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.

Forty years ago: KPFT bombed off the air twice in its first year

Pacifica Radio’s KPFT in Houston “was the first radio station in the United States to be bombed off the air” in May 1970, soon after going on the air, recalled Rick Campbell in a Houston Chronicle blog. That October, 40 years ago this month, the station was dynamited into silence a second time during a broadcast of Arlo Guthrie’s song “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Three members of the Ku Klux Klan were arrested; two got off by testifying against Jimmy Dale Hutto, who was convicted and sent to jail. He allegedly planned to bomb the Pacifica stations in Berkeley and Los Angeles. When the station resumed broadcasting in January 1971, PBS’s Great American Dream Machine covered the event live. “Outside this room, people are celebrating free speech,” said station manager Larry Lee on PBS, “and something is wrong when free speech is a cause for celebration, and there are armed police out there guarding us.” Guthrie wrote a song for the occasion, including these lyrics: “When I get to Houston, pull out my strings, walk to the station, you can hear me sing — you get bombed, all God’s chillun get bombed.”

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.