Tuesday, February 20, 2018

NEW YORK TIMES & AXS TV SEEK NEW SUBSCRIBERS WITH RADIO SPIN-OFFS


American Public Media (APM) and the New York Times announced last week [link] that the Times popular podcast The Daily will be coming to public radio in April.  

The Daily [link] is typically around 20-minutes in length. The show will be edited into a half-hour program and distributed each weekday by APM to stations.

According to media reports, public radio stations will pay a yet-to-be-announced carriage fee for the program.  

The Daily is available to podcast listeners in the morning but the radio version will not be distributed until later in the day. 

The Daily, which launched in February 2017, is hosted by Times journalist Michael Barbaro. The podcast has become an unprecedented hit with 4.5 million unique monthly listeners and downloaded more than 200 million times in the first ten months. The Daily is a fee-based podcast, but there are no published reports about the revenue it generates for the Times.

 
WHAT’S IN IT FOR APM?

Reportedly, APM and the Times will split the carriage fee revenue and new revenue generated by underwriters. Also, The Times will be running announcements during The Daily.

The Daily will provide APM a bankable show that will increase the perceived value of affiliation to the network.  Stations must pay APM affiliation fees before they can access the network’s programming portfolio. Affiliation fees are a major source of revenue for APM.

APM plans to market The Daily as companion to Marketplace, also a 30-minute program. For example, APM’s Minnesota News stations will be airing Marketplace at 6:00pm CT and The Daily at 6:30pm. In other words, the two half-hour programs will fill one broadcast hour, something stations have needed.

APM hopes this will cure an anomaly from the late 1980’s when Marketplace began as a half-hour program to be the “last half hour of All Things Considered.” ATC at the time was a 90-minute program.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE TIMES?

The Times will be running announcements during the radio version of The Daily to promote digital subscriptions. According to Publisher’s Weekly [link], the Times is pivoting to digital to ensure the future of the company as print subscribers decline. The Times added more than 150,000 digital-only subscriptions in the last quarter of 2017.

The Times knows of the high affinity between their publication’s subscribers and NPR news listeners. The free announcements within APM’s version of The Daily is a great way to reach these folks.

The collaboration with APM shows the Times is expanding into audio reporting, which is important to both radio and podcasting.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR LISTENERS?

Dave Kansas
Dave Kansas, APM’s COO, said it best:

"We know that our curious listeners want to better understand the complex issues of the world we live in, and the addition of this trusted name to our already strong portfolio helps us bring more in-depth, robust journalism to our audiences.”

KEN SAYS: This collaboration makes a lot of sense for everyone. Look for it to succeed.


DAN RATHER’S NEW INTERVIEW SERIES WITH ROCK MUSIC ICONS IS COMING TO RADIO


AXS TV [link] has announced that The Big Interview With Dan Rather is scheduled to debut in March on radio stations nationwide. The series will feature the legendary former CBS News anchor interviewing such stars as Eddie Money, Billy Ray Cyrus and the Oak Ridge Boys.


The reason this is happening? AXS TV needs new subscribers. Though the company is backed by billionaire Mark Cuban, Ryan Seacrest and the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), AXS is far behind competitors such as Netflix and Hulu.

This idea must have made sense in the AXS boardroom to publicize the Rather interviews by simulcasting them on radio.

I have always respected Dan Rather, but this move perplexes me. To me, Rather is terrific doing reporting and analysis of news and current affairs, but I can’t imagine listening to him ask the Oak Ridge Boys about writing the song Elvira.

I listened to samples on the AXS website and Rather sounds like he is “phoning it in.” 

Plus,TV audio on radio is almost always problematic because of room ambience and other factors.

The press release from AXS trumpets radio stations that have already agreed to air the series. One station on the list I know very, very well: KQRS, the Classic Rock leader in the Twin Cities for over three decades. “KQ” is a music-intensive station that never breaks the flow except for morning ratings king Tom Bernard.

So, I called a friend who works at KQ and asked him when the The Big Interview With Dan Rather will air on the station.

My friend chuckled and said: “You won’t hear it on KQ. We are running the spots, not the show.”

This is an old trick used by commercial radio syndicators to pad program carriage lists. In this case AXS TV is paying KQRS to run the commercials with no requirement to run the show. Then AXS gets to use the station on its promo material to show success. Consider transactions like this as the
value of programming in commercial radio.




Monday, February 19, 2018

ONE OF A KIND STATIONS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE HEARD OF • LPFM STATIONS WITH RATINGS


One of the things we enjoy about the semi-annual Nielsen Audio ratings in Diary markets is the chance to learn about new or overlooked stations. There are some great shops out there beyond the “NPR orbit.”





In the chart on the left are nine stations that don’t fall into traditional categories. We have previously written about some of them including:

• KTSC, Pueblo [link] a Contemporary Hits station where the students learn in a professional environment;



• WGVU-AM, Grand Rapids [link], a station where you will hear Bobby Goldsboro singing Honey and Louie Louie by the Kingsmen is still in power-rotation;






• WPRR-AM, also in Grand Rapids [link], a/k/a Reality Radio, a community station with a definite point-of-view. WPRR makes no attempt to be “fair and balanced.” The station is operated by local union members;




 • KALA, Davenport, Iowa in the Quad Cities market [link], is a passion-project GM David Baker at St. Ambrose University. KALA successfully mixes Catholic ideology with Smooth Jazz, Gospel music and weekly programs from NPR, PRI, APM and PRX that are not heard elsewhere in the market;




• KPBZ, Spokane [link], the only station we are aware of in a rated market that airs PRX Rewind program service 24/7. Rewind is a good daypart choice but it isn’t working as a full-time format.



BEST STATION IN THE GROUP: WJAB, MONTGOMERY

If you want to see and hear the gutsiest station in Alabama, check out WJAB in Huntsville [link].  When you do, give thanks and praise for Hayward Handy, “the father of WJAB.”

Hayward Handy was the great nephew of the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy. When Hayward Handy died in September 2006, the 80-year-old gentleman was remembered for his love of music and radio. He won a two-decade struggle to put WJAB on the air in Huntsville and thousands of listeners thank him for his love and devotion everyday.


Hayward Handy taught science at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville. He founded A&M’s Telecommunications Center in 1991 and secured the FCC license for WJAB.

Joy Sidney
Today WJAB is a mix of professionals and students. Its powerful 100,000-watt signal carries a tasty blend of jazz and blues. 

The most popular show on WJAB is Coffee and Tea, hosted by Joy Sidney. Sidney shares the pulse of the community with tasty morning music weedays from 6am to 9am. People seem to agree because WJAB’s estimated weekly listeners grew by almost 50% between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017.





YES, LPFM STATIONS ARE RATED BY NIELSEN AUDIO & ARE FUNDED BY CPB




We recently saw on a LPFM bulletin board someone saying LPFM stations are eligible to measured by Nielsen and do not qualify for CPB funding. Both assertions are not true.

The chart of the left shows five LPFM stations that were listed in the Fall 2017 ratings. Nielsen Audio collects listening data for all broadcast stations – they just don’t release numbers for stations that don’t subscribe.

Not only does WGVV-LP – Groove 92.5 – have a growing number of weekly listeners, according to WGVV’s IRS 990 for FY 2015, CPB contributes roughly $115,000 per year, half of the station’s $230,000 annual revenue. In FY 2015, WGVV [link] also received $52,500 from members and $56,960 from underwriting. 



Friday, February 16, 2018

THE TRUE STORY OF HOW AMY GOODMAN BECAME THE OWNER OF “DEMOCRACY NOW!”


We have received numerous comments, most then anonymous, about our coverage of the Pacifica Foundation, WBAI and the future of the noncommercial organization. Many of the comments deal with the endless feuds between various factions. We avoid reporting on these matters because they ultimately don’t matter.

One comment from an anonymous Spark News reader did catch our attention because it touches on a current topic: Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s (MNN) offer to take over WBAI with a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA).  Dan Coughlin is the CEO of MNN and has a deep and murky history with Pacifica.

We reported about MNN on February 5th [link]. Here is the comment we received:

"Here are some other fun facts about Dan Coughlin [the head of MNN]. He was an ally of Amy Goodman’s when he was a reporter for Pacifica’s national news (Pacifica Radio News)."

Dan Coughlin
"Along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into a professional public relations campaign (The Pacifica Campaign) against the then Pacifica board during the lawsuits of 1999-2002, run by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Coughlin was part of the news department who went on strike to support Goodman in the ginned up attack on the board."

"When the board was finally forced out, Coughlin was appointed [Executive Director] by Goodman. Coughlin signed off on Goodman’s contract-of-a-lifetime which gave her for free all of Pacifica’s intellectual property to Democracy Now!, a show created by WBAI. Although she now claims she created the show she did not and was not its original host. Since 2002, Pacifica has been in the position of renting back the radio show it created and paying its former employee, Goodman, hundreds of thousands of dollars."

KEN SAYS: Because Amy Goodman is reportedly a very litigious individual, so we will be very careful talking about her. Therefore, in the information below, we will label factual information “Fact” and disputed allegations as “Rumor.”  In a quick nutshell, here is the backstory:

(Fact) Democracy Now! began as a local program on WBAI in February 1996. The host was Amy Goodman who started working at WBAI as a volunteer in the 1980s. After early success on WBAI, Democracy Now! went into national syndication. At that time the program was owned and financially supported by the Pacifica Foundation.

Goodman recently on CNN

(Fact) Goodman quickly became a well-known commentator on cable TV shows and frequently appeared as an expert regarding political and social issues.

(Fact) Democracy Now! became the number one fundraiser for Pacifica and it’s stations. By one estimate Democracy Now! generated 25% of Pacifica’s total revenue.

Steve Yasko


(Fact) In 2000, Pacifica hired former NPR marketing manager Steve Yasko to be its National Program Director. See our August 2015 coverage [link] for background. 

Pacifica’s National Board brought in Yasko to upgrade the network’s programming. Yasko technically became Goodman’s boss. Things didn’t go well and Yasko’s job became a journey into the Rings of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.


Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

(Fact) Goodman resisted Yasko’s oversight and input. Yasko was eventually driven out of Pacifica by a smear campaign allegedly mounted by Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, a Goodman associate who is now a co-host of Democracy Now!

(Fact) In mid-August of 2000, Goodman publically said she could no longer work for Pacifica. She threatened to boycott fundraising for Pacifica. Her threats caused panic within Pacifica and affiliated stations nationwide.

(Fact) In 2001, Goodman publically announced that she would quit Democracy Now! unless Pacifica turned over ownership of the show to Goodman’s private corporation, free of charge.

(Fact) Pacifica naively caved to Goodman’s demands and gave Democracy Now! to her. The deal also gave Goodman ownership of the program’s archives, intellectual property, and confidential donor lists. Pacifica also granted Goodman the right to fundraise for Democracy Now! rather than Pacifica.

(Fact) In the agreement with Goodman, Pacifica agreed to pay Goodman $500,000 per year to continue broadcasting Democracy Now!

(Rumor) Dan Coughlin, Pacifca’s Executive Director in the early 2000s, engineered and facilitated Goodman’s takeover of Democracy Now! Coughlin is currently the CEO of MNN. MNN is now working aggressively to take over WBAI via a PSOA.

(Fact) According to Democracy Now’s IRS 990 for FY 2015, the most recent year available, Pacifica then owed Goodman’s corporation $1,875,000. In FY 2015 Democracy Now! had annual revenue over $8 million and net assets worth almost $20 million.

(Fact) Meanwhile Pacifica is on the verge of  being forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Pacifica’s debts reportedly exceed $8 million including the money owed to Amy Goodman.

KEN’S OPINION: Two words come to mind: Gullible and Hypocrite.

It is hard to believe how gullible and naïve the leadership of Pacifica was then and probably still is today. Because the organization’s Board members are chosen for their political and social bonafides, not their business sense or experience in radio, they are open prey for kooks, game-players and bandits.

It is also hard to believe the hypocrisy displayed by Amy Goodman. On her show, she rails about corporate greed and malfeasance while she uses tactics that are more greedy than those used by Wall Street takeover pros.