Study evaluates strength of public radio’s “halo” for sponsors

ATLANTA — The positive associations that public radio listeners have with corporate sponsors and underwriters are as strong as ever, according to a report unveiled July 11 during the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference. Results of the 2013 NPR Underwriting Research project, presented by radio analyst Paul Jacobs, showed that the so-called “halo effect” that companies gain from public media sponsorships is unchanged since 2010, the last time researchers looked into it. A 2003 NPR study first identified the power of public radio sponsorships to influence listeners’ perceptions of the quality of the companies who pay for them. “We’re seeing absolutely no decline in how your listeners feel about you,” Jacobs said. “Despite the fact we live in a time of media fragmentation, one of the constants you have is that your audience loves you.”

“You have something that money can’t buy — your listeners trust in you so much that that trust transfers to the companies that sponsor you,” Jacobs told the audience at the PMDMC Thursday.

WFCR takes new name: New England Public Radio

Western Massachusetts broadcaster WFCR-FM has adopted a new name — one that seems to speak of ongoing expansion: New England Public Radio. CEO Martin Miller announced the plans at a station event Wednesday night. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the station announced it has arranged to buy new quarters in downtown Springfield, south of its longtime home in Amherst, and has bought a new FM frequency in the Berkshire Mountains town of Adams, northwest of Amherst. The news and classical music station, licensed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, added a second program schedule, all-news/talk, on a leased station in the 1990s and in October acquired WNNZ-AM for the schedule. By building translators in addition, one or both of its program streams now span from southern Vermont to northern Connecticut, New Hampshire to Albany, N.Y. Where it may encounter competition from another growing regional public radio franchise, Northeast Public Radio (WAMC).

CPB launches $4.4 million, 20-station American Graduate program

CPB kicked off its American Graduate initiative Tuesday (May 3) at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The $4.4 million project aims to boost graduation rates in 20 communities nationwide, using multiplatform content for at-risk students and their teachers. Host Ray Suarez, a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour and the event’s host, said the graduation rates among Hispanics and African-Americans was only about 54 percent in 2007. “This is something we really don’t have an option to fix — we have to,” Suarez said. Appearing were Hill Harper, star of CSI:NY, a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School; he also wrote the best-selling Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny. Actress America Ferrera, best known for Ugly Betty, talked about her mother’s anger when Ferrera’s sister was told “not to bother” with applying for college because she was Hispanic.

Why & How: ‘Unnatural Causes’

In this Q&A, content creators talk with Current about why they decided to pursue a project and how they produced it. What: Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, a four-hour PBS series that the network scheduled for four Thursday nights on public TV starting March 27. Who made: Larry Adelman, series creator and executive producer, co-director of California Newsreel. Production companies: California Newsreel with Vital Pictures. Presenters: the CPB-funded National Minority Consortia.

CPB to replace Cox as president

CPB announced Friday it will replace President Kathleen Cox, its president for 10 months. She had been predecessor Robert Coonrod’s No. 2 executive and his chosen
successor when the CPB Board promoted her, effective July 1, but last week’s
terse news release cast her as a temporary hire who was finishing up a series
of research projects inspired by a McKinsey & Co. study of public TV she managed for Coonrod. “Last spring, in no small part because of her significant contributions to [implementing the findings of the study], Kathleen Cox and CPB agreed to a one year contract to serve as president and CEO,” the statement read.

Cincinnati’s WGUC acquires seven-station X-Star Network

WGUC will buy another Cincinnati public radio operation, WVXU and six affiliated repeater stations, from Xavier University. The sale price of $15 million is the second-largest sum ever paid for a pubradio license, WGUC President Richard Eiswerth told the Cincinnati Post last week. Selling WVXU was “tough but very necessary,” said Xavier’s president, Michael Graham. The Cincinnati school will use the funds to build a student learning and residential center. The deal had been in the works since September but kept under wraps, according to WGUC.