The Rise of KCRW and NPR Stations Attributed to Appealing Programming

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For any broadcast pro in the nation reading this, imagine doing a radio show where you could do the show that YOU want to do, play the music that YOU want to play and interview the performers that YOU want to interview, from major superstars to a new band that’s been playing at a local bar for two years and you KNOW they will be huge one day.

No programming, no PPM, no Playlists but doing the show that you want to do… I’m not sure many of us have ever given that any thought but I am eager to give it a shot as it is exactly what the jocks at public radio do. Everything from playing great album cuts you never heard before to introducing you to new artists worthy of a listen.

I am not sure if most or any commercial jocks, outside of mix jocks, are music lovers or they just love being the liaison between the music and fans but I am a true music lover and I have always been a huge fan of stations like KCRW in Los Angeles where there is a plethora of opportunities to get an entire world of various shows, music, news and special and programs into a daily lineup while still managing to have an even and complimentary flow.

Public radio was once annoying. Playing a lot of classical or extremely avant garde music that satisfied the listening palates of older financial contributors in years gone by but the once stepchild of the broadcast industry has completely turned their outlets into a much larger-than-life informative and entertaining gateway. And they are doing an amazing job.

There is absolutely no comparison to commercial radio which are stations driven by Nielsen’s PPM in Los Angeles and advertising to stations like KCRW who notably have more programming freedom.

Truth is commercial radio is in the business of broadcasting ratings and generating revenue but for a true die hard music fan who thinks outside of the box stations like KCRW are not only entertaining it’s also educational and informative.

Titles of shows like; “All Things Considered.” “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” and podcasts like “Tiny Desk Concert” “How I Built This” (which has interviewed industry titans including Cathy Hughes and Robert Johnson from BET) are just a few of the extremely interesting and captivating shows that many NPR stations bring to an eager and expanding listener base on a daily basis.

Wu-Tang, NPR, Tiny Desk Concert (video)

KCRW also has a stellar news program and podcasts that are some of the best in the broadcast industry.

Everything from the music beds to the special programming segments like this one “Fresh Air” which details policies and political forces that have driven African Americans to live in segregated in impoverished areas. There are not many places on the radio dial to find these kinds of shows.

One of KCRW’s biggest stars Jason Bently excited his post at Morning Becomes Eclectic over a year ago but he continues to host an amazing music show called Metropolis on the weekends. I’ve been listening to him for many years as he plays some of the best house music from around the world

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CfURxIVIXU

How did the underdog for decades rise to the occasion? In many instances they did what commercial radio stations didn’t do, rest on their laurels (success and working formulas). It’s not just ironic that many tech companies are financial contributors to public radio stations, there is an added benefit. The stations were probably educated on the advent of tech long before commercial radio.

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert is the brainchild of Bob Boilen and has done over 800 concerts since 2008. Here, Lucky Daye performs on the wildly popular segment …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsM_d4eb3XM

While donations come the most from listeners (38%) the second greatest contributors to NPR are corporations (19%)

They also get financial support from colleges, grants and federal contributions.

Public radio took advantage of technology long before commercial radio and found their way to be better by appealing to listeners of all ages instead of targeting listeners who made donations only.

Again, give it some thought if you are a music loving jock, wouldn’t you like to do a show like this? In addition KCRW is a union station in LA, which greatly benefits the on-air staff for retirement unlike many jocks around the country who have no idea how they are going to retire.

Public Radio has expanded their support reach to many major corporations instead of individuals ‘which has greatly helped the outlets steer clear of constantly asking for money and donations.

Guy Raz created the Podcast “How I Built This” is sponsored by major corporations like American Express. Here Bob Johnson talks about how he started BET

This story would not be complete without mentioning the excellent show that Garth Trinadad does. Garth is certainly one of the best jocks I have ever heard on the air not because of a stellar delivery but his knowledge and love of the music, you can literally, as the interviewer says in the video, FEEL and SMELL what he is describing when he talks about music. Even in the video where he is DJing below, you literally feel like you’re there.

KCRW’s’ Garth Trinidad

Check out your local NPR station, I’m confident you’re not just missing something, you’re missing a LOT.

Public radio still relies on donations but they have also vastly improved their programming over the recent years allowing listeners not be bogged down with requests for money every hour on the hour or long-drawn out telethons. Even when you look at their website (KCRW) the requis for donations is barely noticeable.


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