Monday, July 6, 2020


Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction
novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein

George Bailey, CEO of Walrus Research, may have summed up of the public media landscape best during a PRPD/RRC webinar when he said:

“In early March 2020 our lives were changed, suddenly and seriously, by the COVID epidemic. American families took shelter in their homes. Schools and universities closed, millions of jobs disappeared, no cars were driving the roads.”

“It was as if the Martians had landed.”

Bailey’s observation was part of a webinar sponsored by PRPD and the Radio Research Consortium (RRC) that happened last Thursday, July 2nd. PRPD CEO and Executive Director Abby Goldstein brought together recent research from four respected sources – AudiGraphics, Jacobs Media, RRC and Walrus Research – to present a clearer picture of listening to public radio’s music formats since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We hope this PRPD/RRC webinar is dry run for the upcoming PRPD/PMJC virtual conference Let’s Go Live [link] September 21-24.If so, the September virutal event will be excellent.

During last week’s webinar, Goldstein was in “the air chair” as the host.  She presented the findings of all four researchers in a clear, actionable and concise manner. Rather than presenting a blizzard of facts, Goldstein focused on telling story that provided context clarity.

Though the webinar discussed public radio’s four main music formats – Classical, Jazz, AAA and the format once known as “Urban” – most of the attention was on Classical music station listeners. To see a recording of the webinar and supporting material go here.

You might consider Goldstein’s presentation a mash-up. Here is our mash-up of her mash-up:

George Bailey
George Bailey from Walrus set the tone by describing the immediate impact of the pandemic.

[Bailey] “Here is what happened to radio listening, during March 2020: In markets across the country, radio listening crashed.”

“Levels of persons using radio…dropped by as much as 50 percent. 
Closer examination revealed that the loss of listening happened away from home. That made sense, given that people were staying in their homes.”

“However, if you thought that radio users would simply transfer their out of home listening hours to the home location, that did not happen.” 

To make his point, Bailey used a week-by-week comparison of listening to all public radio station in one large market [Slide One].

[Bailey] This is Nielsen’s PPM data, persons using radio in the metro, trending 16 weeks starting January 2, 2020.
Note the importance of away from home listening. In this market, out of home used to be the dominant location of radio listening. Yet the blue line shows zero growth in radio listening at home!

Goldstein added these comments: "It is no surprise that out of home listening tanked when this lock-down began. This slide [shows] how much less listening was happening out of home. It would be easy to assume that listening to station streams at home would make up for the out of home losses."

Slide Two is from RRC. 

It shows that listening to 52 noncommercial music stations in 45 PPM markets declined in AQH persons by over 15% between January/February and April May.

After the initial shock, people still sought the latest news but many looked for distractions and "virtual comfort food."

SlideThree is from the PRPD/Jacobs Media Covid-19 survey of core public radio listeners that was taken May 12-14.

Listeners in all age groups sought distractions from virus news.  

 Younger listeners were the most apt to tune-out from the daily pain.

Slide Four, from the same study, showed that music was a very popular distraction.

Goldstein added these comments: “This is from the May 12-14 survey. [This was}wo weeks before the death of George Floyd, before many states reopened and there were huge rises in cases."

Slide Five, also from the May 12-14 PRPD/Jacobs survey, show that music stations got a "listener lift."

Slide Six came from Audigraphics. 

It shows the listening to 35 full-time Classical music stations during April. Goldstein commented on the importance of core listeners:

Goldstein commented:  

We talk about our core and fringe audiences a LOT. Core audience is your most loyal, your P1’s. These are the people who spend most of their radio listening with your station and they are most likely to support you. You are personally important to these listeners!”

Saturday, June 27, 2020


We are taking a break until Monday July 6th.

Until then, we recommend that you check out these public radio news sources:

For the latest news go to Current

For information about NONCOMM Thursdays go to The Top 22

Friday, June 26, 2020



On Thursday evening (6/25), Abby Goldstein, President & Executive Director of PRPD and Terry Gildea, of PMJA announced that the two organizations are partnering for a fall “4-Day Virtual Summit” called Let’s Go Live! 

Both organizations cancelled their annual conferences this year due to safety concerns.

Let’s Go Live! is scheduled to happen Monday, September 21 through Thursday, September 24. All conference sessions and other events will be online.
According to Goldstein and Gildea, the virtual event will be conducted on Attendify, an online hosting platform. Plans are in place for more than 25 sessions showcasing a variety of industry experts, as well as fun and engaging surprises throughout the course of the summit.

More information about Let’s Go Live! will be available soon.  If you’d like to receive email updates click here. Registration for Let’s Go Live opens in late July. The agenda will be released in August.

KEN SAYS: This is a gutsy move by PRPD and PMJA because of the financial risk. According to Goldstein, the fee for attendees will be very reasonable.  At the end of the day, PRPD and PMJA are responsible for paying the bills for Let’s Go Live!  By attending Let's Go Live!, public media folks will help both organizations.


We are returning today to one of our favorite markets, the Delmarva Peninsula. 

Delmarva is a region that includes all of the state Delaware, Maryland’s eastern and a small portion of coastal Virginia.    

Last Monday (6/22) Salisbury University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced [link] they have established a new partnership that will change public radio service on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Salisbury University owns and operates public radio stations WSCL and WSDL in Salisbury, Maryland. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore owns and operates WEAA in Princess Anne. The stations have competed for many years.

As of July 1st, the three stations will adopt the name Delmarva Public Media (DPM) and introduce new formats that do not duplicate each other. As of that date, WESM will become the local NPR News/Talk station. WCSL will air full-time Classical music. WSDL, the smallest of the three stations, will continue to play Jazz and Blues music and will simulcast certain hours of programming on WESM.

Gerry Weston
Public radio veteran Gerry Weston will become General Manager of DPM. 

Under the new arrangement Weston will be in charge of day-to-day operations and underwriting sales for DPM.

Weston said in the announcement’s press release:

“This partnership makes sense not only from an operational standpoint, but it will widen the listener base for each of the stations. From the beginning, we have shared similar missions of enhancing the area’s cultural offerings and creating a more informed population.”

The “elephant in the room” is the forthcoming launch of a new, huge signal from Delaware Public Media based in Dover.

As we first reported last February [link], Delaware Public Media has purchased the broadcasting license of WRAU 88.3 FM, a full-time repeater of WAMU.
WRAU has huge signal that that covers the entire market. When WRAU’s signal is added this fall, it will continue to change listening patterns in the area. The coverage area for WRAU (map of the right) blankets Salisbury and Ocean City, the only Nielsen Audio rated market on the peninsula.

Delaware Public Media plans to continue WAMU’S NPR News/Talk format and many listeners have already tuned to 88.3 FM for news.

Jane Vincent,

Spark News asked Jane Vincent, President of Delaware Public Media, for her thoughts on the new partnership and plans for 88.3 FM. She told us via email:

“I think the WESM/Salisbury merger is great. They’ve been working toward it for some time. Collaborations going forward will be key and smaller stations in particular could probably benefit from combining resources.”

“As for WRAU, we’re still in the process of nailing down loose ends, and hope that 88.3 will debut as part of the Delaware Public Media family later this year.”