In place of the long-running program Car Talk, you’ll hear another hour of Weekend Edition Saturday —because while you may not work on the weekend, that doesn’t mean the news cycle takes a break. Also on Saturday, at 4pm, you’ll begin hearing one of NPR’s newest programs—It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, a fresh and insightful news-in-review program hosted by one of the most exciting new voices in public radio.
On weekdays, Here & Now will now air from 2-4pm, offering news updates and analysis for those looking to catch up before the commute home. Now in its 30th year, Fresh Air will continue to bring you in-depth conversations with an incredible variety of guests — now from 1-2pm.
Finally, in order to offer more robust news programming across the entire week, we’ll no longer interrupt Friday’s programming to air Science Friday. Instead, you’ll hear Here & Now, from 2-4pm Monday through Friday.
Q: Why are you making these changes?
A: As part of our commitment to delivering the greatest impact and highest value to our listeners, we regularly evaluate the performance of our programming. It’s clear from our latest research that we must offer more robust news programming during weekday afternoons. We’re also excited to extend Weekend Edition another hour on Saturday (now 8-11am), in response to listener demand for more news and current affairs outside of the workweek.
Meanwhile, as always, we’re scanning the horizon for innovative new programs to offer our listeners—and we’re excited about two in particular that we think you’ll like. It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, already a successful podcast, is a new NPR program hosted by one of the brightest new talents in public radio. Formerly the host of the popular NPR Politics podcast, Sam Sanders is at once incisive, inviting, and entertaining—and so are his guests.
We’re also looking forward to introducing you to Hidden Brain, a new one-hour science program created out of the much-loved segment on Morning Edition, hosted by Shankar Vedantam. Highly produced, smart, and irresistibly accessible, Hidden Brain informs listeners about the science behind their everyday lives.
Q: How does this affect the shows I like?
- Fresh Air will now air at 1pm weekdays, while Here & Now will air from 2-4pm.
- Beginning October 11, Hidden Brain airs on Wednesdays from 9-10pm in place of the encore airing of This American Life.
- Car Talk no longer airs; you’ll now hear an additional hour of Weekend Edition Saturday, from 8-11am.
- It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders now airs Saturdays at 4pm in place of The Big Listen, which moves to 10pm on Friday (replacing The MOTH Radio Hour). The MOTH Radio Hour continues to air on Saturdays at 3pm. The Big Listen continues to air Sundays at 6pm.
- Regrettably, Science Friday will no longer air on WAMU (the podcast is available here: https://www.sciencefriday.com/)
- Writer’s Almanac will no longer air on WAMU. Devoted listeners can listen to the show or download the podcast at writersalmanac.org.
A: In June, we made some minor schedule adjustments to accommodate a one-hour curated version of 1A to our evening schedule. We’re pleased to see it’s been resonating with news-hungry listeners in the 8pm hour. The current round of programming changes is more substantial, and is driven by the end of The Best of Car Talk.
Q: Why mess with it if it’s working?
A: We’re excited to say that WAMU’s listenership is going strong — and in the last year, the station has ranked as the 1st or 2nd most-listened to station across the day. But we can also see a few areas where we could serve more listeners by adjusting our programming to accommodate different needs across the day. We’re also committed to airing new programs as they become available, which always prompts schedule adjustments. We will carefully evaluate all listener feedback, and watch the research and ratings closely to determine whether the changes have been effective.
Q: I just became a member of WAMU and you took away my favorite show! I’d like my membership refunded.
A: We’re so sorry to say that our schedule changes affected one of your favorite shows. We wish we had more hours in the day to accommodate all the great programming listeners have come to love, while still adding new offerings.
We certainly understand that this disappointment may affect your interest in membership. We took great care to ensure that during our fundraising campaign, we avoided mention of any programs that may be affected by these programming changes — but we know it’s not a perfect system. If you contact our Membership team, they will be in touch with you within 48 hours. We’re sorry to see you go, and we hope we’ll earn your support again in the future.
Q: How could you do a whole fundraising campaign and then change all your programming!
A: The timing wasn’t ideal, we know—generally, we try to distance any fundraising campaigns from programming changes as much as possible — but that wasn’t an option in this case, due to some time-sensitive changes such as The Best of Car Talk. Please know that we took great care to ensure that during our fundraising campaign, we avoided mention of any programs that may be affected by these programming changes — but we know it wasn’t perfect.
We hope you’ll give the new schedule a try — and tell us how it works for you. We’ve worked hard to create the best possible balance of exciting new programs and beloved favorites, woven together with news updates that keep you posted on a voracious news cycle.
Q: It seems like you’re changing your programming to make it more Millennial-sounding.
A: We’re proud that over the last couple years, our overall audience has grown younger and more diverse. But we serve an incredibly wide audience and we are continuously working to balance proven favorites with experimental new programs that may not be for everyone. We also try to give new programs time to find their groove. We hope you’ll evaluate our programming both individually, and in the big picture. And if there’s a specific program that you feel isn’t up to the standards you expect of WAMU, we hope you’ll let us know.
Q: At a time when science is under threat, you’re taking beloved science programming away?
A: Our decision to discontinue airing Science Friday was driven not by its subject matter, but by its format. The program interrupts an otherwise consistent flow of news programming across the week, and we recognize that our listeners are looking to us to help them navigate the news. Because the show is specific to a day of the week, we were limited in the alternate programming slots we could consider.
We remain passionately committed to the study and journalistic exploration of science, which you’ll continue to hear via stories on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and in regional news stories reported from our Environmental beat. You’ll also get a fresh and dynamic take on social science and human behavior, on the new program Hidden Brain, which airs Wednesdays at 9pm.