Strengthening Our Weekend News Brand

When news happens on the weekend, is public radio a reliable destination for the news consumer?

Public radio has spent decades building its brand as a pre-eminent news and information service. The audience has spoken in a loud and clear voice that public radio’s news and information service is central to its perceived value and provides public radio with a clear position in a crammed media environment. The news and information service is integral to public radio’s sustainability.

As local news sources disappear across the country, there is an opportunity for public radio to expand its position as a primary news source. The unrelenting news pace has grown the seven-day audience demand for news, information, context and analysis. But public radio isn’t currently structured to meet this need on the weekends. As new audiences search for new information services, public radio is in danger of creating the perception with these new, and even our existing, audiences that it abandons news on weekends.

Together, we are organizing a national collaboration between stations and national producers designed to raise the profile, and amplify the news value, of public radio weekend programming. WBEZ, KQED, KPCC, OPB, WHYY, St. Louis Public Radio, and Michigan Radio have already expressed their interest and support.

A few modest adjustments to our weekend programming will send a clear message to the listener: public radio never sleeps on the news  - even while we bring you delightful cultural programming outside the work week. But those adjustments will require collaboration—and your involvement is crucial.

Does your station support the goal of a more consistent news presence on weekends?

If so, please join us in a dialogue between stations and national producers about weekend programming.

Enclosed below is a list of specific aspirations, but these are just a starting point for the dialogue. What would you want to see on this list?

  • Adjusting national weekend program clocks to give stations the option of airing NPR newscast

  • Standardizing a one-hour graphical clock to include a 29-second local break after the NPR Newscast

  • Establishing 1:29 local breaks at :18:30 and :38:30 past the hour with a 5-minute floating window

  • Ending national shows at :58:30 past the hour

  • Aligning Weekend Edition clock with new Morning Edition clock (increase breaks from 1:00 to 2:00)

We believe these steps are part of a large, interconnected web of actions we can take to strengthen and grow our national service through deeper local service. This is a collective effort that will be stronger with your participation. It starts by making your interest known; please take 60 seconds to add your name so the producers can see that this is a collective effort. And while you’re there, please take another 60 seconds to answer a couple easy questions about when and how much you automate. It’ll help ground the station/ producer conversations in solid data about your real world needs and experiences.

The process will be improved when programmers who are committed to a principled, constructive dialogue step up and take part in this effort. We'll keep you informed about the progress of the dialogue. If there are efforts to connect and gather stations, you'll be on the list. When we're wrapping the project, you'll be the first to hear about the results. And we promise we won't sell this list to any telemarketers!