Urban Alternative Music Format 2023 Station Applications

New applications are no longer being accepted. Check this page for updates about this initiative.


Open to CSG-qualified Radio Stations.


October 28, 2022

Grant Guidelines

In 2016, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) support launched the development of the Urban Alternative music format for public radio. The new format was built by and for a new generation of public radio listeners; a younger, multicultural cohort that would create its own public media mission and sound. The goal was to target an audience between the ages of 18 and 44 and build an innovative service connecting urban audiences through music discovery and community engagement. Deeply grounded in research, the Urban Alternative combined music and information to meet the needs of young diverse audiences, especially millennials and Generation X. In previous phases, CPB supported the implementation of the format by public radio stations in Houston, TX; Norfolk, VA; Denver, CO; Jackson, MS; Milwaukee, WI; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. This request for applications will identify additional community service grant-qualified radio stations to implement the new format with assistance from CPB.

Please download the Grant Guidelines below for detailed information, including application requirements.
PDF icon Grant Guidelines257.76 KB

Questions from Potential Respondents, with CPB Answers:

FAQ Topic: 

Are there any circumstances under which the grant doesn't go forward after the market survey? I suppose it's unlikely, but what happens if the research presents an unexpected scenario that falls outside the scope of the station's proposal?

The viability of the market that the applicant serves will be considered in the application’s review.

What is a reasonable expectation of the input of staff time for working with the consultant, especially through meetings and webinars, to develop a clear understanding of who we want to target and the appropriate music mix for our market, and to create and individualized implementation plan?

The research requires intensive input from the station, approximately 4 – 6 hours total towards the development of the following research activities: perceptual life group studies, online music tests, in-depth audience interviews, and online member surveys. Two to three days of station input is needed on the back end of the research for review and building Action Plans. Stations should plan to commit 1 – 2 hours per week to work with the consultant for most of the grant term.

Is it reasonable to not anticipate incurring significant costs during the first 6 months, other than staff time spent with the consultant?

Your budget proposal should cover the 30-month grant term. The existing Urban Alternative stations did not incur significant costs in personnel at the beginning of their grant term because the recruitment and hiring of new staff took longer than anticipated. Try to estimate the time it will take your station to recruit and hire or reassign new staff when drafting your budget proposal. The consultant will not begin work with the station until the Content Director and Community Engagement Director staff are hired or assigned.

Do the three hosts have to be full-time?

No. The application should describe if the hosts are full or part time and how their job responsibilities would support the station’s programming of the Urban Alternative.

Is the Urban Alternative format meant to be 24/7, or could it be a programming block within our main channel’s current lineup?

Proposals for full channel conversion and/or programming blocks will be reviewed and evaluated. The impact and potential for maximum exposure of the content will be evaluated.

Is the station required to place this format on their main channel or is that simply an option given individual market circumstances?

The placement of Urban Alternative content on the station’s main channel is CPB’s preferred option, but it is not a requirement. Applicants should let CPB know which platforms they plan to use to distribute Urban Alternative content (main channel, HD, streaming media, web, app). CPB will consider the choice of applicants’ distribution platforms as we review applications. CPB’s goal is that the content is given maximum exposure.

When does the project period begin?

Grant terms will be agreed upon and finalized in a fully executed grant agreement following CPB’s review, selection, and approval of applications. We anticipate this process will allow the 30-month grant terms to start around May 2023.