We are starting a new daily segment on the Afternoon Shift called "Top 3 at 3." Each day a producer will come in the studio with Steve Edwards to give their top 3. It can be anything from the top 3 news stories catching their eye to the top 3 margaritas in Naperville. You might get the top 3 ways to get to O'Hare or you might get the top 3 ways to gut a fish. You might get the top 3 Whitney Houston songs or the top 3 reasons you never liked Whitney Houston.
Today, we start the segment with a meta top 3: Top 3 new ideas you'll hear on WBEZ's Middays.
1) Full music tracks. Yep, we are finally jumping off that cliff. WBEZ (and NPR) are known for playing snippets or little 20 second parts of songs and then tucking them underneath the host or fading out to start another talk segment. Not anymore! In both Eight Forty-Eight and the Afternoon Shift, you'll hear full tracks of music chosen by our hosts and producers. It's a weird feeling internally. I expect beads of sweat to form on our engineer's forehead when the track goes past the one minute mark. But we want to bring music to the show. I want live music everyday, too. But that might be tough with our limited resources. But you'll hear a lot of live, local music.
2) Calls. For so many years, WBEZ would take comments and questions from callers. But we usually do it either by saying that today's show is a call-in show or just alerting the audience that we are taking calls for that particular segment. Our new goal is to integrate calls into the fabric of the broadcast. Every segment takes calls if it adds to the conversation. We have a tremendously smart and thoughtful audience and their comments, challenges and questions should help our conversations that much more well-rounded. Calls integrated into the broadcast isn't new. It's just new to us. Another goal of mine is to move past the telephone and get more people involved from other platforms. I think the way TV has somebody come in studio to read tweets is outdated and radio doesn't really have the bottom-third scroll. So I'm going to figure out some new ways to deliver your thoughts and comments. Two words: 3-D holograms.
3) The 2-hour show. For the first time in over two decades, WBEZ is creating a show that is longer than two hours. Eight Forty-Eight used to be an hour-and-a-half, but other than that, the standard format for a talk show is one hour. It's echoed by the national partners too, excluding the drive-time vehicles (ATC and Morning Edition are two hours). But feature shows? So our goal is to extend our live shows into the two-hour world. Truth be told, I'm looking to expand Eight Forty-Eight to two hours as well. And it's on the table for Worldview too. We have a long way to go with that plan, but that's the plan. It's really hard to produce live radio in one hour. With newscasts, traffic and other elements, you are trying to squeeze strong, local conversations into a really small amount of time. So as Ernie Banks once said, "let's play two...hours of this new public radio talk show."
Tomorrow, look for another "Top 3 at 3pm." Each day, there will be a post that accompanies the broadcast.