Listening Post: Questions, questions

We’ve been a little more inquisitive than usual this week, having launched on Monday a new Question of the Day feature. This idea came from Nora Flaherty, who had seen the Question of the Day grow into a popular attraction at her former public radio home, WFUV in New York. I expect it will take a little while for us to figure out the best way to offer this, and to come up with questions you will actually want to answer, but we are persistent as well as nosy.

The interns come to get theirs.

It’s also been extra lively around the station this week, as we absorb a record number of interns and try to sort out who does what, when and where. One of their number, Esther, perhaps recognizing our less than stellar organizational skills, suggested that the interns form an operating group within the station–an insurgency, if you will. After all, unless they can strike out on their own, the natural course of things at a media company will leave the interns post-producing audio, rewriting transcripts, and pounding in calendar events until they are fully exsanguinated.

Today’s Question of the Day is the one I put to our intern insurgency, by way of being agent provacateur:

What would you do with North Country Public Radio, if you could pry it from our cold, dead hands?

Submit your answers and other demands in a comment below, or just drop by with pitchforks and torches.

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21 Comments on “Listening Post: Questions, questions”

  1. Larry Master says:

    What a gruseome thought for a lead-in as you guys are great! But I would add “Living on Earth” to your list of offerings, and I would spend less time announcing all the many affliates by their 4-letter call signs and towns but when I did do that, to be useful to listeners I’d also list their radio frequencies (as you sometimes do) to help those of us who may be listening in the car/truck and/or are traveling or plan to travel from station to station listening area.

  2. Larry Vanderburgh says:

    Hmmm… if I had to pry it from your cold, dead hands, first I’d make sure you hadn’t been cross-mutated with Charlton Heston, or exsanguinated (wow, what a word). Then I’d surmise that you died trying to defend the station’s mission and give you all heroes’ burials, in that wonderful crypt illustrated with your post. Then down to business: I’d reincarnate all of you. If that were not possible, then at least gather tissue samples and clone your DNA and reconstitute you (hoping that you all were still y’all).

    If your listener demographics change (i.e., the average age of your listeners increases), it would be wonderful to have Performance Today at an earlier hour — but I know that’s easier said than done, and there are only so many hours in a day, no matter how old your audience becomes!

  3. Dan Tickner says:

    You don’t get it, do you. Without Ellen Rocco, Radio Bob, and company there is no NCPR. I’ve listened to many other Public Radio stations, you are in a class by yourselves.

  4. Ken says:

    Stop utilizing the conventional business model that more, more, more, expand expand, expand is better. Stasis is the only model that makes sense for all things human; actually, reduction of all things human is likely what Mother Earth would prefer.

  5. Rev. Walter F. Smith says:

    I pretty much like NCPR as it is. I listen mostly in the morning and think Todd Moe is an outstanding host. I always make a certain allowance for the obvious liberalism of the station’s viewpoint. But the coverage of news stories seems generally balanced and thoughtful. My wife would like to see more classical music and less talk. It’s difficult to satisfy every taste. Keep up the good work.

  6. Alan says:

    “…you are in a class by yourselves…”

    Exactly. That is why you need to get into franchising. And write a book on “An Idiots Guide to Public Radio” and sell at least tens (joke) of copies. Then you need to consult on how to create community based great public radio everywhere. The hold conferences with a parade of NCPR listeners included as consultants to tell other radio listeners what is means to have access to radio of this quality.

    If not, at least just announce that Kingston has a claim on up to 1/2 a transmitter and once in a while use the “ZED” instead of “ZEE” as one small insinuating accusation as to the fallibility of international boundaries and the victory of good hearted people doing a very good thing excellently… oh, you already do that.

  7. mike mcglynn says:

    A really good agent provacateur would go around the North Country and stop people on the street in every small village, hamlet and town and get real time feedback on Life in the North Country – Just little sounds bites not too deep. Or have the communities nominate a local resident to talk on NCPR…

  8. Two Cents says:

    A nod to FUV, a great station.
    How about “Whatdya Know?” the cousin of “wait wait don’t tell me”
    I would also enjoy “the night sky” (i think that’s the correct name) squoze in somewhere between the morning weather and Garrison Keillor.

    This in no way suggests i don’t love what you do already!, but since you asked…

  9. It’s clear that those folks with pitchforks only want to turn your soil a little or load up your truck with hay…this IS the North Country!

    I think the 10 AM and 2 PM programming has become a little stale, personally. I do like both shows to some degree but, year after year…might be nice to mix it up a little. Or at least lose the 11 AM second hour? I’d keep it the news/talk format but something fresh.

    Would love a regular repeat of Wait Wait too! I really appreciate the repeat of This American Life. I’d like to have more of the 8 O’clock Hour news repeated during a slightly expanded All Before Five, too. I’m forever hearing about news reports to come in the AM that I will never get to hear without going to some trouble to do so via computer.

    I know, I know, I’m a broken record…repetez, s’il vous plais!

  10. Bob Falesch says:

    Wow, it appears those scary interns came here right off the movie set of Cecil B. DeMille reincarnate!

    What would I do with North Country Public Radio, if I could pry it from your cold, dead hands? Well, before they are dead but just beginning to cool down, I would try to:

    * Learn as much as possible from you in the limited time left. I’d find out what works and what doesn’t work, or didn’t work back in history when it was first tried (very few ideas are truly new and startling)

    Then when your hands are truly cold and dead, my crowbar and I would:

    * Look at the entire coverage area to see if Canton-Potsdam-OBurg (where I hang out) demographic profile is typical. It seems to me the percentage of college-aged potential audience in that triumvirate is at least 25% of population, and my sense is that this audience segment is wholly untapped.

    * Look into the feasibility of an inhouse-produced freeform music block. Why in-house? Nobody else does it right. Well, maybe WFMU gets it right part of the time :–)

    * Study the feasibility of co-productions with universities. Crane School at SUNY would seem to be an obvious participant, and student radio stations in the area might yield productive partnerships.

    * Study the feasibility of co-productions with distant public radio stations as part of an initiative to make NCPR better known outside the broadcast listening area and gain from the symbiosis that partner stations would represent.

    * Look for ways to increase usage and visibility of NCPR’s brilliant news team. Explore whether on-air commentary/opinion/analysis could work on NCPR air. Invite local print and broadcast journalists on-air (maybe a panel program, weekly at the start). Those journalists will surely feel free to carry most of the editorial burden!

    * Look into NCPR’s web presence. I’d want to answer the question: “How big a part of NCPR’s public face should be borne by the website?” My personal tendency is to respond: “As much as possible.” Could it be more interactive? Perhaps it is highly interactive via the smartphone apps (I have neither iOS nor Android at the moment, so I have not experienced this). The desktop browser-based experience I get from the website is not as satisfying as I’d like. It feels very busy, almost too ambitious. I’d study the possibility of realtime interaction with listeners (not truly realtime and not actually interactive, but a start with Twitter-feed scrolling would add zing). To further the sense of involvement with the station (and, hopefully, furthering the incentive to support it), voice interactions from listeners could be automatically stored, then aired (there is precedent for this, as there likely is for every one of these ideas!). It seems necessary to edit these voice clips (ugh, costs), and an evaluation whether these are best program-targeted or station-general would be needed. My sense is that program-target is more practical due to the innate focus. A favourite program of mine from “another station” runs these during its extended outro — very effective and entertaining.

    * Research means to accomplish one or all of these ideas at no additional cost to NCPR (of course!!)


  11. Your question takes me back many years. I was 17, just in the beginnings of a new love who was a host (dj back then) at a public radio station in Buffalo, NY. He learned on our Saturday night date that my favorite song was Moon River. During his Sunday afternoon shift, he played my song repeatedly. His employer was too many years away from young ‘love’ or, perhaps, too professional to continue this young intern’s employment.
    (A word to the wise…)
    On another note: my eldest son (FYI: no relation to the dj mentioned above) who lives in Maine, regularly listens to NCPR…says it is NPR’s best affiliate.
    Innovation is good but NCPR gets it! Congrats and keep up the good work.

  12. Ann Sayers says:

    I would change the incidental music on the 8 O’clock morning hour: love what you folks do but the music makes me CRAZY.

  13. Jen Kretser says:

    Please add Living on Earth to your list of programs – it is a great show! My other suggestion is to work with a meterologist to do a good weather forecast for each region. Often your forecast is for Canton and not super helpful if you live elsewhere in the region – especially in the higher elevations where the weather is often completely different. Quite honestly, each morning I flip the station to VPR to get the weather. Working with the Fairbanks Museum, VPR does a nice job of forecasting and explaining why the weather is doing what it is doing. Of course, I would love to here more Adirondack specific weather. Thanks for asking!

  14. Lois Cutter says:

    I appreciate most of the news programs and some of the other talk shows.
    I wish there were more time given to classical music. Can there be a second strand to North Country Public Radio that would offer that?
    I agree with the suggestions for a night sky program and weather report like the
    Vermont station offers. Also zed is appropriate for the Kingston designation.

  15. Pete Klein says:

    I would run The Vinyl Cafe all day everyday except for the news.

  16. Addison Bickford says:

    I would like to echo a comment above. The local music shows are the heartbeat of the station. Keep the ones you have and add more.
    You need a comprehensive region-wide weather forecast which takes into account the fact that you cover a very large area with very different weather. Suggesting listeners go to the web is a cop-out. We could go to the web for news and music too.
    Could you hire a meteorologist in conjunction with the Wild Center?
    He/she could research climate change when not studying the upcoming forecast.

  17. G. LeRoy says:

    NCPR is great in many ways and far outshines our VPR version of NPR. But, since you asked, here’s what I’d do:
    – Remove The Vinyl Cafe with David Dye (apologies to Pete)
    – Ban the pompous Garrison Keillor and lobby NPR to get a replacement host for the Writers Almanac
    – Find a place for a classical music daytime program on a weekday
    – Expand Jackie’s Music For a Monday to an entire afternoon
    – Keep On Point; consider a replacement for The Story
    – Find a more listener-friendly time to air Bob Edwards’ show
    – Create a daytime folk music show
    – Replace The Beat Authority, PLEASE
    – Consider an evening rebroadcast of Fresh Air
    – As a Potsdam grad, I’d like to hear occasional broadcasts of concerts at the Crane School of Music
    – Replace the uber pretentious “Being” show
    – I love Brian Mann’s outdoor/nature audio pieces. How about expanding the concept into a regular weekly show describing an Adirondack outing (hike, paddle, snowshoe, etc.)
    – And finally, increase the font size for the Listening Post to make it easier to read via emai. And thanks for asking!

  18. Patricia Lennox says:

    …Well, since you are asking…… I would have Barb Heller return to host an eight o’clock hour of music on Sunday mornings. She used to play beautiful pieces, often sacred music separating Sunday from all other week day mornings. I miss terribly that little bit of time with uplifting melodies. I’m revealing my age when I say I remember a time when Sunday clearly was different, quieter, slower, a day set aside for home and family, if not prayer and praise, (though there was a bit more of that too.) I I love NCPR and I listen to many informative programs during the week. Acknowledging and respecting that we are a diverse group of listeners out here, I still long for something that moves my soul on a Sunday morning in a way that words cannot.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to voice my thoughts.

  19. John Doty says:

    Reprogramming the Radio station – that is a wonderful thing to ponder. VPR is not my favorite station and I spend less and less time listening to them and more time listening to music, NCPR Music shows, iPod, Internet radio stations (e.g. WBER and WXPN) . So I would drop a bunch of the talk shows and add more music. Increase the time of the local shows (Beat Authority, Music for A Monday etc.) GET RID OF THE Story!!!!! expand the local music shows into that time slot. Garrison Keillor needs to retire and take PHC with him. More interesting music programs, all kinds and genres, that is what makes NCPR a better station in my opinion. There currently is more than enough talk on the radio and we need more good music.
    I of course live in an area (Northern Vermont) where we have access to three different public radio networks (NCPR, VPR and WAMC).

  20. Nelly Case says:

    I would trade some daytime hours devoted to talk and substitute classical music, which is mostly now relegated to the hours when people are sleeping. I still miss the old “Bob and Bill” days. Just now read some of the other posts and discovered others have already said this—thought I was going to be the only one!

    Brainstorming is great. Reading the other posts reminds me of other likes: for instance, 8 am with Todd and Monday pm with Jackie, but also things I wouldn’t miss, such as “Being,” and “The Story,” for sure.

    Differing from some other listeners, I like Garrison Keillor every am and on Sats. It would be great to hear more about the sky on a regular basis, and I, too, miss Bob Edwards’s reassuring voice at a reasonable hour.

    But as most people have said, it wouldn’t be the North Country without NCPR. You are an essential part of the high quality of life here.

  21. Steven Kaplowitz says:

    I would be more aggressive in reporting who congress really is and IS NOT ethical, moral, and shows genuine interest in the (ALL) people they represent in their districts. I would also discuss the voting record of a given Congressional from their very beginnings of they being in any public office position. Basically be FEARLESS!

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