Valley Borg

The discussion board is alive with talk that public radio station KCSN in LA has joined the AAA family, competing against The Sound (100.3-FM), having dumped classical music. Not everybody on the site is thrilled:

justpassingthrough: Yes! Another station to play Kings Of Leon “Use Somebody”….I haven’t heard that song on the radio in….minutes…

ChannelFlipper: As a non-commercial station, what will be most interesting, particularly to them, isn’t how they impact the other stations, but will AAA listeners step up to the plate and contribute more dollars than classical audience did come pledge drive time.

As far as the Sound goes, it is a classic example of proving David right and everyone else who argues with him wrong. By tightening the playlist like a blood-stopping turnicate and playing only the most tedious tracks of the classic rock library, they have been able to steadily increase the ratings. See, it is a simple relationship really. Station gets steadily worse, ratings go steadily up. They don’t even pretend to play Kings of Leon anymore.

Buckdthead: This is a huge threat to stations that are trying to divvy up the Joni Mitchell fans that live in the valley.

Management did respond on the site, saying improvements would come along with some paid personalities — following a pledge drive in May.

Noncom Borg, Part II

Watch out, San Francisco. There’s already blood in the water and a hungry LA “public” radio station is looking north. According to this post on, another LA noncom is looking to expand, hedging its bets against a future fed defunding of public radio. Looking to join the ranks of the consolidators is Southern California Public Radio:

Size is being seen as a hedge against a drought of government funding by strong public broadcasting companies, and one of those looking to grow is Southern California Public Radio. The group is hoping to create a mini-network of O&O stations that will provide a huge audience and contribution base.

According to a Bloomberg report, the group is on the hunt for noncom stations to buy. It is flagshipped by KPCC-FM Pasadena, in the Los Angeles market, and already has two other stations. Its goal is to get enough more signals to stretch its coverage zone from San Diego to the south all the way up to Santa Barbara to the north.

SCPR benefits already from well-to-do benefactors who have recently kicked in minor fortunes to build new studios for KPCC. Further, while much of the journalism industry is reeling from job losses, SCPR is looking at more than doubling its reporting staff.

It also can pull in significant cash for “noncommercial commercials,” the 15-second underwriting announcements that get a company’s name out there will helping to fund the station. According to Bloomberg, SCPR is already able to pull in $650 for a quarter of a minute, and a larger listener base will only take that number higher.

The strong philanthropic support could help SCPR acquire signals – and the fact that the stations are in the less-expensive noncommercial band, may be licensed to shoestring non-profit entities that may be sweating out an uncertain future, all against the backdrop of a general station trading market in which pricing has come down to earth, make the SCPR plan look very attainable.

RBR-TVBR observation: Will defunding public broadcasting bring the consolidation of the noncommercial sector and new unwanted competition for commercial broadcasters for corporate promotional money? As we noted earlier, almost half of those responding to an RBR-TVBR survey see this as a possible unintended consequence of defunding. There is no telling how this will play out, no matter what happens in Congress.

Jack Hannold passed along this post on Tom Taylor’s newsletter item on SCPR:

Southern California Public Radio gets really aggressive.

Aggressive with content and local news, planning to expand from 42 reporters to 100. And with station acquisitions. Bloomberg BusinessWeek has the story about the Pasadena-based operation that aspires to build a regional “megastation” from San Diego all the way up to Santa Barbara. The current three-station network based at KPCC (89.3) reaches up to 14 million people. The goal is 25 million. Ambitious Board Chairman Gordon Crawford says “If we can buy a station, we will. Where we can’t, we’ll build translators to boost our signal.” He calls it “a new business model for public radio” — though Alan Chartock at Albany’s Northeast Public Radio and some other pubcasters have also created regional empires. Bloomberg BusinessWeek says KPCC’s :15 [15-second] underwriting announcements are going for $650 a pop, and those plus the announcements on the various online properties supply 42% of the $15.8 million annual budget for Southern California Public Radio, run by President Bill Davis. Remember that ultimately, SCPR has ancestral roots that stretch back to Minnesota.


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