Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Public Radio Stations Take Cut of CD Sales DRUMMING UP REVENUE

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Public Radio Stations Take Cut of CD Sales DRUMMING UP REVENUE

Article excerpt

PUBLIC radio stations from Boston to Los Angeles are frequently broadcasting a new message during music programs that goes something like this: "If you want to add Karl Haas's `The Romantic Piano' or any other recording to your music library, call the Public Radio Music Source."

Launched in January, the Public Radio Music Source (PRMS), a nonprofit organization in St. Paul, Minn., offers listeners a new way to order music they hear on the radio; and it gives public radio stations additional funding. PRMS was developed in response to a federal mandate requiring public broadcasting to find alternative sources of revenue. It was initiated by the Station Resource Group, a coalition of public radio stations organized almost a decade ago to assess the future of public radio.

Through a toll-free number broadcast on-air, listeners can order any recording on compact disc from a station's playlist, says Alison Circle, marketing manager for PRMS. In return, public radio stations earn 10 percent of the proceeds.

PRMS provides stations with a quarterly list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of listeners who purchase recordings through the organization, Ms. Circle says. The stations in turn use these lists for telemarketing purposes. So far, about 170 stations participate in the program, she says.

KUSC/Los Angeles was one of the first public radio stations to test PRMS. "I don't know of anything that we have ever done that has had as an immediate appeal to listeners as this service," says Wally Smith, president and general manager of KUSC.

The terms are simple, Mr. Smith says. A station does not pay for the service; it only agrees to promote it. KUSC/Los Angeles expects to earn about $60,000 to $75,000 annually, he says. So far the station has made about $30,000. Even more important than royalty and sales, Smith says, is that the station provides a service to listeners that "makes them feel good about us."

PRMS has given a contract to Select Music Systems in St. Paul, Minn. …

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