Where do public broadcasting stations abound?

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Reader JP saw this Boston Globe article last month about competition between public radio stations WGBH and WBUR heating Boston’s radio dial. That inspired JP to ask via our Currently Curious project: “How many cities have a duplicate NPR/PBS station”?

We looked into this to find an answer. As it turns out, it’s a more common situation in public television. According to PBS, 11 cities are home to two public TV stations:

  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Philadelphia
  • Los Angeles
  • New Orleans
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Bowling Green, Ky.
  • Washington, D.C.

This excludes markets in which viewers might be able to watch more than one station, but the broadcasters don’t share a city.

Two of those cities, however, will no longer be duplicate markets by the end of the year. The licensees of WYBE in Philadelphia and WUSF in Tampa sold their stations’ spectrum in the FCC auction. Those stations plan to sign off in coming months.

As with public TV, NPR listeners in many locations can pick up more than one station. But according to Tom Thomas, co-CEO of Station Resource Group, only a few cities are home to more than one NPR station:

  • Boston (WBUR, WGBH)
  • Atlanta (Georgia Public Broadcasting, WABE)
  • San Francisco (KQED, KALW)
  • Los Angeles (KCRW, KPCC)

Reader Mike Marcotte also points out that Albuquerque, N.M., falls into this category, with KUNM and KANW. And Mike Crane, director of Wisconsin Public Radio, wrote to tell us that Milwaukee listeners can hear NPR programs on both WUWM and a WPR station.

Thomas pointed to several other cities that are both home to an NPR station and where a second station from out of town gets a significant audience:

  • Detroit (WDET and Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor)
  • Cleveland (WCPN and WKSU in Kent, Ohio)
  • Providence, R.I. (Rhode Island Public Radio and WGBH)
  • Oklahoma City (KGOU and KOSU in Norman, Okla.)
  • Seattle (KUOW and KNKX in Tacoma, Wash.)

UPDATE: After posting, we heard from Roger Duvall, station manager of WEKU in Richmond, Ky.

WEKU and WUKY are still located in different cities, but WEKU does serve a significant Lexington population, so we’re adding this one here.

We also overlooked that WHYY and WXPN in Philadelphia are both NPR member stations, as are WETA and WAMU in Washington, D.C.

Are we missing any cities you’d add? If you live in one of these markets, are you yay or nay on duplication? Let us know with a comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this article provided the incorrect location for a pair of PBS stations. It is Bowling Green, Ky., not Bowling Green, Ohio. It also listed incorrect radio stations serving Atlanta. The stations are Georgia Public Broadcasting and WABE, not Georgia Public Broadcasting and WRAS.

Submit your own question to Currently Curious in the form below. It could be investigated in a future story.

14 thoughts on “Where do public broadcasting stations abound?

  1. Albuquerque has KUNM and KANW, both NPR member stations. KUNM would appear to be the more committed to news in that it carries Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and boasts a local newsroom, but its eclectic programming chases away news listeners most other times. KANW has been beefing up its news offerings and now runs network news shows until noon, but then it becomes a Mexican music station! To KANW’s credit, it runs an HD2 channel (and regional translators) that are all NPR/APM/PRI news. KUNM has an HD2 that repeats its main signal. After years of neck-and-neck, the ratings race looks to be shifting in KANW’s favor.

  2. ..sorry for the error…
    Starting over-
    In Charlottesville, VA we offer two program streams, RADIO IQ (news and information; WVTW) and WVTF Music (WVTW HD2 & translator). Harrisonburg’s WMRA also has a signal in C’ville. In Richmond, VA, we offer RADIO IQ (WURV HD3 and a translator) Also in the market is WCVE. In Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County, VA we offer RADIO IQ on a transmitter and translator. Also in Spotsylvania is a transmitter repeating WAMU.

    • Glenn, you beat me to it! Besides three NPR services in this little market of Charlottesville, we’ve also got my own station WTJU doing a community radio music service. Plus WNRN doing a AAA music service. Plus five new LPFMs that have come on in the last couple years.

  3. In Atlanta, it should be WABE and WRAS. (And I hope this doesn’t bring in the Album 88 stalwarts to start the complaining session again.) Also, in Chicago WDCB is now an NPR member, but they don’t air the drive time news shows and are in west suburban Glen Ellyn. (The examples you seem to give are for those stations that both carry “ME,” “ATC” and “WE.”

  4. Kinda depends a bit on what you mean by “duplicate”, but there’s a LOT more cities with multiple news/talk options out there.

    First off, WBUR and WGBH (through WCAI) have complete overlap on Cape Cod as well, not just in Boston.

    In Rochester NY, WRUR duplicates Morning Edition (5-9am), Connections (12n-2pm) and All Things Considered (4-6pm) with WXXI (AM) in town, and also WEOS which is a rimshot signal out of Geneva NY. WRUR is owned by the University of Rochester, and WEOS is owned by Hobart & William Smith Colleges…but both are operated by WXXI under LMA.

    Syracuse, NY has both WRVO and WAER; they are direct competitors.

    Charlotte NC has local WFAE and also SCPR via WNSC just over the border in SC.

    Dover DE has local WDDE and a rimshot from WSCL down in the Delmarva region.

    Most of western Massachusetts (the Berkshires) has WAMC and WFCR/WNNZ duking it out.

    Portsmouth NH is technically served by New Hampshire Public Radio (specifically W280DG relaying WEVO) but both WGBH and, to a lesser extent, WBUR have listeners in that area.

    A lot of Connecticut has overlap between WSHU and WNPR (and their respective repeaters), although technically WSHU focuses more on the southwestern corner (the NYC suburbs) and Long Island, whereas WNPR is more about the rest of the state.

    Santa Barbara, CA has a very civil war going on (I love that phrase) between KCLU and KCBX (KSBX). Arguably you could put KDB/KUSC, KCRW, and even KPFK, who all have repeaters in town. Heck, you could even toss KZSB in there because they air a lot of BBC World Service.

    Salt Lake City has KCPW and KUER, although they’re both news, they air mostly different news programming.

    Baltimore has WAMU and WYPR directly competing.

    Denver is complicated. Technically the public radio news outlet is KCPR. But it’s hard to deny that KUNC in Greeley has been steadily moving more and more into KCPR’s audience…both because KUNC has added many FM repeater stations, and because Denver’s exurbs have been steadily expanding to the north where KUNC is.

    Eugene, OR has Oregon Public Broadcasting (KOPB 1600AM) and KLCC as direct competitors.

    Ithaca NY has WEOS and WSKG (WSQG, which also has WSQX on its HD2, I think)…arguably also WITH…all pretty much fighting for the same audience.

  5. Got to wonder why CPB allows this “duplication”? I thought they had a program in the past to eliminate it? Doesn’t seem to be a wise use of limited tax payer funds, but when you aren’t shouldering the load, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money.

    • Because decades of research shows that multiple competing public radio outlets actually INCREASES the total number of public radio listeners in a market, you arrogant baboon. Lean over here so I can slap you.

      • Ah master…you provide no links, back-up or documentation so this lowly grasshopper may learn from your wisdom. I’m not worthy, and my google-foo is weak. Can you provide link to decades of research?

        • Jesus do we have to spoon-feed you everything that you’re just going to spit back in our faces, Paul? Just go to stationratings.com and look at what’s been happening in Boston. Both WBUR and WGBH’s audiences have steadily grown since WGBH went all news-talk.

  6. Fargo-Moorhead listeners can very easily choose between KDSU (Prairie Public) and KCCD (MPR News). They also overlap at breakfast and drive time with NPR syndication.

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