WBUR, WGBH both doing well

Public radio is not a zero-sum game in Boston.

WBUR and WGBH, Boston’s two public radio news stations, follow the same news and information format and run many of the same programs. But, as the Boston Globe reported on Sunday, both stations are growing rapidly and rolling in dough.

Over the past five years, WGBH’s weekly audience has grown from 235,200 to 445,200 listeners, making it the fastest-growing NPR news station in the country. Over roughly the same time period, WBUR has gone from 409,000 to 534,000 listeners. WBUR is the sixth-largest public radio station in the country; WGBH is the tenth largest.

Both stations rely on a programming approach that is heavy on talk and light on original news reporting. It’s a recipe that has played well with listeners and advertisers.

Ken Mills, a Minneapolis-based broadcast consultant, said the two stations are doing very well financially. “Both are very well heeled compared to most public radio stations,” Mills said. “There are maybe two dozen stations that are in that range.”

WBUR is finishing a $2.6 million expansion of its offices, newsroom, and studios, and plans to open a 240-seat event space next year for lectures, films, live radio shows, and storytelling. WGBH’s financial numbers are combined with those of WGBH television; last year the joint operation brought in $179 million in revenue.

Despite their financial success, the two stations continue to receive federal taxpayer support. WBUR received $1.6 million last year from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and WGBH radio received $742,957. WGBH received an additional $11.6 million for its television and digital operations.



Gov. Charlie Baker replaces another head of a quasi-public authority, trading Nancy Snyder for J.D. LaRock at Commonwealth Corporation. (CommonWealth)

Baker appoints Rosalin Acosta, a progressive, anti-Trump activist, as his secretary of labor and workforce development, replacing Ronald Walker II. (Boston Herald)

Massachusetts GOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes, in a wide-ranging interview the same weekend Democrats held their convention in Worcester, says she sees no conflict between “Trumpism” and “Bakerism” and said the Republican :Party was a “big tent” that welcomed differing opinions. (Keller@Large)

Amy Pitter, the CEO of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and a former commissioner of the Department of Revenue, says near-automatic audits by DOR and the IRS are undermining the Earned Income Tax Credit. (CommonWealth)

A group called NetChoice, which represents online retailers Overstock.com, eBay, and others, is preparing to file a legal challenge to Baker’s plan to tax online retail sales. (Eagle-Tribune)

Former governor Deval Patrick has a passion for bees. (Boston Globe)


Natick police and officials from the Middlesex Sheriff’s office collected more than 100 guns and ammunition ranging from the Korean War to a pair of assault rifles in a buyback program that offered gift cards up to $300. (MetroWest Daily News)

Brockton city councilors are annoyed that the quality of their cable broadcasts look like something out of the 1950s because of dated technology compared to neighboring communities with high-definition equipment. The councilors voted to look into tapping the city’s cable revenue fund to update the equipment. (The Enterprise)


British Prime Minister Theresa May says the government will review its counter-terrorism policies and internal monitoring in the wake of the third terrorist attack in the country in the last three months.  President Trump ignited a controversy with a tweet about the attacks that either misunderstood what London Mayor Sadiq Khan said or purposefully distorted a quote taken out of context. (New York Times)

A Boston Globe editorial urges Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to lead Republican opposition to President Trump. Referring to Collins and a handful of other Republicans, the paper says: “It’s only a little hyperbolic to say they hold the fate of the nation in their hands.”


The Massachusetts Democratic Party gathered in Worcester over the weekend and proclaimed itself the resistance. As the Democrats approved a liberal platform, they attacked President Trump and criticized Gov. Charlie Baker for not condemning the president strongly enough. (Telegram & Gazette)


Employers are having trouble finding workers in the Berkshires. (Berkshire Eagle)

Talks between the United States and Mexico over sugar imports could be an indicator of how President Trump will deal with NAFTA. (New York Times)


A Boston Globe editorial makes an interesting observation about the selection of former state senator John Keenan to head Salem State University: “The problem isn’t that Keenan is the wrong choice for Salem State; the problem is that in Massachusetts, in 2017, he’s still the right choice.”

Harvard withdraws its admissions offer to 10 students caught posting offensive memes on a Facebook page. (MassLive)


James Aloisi says Boston must learn from the failures of the Seaport District as attention turns to the development of Allston Landing and Suffolk Downs. (CommonWealth)

The new Fore River Bridge at the Quincy-Weymouth line on Route 3A has finally been completed but removing the temporary span will reduce traffic to two lanes and could cause major backups during rush hour when the bridge is opened for shipping passage. (Patriot Ledger)


Niall Ferguson of the Hoover Institution suggests President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord is bad policy but smart politics. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker moves Massachusetts into a multi-state climate alliance. (State House News)

Recycling contamination is a major problem in Lowell and other cities. (Governing)

The owner of the four controversial wind turbines in Plymouth at the Bourne town line will begin sound testing under approved state protocols to address complaints by neighbors in both towns that the turbines noise is triggering health problems. (Cape Cod Times)


Ralph Gants, the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, blasts President Trump for defunding the Legal Services Corporation, which provides equal access to the law for those without the means. (Boston Globe)

A prominent Dorchester minister who was swept up in a Boston police prostitution sting asked his parishioners for forgiveness during a three-hour service Sunday. (Boston Herald)

The state prison work camp in Plymouth has operated with little notice for more than 65 years. But with four escape attempts after being turned into a detox for civilly committed patients, officials are erecting two layers of fencing around the minimum-security facility and adding a special tactical team for escape searches. (Patriot Ledger)

Benjamin Forman, the research director at MassINC (the corporate parent of CommonWealth), says talking points on mandatory minimum sentences distributes by the state’s district attorneys obscure the real issues. (CommonWealth)

The long-awaited sexual assault trial of comedian and Massachusetts resident Bill Cosby begins in Philadelphia today. (New York Times)


New Jersey lawmakers promote legislation creating a fund supporting local journalism. (CentralJersey.com)

The Daily Caller website, which is a darling of the right and often gets called on in White House press briefings, gets its stories largely from journalists employed by a non-profit news foundation that shares office space, a questionable arrangement that allows the conservative for-profit site to reap benefits with little overhead. (Washington Post)


Former Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall, whose lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder became the basis for the critically acclaimed 1957 movie Fear Strikes Out and put a spotlight on mental illness treatment at a time when it was discussed in hushed whispers, died over the weekend in Illinois. He was 87. (Boston Herald)