As I reported here a month or so ago KUSP is making a change in programming strategy on weekdays, from early in the morning through the end of the afternoon commute. KUSP’s new schedule in those times focuses on what we believe are public radio’s most significant news and information programs. We think the KUSP audience will come to appreciate our new programs: The Story with Dick Gordon; our new collaborative project with station KALW in San Francisco, Your Call; Day to Day from NPR News, The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU in Washington; and Marketplace.
Several programs in this schedule now air twice – either twice the same day for two weekday programs, or on two different days for some weekend programs. This idea has disconcerted a number of people, but the reasons for doing it are fairly straightforward.
We are repeating several programs we know can serve large and loyal audiences. Not many people can be tuned in to KUSP all day, every day… so by strategically repeating what we think will be among our most-listened-to shows, we increase the chances that a potential listener will have a chance to tune them in. Experience at other stations indicates that more people benefit from having a second chance to catch the show, than are put at a disadvantage by running into a show they’ve already heard once.
Another reason is more long-term. KUSP’s programmers are working on several new projects, which might meet listener needs and desires better than anything we’ve done before. We’ve seen in the past few weeks how hard it can be for a station to end programs that a number of listeners care about (even if, compared to other programs on the station, the shows that are ending reach relatively few listeners). But sometimes a station needs to create time for something new — as we’re doing now for our collaborative project with KALW, “Your Call.”
When our program development projects bear fruit (and I definitely believe they will, though I can’t say for sure when), it will be less disruptive, we hope, to adjust the schedule to make room if some of our daily content before the switch includes repeats. This also includes looking carefully at programs airing on KUSP as well as on another station in the area.
Not every popular program is practical to repeat. We thought long and hard about repeating Democracy Now! which currently attracts the most loyal audience of any of KUSP’s weekday shows. The problem is, by the time we air Democracy Now, the program is already three hours old; since DN! is a topical news program, a repeat broadcast later in the day runs the risk of bringing listeners news that is out of date. Other news programs where our content repeats (Morning Edition, for example, or Marketplace) have personnel in place all morning and afternoon so that, if news events warrant, stories can be updated.
As we go along I’ll write more about the new shows on the schedule, and look forward to seeing your comments.