So, what's behind the changes to the program schedule?

September 16, 2009

As many of you know, we here at WBEZ Chicago Public Radio are making some changes to our programming schedule next week and a number of you have asked for more detailed explanations as to what-in-the-world we're thinking and, specifically, why we've decided to cancel a few programs. First, the changes take effect on Monday, September 21st and are aimed at strengthening our schedule, particularly during the middle of the day.‚  A full rundown can be found here. The change that's sparked the most response thus far concerns the decision to cancel Talk of the Nation, weekdays at 1 pm. Talk of the Nation has a long, respected history in public radio and as a result, the decision to cancel it was not one we came to lightly. Rather, it came after many months of review and assessment, taking into account audience feedback, listenership, program quality, program cost, and the like. In short, Talk of the Nation was one of our most expensive programs - and one of our least-listened-to programs Monday through Friday.‚  That equation would be concerning in any climate, but in these economic times it was an equation we couldn't ignore. We're also moving The Story to 11am and Fresh Air to 2pm weekdays, where it has a long history of being paired with All Things Considered and listeners to other public radio stations around the country have found that time slot to be very appealing. And we're adding Here & Now at 1pm.‚  Here & Now is a national news magazine focusing on the news that breaks after Morning Edition, with additional segments covering arts, culture, science and more. It's an excellent program with a strong following in public radio.‚  Its format allows for more updated news and info - and some flexibility for us to add local coverage when news breaks or warrants. Some of you have also asked about Afropop and American Routes, which are also leaving our schedule next week.‚ ‚  Both are fine programs as well, but the moves are not inconsistent with the station's previously stated strategy of moving more squarely toward a news/talk format.‚  In the case of Afropop, despite its long history, its listener response has been limited on both a real and relative basis.‚  And American Routes is featured elsewhere in the Chicago region, specifically on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on WDCB 90.9fm, as well as twice weekly on WUWM in Milwaukee and once a week onWNIJ in Rockford/DeKalb .‚  Given that, and our strategic direction, we decided to offer something different that would not duplicate those other stations. Finally, a few questions have surfaced about both The Moth Radio Hour and Radiolab.‚  Both programs only exist in 5 episode blocks.‚  The Moth is still in a pilot phase and has yet to offer the program on a 52 week basis, while Radiolab deliberately produces only 5 such shows per year.‚  That's why neither is listed on the new permanent schedule at this point. In all cases, these changes were made with the goal of providing the best possible news and information programming. Even so, it's inevitable that moves like these will please some and disappoint others. Our hope is that you will give the new shows a listen and a chance and that you will continue to share your thoughts with us along the way, be they positive or negative.‚  Your feedback is tremendously important to us.
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