Thursday, November 8, 2018


Declining financial support and big drops in listeners are causing Salisbury University (SU) to review its relationship with Delmarva Public Radio (DPR). 

DPR, licensed to SU, operates two dual-format stations: WSCL 89.5 FM and WSDL 90.7 FM.

On October 30th the Friends of Delmarva Public Radio hosted a community meeting for listeners, donors, station staff and volunteers to discuss the dire budget situation with Karen Olmstead, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs at SU. DPR reports to Olmstead.

According to compliance documents on the DPR website [link], in FY 2017, DPR lost approximately $424,000. SU provides about a third of DPR’s annual budget. Olmstead told the group that SU is not planning on selling DPR at this time, but the budget over-runs were of concern to SU.

Karen Olmstead

Olmstead told the Salisbury Daily Times [link] that DPR must “keep programming within the budget,” and must work hard to “raise more money but contain costs." 

Olmstead told the Daily Times that no decisions by SU are expected until after the holidays.

In January 2018, Spark News published [link] a detailed Case Study about DPR. I the study we found:

• DPR’s two stations air virtually no local programming.

• A format change on WSDL in February has not attracted many listeners.

• Out-of-market signals, particularly WRAU – a repeater of WAMU in DC – have many more local listeners than the DPR stations.

In our Case Study, we included advice from a 2012 consultant’s report urging DPR’s management to quit trying to compete with WAMU and develop a distinct local service. 

If that didn’t work, the consultant recommended two options: Sell the licenses or establish a local marketing agreement with a bigger station.

DPR did not act on any of the recommendations.


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) announced earlier this week that CPB has awarded NFCB a grant of $316,000 to establish the Community Counts Initiative (CCI).

The CCI is designed to help rural public radio stations increase their local service. The 18-month project will help 10 stations design and implement internal plans to strengthening content, revenue and engagement strategies.

The 10 participating stations are WTIP (Grand Marais, Minnesota), WERU (East Orland, Maine), WMMT (Whitesburg, Kentucky), WNCU (Durham, North Carolina), WXPR (Rhinelander, Wisconsin), KBFT (Nett Lake, Minnesota), KWSO (Warm Springs, Oregon), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KZUM (Lincoln, Nebraska), and KRTS (Marfa, Texas).

According to Ernesto Aguilar, Membership Program Director for NFCB, the CCI stations will have common goals but different approaches:

Ernesto Aguilar
“Each station develops a plan that works for them. They will all be unique though each one will have similar elements such as a content flash point, a revenue plan, and engagement activities.

Examples include storytelling circles, produced series on issues relevant to the stations home area, live events that have a radio component and community outreach programs.

According to Aguilar, each of the participating stations will measure their progress beginning with a comprehensive baseline survey:

Evaluation will be based on benchmarks will be developed for each station and tracked throughout the project by NFCB and an outside evaluator.

Stations will also receive customized technical assistance depending on their specific needs.

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