Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Spark News has just completed analysis of Nielsen PPM ratings for 27 full-time Classical music stations and the results show millions of people love to listen to the music on the radio. 

In fact, some stations have experienced sizeable gains in weekly listeners.

We had complete data from the 2017 and 2018 summer quarters for 26 of the 27 full-time Classical stations. 

When the numbers were crunched, we learned:

• There were 4,394,400 estimated weekly listeners to the 26 stations in summer 2018 book. This is almost the same number of weekly listeners the 26 stations had in summer 2017 (4,402,100).

• KCNV in Las Vegas had the largest percentage gain of estimated weekly listeners, up 47% in the past year. 

Other stations with notable percentage increases were KSJN in the Twin Cities (up 17%) and KUSC in Los Angeles (up 13%).

• KUSC also had the largest numeric increase in estimated weekly listeners, up 97,200 for summer 2018 compared with summer 2017.

• Seventeen of the 26 stations (65%) had fewer weekly listeners in summer 2018 than 2017.   

However, the 9 stations (35%) that did increase their number of estimated weekly listeners had big enough gains to offset the losses.

• Some stations experienced significant losses. 

WGUC in Cincinnati had the largest numeric loss, loosing 28,800 estimated weekly listeners between summer 2017 and summer 2018.

Houston’s KUHF-HD2 channel lost an estimated 61% of its weekly listeners. 

WFCL in Nashville was down 35% and WGUC lost 27%.


While compiling the data for this post it occurred to us that we have been writing less about Classical music on the radio lately. There can be only one reason: Wende Persons finished her assignment as the Managing Director of Classical Music Rising (CMR).

Wende always kept our Inbox full of ideas for stories and her monthly newsletter was filled with things that were going on at stations. She did such a wonderful job leading this project. The CMR website [link] is still full of great ideas and occasional new news.

We reached out to Wende by email to see how she is doing. She sent this reply to her friends in Classical music radio:

Wende Persons
Hi Ken and everyone,

Great to hear from you! I’m on a TransAtlantic cruise with my sister, with very limited access to WiFi. Stopped today for a tour of the Rock of Gibraltar in the pouring rain, so no views of the African coast on this trip. The cruise started in Barcelona, and next on the agenda is rainy Lisbon tomorrow, followed by the multi-day Atlantic crossing to Florida. 

No updates from me right now except that I’m enjoying spending time with my friends and family, and traveling. Earlier this month I was in Chicago to see a production of the opera for which I wrote the libretto many years ago: Patience & Sarah. WFMT’s Candice Agree posted a sweet feature on WFMT’s site. 

In June my partner bought a house near Manchester, VT and we’re starting to spend getaway time up there. It’s on ten acres in the Green Mountains, and spectacularly beautiful...

I do miss my classical radio colleagues and the stimulation of our work together. Maybe sometime again..... :)

Hope all is well with you! I still read Spark News daily to keep on things. 

All best,


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