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Shocker: public radio station asks listeners about format changes before making them

Update from KALWI could barely believe my eyes as I opened my Radio Survivor e-mail today and saw this notice from KALW-FM in San Francisco:

“KALW is considering some significant changes for 2012, and before we move forward, we want to know what you think,” the announcement explains. The station is overseen by San Francisco’s Unified School District.

The questions involve whether to put All Things Considered on an afternoon drive time schedule, moving BBC Newshour and As It Happens to various other times, bringing some new shows like Crosscurrents and Snap Judgment to the schedule, dropping Whad’Ya Know, and several other changes.

But what really surprised me is that KALW management is asking these questions at all. Most public radio stations rarely go through this process. Not a few community stations skip it as well.

So if you’re a KALW listener/subscriber, get in there and give the station your input. But here’s some free advice. You know why stations often don’t go through this process? Because they think they know from the getgo what the answer from listeners will be to their proposed changes:

No, no, no, no, and no.

Thus, if all you do is angrily oppose everything that KALW is suggesting, you are pretty much confirming to the public radio management crowd that exercises like this are pointless, and that the best thing they can do is whatever they want, then tough out the bitter response.

Bottom line: KALW is being thoughtful. You be thoughtful too.

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2 Responses to Shocker: public radio station asks listeners about format changes before making them

  1. Andrew Pang October 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    KQED already has ATC on the drive time, can’t KALW be the competition? And I filled out the survey.

  2. Paul Riismandel October 28, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    I applaud KALW for taking this approach, but as a former community radio programmer, I know the risks all to well. Too often the loudest and most prolific commenters are not necessarily representative of the listenership. Furthermore, there is the general tendency for peopele to assume that such an initiative is a vote, and therefore the most favored option by commenters should be enacted. These misunderstandings can lead to headaches for well-intentioned management, who end up having to deal with listeners who are even more pissed off about changes because they assumed that by being invited to comment that their will would be done.

    Thus I must echo Matthew’s exhortation to be nice and respectful when commenting. I would also recommend constructing well-reasoned arguments in favor of your preference, especially ones that might acknowledge the broader needs of the community, and not just your own personal preference.

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