Saturday, August 4, 2007

800 and counting . . .

CPRB thanks all its readers for a second great week. Thus far, CPRB has had over 800 visits! Special thanks also to the dedicated managers and staff of all public radio stations throughout Colorado who have provided their comments, ideas, and insights--especially the thoughtful employees of Colorado Public Radio.

Colorado Public Radio's Revised Vail Plan.

Read Colorado Public Radio's revised Vail Plan for HD radio here.

The below excerpt is especially interesting, " . . . key CPR-produced programs such as Colorado Matters."

Colorado Public Radio through is partnership with KUSC-FM in Los Angeles produces programming for the Classical Public Radio Network, and Colorado Public Radio produces Colorado Spotlight. At CPRB, we are not sure if Colorado Spotlight is heard in Vail, Colorado, but this statement might lead readers to the conclusion that Colorado Public Radio has a lot more CPR-produced news programming than they actually do, and it might also lead readers to conclude that Colorado Matters could not be heard in Vail, but for the change to HD radio.

If this is true, then why can Colorado Public Radio broadcast National Public Radio produced programs in Vail, Colorado without the change from a mixed format and a change to HD radio? Maybe they just choose not to broadcast Colorado Matters in Vail? Just a thought.

Eric Whitney of KRCC-FM on NPR.

Eric Whitney's report on Fort Carson soldiers from KRCC-FM ran on National Public Radio program Day to Day on August 3rd, 2007.

KUSC-FM Has Reason to Celebrate.

KUSC is Colorado Public Radio's classical music partner called The Classical Public Radio Network, which broadcasts throughout Colorado under the brand name KVOD.


Classical KUSC/91.5 FM station President Brenda Barnes had reason to cheer when the spring Arbitron ratings came out in July.

"We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to public radio in Los Angeles and all the public stations are doing well in reaching audience. The latest book for KUSC represents the largest audience KUSC has reached in its history."

"While that is good news, we also know that listeners are sampling our station because KMZT moved classical music to the AM (1260). So to keep those listeners, we have to ensure that we are doing a good job. It will take a couple more books for the audience picture to shake out for KUSC so we can determine what our audience growth will actually look like."

"In terms of audience, we saw an across-the-board audience increase in every day part. The largest audience for KUSC is midday Monday through Friday – the typical pattern for music stations. Our opera audience on Saturday morning and Sunday evening is also large as is the audience for our Sunday morning choral music program."

"(Demographically), 32 percent is between (age) 54 and 63. The number of people who tune in at any given quarter hour is 25,600 and our cume (number of different listeners) is 513,000 (weekly)," she e-mailed."

"KUSC also made two important hires: Dennis Bartel and Rich Capparela. The latter was with KMZT until it switched its FM to country."

NPR Correspondent Speaks in Aspen.

Here is a link to the story by The Aspen Times. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is a correspondent for National Public Radio.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Colorado Confidential Bust Doug Lamborn Again.

You can read out it here. Once again, the Congressman is going after funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. By the way, if anyone is interested in participating in the following blog about US Congressman Doug Lamborn, please send an email so that we can hook you up.

CPRB Commentary, by Jimmy James Jr.

COMMENTARY PART 2 (with corrections)
CPRB Readers,

Today, I want to continue to address some great comments and questions from one of our many Anonymous readers of (and posters to) Colorado Public Radio Blog. You can read Commentary Part 1, by Jimmy James here.

Anonymous states: Thanks to HD radio, today's FM stations have the capability to transmit multiple programs on a single frequency. On HD1, KVOD (90.1-FM in Denver) has never sounded better on FM. On HD2, KCFR (1340-AM in Denver) has never sounded better on FM or AM. And CPR's stations are not alone. Eleven (11) other Denver stations are multicasting with two channels. Others will follow.” {Hyper links, parenthetical additions, and other emphases added by CPRB authors}.

Jimmy James responds: Colorado Public Radio Blog authors agree; multi-casting programs in digital-only format, using existing bandwidth on both the AM and FM band, is a sea change in terrestrial broadcasting. Colorado Public Radio Blog authors never suggested otherwise. Qualitatively and quantitatively, HD radio may provide substantially more programming at higher fidelity, but HD radio’s successes or failures will be measured by the degree to which listeners adopt and invest in upgrades (and entire replacements) of their existing and completely-functional equipment, and to the extent that listeners choose HD radio over other means of digital receipt (via computers, portable music players, podcasts, WiFi radios, and wide-area wireless networks).

Colorado Public Radio for example, became an early adopter of HD radio, through a substantial grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (for Vail) to upgrade to HD radio (CPRB could not find links to the CPB grants Colorado Public Radio received for Denver and Boulder). In other words, the CPB subsidized these upgrades, which were also undoubtedly paid for by CPR's members. Colorado Public Radio (like many other large, metropolitan public radio stations and networks), should be heartily commended for applying for and receiving these grants, and for properly joining that substantial financial largesse with the contributions from individual, corporate, and foundational supporters.

In the case of one Denver-area commercial station mentioned in the list provided by Anonymous, KBCO 97.3 FM (which broadcasts in Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and for which Colorado Public Radio’s KCFR 1340-AM likely possesses significant listener overlap), this station’s choice of discreet programming on 97.3-FM HD-2 is called KBCO’s Studio C; a separate service which is transmitted commercial-free. So, it is not simply a simulcast of what the radio station otherwise offers on another radio frequency or radio band.

By contrast KCFR-AM News & Information and KVOD-FM Classical Music (Colorado Public Radio's actual station call letters in Denver, and the brand names by which CPR identifies them throughout its statewide network) are serving up the same content, and perhaps different ratios of the same content (as is the plan for Vail), but they are not really serving up distinctly different content.

In short, qualitative difference and quantitative differences can and should be considered together--not separately--when one gauges the decision of transmitting in HD (not simply the capability to do so). Serving the same basic food in an upscale restaurant could certainly make one’s restaurant experience more palatable; however, it does not make the food tastier—especially when the check arrives.

Anonymous further states: Ever since Frances Koncilja went public about her disagreements with Colorado Public Radio’s Board, the prospect of selling the AM stations has been represented as a travesty that would deprive listeners of service. Either classical or news programming would be broadcast on HD2, making it available only to listeners who own HD radios. Far worse things could happen to a format.”

Jimmy James responds: The above comments greatly gloss over the disagreements that Frances Koncilja had with the Colorado Public Radio Board and Management. Without speaking for her, I will briefly discuss each of her issue here. As well, she has many entries on Colorado Public Radio Blog where interested readers can view her opinions, observations, comments, and the actual supporting documents she uses to make her case. In sum, here are her disagreements, listed in not particular order or precedence:

  1. HD Radio: HD radio (generally) and HD radio (specifically) in Vail, Colorado. Since we have already discussed many issues pertaining to HD radio generally, I will address Frances Koncilja’s issues with HD radio, specifically in Vail, Colorado. First, Colorado Public Radio broadcasts a mixed format of news and information (KCFR-AM) and classical music (KVOD-FM) on a single FM station in the Vail Valley (89.9-FM KPRE). This circumstance is likely due to the fact that there are no usable FM frequencies in the non-commercial band or affordable frequencies in the commercial band for Colorado Public Radio to acquire.

    Second (according to Frances Koncilja), the planned move to HD radio by CPR in the Vail Valley was decided by Colorado Public Radio Management, with insufficient Board discussion, without supporting research, significantly devoid of community dialog, and absent listener and listener-subscriber input. CPR broadcast changes will greatly affect Vail listeners, because owners of standard AM/FM radios will receive either 24 hours of news OR 24 hours music; whichever CPR decides to broadcast on the primary, FM frequency. The same deprivation will happen in Denver, Boulder, and Pueblo, Colorado if Colorado Public Radio makes the same decisions on behalf of its listeners and listener-subscribers in these markets too.

    Thus, Colorado Public Radio lacked diligence in its decision to rollout HD radio in one of its affiliate markets. So, to represent this disagreement as a criticism of HD radio per se, is fallacious, in that it is overly general. As a Colorado Public Radio Board Member, what Frances Koncilja expected from the Colorado Public Radio Board and Management was transparency and inclusion. What novel ideas in public radio!

  2. The Board: Board Membership total size and diversity representation are two related disagreements that Frances Koncilja has with Colorado Public Radio. During her four years on the Board, it shrunk from more than twenty (20) members to just eleven (11). And, it was Colorado Public Radio’s tentative plan to further decrease the Board to nine (9) total members (*this item was withdrawn on motion); presumably bolstered by and unknown collection of members who comprise CPR's Community Advisory Group. And while gender diversity is well-represented on CPR’s Board, racial diversity is not—it is absent. Thus, shrinking the total size of the Board will further reduce the opportunities for people of color to represent Colorado’s diverse constituencies. Real inclusion and genuine diversity--brilliant!

  3. Board Subsidy of KCFR Content Development: In addition, Colorado Public Radio’s newly-formed, but substantially smaller Board of Directors, may require that each member of the new-and-improved Board to commit to giving or getting contributions to Colorado Public Radio at or above the $25,000 level. In the past two years for example, Colorado Public Radio Board Members have authorized a combined amount of $500,000 to be spent on the the so-called KCFR News Colorado News Initiative, allowing management to dip into reserves if necessary. *CPRB does not know however, the exact amount of money Colorado Public Radio has spent thus far on the two-year-old News Initiative.

    In Frances Koncilja’s opinion, the investment so far has not netted the quality and quantity of news content expected, given the high contribution costs by the present Board Members. Will future financial infusions result in substantive news or music programming changes? Fiscal discretion and oversight--outstanding!

  4. Board Governance, Company Mission Statement, and CPR Control: Finally, Frances Koncilja believes that the Colorado Public Radio Board spent inordinate amounts of time, effort, and financial resourses (in the form of consultant costs paid to Bill Charney of Charney Associates), to re-work Colorado Public Radio’s Board Governance Rules and Company Mission Statement (this board governance item was also withdrawn on motion, and it was agreed to commence a new governance process). Further, she believes that Colorado Public Radio management inefficiently and ineffectively spent these scarce resources on onerous administrative details when other issues appeared to be more urgent. Leadership and guidance in governance--unthinkable!

We will leave it to the readers to review past posts and comments on Colorado Public Radio Blog and in Denver Westword to determine the veracity of Frances Koncilja’s statements, claims, and arguments. If you post your comments on CPRB, Frances Koncilja will attempt to answer each one, as best she can and as time permits.

At Colorado Public Radio Blog, we welcome discourse about the issues surrounding public radio in Colorado. Once again, thanks for reading CPRB.
--Jimmy James Jr.

Current.Org Mentions Colorado Public Radio Blog!

Colorado Public Radio Blog receives a mention by Current.Org; the public broadcasting trade magazine. Read about it here.

The CS Fine Arts Center and KRCC-FM

KRCC-FM reports the grand re-opening of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, yesterday, August 2nd. Listen to the entire story from KRCC-FM here.

The Aspen Music Festival on Performance Today.

The Aspen Times reports that "Seven Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) students will be featured on Performance Today, the American Public Media show (since it was moved from National Public Radio on January 16, 2007) hosted by Christopher O’Riley and set to hit the airwaves in the fall."

"The show, which can be heard on 250 stations around the country, including
Aspen Public Radio on Fridays at 2 p.m., will be recorded live in Harris Concert Hall on Sunday, Aug. 5 at 8 pm. Tickets are $30. The session will also feature interviews and performances by some of the country’s best young musicians, along with a little humor."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

CPRB Commentary, by Jimmy James Jr.

CPRB Readers,

Today, I want to address some great comments and questions from one of our many Anonymous readers of (and posters to) Colorado Public Radio Blog.

Anonymous asks: "Why the apparent reverence for CPR's so-called 'legacy' AM stations? A 'legacy' of what? Weak signals and poor transmission? Static? Whining? Buzzing? Fading out in underpasses? And let's not overlook AM's tinny audio quality, which is very fatiguing to the ears."

Jimmy James responds: These are all great questions. My definition of legacy is, “of or pertaining to old or outdated computer hardware, software, or data that, while still functional, does not work well with up-to-date systems.” And to this definition, Anonymous agrees when s/he states, “Indeed, AM technology is antique . . . ”. So, a fully functional antique then? Well, that really sounds like the definition of legacy to me. And, the legacy AM band is still being used a lot, despite its less-than-perfect qualities.

Jimmy James continues: However, then anonymous uses some definitional trickery (one might even call it, linguistic creativity) to suggest that the AM stations “Colorado Public Radio acquired . . . in 2001,” are not “old” to they who acquired them. While this is historically accurate, it changes the meaning of legacy to rather refer to “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Obviously, Colorado Public Radio paid for (presumably with listener contributions and/or grants), and therefore, did not receive 1340-AM Denver, 1490-AM Boulder, or 1280-AM Pueblo as “hand downs.”

And in the opinion of Anonymous (and presumably Colorado Public Radio), the single reason it was done was “to serve CPR's news and information listeners in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo.” CPRB agrees with this statement, that Colorado Public Radio believes that they (the company) made a rational decision to serve its listeners. We will leave it to others to decide the wisdom of this decision. At Colorado Public Radio Blog, we are neutral with regard to that decision, or this particular statement made by Anonymous.

Finally, the last sentence here that AM stations are “not exactly the stuff of which 'legacies' are made," is just more of the same—definition changing for the sake of misdirection or style.

Anonymous states: "But (Surprise!) technology has marched forward. Thanks to HD radio, today's FM stations have the capability to transmit multiple programs on a single frequency. On HD1, KVOD has never sounded better on FM. On HD2, KCFR has never sounded better on FM or AM. And CPR's stations are not alone. Eleven (11) other Denver stations are multi-casting with two channels. Others will follow."

Jimmy James responds: Of course, HD radio is of better quality than analog FM, just as analog FM is of better quality than analog AM. CPRB authors have never made a claim stating the technical merits of these terms or technologies, including multi-casting. Of course, Colorado Public Radio Blog authors and its readers are not the least bit surprised about “ . . . technology marching forward,” which is why in the original post that Anonymous rebutted, CPRB mentioned streaming bit-rates and their relationship to audio quality (fidelity), to broadband, and to the many digital technologies and services which most households in America already possess. Luddites indeed!

For example, a Pew/Internet: Pew Internet & American Life study from back in August 2004 said that “Broadband Penetration [was] on the Upswing: 55% of Adult Internet Users Have Broadband at Home or Work." By 2005-2006, broadband penetration continued to grow in the United States and indeed, even faster worldwide. And by 2010, total broadband penetration in the US is estimated to be 62% of all households or 71 million total broadband subscribers. Of course, some of these statistics are a 2-3 years old, but they support the point that many people and households in America already possess a means of receiving digital, radio broadcasts delivered in both high- and low-quality streams. Additionally, in many American households the ratio of computers to users continues to rise, as membership declines and computer purchases rise. Thus, many American households have at least two digital radio receivers; one for each computer attached to the broadband pipe.

So, if you have cable broadband or a digital subscriber line (DSL) connection at home, you can maximize the costs you already pay (for Internet, telephone, and television service) by listening to thousands of your favorite radio stations online; not to mention the digital-quality music subscribers probably also receive from their cable or satellite television provider. And, the digital quality of the stream is determined by the bandwidth subscribers already pay for, and the quality (bit-rate) at which radio stations choose to stream.

Finally, most American households (especially households which include children, teens, and younger adults) also have and use many other digital devices commonly referred to as portable music players, digital audio players, MP3 Players, and/or hard-disc drive players like Apple’s I-Pod. Once again, my original post points out that many Americans already own digital players, which when combined with broadband connections, computers, online music services, podcasts (audio and video,) and web streams (radio and television), provide high-quality content along with portability. Colorado Public Radio Blog simply suggested that readers of the blog might maximize the digital technology they already had—investing in upgrading and purchasing these items in place of HD-radio, given the current costs of HD radio investment.

Of course it is true that if HD radio becomes popular and HD radio technology become commodifed to the degree that computers, broadband, and portable music players have, then prices for HD radio receivers (for both automobile and home) will likely drop. In fact, they have already dropped substantially in the past few years. However, these costs are not nearly as low as Anonymous suggests, especially if the average American household attempts to replace every existing (standard) AM/FM radio with an comparable HD model.

Anonymous provides this link for pricing comparisons with Ibiquity Digital Corporation:

Jimmy James responds:

HD Tabletop Radios

  1. Sony HD Radio (coming soon): $199.
  2. Accurian by Radio Shack: $199.
  3. Boston Accoutics Receptor Radio HD: $299.
  4. Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD: $299.
  5. Directed Electronics: DHHD-1000: $249.
  6. Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System: $599.
  7. Radio-Osophy HD100 Receiver: $99.
  8. Sangean HDR-1: $249.
  9. Visteon HD Jump: $299.
  10. Visteon HD Pulse: $199.

HD Stereo Components (tuners)

  1. Audio Design Components: prices not listed.
  2. DaySequerra Components: $1595 to $7995.
  3. Rotel Components: $199 to $795.

HD Automotive Adapters

  1. Dice Electronics HD Dice Module: $199.
  2. Directed Electronics: Directed Car Component DMHD-1000: $199.

HD Automotive Radios

  1. JVC KD-HDR1: $199.
  2. Sony XT 100-HD: $199.
  3. Kenwood KTC-HR100: $199 (tuner box only).
  4. Alpine TUA-T500HD Tuner Module: $199 (tuner box only).

Jimmy James continues: Colorado Public Radio Blog provided the Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD at $299 (tabletop) and the JVC KD-HDR1 at $199 (automobile) as fair representations of current HD radio costs to the consumer--$500 to replace one tabletop HD radio and to replace one automobile unit. We also indicated that installation costs, shipping and handling, and taxes were extra. Thus, the link that Anonymous provide does not refute, rather it defends our claim. By stating that “prices begin at $99 and will decline further,” is factually correct, but it is also misleading.

If we take these ten, tabletop HD radios (as a representative sample) for example, add up the suggested retail prices (before any additional costs listed above) and then divide by ten (the number of total radios), the average price for an HD radio (today) is $269. As you can see, this number is slightly less than that example given by Colorado Public Radio Blog, but substantially more than the “starting at $99” provided by Anonymous. Public radio listeners are astute media consumers, and they know this tactic of starting at quite well. If however, we drop the high- and low-priced radios ($599 and $99 respectively) from the calculation, and summed the remaining eight table top HD radios, the average price drops to $249 per radiostill very close to the $299 originally quoted by Colorado Public Radio Blog.

Finally, how many AM/FM radios does the current American household own and use? Well, if my household is representative, we have and we use all of the following:

  1. Two cars; two AM/FM radios with standard CD capability.
  2. One home entertainment system with AM/FM tuner.
  3. Two clock radios with AM/FM tuners.
  4. One portable AM/FM radio in the basement.
  5. One AM/FM shower radio.
  6. One FM-only tuner on a flash player.
  7. One portable AM/FM at the office.

As you can see, AM/FM radios are pretty ubiquitous--we have nine total non-HD radios in use in one home! So, how many HD radios will you buy to replace the ones we already own? At what cost? Will you buy one, two, or more? If you only by one--perhaps an inexpensive $99 one with cheap, tinny-sounding speakers--where will you place it in your house? In other words, which one will you replace? Will your take your new, single HD radio with you from room to room or from home to work--and back? From your home to your car? There is one radio from Visteon designed just for that dual purpose, by the way.

And, at what price will you pay for HD radio sets when you already have digital devices (computers, televisions, and handhelds) that deliver high-fidelity news, entertainment, and music in ways you already listen? Logical people make economically rational decisions, especially when given complete information--the costs and benefits--regarding their purchases.

At Colorado Public Radio Blog, we welcome the debate about the true costs and benefits of HD radio, so please come back later to this blog where Jimmy James Jr. will continue to comment on points, observations, and arguments posed recently by Anonymous, because as Robert A. Heinlein said, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

--Jimmy James Jr.

Thank You from Colorado Public Radio Blog!

Colorado Public Radio Blog thanks all of its readers for a very successful first week. So far, we have had nearly 500 visits to the site! Special thanks also to the dedicated managers and staff of all public radio stations throughout Colorado. This blog would not be possible without your assistance. Thank You!

Northern Colorado Business Report & KUNC.

The Northern Colorado Business Report shows that not all KUNC-FM antenna news is necessarily good news. Read the entire story from NCBR here.

To get suggestions to improve your reception from KUNC, follow this link. Or you can email KUNC by following this link.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

'the latest 'word," from Michael Roberts.

Michael Roberts of Denver Westword has more from Former Colorado Public Radio Board Member, Frances Koncilja. Read about CPR's plan for HD radio in Vail, Colorado here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

KCFR News Wins Award from PRNDI.

Colorado Public Radio's KCFR News Initiative wins an award from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. First Place, Interview: Remembering Sex-Change Pioneer Dr. Stanley Biber. Listen to the entire story here. Congratulations, KCFR News!

From PRNDI: At its annual conference in New Orleans, PRNDI announced the winners of this year's PRNDI Awards. This is the only national contest recognizing outstanding public radio news reporting at local stations. The contest covers work produced in 2006. A total of 87 awards were presented to 34 stations at the PRNDI Awards Banquet on July 21 at the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans. The full list of winnners is below.

Read the entire list of winners here. The file is in Microsoft Word format. Our thanks to an anonymous reader (and poster) for this news and for the audio link to the story on the CPR website.

Joanne Ostrow Blogs about KUNC & CPR.

Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post, blogs about KUNC and Colorado Public Radio here.

Read some more of Joanne's recent columns here.

Want HD-Quality Rado? Then Widen the Stream!

At what bitrate does your local public radio station stream? In other words, is it at 128 kbps (kilobits per second), also referred to as CD-quality audio? Is it faster and better than CD-audio quality sound; like at 192 kbps? Or, is it substantially slower, at speeds around 20, 32 or 48 kbps? If that slow, how good does the audio sound--what is its quality? Does it sound muffled or compressed at low bitrate speeds? You bet it does!

Also, does your station stream its broadcast in MP3, Windows Media Audio, Real Audio or Ogg Vorbis content? If so, can you download you stations streams or podcasts to your portable music player? How do these podcasts sound to you? High quality? Low quality? How much high-quality downloadable content is available?

Is HD radio really the answer? Here is a link to an inexpensive JVC-brand HD-radio for your car, from Circuit City, and here is a link to the Cambridge Soundworks 820 HD Radio from Etronics.Com (remember, installation may cost extra). Before installation, shipping & handling, and tax charges, BOTH of these HD-radios would cost you $500 total!

Colorado Public Radio Blog advises that you withhold $500 IN TOTAL from your Colorado Public Radio subscriptions for this year, and the next, and the next, and the next . . . so that you finally can afford buy new HD equipment for your home and your automobile when CPR switches off and sells off all their legacy AM stations in Denver (1340-AM), Boulder (1490-AM), and Pueblo (1230-AM).

Expect HD-quality audio content delivered to you in the ways you already listen to public radio, and to the fully digital equipment you already own! Save your money for a new computer, MP3 player, I-Pod, or I-Phone--not for an HD radio. So, how much of your public radio subscription--how many years--are you willing to withhold?

KUNC-FM News from Public Interactive.

Read about and listen to some recent KUNC-FM news stories here; a distribution service provided by Public Interactive.

Also, read some more about Public Interactive, an applications services and content provider here.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro at KAJX-FM, Aspen.

The Aspen Times reports here that National Public Radio's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro "is in town in support of Aspen Public Radio's Summer Fund Drive. She is replacing NPR's Liane Hansen and Neal Conan, who postponed their appearances."

Garcia-Navarro, just back from Jerusalem and Baghdad, will speak on politics and the military, social life and international relations of these two centers of turmoil. Born in London, Garcia-Navarro has lived and reported from the United States, Colombia, Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq and the United States. Her home now is Mexico City.

Tickets are $10 and are on sale at the Wheeler Opera House box office. They also will be available at the door the night of the talk.
--Press release provided by the The Aspen Times.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Huffington Post & Aspen Public Radio.

Susan Saywers of The Huffington Post mentions The Aspen Ideas Festival and Aspen Public Radio right here.

Journalism: From The Pew Research Center.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism: Understanding News in the Information Age, from The Pew Research Center.

Read the Radio News Rountable discussion here. What were these experts saying about localism more than a year ago? The Pew Foundation has done loads of research on many subjects that pertain to public radio news, entertainment, and media (in general). Is your local public radio station reading what the experts have to say on the subject? If they are reading this research, are they acting upon it? If not, why not?

"Ruby Hill" Comments on CPRB.

Ruby Hill comments on Colorado Public Radio Blog, and Jimmy James responds in the comments section. Thanks, Ruby!
Ruby Hill said...

If you're really interested in comparing and contrasting the budgets and compensation for 501(c)3 organizations like public radio stations, a very useful resource is Guidestar.Org. They allow you to access the IRS 990 forms that all non-profits must file each year.

Also included on the 990 Forms are the salaries and benefits for at least the top five individuals earning more than $50,000. The IRS doesn't care if you're paying your staff less than that.

Here's some of the salary info Ruby gleaned from GuideStar this evening:

In the case of KUVO, there was only one person on the station's payroll that earned more than $50,000 in 2005. By sharp contrast, the other public radio broadcaster in Denver, Colorado Public Radio (CPR), had 17 individuals earning that much or more in 2006. The top six accounted for over $750,000 in salary and benefits. If one includes the classical music announcers heard via the Classical Public Radio Network (based in Denver and in LA, and heard in other markets nationwide), the number of individuals earning more than $50,000 jumps to 24 [total], and the salary and benefit number jumps to $1,250,000.

Ruby looked at the [Form] 990s for some other public broadcasters too. In no case did Ruby find the disparity in salaries and benefits as dramatic as those between KUVO and CPR. WGBH's [Boston, MA] salaries were somewhat higher than CPR's, but not significantly so. Those that were listed [higher], were primarily for the TV station. Any of those salaries would be totally defensible given that they are paid to producers of some of the best programs that PBS has to offer. Like NOVA, This Old House, etc. KCRW's [Santa Monica, CA] salaries were either the same or lower than CPR's which Ruby found surprising, given the number of programs that KCRW produces in-house. Minnesota Public Radio's salaries were on par with or perhaps slightly higher than what CPR paid, but once again, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) produces far more original content than does CPR. Other than a daily interview show, CPR produces no original content. Ruby believes the Classical Public Radio Network final production work still takes place at Boise State Radio and not in Denver, unless things have changed.

Ruby think it's fair to say from these examples that by and large, public broadcasters are relatively cost conscious and extract as much value as possible from each and every dollar they have at their disposal. Some of the salaries are far too low, considering the demands and responsibilities the jobs require. Others, while less than what might be available in the commercial sector, are at least livable. It's only when one enters the realm of Colorado Public Radio do the salaries get out of whack.

--Ruby Hill

July 29, 2007 1:13 AM