[UPDATED] NPR clock changes = less local news … or more?


NPR changed its clocks on Monday because, the network says, “people listen to radio differently now.” Current, the website about public media, explains that “the clocks are the second-by-second scheduling of what happens when during the newsmagazines, including newscasts, music beds and funding credits. They also affect when stations can insert their own local content.”

WUWM in Milwaukee told listeners that with the change “you’re likely to hear several more regular breaks for local news and info in Morning Edition, and a local feature segment in each hour of All Things Considered. In both clocks, WUWM will have more opportunities to share details on upcoming stories while still having time to insert our local material.”

One veteran producer who isn’t a fan of the clock changes tells Romenesko readers:

Monday NPR forced its new “clocks” on all its affiliates.
The real impact?

Less local news.
Less in-depth local news.
All segments will be shorter.

“Newscast 2” in Morning Edition is now less than 2 minutes long. This is where local stations insert their news.

Stations that used to cover a segment for local in-depth reporting now have only 4 minutes for a story. They used to have 6 minutes.

What will donors think when they give to their local station and finally realize how much less they’re getting for their money?

ATC [“All Things Considered’] allows longer features. But local stations often ran the same long reports in ME and ATC. They don’t have time or resources to edit two versions so now ATC will end up with the truncated shorter “in-depth” reports now too.

The one thing that seems longer is the funding credits. At 22 past the hour in ME and 58 past in ATC, they’ll now be nearly a minute long with the sing-songy announcer they have.

Local stations are trying their best to spin the changes as a “way to keep up with people’s busy lives.”

Any other public radio employees care to chime in? If you don’t want to post in Comments, send me an email and I’ll post the message for you.

Update – NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara sends this statement:

“As many of the commenters have pointed out, the new broadcast clocks for Morning Edition and All Things Considered provide stations with at least as many opportunities for local programming as they have in the past.nprlogo In fact, these clocks were designed to provide more flexibility for stations allowing them to move national stories to accommodate local news. Morning Edition and All Things Considered best serve listeners as a national/local collaboration. These new clocks strengthen that partnership and were created in consultation with our member stations after many months of research and testing.”

* NPR’s clocks are changing. What does that mean for you? (wnpr.org)