The Days the Music Died

Following is an exchange one of our correspondents, author Gwen Fortune, had with “DT” about the state of music in general and NPR in particular:

Gwen:
Thanks, I know NPR affiliation is no guarantee of decent music. Some PBS affiliates do better, but by no means most. There is much PRM and APM programming that is of the highest quality, and a good bit of NPR programming is very good, but the NPR corporate attitude is the pits.

I have told you that at one time I contributed significant sums to WCQS, our local NPR affiliate. Then NPR’s programming changed, not so subtly. There arouse a frequent need for a mute button, and I would often forget to unmute.

When the morning magazine program began to use nasty rock in the interstices in the early AM, and the “music” reviews were nearly always rock, I complained. I wrote many letters with no response from WCQS and only boiler plate from NPR and the person they jokingly call an “Ombudsman.”  I won’t dignify their response to my letters as an “exchange.”

I turned NPR off in my house, permanently, and I stopped contributing. I will not contribute to a station that makes it necessary to carry a remote with a mute button. I record TV and use fast forward through the nasty segments, but I only pay the cable company for that.

Congress wants to defund them. I will not write Congress about that either. I do occasionally write to NPR to remind them of the situation and why they aren’t getting the hundreds of dollars a year I used to contribute. That money goes to my orchestras and local charities now.

Talk about beating a dead horse. I’m almost sorry about the diatribe…
Love
DT

D:
Our experiences with NPR are hand-in-glove. No diatribe. You’re entitled. This is called freedom. Without choice there is no freedom. We have ever decreasing choices.

In the Chapel Hill area I was part of a community group that met with the Ombudsman. A joke. UNC killed all Classical and Jazz  They prefer the banal, non-musical rock-rap  contemporary “pop” because the generation now in power has no cultural continuity.  There God is “the demographic,” kids with even less exposure to anything of quality than they have.

When I moved to Gainesville the station here had seven and one-half hours of classical music weekdays,  carried the Met and other good music. The UF president took control, and it has been downhill for more than two years. I was, again, part of the protest group. We picketed three or four times in front of the Journalism Building — home of the station — and The Alumni Hall where a high-level meeting was to be held. Most of the dignitaries entered by alternate doors, to avoid us.

I have totally given up on this society. A friend accused me of hating the US. I hate the ignorance that has always been a part of any culture — but the rapid “dumbing-down” under the guise and control of Corporate is the social equivalence of an earthquake-tsunami combination, nation-wide.

I left Chicago at the time NPR was forcing its corporate model on WFMT. Citizens bought the station — $$$$ — and it still offers high quality music and commentary. It is on my desktop, playing right now. Just announced a summer festival in Chitown. Watts and the CSO are included. Listening, now, to glorious music of Jonas Kaufman, from “Verissimo.” Oh, how I miss that place.

I wonder what the world will be like for the youth who are continuing the “School music” tradition. UF has excellent music students, and I am sure there are many others in the nation — but their survival is problematic, given sports and BUSINESS.

My seven-year-old granddaughter is in her third year of violin, and loves it. The four-year-old begins this fall, so they can play together, they say. Kids like this are being fed to the barracuda. For shame.

Yes, it is sad.
Love,
Gwen

On the Borderline

This Wall Street Journal article highlighted the explosive growth of Hispanic population in the United States, belied by the treatment of listeners on the commercial end of the spectrum. This, from Tom Taylor’s newsletter:

Major cuts at Spanish radio’s biggest group – which may be planning to go public.

TRI hasn’t used the “bloodbath” word in a very long time, but this qualifies — successful major market PDs inexplicably gone, the live staff at the already-centralized Recuerdo network operation vaporized, even the in-house research division in shutdown mode. And all in one bloody day. Here’s how it looks —

“Recuerdo”, the Spanish variety hits format that Univision syndicates to seven markets, will now be automated. Gone are 15 staffers, including the operations manager and PD Amalia Gonzalez. And it’s not like this service runs in tertiary markets that Arbitron’s never heard of. Univision does “Recuerdo” in Los Angeles (KRCD at 103.9, KRCV at 98.3), San Diego (KLQV at 102.9), San Jose (KBRG at 100.3), Chicago (WVIV at 103.1), Houston (KOVE at 106.5), Phoenix (KOMR at 106.3) and McAllen-Brownsville (KBTQ at 96.1).

Some major-market Univision PDs are gone, such as KLVE, Los Angeles PD Fernando Perez. Also Houston ops manager Arnulfo Ramirez, who had been with the company and its predecessors for two decades.

Peter Manriquez, a VP and format manager of Univision’s Kalle Spanish contemporary stations is gone. TRI hears there may’ve been airstaff cuts at some local Kalle stations.

The lights are dimmed at the in-house research unit known as SIP, for Servicio de Informacion Programativa. As many as 20 people are gone, including those in the call center. EVP David Gleason and Senior Vice President Ismar Santa Cruz are no longer in those positions. Lead Univision principal Haim Saban may be planning to take Univision public again, after a very expensive going-private deal with Jerry Perenchio four years ago. If they’re doing this purging of the payroll to pump up the cash flow, it’s a risky short-term strategy. The Hispanic Programming Board of Radio-Info.com began talking about the bloodbath soon after it began yesterday at 10am Pacific time.

We had posted, here, in a piece called “The Revolution Will Be Publicized,” on the lack of diversity at local non-comm (“public”) stations such as KUT in Austin. Now, it seems, there may be a new twist to this. WUFT in Gainesville, which created a firestorm when it changed format a year or so ago, is putting a Spanish-language station on an HD-3 channel. Is this radio’s modern-day equivalent of separate but equal, consigning Spanish to the purgatory of HD radio (to die a slow death)?

Passing Tributes

One year ago today we started this site with the hope of shining a light on what we saw happening to public radio stations across the country. Whether it was the sudden canceling of popular shows, the fallacy of HD radio, or the creeping influence of national groups such as NPR, we wanted to point out the disservice being done to the supporters of their respective public radio stations. And, for myself anyway, one of the worst aspects of it all was the homogenization of the programming at local stations. Since many stations were dumping local programming for the cheaper national feed, some of the first casualties were the local DJs who added so much local flavor and personal knowledge to their stations. The difference can be remarkable, and there have been two such examples of this in the past few weeks alone. Though both are tinged with sadness. . . .

On Monday, March 21st, it was announced that legendary pianist Pinetop Perkins had died at his home in Austin at age 97. Pinetop was one of the last of the old Delta blues artists, a veteran of Muddy Waters’ band and several others. That night Larry Monroe did a tribute to Pinetop on his recently revived Blue Monday show on community-funded KDRP in Dripping Springs, TX (see the set list and a downloadable recording of it here). A look at that set list will quickly show that not only did Larry play extensively from Pinetop’s personal catalogue; there are also songs from his many peers and collaborators. This type of in-depth tribute requires vast personal knowledge of the subject, as doing Google searches or playing cuts from “Greatest Hits” CDs just won’t cut it.

As remarkable as that tribute was, though, one could possibly say that such tributes are commonplace — they take place all over the country whenever a legendary figure dies. Some tributes may be noticeably better than others, but a blues show doing a tribute to a blues legend is hardly noteworthy. With that in mind I’d like to point to the latest tribute, this time on Larry’s Phil Music Program for April 7th, and this time the subject was Calvin Russell, who died on April 3rd.

Calvin WHO did you say? That is probably the most common response anywhere outside of the Austin music scene or in Europe, where Calvin was extremely popular . I really can’t do justice to describing Calvin or his music; best bet is to go to his website and get treated to something totally unique. But in short, Calvin was a grizzled old guy in a trademark battered hat with a voice that sounded like years of hard living, but also tinged with what could pass for hope. He had some great videos in the ’90s and he had a national hit in France for his song “Crack in Time.” But one thing Calvin definitely was not was any kind of a legend here in the States. He was widely respected by his fellow Austin musicians, both for his songwriting skills and his performances. But even here he only played small clubs. But another peek at that set list and downloadable archive for April 7th ( http://www.larrymonroe.com/archive/ ) will show how Larry dedicated the same effort to showcasing a lesser-known artist such as Calvin as he did to the national treasure Pinetop Perkins. The same cuts from the personal catalogue mixed in with tracks from other artists to highlight the passing of someone great. The greatness of an artist isn’t measured in how well they are known, or in how many records they might have sold. It’s more in their ability to affect the people that they touch, both with other artists and with the fans lucky enough to discover them.

Once upon a time, one of the main tenets of public broadcasting was that they were to serve the under-served. And to make the listeners in their local communities aware of the treasures around them. When those same stations turned their backs on their local scenes in favor of cheap national feed and the Almighty Dollar, this was one of the predictable results. I imagine that somewhere out there in NPR land there was mention of Pinetop Perkin’s passing, maybe even a sample played from his last CD. But if there was a national tribute to Calvin Russell’s passing then I’ll eat my leather hat. As for the local level, during Larry’s tribute I checked the set list over at his former station, KUT-FM — not a single song by Calvin. Instead there was the usual AAA rotation that the station managers imposed some years ago  (see “Not a Playlist,” here).

Sometimes it’s the little things that really point out the big problems. And for me this is certainly one of those moments. Every day, all around us, in communities across the country we are losing artists such as these. And who is going to mark their passing in any kind of meaningful way? Does your public station devote time to the lesser-known artists in your area, both while still performing and after their passing? If not, then there is a total breakdown of their duties to the community. While I enjoy such programs as All Things Considered and Morning Edition, I would gladly throw away all of the NPR programs for just one hour focusing on the wonders around me. Here at this site we will keep fighting to get that message out. We hope you will continue to support us in that mission.

—Rev Jim

Hurry Up and Wait

Jim Radio sent along a link to this rbr.com post about the trials and tribulations faced by Tampa’s WUSF in bringing up a second station acquired last summer. This was covered earlier, here, last fall, when plans had already gone astray. The move was first reported here back in the beginning of August. Here’s the latest:

University of Southern Florida decided to buy WSMR-FM in Sarasota FL from noncommercial religious broadcasting group Northwestern College in order to provide freedom to its WUSF-FM in Tampa-St. Petersburg. But engineering problems are said to be preventing the plan from going into full effect.

The plan was to shift classical programming to WSMR so WUSF could concentrate on news/info programming. The deal was filed last August and closed in October, according to the St. Petersburg Times, but engineers are still working on making the full plan a reality….

Under the plan, WUSF would account for the fact that WSMR is not a true Tampa-St. Pete station by rebroadcasting it on a WUSF-based HD side channel.

According to the Times, things got off to an inauspicious start when the WSMR’s new antenna failed to fit the space allocated to it on a Clear Channel-owned tower. To top that off, the signal, when fired up at full power, was causing interference with Coast Guard emergency rescue communications.

Urofosky says that after much back and forth, Clear Channel and the Coast Guard are trying to hammer out a workable solution, and the stations are trying to remain optimistic.

The $1.275M cash deal for WSMR-FM was filed at the FCC 8/5/10. The sellers said it had support from local listeners, but not enough to prevent it running in the red with its noncommercial religious programming, particularly with the loss of major donors traced to the economic crunch.

RBR-TVBR observation: Whatever the growing pains of this noncom wedding, it is a deal that managed to buck two trends: The flow of stations away from college ownership, and toward religious ownership.

Much of the dealing in the past few years has involved stations going to religious noncoms, with Educational Media Foundation being the most prominent buyer. Such organizations have been happy to ply the waters on both sides of the 92 MHz noncommercial/commercial divide.

Meanwhile, universities have been parting with student-run stations on the theory that radio listenership is waning in that demographic and with an eye to repurposing money invested into entirely different areas.

However, this deal differs from the more controversial college deals, since both the buyer has been focusing on a general audience rather than the audience enrolled at any particular institute of higher education.

Smoldering Fires, Bright Lights

Here at the beginning of a new year it’s a bit of a tradition for both individuals and groups to look back on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. Here at Keeping the Public in Public Radio, the contributors and editors don’t want to be left out, so we’re going to take a look now at where we have been for the past year as well as what we see ahead for us. The smoldering fires of the past, the bright lights of the future . . .

And, of course, at the beginning of 2010 this site did not exist. There were instead smaller groups scattered around the country, around the globe. Most of these groups were born of outrage, and of frustration. The common thread between them seemed to be the degeneration of the trust and bond between public radio stations and their longtime supporters. Supporters who had believed in the basic premise of public broadcasting, and believed in the spiels heard so often during the pledge drives. The basic premise being that public stations existed to serve the under-served, and the spiel being that the public stations belonged to you, the paying members. The ones whose pledge dollars went towards the type of programming that you just couldn’t get anywhere else. I believed that when I heard it here in Austin, Texas, & Jeff Boudreau believed it when he heard it up in Boston, Mass. Gwen Fortune believed it down in Gainesville, Florida, and Dru Druzianich believed it way up Seattle,Washington. All over the country we were finding these little groups, mainly thru Facebook, all formed around the outrage that came when station managers suddenly turned their collective backs on their paying members. Serving the public was no longer on the agenda; instead they pursued the Golden Fleece of Arbitron numbers, and of corporate underwriters, both of which should have been anathema to public broadcasters.

Our group here in Austin was originally formed after a major programming change at KUT-FM, as well as what we still fervently believe was the shoddy treatment of three longtime and much-beloved deejays. Our 1,800 members worked together as a group to try and restore sanity and integrity to KUT, but in the long run money and hubris won out and we were left wondering where to turn next. So at a meeting last January it was decided to reach out to these groups around the country, to try and join our experiences and our energies towards shining a light on the practices being adopted by station managers nationwide. And thanks to the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, and Internet tools such as Google Search, we were able to contact a few true believers in the basic concept of public broadcasting and the creation of this site first started being discussed.

Our earliest, and I would say the most stalwart of our original contacts, was Jeff Boudreau in Boston. He brought amazing energy and knowledge to our group, and without him I do not believe we would have ever gotten off the ground. And this is just one of his projects for saving public broadcasting and promoting folk music throughout the Northeast region, indeed around the country. A quick look at the links he has provided under the “About” heading here at our site gives just a glimmer of his projects.

We also contacted a dismayed classical music lover down in Gainesville, Florida — Gwen Fortune. Or at least I first thought it was just plain ol’ Gwen. But after corresponding with the wonderful Gwen I came to realize that she was actually Professor Gwendolyn Fortune, an educator and author, as well as a classically trained soprano recitalist. Her newest book, Weaving the Journey, is now out. Gwen has provided us with many wonderful insights over the past few months, radio matters being just one of her many passions. I strongly recommend looking into her work, visiting her website, or maybe finding her on Facebook. I always look forward to my next message from her.

We also contacted Jamie Peters in Tennessee & Dru Druzianich in Seattle, and without their help we would never have been able to get a national group going. But finally, with all of these individuals across the country pulling together, we were able to get this site up and working. And as of today we have had almost 25,000 hits on the site, a figure that most of us would never have dreamed possible back when we first reached out. That is a figure that directly relates to all of the input and effort from everyone involved, something that I believe each of us can take personal pride in.

But of course the unspoken sadness & frustration behind all this work was the realization that we had not been able to make any meaningful progress on our original, local issues. To the best of my knowledge, not a single station that these groups were originally formed around have ever made any concessions to these most passionate of supporters. And those are the smoldering fires that I referred to at the start of this, the still-warm remembrances of what started this ball rolling, the issues that brought us all together to begin with. And it is my hope that even though we are looking at the larger picture now, that none of us forget those local issues at the core of everything. Public broadcasting was always intended as a local medium, no matter how hard NPR may push the other direction.

But if those are the smoldering fires, then how about the bright lights? With all the frustrations each of us has had to deal with the past year or so, it could be easy enough to miss them, but I can find them when I try. And one is here right at my feet — this wonderful site that we have all managed to grow and nurture. Knowledge has always been power, and the shared knowledge that we gather here makes each of us stronger moving forward. Money & clout may be what the station managers have going for them; we have belief in our ideals and our commitment to them. There are any number of “wear ’em down slowly” analogies I could cite here, but I think we all already know that this is going to be a long struggle. But a long struggle is not a lost cause, so I am sure we will persevere. Already this site has garnered more attention & visitors than I ever imagined. If the station managers choose to ignore the unhappiness we have uncovered here, it will be at their own peril. We are not the “disgruntled few” they would like to make us out to be.

And I feel that is best reflected at our sister site of the same name over on Facebook. As of this writing we are almost 700 members strong there, a number which is not stagnant but continues to tick upward as the word gets around, slowly but surely. As bright lights go, the Facebook site positively glows, as I am constantly amazed at the scope of the comments and input we receive there. It far exceeds anything envisioned when I first became involved with this endeavor. As wonderful as the 1,800 members here at the Austin group were, I honestly believe that the members and visitors to the Facebook site do more to shine a light on public radio issues than anything we could have ever accomplished alone. Which, of course, was just the idea. . . .

Another of my bright lights has been the recent posts, both here and on Facebook, concerning the proposed sales of college radio stations across the country. At one time these type of events would have been been carried out quickly and with little or no input from the students whose assets were being sold off. But due (IMHO) to the publicity generated by groups such as ours, the concerned students at these colleges banded together and formed their own Facebook groups and fought the good fight to have their voices heard. Vanderbilt University in Nashville being one and Rice University in Houston another. At Rice the students put up one hell of a fight, but things are not looking promising. But this site’s “Radio Jim” Ellinger worked closely with that student group and helped to get internal documents released via the Freedom of Information Act, which at least gave some honest insight into the process. I see a bright light there in how we were able to not only communicate the issue nationally, but also to reach out locally to provide assistance.

Looking further down the road, I see some possible bright lights on the horizon as well — one of which comes from the current brouhaha over possible cuts in funding to public broadcasting, much of it brought about by the firing of pundit Juan Williams after what were deemed racist remarks on a Fox News program. This week NPR decided to throw a bone to the right-wing noise machine by firing senior VP Ellen Weiss. Normally Republicans threatening to cut public broadcasting funds would set my teeth on edge, but strange times make for strange bedfellows. And I am seeing the publicity on this as a way of bringing increased public scrutiny to the concept of public radio, and I think we will be ready to help inform on that front.

And even further down the road we may be looking into how we may use some of these issues when our respective stations’ licenses come up for renewal with the FCC. KUT in Austin’s license comes up for renewal in August 2013, and there is already talk of filing a formal petition for denial of the renewal application due to commercialization and failure to serve the public interest. We will be looking more into that as the date draws nearer, as this could be another avenue to approach our collective issues from. This and other ideas are constantly being brought to our attention by the readers at this site, and they show the determination of the many not to give in to the few.

And for me, that is my look at what I see as the smoldering fires of the past as well as the bright lights of the future. I am hoping that others may contribute their own thoughts on these; the beginning of a new year is always a great time to contemplate such things and then approach them all with renewed energies. We always appreciate hearing from any & all, so please let us know how we are doing!

But before I sign off there is another person I need to acknowledge for the creation of this site, not to mention it’s ongoing existence. And that would be our webmaster, Craig Hattersley. It was my conversation with Craig last January that produced the first steps on this journey, and he has been involved every step of the way since. And when it came time to make things happen, he was the one who grabbed the bull by the horns. This entire site was envisioned, designed, set up, and maintained by Craig. The daily posts that you see, those are direct from Craig and his unwavering commitment to this cause. We first went on line last April, and to the best of my knowledge he has come up with a new post seven days a week since then without fail. Any and all who enjoy this site or have found something of interest here owe Craig some thanks. He’s a low-key “below the radar ” kinda guy, but I want to shine the spotlight on him here just for once. Thanks a million, Craig, and a big hats off to you!

—Rev Jim

WUFT Blues

They did not got gentle into that good night in Florida, witness this letter posted to the Gainesville Classical website:

Dear President Machen:

It makes me crazy to listen to WUFT 89.1.    My complaints are these:

Unprofessional air time management — frequent ‘stepping’ on the national NPR feeds. Turn the damn mike off, please. Know when to turn it on.

Novice reporters and announcers — especially the 5-6:00 p.m. ‘local news’ which is painfully amateurish in content and reporting. Why not open an off-air school for stutterers?

Commercialization of public radio — breathless station-break announcements, aping the style of the rock stations. ‘Teaser’ headlines that ask a question, rather than leading with a simple declarative statement.

Boring — how can anyone listen to talk radio 24/7?  There simply aren’t enough interesting programs produced to fill all that air time. We long-time classical music fans (donors) were simply abandoned.

Technical glitches continually unaddressed — listening to WUFT’s twin frequency 90.1 means long periods of static and/or sporadic dead air.

Frequency overlap — when Tampa’s WUSF completes its broadcast tower for its new all-classical music station . . . on the same 89.1?!!! Many listeners like us (think I-75 and the  Florida Turnpike) will literally be caught in the unhappy middle.

WUFT’s newly launched COUNTRY 103.7 — WHY IN HELL WOULD THIS SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA?  Will my donation support this? Phooey.

WUFT is strategically and technically mis-managed. I bought a wifi radio and leave WUFT until new folks are installed.

Sincerely,
MM

Name That Tune

In Tom Taylor’s blog on Radio-info.com, he posted recently on the flyin’ Purple People Meter of Arbitron, saying:

There are “myths” about PPM, and Jon Coleman is the de-bunker.
The Coleman Insights principal prowled the stage in Baltimore to share some hard-earned lessons. Myth #1 – “Our numbers will be much more stable and reliable with PPM than they were with the diary.” They actually are more stable, in many cases – but there are still more wobbles, drops and unexplained surges than many folks expected. Myth #2 – “We’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t work, immediately.” Well – sometimes. Coleman says “sample issues make this difficult, because the meter count in any individual minute is not very high.” And sometimes, the panel just changes. Case in point – Coleman client “Power 106” KPWR in L.A., where a Coleman-recommended set of tweaks in late 2008 seemingly produced a gratifying pop in AQH audience. Jon says programmer Jimmy Steal was offering “high fives on the phone.” But a bit later, it seemed the gains might’ve come from turnover on the PPM panel, and had little to do with the tweaks. Myth #3 – “Brands don’t matter.” That leads Coleman to a set of his beloved x/y axis graphs, about “the brand” versus the “in-the-moment decision.” Let’s skip to Myth #5 – “Since PPM measures actual behavior instead of recall, we don’t’ need to market as much.” Coleman says 75% of listening comes from “intentional listening” – and to generate that, you should “be well-known, own a position, and build a brand.”

Leave aside the question of whether public radio stations should be sifting the tea leaves of Arbitron to determine what music they should play — the flavor du jour seems to be Triple A. Isn’t that somewhere in their mission statement? Play what everybody wants to hear? That’s what they’d have you believe. (The same Tom Taylor newsletter says that Clear Channel represents 19 percent of Arbitron’s business.)

And let’s not consider that the Media Rating Council just withdrew accreditation for all but three of the 43 markets boasting the PPMs (here). Not even Arbitron itself claims that the data are particularly accurate. Its website carries this disclaimer: “PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and are the opinion of Arbitron and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic or radio market.” Other than the fact that the ad flacks for the major conglomerates would sell their soul to be smiled on by Arbitron; that translates directly into ad dollars. For “public” stations, that means underwriting dollars — which, of course, are ads worded very carefully.

No, it’s all about gaming the numbers, figuring what makes the numbers sing your tune, as noted here in a Radio World article. In it, author Randy Stine notes that the beefs remain the same, even with the higher-tech PPM:

Early PPM beefs of programmers ranged from small sample panels to under-representation in samples of minority populations. Arbitron has said sample sizes are on track to increase approximately 10 percent in 2011; and the company has made changes to its recruitment methodology to address concerns expressed by groups including the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.

Some programmers also have complained about PPM “wobbles,” seemingly random rating swings, according to Harker Research. It found that “flipping a coin is directionally more predictive than looking at monthly PPM trends.”

Randy writes later in the article that Arbitron is just beginning to address the lack of minorities in the samples — in three cities (Miami, Dallas, and the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx). It’ll get around to your city . . . eventually. But meanwhile, radio programmers have had to learn to tweak their schedules to dance to Arbitron’s tune:

[A]s PPM reveals that people listen to more stations per week than previously thought, it also shows that people spend less time with each station, which is why two other statistics, time spent listening and average quarter hour, tend to be lower using PPM. As a result, programmers now work to get their listeners to come back for more visits, rather than emphasize longer visits for each occasion….

“In a world that has speeded up from sound bites and tweets, attention spans are short and PPM picks up on that. Programmers and talent are confronted with the challenge to get to the point as quickly as possible,” said Alex Demers, president of Demers Programming Media Consultants….

“The most successful music stations continue to be those who distinguish themselves by bonding with listeners with what is between the songs,” said Holland Cooke, president of Holland Cooke Media. “And (talk) stations and hosts who quickly recognize what is relevant, quickly set the topics and avoid windy monologues, will do well with PPM.”

So if your “public” station is sounding a little “snappy” lately — with perhaps a soupçon of “smarmy” tossed in — just remember they’re in a dance contest now. And they’re competing against the big boys, the commercial model they so wish to emulate, the same bunch that saw a 19 percent decrease in ad revenues last year. And they’re all dancing as hard as they can.

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