Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Loss of Classical Music on the Radio Can Turn into a Win-Win Situation for Everyone

July 9th is the day when classical music will go away for most KVOD classical music listeners in Northers Colorado. On the 9th, KVOD switches to 88.1 FM, which will only serve classical music listeners who reside within the 303 area code. Colorado Public Radio (CPR) press releases regarding their pending change for CPR's 90.1 FM station in Denver suggests that classical music listeners up north should tune-in to on-line broadcasts of KVOD, or continue listening to 90.1 FM with an HD receiver to continue hearing classical music that will now appear on one of Colorado Public Radio's HD channels.

Several options exist for Colorado Public Radio to continue bringing classical music to Larimer-Weld Counties when KVOD goes to 88.1 in Denver:
  • For CPR, the most expensive ventures would involve the purchase of a commercial or non-commercial FM radio station serving the Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley area.
  • But there is a simpler way for CPR to continue serving loyal listeners. By placing KVOD classical music programming on the KCFR/90.1 FM HD-2 channel, half of the problem is solved.
  • The other half of the equation, from a PUBLIC relations standpoint, utilizes an example from another major market public radio station 2,000 miles away.
Several years ago, WAMU at American University in Washington DC ended its very popular, long-running bluegrass format, in favor of news/talk programming. Bluegrass was delegated only to Sunday evenings. The switchboard at the station was lit up constantly for months with complaints from disgruntled bluegrass fanatics.

Today, WAMU Bluegrass Country is back, 24/7, heard over WAMU's HD-2 Channel, while their main FM service continues airing its' News/Talk format. Last September, WAMU paid a little less than ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS-per-unit to buy 1,000 HD Receivers, which the station gave to the first 1,000 donors who donated $100 or more during WAMU's Sunday evening Bluegrass program. The offer extended over two fund drives for the station. WAMU went the extra mile; they set a very wise precedent. It raises a fundamental (yet essential) question for CPR brass:

In today's volatile radio world (where daily, weekly, and monthly, THOUSANDS of people are choosing satellite radio, I-pods, and other listening choices over conventional radio), can CPR afford to stand back and watch the erosion in support accelerate because they did not show true, good faith with their classical audience in Northern Colorado?

WAMU's break-even policy on the matter (no money gained by giving donors an HD receiver for cost, after receiving a minimal $100 donation) will pay great dividends down the road in terms of public relations and audience growth. For CPR, the numbers are simple. The Fort Collins-Loveland-Greeley triangle is expected to have more than 700,000 residents by the year 2030, thus posing another essential question:

Can CPR afford NOT to take some positive action?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Westword's Best of 2008 -- Michael Roberts

Once again, Michael Roberts has the Latest 'Word regarding Colorado Public Radio. The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post entertainment columnists and and media critics could sure could learn a lot from him. Well, once the two Denver dailies finally merge, maybe they can provid some competition for a hard-working Weekly like Westword. And who said that size (and number) matters!

As for Sean Nethery, Colorado Public Radio's Vice President of Programming, and current (and previous) Spinmeister, Roberts' article shows how coy and evasive he really is. Roberts has his facts, but Nethery has THE facts. Karl Rove (aka Turd Blossom) would be proud!

CPR Cans Community Outreach Coordinator

It appears as though one of the last tasks for Erica Stull, Colorado Public Radio's erstwhile Vice President of Community Outreach, was to produce the press release (see the blog post below) for the KCFR move back to 90.1-FM and the KVOD move to 88.1-FM on July 9, 2008. She is still listed on the CPR website, however.

The Community Outreach Position was a relatively new one for Colorado Public Radio; presumably created to soften CPR's corporatate exterior, repair strained relationships with CPR's critics, and solidify the radio network's partnerships with Colorado community organizations. In short, it was Stull's job to do what the rest of Colorado Public Radio's management and leadership failed to do for the past 35 years--go public.

However, that was no small task for a newbie, like Stull, among entrenched introverts, because the sum character of Colorado Public Radio management is entirely antithetical to the words public and outreach. In other words, CPR's management takes its behavioral cues from Max Wycisk; an insular leader who'd rather diddle with focus-group data than to meet actual members of the Colorado communities he so diligently serves.

The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay famously said, "I love humanity, but I hate people." That simple, succinct phrase describes the persona of Max Wycisk (and by extension, CPR) in a nutshell. In fact, it should be the official motto for the limousine liberals who rule Colorado Public Radio like an arcane little duchy. It seems, however, that the established nobility at Colorado's public radio empire secretly eschewed both Stull and her recent work. In corporate speak, "CPR is moving in a different direction . . . " That new direction for CPR is actually an old and tiresome one; however, as tiresome as the idiotic phrase itself. But that is the way Colorado Public Radio likes it; stolid, staid, and stupefyingly simpleminded.

Case in point; several years ago, well before Colorado Public Radio landed (by sheer accident) The Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) broadcasts, CPR had a policy of "not running Public Service Announcements. PSAs," staff, listeners, and callers to the station were told, "are what commercial broadcasters run as an FCC requirement because the airwaves are owned by the public. Colorado Public Radio does not run PSAs because EVERYTHING Colorado Public Radio does IS (by definition) a public service." Maxims (or rather, Wycisk Max-ims) like this one are continuously parroted by CPR management as if these policies are definitional truisms, rather than simply convenient (and mailable) station practices. Soon after CPR penned its agreement with The CSO though, Colorado Public Radio suddenly started running promotional announcements for The Symphony and for several other classical music organizations (and events) throughout Colorado. In short, CPR moved in a new direction. How convenient!

About 1-2 years ago, Colorado Public Radio (Board and Management) decided that CPR needed to increase its public profile, which is why they created a new Vice-Presidential position for just that purpose. *CPR actually created two new
Vice-Presidential positions at approximately the same time: Vice President of Community Outreach and Vice President of Human Resources. After several months of searching, Colorado Public Radio finally hired Ms. Erica Stull (a former employee of Colorado Public Radio, but most recently employed by Adelphia Communications), as CPR's first Community Outreach VP. Perhaps coincidentally (or not), Stull had formerly been a colleague of Ron Cooper, the Vice Chairman of the Colorado Public Radio Board of Directors, and (according to his biography posted on the CPR website) "the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Adelphia Communications."

Colorado Public Radio Blog authors have no information about what community-outreach projects or programs CPR initiated or engaged in (presumably through Erica Stull) over the past two years. Besides the endless on-air and website mentions of the Public Insight Network, a service that Colorado Public Radio subscribes to (and pays for) from Minnesota Public Radio, it's very difficult to determine on the air, on their website, or in the community what CPR's outreach plan actually entailed. One former Colorado Public Radio Board Member observed as late as the fall of 2007, that Stull had neither strategic plans nor new ideas for CPR's outreach efforts. As for KCFR's Public Insight Network, Colorado Matters Host and Producer, Dan Meyers, presides over that news initiative. Thus, PIN was not Stull's bailiwick.

So what is CPR President Max Wycisk's future plan for community outreach, sans Erica Stull? Your guess is as good as anyone's. But if past history, performance, and practice are any guides, a good guess is that Colorado Public Radio will create yet another tautological Max-im to explain away actual outreach. When asked, "Why doesn't Colorado Public Radio do community outreach?" the answer will likely go something like this: "EVERYTHING we do is community outreach." As for Erica Stull? No soup for you!

NOTE: Please see the post above entitled Westword's Best of 2008 -- Michael Roberts to see who is back at the helm of Colorado Public Radio's transparent propaganda machine. It sure didn't take very long for KCFR's resident nincompoop to re-seat his ample ass into Erica Stull's still warm community-outreach chair. Here's a question I have for Herr Nethery: Why isn't Kelley Griffin, the KCFR News Director, handling news-realted inquiries?

Colorado Public Radio can send its press-release replies in care of CPRB Managment. We'll have one of our many Vice Presidents read and respond to it here. Thank YOU!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meet the Presser, with Max Wycisk

The Wycisk of Oz meets the press; if you can call it that. Read Colorado Public Radio's press release to the Denver Business Journal here. As you can see from the article, and I am using that term loosely here:

EMF is selling the 90.1 FM signal to Public Radio Capital, a nonprofit that helps public-radio stations with expansion projects. In turn, Public Radio Capital will lease the signal to CPR.

See Public Radio Capital's client list here. If Colorado Public Radio bought (with Public Radio Capital financing), rather than leased the 1340-AM in 2001, then it appears that the current deal could be different than CPR's previous acquisition. I guess that is the difference between a press release and a news article. Press releases are all the news the is fit to print, from the client's perspective. So much for public radio NEWS!

Here is the entire press release on eMedia World from Colorado Public Radio's Vice President of Press Releases, Erica Stull. Actually, she is the Vice President of Community Outreach. There was one? Here is the presser on Conde Nasts', and here it is on Business Wire. Feel free to compare the press releases (some of which appear to be more complete than the one above from the DBJ) when The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News columnists/critics/stenographers run their little tidbits in the fish wrap later this week and next.

I guess this shows that CPR can create content--and buzz--when it wants. Perhaps they need Ms. Stull in the news department producing shows? After all, Sean Nethery, Colorado Public Radio's Vice President of Programming has years of experience in marketing and communications--not in journalism. Seems like a perfect fit to me; propaganda meets public radio programming. Kismet!

July 3rd update: What did I tell you? Here is Joanne Ostrow's meager morsel on the The Denver Post website, and here is her tiny tidbit from The Denver Post blog. She is not fast, but she certainly is frugal by recycling the same piece twice!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back to the Future

Colorado Public Radio creeps forward by looking backward. In August of 2008, KCFR expands Colorado Matters (its one-and-only, locally-produced, 30-minute-long, public affairs show) back to 1 hour, with live and taped coverage from Democratic National Convention. Let's hope that once the convention is over that the KCFR news staff (which will probably number near 20 people by that time) can manage to fill an entire hour without having to rely upon theme-related news like multi-part, bark beetle stories.

Hey, here's an idea--how about doing political stories--like maybe, candidate races? Just a thought. Or is that too controversial for public radio?

You Know, "A Show about Talking"

Colorado Public Radio does content! Or, at least it will do content. Several months from now, KCFR News will start a call-in, talk show with a host and producer to be named later. Radio producers, board operators, and telephone call screeners had better start polishing up their resumes if they'd like a shot at any new openings at KCFR-FM, because CPR management already has the talent picked, despite their nearly complete lack of it. Care to guess who the new public radio talk-jock might be? Just so you know, it isn't Mike Rosen or Peter Boyles. Stay tuned!