Our board of directors set a goal back in December to, “Increase listenership to better serve programming charter and increase membership with quality programs and improved scheduling while reflecting our core values.” These directives took on a new urgency as we saw Portland’s jazz, classical and NPR stations increase listenership while ours declined! This impacts budgeting, Corporation for Public Broadcasting eligibility, and—most importantly—service of KBOO’s mission. If you’re curious about the budget hit, we made our goal for the recent Spring Membership Drive, but we had to set the goal $40,000 lower than three years ago.
So what do real-life changes at KBOO look like? Possibilities that our Program Director has discussed include Democracy Now! airing at seven or eight in the morning which could involve moving talk radio, ending the KBOO morning news and/or extending the folk strip. We’re looking at more public affairs at 4pm or 7pm, or a new evening music mix from seven to midnight. Moving more Spanish-language programming to Sunday to make it easier for Spanish speakers to tune in is a possibility. Those are real-life examples, but we’ll have more options on the table. Longer term, we need to look at the mix or music, news and public affairs.
There’s been momentum building within the station though to improve our programming because we haven’t taken a serious look at it in the last decade even though the world had changed. This leads a lot of folks to ask how we can do better and provide a meaningful, local alternative to the Web, satellite radio and other local broadcasters. These can be difficult decisions because we’re a tight-knit group and because people don’t want to lose their radio shows, but there’s a greater good for both the station and our listeners.
Programming involves both scheduling (do I know when to turn on the radio and hear something I like) and quality (will I stay tuned because I hear consistently compelling radio). Both aspects are crucial. To inform these changes, our programming staff will continue surveys, community meetings, an assessment from the National Federation of Broadcasters, Arbitron and Membership Drive data, focus groups, and retreats with our volunteer Program Committee and staff.
Our programming staff is evaluating all the options beginning this month with a decision by July and the first round of changes in August. We’ll revisit for more changes in January 2009. We have great opportunities before us, and it’s exciting to be a part of positive changes at our station.
If you have any specific comments, I share feedback from listeners with our entire staff, so I’d love to hear from you!