maybe that’s because I'm old and like history. Thanks for sharing, Ken.

KEN SAYS: Spark News welcomes readers of all ages. The only requirements are a love of radio and storytelling.


We received this comment and request from Howell Doka:

In all the years I have been following you and reading your posts I have never seen anything about the E. TN radio market, Ie: Knoxville, Chattanooga and Kingsport / Johnson City / Bristol area. Any chance of giving us some insight into this area? Thanks.

KEN SAYS: Certainly! We’ve done dozens of market profiles for clients over the years.  It is fun to learn about different places and radio is sort of a universal language. We will look at the three markets based on their size.

• KNOXVILLE (Nielsen Audio Market #72)

Knoxville is an ultimate college town.  The University of Tennessee keeps Knoxville young, spirited and artsy.  WUOT at UOT in the biggest local player in noncommercial radio. The station is managed by our friend Regina Dean, who we knew when she was in Little Rock.

WUOT [link] has a dual format of NPR News and Classical. The seem to be doing well.  In the Spring 2018 Nielsen rating WUOT had 2,700 estimated AQH listeners and 77,300 weekly listeners.

Knoxville’s best-known noncom station is WDVX a/k/a The station in the trailer.  We featured WDVX in September 2016 [link]

WDVX plays Americana and bluegrass music.

The station in the trailer
WDVX [link] first became nationally known in the late 1990s when it was broadcasting from a 14-foot camping trailer, parked at a campground off I-75.  Since then WDVX has moved to solid, stationary ground.

WDVX was started by a grassroots effort of passionate, like-minded people who wanted a radio station that represented the culture of Cumberland Mountains and the Great Valley of East Tennessee

Other notable noncommercial stations in Knoxville are WUTK, the student station at UT and WOZO-LP, The People’s Station [link]. At the moment we are writing this story, Democracy Now is airing on WOZO.

• CHATTANOOGA (Nielsen Audio Market #88)

There are two public radio stations in Chattanooga: NPR News & Jazz WUTC and Classical WSMC. Neither station subscribes to the Nielsen Audio ratings.

Jacqui Helbert
WUTC was most recently known for firing news reporter Jacqui Helbert.  We first covered this situation in April 2017 [link].

Helbert was fired because of her reporting on Tennessee’s proposed “Bathroom Bill” that angered local politicians. The politicians threatened to cut off support for WUTC.  Helbert sued the university and the case was settled out of court. Helbert received an undisclosed amount of money plus an apology from the university.

Here is a surprise (just kidding!), there are lots of Evangelical Christian stations in Chattanooga. Noncom WMBW leads the Holy pack with 61,900 estimated weekly listeners.


WETS, at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, is the home to WETS.  As the years have gone by WETS [link] has evolved into a NPR News/Talk station with a few music programs for spice. WETS does not subscribe to the Nielson Audio ratings.

Most folks in the tri-city area can receive Triple A WNCW from a mountain top near Asheville, North Carolina. WUMC, the student station at Milligan College is highly regarded.

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