Wednesday, April 25, 2018


According to Boise State Public Radio (BSPR) GM Tom Michael, having a daily talk and interview program has been on BSPR’s wish list for over a year.   

Michael, who joined BSPR [link] in 2016, has made it happen. Idaho Matters debuted BSPR’s 24/7 news channel on Monday, April 23rd.

Idaho Matters [link] is hosted by Boise journalist Gemma Gaudette. 

The show is on Monday through Friday from Noon to 1:00pm. Gaudette comes from a television news background. She anchored newscasts in Tampa before moving with her family to Boise in 1999 to build a news presence for the local FOX affiliate.

During the first edition of Idaho Matters, Gaudett talked on-air with Tom Michael about the new program.  Michael told her and the listeners:

Tom Michael

"Idaho Matters has a structure similar to NPR’s 1A. The one-hour clock has four twelve-minute segments. The defining characteristic of Idaho Matters is its emphasis on Idaho’s sense of place, local stories that matter."

The program combines in depth interviews and occasional call-ins with field reports from BSPR journalists and the Mountain West News Bureau.  

In a posting on PRPD’s Facebook page, Michael said the inspiration for Idaho Matters include KUT’s Texas Standard, KOPB’s Think Out Loud and tips from WUNC, WILL, WITF, KNPR, KERA and Michael's previous station KRTS, Marfa.


Tanya Ott
As you may have heard, Tanya Ott, GPB’s VP of Radio is hanging up here station management duties to focus on content creation, academic research and teaching at the University of Alabama. 

Few people were surprised that the multi-talented Ott, chose to work with content rather than climbing the corporate ladder.

She has been a creator, an innovator, teacher and team leader wherever she has been.

But now she has come to a fork in the road. She is pursuing the path closest to her heart.

We received the following email from Ott describing this turning point in her life and career: 


I’ve been in public radio for almost 30 years, having started as a volunteer in the University of Florida’s student newsroom, WUFT-FM.  I learned my craft there covering city and county commission, doing live elections coverage, reporting feature stories and eventually hosting Morning Edition.  

After a two-year stint post-college hosting All Things Considered at Colorado Public Radio I returned to WUFT on faculty helping run the newsroom.  

I discovered that I love teaching and I’ve have managed to continue doing it in one capacity or another for the last two decades.  I’ve served as a mentor for AIR, a newsroom trainer for PRNDI and a member of the MEGS team for many years. 

I took the VP job at GPB five years because it offered me the opportunity to learn about the business side of what we do.  It has been an incredible experience.  We launched Atlanta’s first news/talk public radio station, as well as three local talk shows.  Our audience numbers continue to climb and the minority audience numbers are especially encouraging.  Our reporters have filed hundreds of features and spots for national and international programs and we’ve grown our internship program dramatically.  

I have learned so much about the sausage making of programming, promotion, fundraising, deal making, partnership growing and the like — but I miss teaching and I miss content making.  

I know my move may seem unusual from the outside, but when I left my last gig at WBHM and several friends in the business asked if I wanted to be a CEO one day I said “maybe” or “maybe I’ll go back to being a public radio host/reporters again.”  

Would I rule out a C-Suite management job?  Absolutely not.  There’s great reward in doing the work that’s required to help your team make great content.  But for now I’m craving a break from developing policies and signing papers and sitting in meetings.  

I want, rather need, to get back out into the field and start telling stories and doing hands-on teaching of those who tell stories. 

(hope that’s helpful!) 


One of Ott’s most rewarding creations, On Second Thought, GPB’s daily talk and interview program, is being left with a new team of MVP's handpicked by Ott:

Virginia Prescott
The new host of On Second Thought is Virginia Prescott from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR). Prescott follows Celeste Headlee, who relocated to Washington D.C. to expand her career as a successful speaker and author.

At NHPR, Prescott was host of Word of Mouth, a program that explores emerging and under-reported stories. She also is the creator and host of two popular podcasts: Civics 101 and The 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop, a show for writers share perspectives on their craft and creative process.

According to Ott, Prescott was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University, ‪where she explored how storytelling could be used in solving community conflicts related to the built environment.

Susan Davis
Susan Davis is the new Executive Producer of On Second Thought.  

Most recently, Davis has been freelance consultant specializing in radio documentary work, podcast development and host training.  

Before becoming an indpendent, Davis was the Senior Supervising Producer for WUNC’s The State of Things. She was also an associate producer for NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Sara Shahriari

Sara Shahriari has been named as Managing Editor for Georgia Public Broadcasting’s news department. 

Before moving to Atlanta, Shahriari was assistant news director at KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. It is one of the best small-market public media news shops in the country. 

She was also an assistant professor at the highly respected University of Missouri School of Journalism.

All three women are in many ways similar to Ott. Like her, they are no-nonsense journalists that also have entrepreneurial interests. 

All three bring their deep love of storytelling to new media platforms. All three are teachers, at heart. Public media is in good hands with these folks.


There was very little change in the May 2018 Nielsen Audio ratings for Atlanta compared to March 2017.

Both NPR News/Talk stations – giant WABE and upstart GPB’s WRAS – are holding estimated weekly listeners from the 2016 elections.

WRAS is still two stations on one frequency. GPB programs the daytimes while Georgia State University students play their own blend of alternative rock during the nights.

Looking at Atlanta’s entire news/talk radio market, it is doubtful that either public radio station will challenge the venerable WSB for the top news position any time soon. WSB recently added an FM frequency that covers a nice slice of the metro.

Add Cumulus-owned WYAY-FM to the list of right-wing commercial talk stations that have fewer estimated weekly listeners than the local NPR News shop.  We are working on a deeper analysis of this pattern.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Recently we have reported on several situations where a local NPR News/Talk station is outperforming a heritage hometown commercial news/talker.  As the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings are arriving, we are taking a look this race in all of the PPM markets.

What we’ve learned so far is good, okay and ugly, depending on local circumstances.  

 A few days ago we wrote about the dominance of KQED, San Francisco, over the entire radio market. Today we have a couple more public radio news success stories. Then, we have one “okay, but” situation, and the ugliest NPR station performance in the nation.

GOOD: DENVER How the mighty have fallen

During the 1980s I lived in Colorado – two years in the Springs and two years in Fort Fun. One thing that was a constant anywhere in either of these cities was 850 KOA. It was like a "north star."

Back then KOA pulled an 8, 9, even 10 AQH shares. Then Clear Channel (now iHeart Media) bought KOA.

Over time, what made KOA essential drifted away.  At the same time Colorado Public Radio (CPR) invested in wise folks to run the news department and they got their KCFR signal problems solves.

KCFR leads KOA in weekly listeners and AQH share.

NPR News/Talk stations are holding their listener bases.   

However, almost every noncom station was down in the March 2018 PPM ratings. The numbers for KJAC The Colorado Sound and KVOQ CPR OpenAir

GOOD: BOSTON Public radio was born here

Boston has been a great radio town for many years. 

Now Boston listeners are being treated to a delicious competition between WBUR and WGBH. 

After seeing the latest Nielsen numbers, it could be that more people in the Boston area listen to public radio than WBZ.

WERS must have an excellent group of students now.   

They are certainly the best performing college station in the country.

OKAY: TWIN CIITIES Slip, Sliding Away

Disclosure: I have lived in Minneapolis since 1992. I am a KNOW P-1.

Once upon a time, WCCO-AM ruled the radio dial with 50+ AQH shares. 

Despite the ascendancy of FM, they remained a top five station well into the 1990s.

By that time corporate cost cutting began. The GM was putting his energy into a new Country FM.

WCCO was high profit station. Year after year they brought tons of money to CBS corporate.  Then, in the early 2000s, CBS corporate decided to cut expenses rather then invest inwhat was working.

During a hot summer of 2016, I wrote a post about the night WCCO just gave up [link]. Other folks might have opinions but for me WCCO broke its pledge of public safety when they cut away from breaking storm weather.

One pattern I’ve noticed is how well public radio News/Talk stations tend to do much better Conservative Talk stations with El Rushbo and Hannity.

When I see this chart I worry a bit about the sound of MPR’s News channel.   

To me, there seems to be less joy in the host’s voices.   

The pace of local programming seems to have slowed. 

There used to be local thematic “shows” like the Daily Circuit. Now it is harder to tell whats on from day to day.

MPR’s online News presence is very impressive. They have become a “news of radio record” for Minneapolis-St. Paul.

UGLY: MEMPHIS Missing a tremendous opportunity

I don’t want to seem like I am unfairly picking on anyone at WKNO, Memphis [link], but their performance in the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings is surprisingly dismal. Maybe it is because WKNO is licensed to a public TV station.  But a more apt cause is likely internal governance issue and turf protection.

The biggest factor in Memphis radio news is 600 WREC [link]. Other than weekday mornings for two hours of local news and discussion, WREC is 100% plugged into satellite feeds Beck, Rush and Sean.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  There are several options for a public service operating (PSOA) agreements with other Memphis area noncoms.

WQOX [link], the number one public radio station in Memphis is owned and operated by Shelby County School District: WQOX 88.5, The Voice of SCS. 

88.5 plays parent-approved urban contemporary music. 

The best option to increase NPR listening and visibility in Memphis is a PSOP with the Memphis Public Library. 

The Library owns WYPL FM 89.3. Coverage map on the right.

For many years WYPL [link] has served the low vision and blind communities with a popular reading service.

It is easy for a blogger like me to spend other people’s money. So, I hope someone will take this idea and run with or maybe WKNO will come to life.

Monday, April 23, 2018


Steve Post
Steve Post was a one-a-kind radio personality. He never took things too seriously and found humor in the absurdity of the human condition. New York radio listeners could always count on Post’s irreverent commentary and quick one-liners to brighten any day.

Later in 2018, everyone will get a chance to be introduced (and in some cases re-introduced) to his life and times in the new film Playing in the FM Band: The Steve Post Story. The 80-minute documentary by On the Road Productions is loosely based on Post’s autobiography of the same name. The film's website is here.

Post started in radio as a volunteer at WBAI in 1965.  Soon he became cult radio hero who innovated his own kind of “free form” audio storytelling.  Post is perhaps best known for his work at WNYC-FM. From 1982 until 2001. He was the host of Morning Music With Steve Post, combining music, commentary, and satire. WNYC had dual format at the time of NPR News and Classical music. Post did the weekday 9am to Noon shift.

When New York was attacked on September 11, 2001, WNYC-FM changed to an all-news/talk format. Post became known as the station’s number one on-the-air fundraiser. He played an important role in helping WNYC raise the money to buy the station’s licenses from the City and establishing New York Public radio.

Steve Post in 1997
In 2002 Post began a weekly program – The No Show – on WNYC. He retired from WNYC in 2009 and died from complications of lung cancer at age 70 in 2014.

No story about Post is complete without recalling perhaps the best story ever about a DJ going to the bathroom and locking himself out of the station. Almost anyone who has worked in radio has a similar tale.

One morning in 1990s Post was doing his morning show on WNYC when he felt the need to go to the bathroom. When he got in the stall, he realized he didn’t have a key to get back into the station.

Fearing “dead air” (a common DJ nightmare) he screamed for help but no one heard him. Post was desperate. He decided the only way for him to get back in the studio was to go out the bathroom window. He then navigated the crumbing ledges of the Municipal Building, 20 stories above the pavement, and re-entered the control room through an open window. He arrived just as the music was fading.

Steve Post told this story much better than I can. Here is a YouTube video that features Post live on WNYC telling what happened:


American Public Media (APM) has crafted a deal with commercial radio syndicator Westwood One (WWO) for promotion and ad sales for the second season of the podcast In the Dark. The Peabody Award-winning investigative podcast returns on May 1, 2018 and runs through June.

Season Two explores the case of Curtis Flowers – a black man in Mississippi who has been tried six times for the same crime. In the Dark’s first season has had over 12-million downloads since it was released in 2017.

Tim Roesler
According to Tim Roesler, APM’s Senior VP & Chief Business Development Officer, APM is partnering with WWO because of their promotional reach, “digital vision” and experience monetizing podcasts.

WWO has made major investments in podcasting in the past couple of years. 

The company owns Podcast One [link], a portal that distributes over 90 podcast titles. Podcast One’s biggest hit is the Adam Carolla Show [link], a former “shock jock” who shares his thoughts about current events, politics, relationships and anything else he can complain about, according to Podcast One.

A big benefit to Podcast One is the association with APM’s exceptional content and “halo effect” of public media. Suzanne Grimes, Executive VP for Corporate Marketing at Cumulus Media (Cumulus owns WWO), said in a press release:

“We are incredibly impressed with APM’s award-winning and high-quality investigative content. This collaboration is another example of the podcast marketplace maturing.”