While the Cat’s Away

Jeff Boudreau sends along word that WGBH is hurting. He says, “Between March and April WGBH radio lost one third of its listeners,” quoting from this article on the Boston Musical Intelligencer website. Says the article:

Between March and April WGBH radio lost one third of its average daily listeners according to Arbitron PPM reports. The loss was from 64,803 to 43,202. This might simply have been because the March figures were anomalously inflated, but without being privy to the detailed numbers showing audiences by the day and hour, which WGBH steadfastly refuses to share with BMInt’s readers, we cannot but speculate. The longer term picture is no prettier for WGBH. Before the November changes WGBH’s share of the Boston market stood at 1%. Now at the end of April it remains stuck at 1% even though the worthies on the station’s board funneled tens of millions of dollars to increase the station’s share of the Boston audience.

To some extent the situation at all-classical WCRB should be even more worrisome to management. There, according to Arbitron, the station has lost 21% of its listeners since November. That’s a staggering drop of an average of 26,000  listeners per day, and proof that the merits of the WGBH classical format were lost on the former WCRB listeners.

What’s particularly bothersome is the notation “WGBH steadfastly refuses to share” its numbers. In Austin, too, where station KUT — a public radio station — has made major cutbacks on personnel while expanding budget on HD radio, building a larger local news network, and funding a new building, station management has not released any kind of financial numbers since 2007 (and then only scanty overviews). These are supposed to be public stations, funded by taxpayer dollars and community donations, and shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind state laws or somesuch. Particularly troublesome in Austin is a note made by a blogger that the GM of KUT nearly ran his previous public radio station into bankruptcy, all the while withholding the financial information from general scrutiny.

The link on the left, “What Can I Do?” contains an email sent to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison requesting that this financial disclosure be required of all public radio stations. You too can become a part of this by emailing your local representatives, drawing from the information found therein.

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