I am going to begin counting Balter’s irrelevant posts to this list. In this case a forwarded email about Pacifica of a Marc Cooper opinion piece.
In the post below, I also reduced Cooper’s email to its important parts, leaving out as much of the cutesy invective, self-promotion (Cooper was right about Pacifica all along), and pejorative statements as I could. One ends up with a much shorter statement with potentially useful content, if the content is correct, even if it is not new news.
I agree with Balter that fate of Pacifica is important for the left, but what Cooper writes about Pacifica seldom helps for the reasons above. I cannot verify (or refute) the specific information Cooper reports, but at least most of what remains is refutable (or not) information (in the Karl Popper sense).
And yes, the network needs lots of support.
Non science related Balter post number 1.
Edited Cooper piece follows. What remains still portrays the precarious condition of Pacifica.
Barnacle Radio <http://marccooper.com/barnacle-radio/>
via Marc Cooper <http://marccooper.com> by Marc Cooper on 8/29/10
Alan Minsky, warned the staff and volunteers of impending economic catastrophe and politely asked for volunteers to step forward to either surrender or shorten their programs. He said he needed to introduce some updated programming that hopefully would generate more revenue and audience and he needed room in the schedule to do it.
Kevin Roderick at LAObserved reports this email coming from Minsky:
“Unfortunately, following my e-mail of one month ago in which I asked KPFK programmers, for the good of the station, to offer to shorten the length of their show or to move to a web-based show or to end their shows, not a single programmer stepped forward and made such a sacrifice,” writes Alan Minsky. As a result, he warns that the hammer is about to fall: “New voices need to be added to KPFK’s programming. In a week’s time some very difficult decisions will be made by KPFK management.”
Pacifica Radio is bleeding money and audience and its on air fundraising has become not only incessant, but chock a block with truther conspiracies and quack miracle medical cures. It is a bleeding sore of the Left and makes you wonder about left-wing critics of The Media (why is the Left Media even worse than the MSM?). (Note: Lots of reports around Pacifica about its financial condition. I agree that many current premiums are awful.)
Minsky’s memo is misleading as it refers to recent station growth from 120,000 to 180,000 cumulative listeners per week. But the station had 180,000 listeners twelve years ago and with a much weaker signal. What we are talking about is total stagnation. The real way to measure listenership, however, is by Average Quarter Hour followers — people who tune in for at least 5 mins during an average 15 minute period. That’s very close to the number of people listening at any given moment. (Note: I have never seen AQH reports for WBAI. The reports look potentially useful.)
According to figures I just saw, KPFK’s latest AQH is down to an all-time low of 1600 (in a signal area of 25 million people). (Source? Note: selective comparison of numbers from selected years are not very (scientifically) reliable. Permits comparing the highest with the lowest which might just be temporary spikes in the statistics. Trends across the time period carry more meaning.) Two points of comparison. KPFK bottomed out at an AQH of 1800 in 1995 during a similar period of decay. During Schubb’s management (1995-2002), he got those numbers to peak at about 7500-8000….which means, in reality, KPFK has about 20% of the audience it did a decade ago. By contrast, successful public radio stations like KPCC can boast of an AQH 12-15 times bigger than KPFK while running, quite literally, about one or two percent of the wattage of Pacifica and thereby commanding a much smaller signal footprint. (Public Radio also cheerfully runs corporate ads.)
This is not just a problem at KPFK, but is rather a network-wide crisis. Of the five Pacifica stations, two don’t even have recorded ratings because they haven’t paid the bill of the rating service! At this moment, all five positions of permanent station General Manager are open!
There was one breach [in a supposed wall of left silence] a few weeks ago when lefty economist Doug Henwood, still a progammer at Pacifica’s WBAI, went public with his own report. Read it here. <http://lbo-news.com/2010/08/10/the-state-of-wbai-dire/>