The suits are wildly spinning for ‘GBH in Boston, in wake of the takeover of the student station at Bryant University. Bean counters at Bryant — acting the good industrialist as ‘GBH honchos did in busting up their union — have now begun to put that most favorable light on this latest acquisition, to wit: “Bryant partnership with WGBH provides new tech platforms for student radio station.” This is akin to saying “layoffs create whole new world to experience in unemployment.” The word from Boston is equally giddy in its assessment of the move, which will consign student radio to the purgatory of HD radio and online:
“We are absolutely delighted to be returning to an area with so much vibrant cultural activity, and look forward to sharing it with the rest of the region,” said Benjamin Roe, WGBH managing director for classical services, in a press release.
In related news, doings at WDUQ hit the national radar in Tom Taylor’s newsletter, here:
The feared mass layoff at Pittsburgh’s WDUQ (90.5) is happening, as one poster on the Pittsburgh Board at Radio-Info.com said it would. The new Essential Public Media is buying WDUQ for $6 million and initiating an LMA on July 1. The Post-Gazette confirms that the current staff, more than 20 fulltimers and parttimers, got termination notices. Now the question is — will Essential Public Media re-hire any of them? It’s still going to be doing a limited amount of jazz, as it re-formats to mostly news and talk. The paper’s Adrian McCoy says the buyer is retaining director of development Fred Serino and business manager Vicky Rumpf for the LMA period.
DUQ has been absorbed into the NPR borg, thanks in large part to the machinations (double-dealing, some would say) of Public Radio Capital in its freshlly minted Public Media Co. — a move that slices the hours of jazz programming from 100 to 6, as noted in this blog:
If the online outcry is any indication, there will be a lengthy period of discord over the manner in which the removal of jazz from these free public airwaves is being accomplished. Those who have been most vocal have said that a healthy compromise somewhere between the 100 hours of jazz being aired on 90.5 now, and the 6 that is currently planned for, would be fine with them. Their plea does not appear to be intractable, even in spite of an effort to boycott membership in both stations. Why does WYEP’s silence in response seem that way?…
From the sound of the rhetoric, the management of WYEP has made up its mind, and is not inclined to listen to the pleas of jazz fans around the area to keep more of this music on analog FM. The deaf ear they appear to have turned to the complaints is not in keeping with a community media resource, and has fueled too much speculation along with the bad feelings.
Perhaps they just think that the spectrum is too valuable to continue to commit so much airtime to what they may perceive as a “niche” audience. If that’s the case, their approach is antithetical to their origins. Perhaps they have truly forgotten from whence they came. Too bad.
As this post in March on the Bloomberg Businessweek site, “Making Public Radio a Little More Private,” notes, the pace for acquisition of the cherry student stations has accelerated in response to perceived threats to federal funding:
Some media executives in Pasadena, Calif., think they may be able to save public radio by making it less public. They’re using business tactics rarely employed in the tame world of local public radio to create a megastation they hope will one day beam its signal from Santa Barbara to San Diego. By building a mini-empire of local stations, they say they’ll be able to better distribute the fixed costs of radio broadcasting and draw on a much larger audience for the donations and corporate sponsorships that could keep them afloat if government funding dries up.
Those plans are taking shape in the $25 million, one-year-old studios of KPCC, the flagship station for Southern California Public Radio. SCPR already owns or operates three stations and is on the hunt for more.
The Southern Cal group, which snapped up beloved station KUSF in San Francisco in its quest to go more corporate, is not shy about its goals:
SCPR’s stations currently reach 14 million listeners, but the board hopes to nearly double that, to 25 million. “If we can buy a station, we will,” says Crawford. “Where we can’t, we’ll build translators to boost our signal. This is a new business model for public radio.”