Programming Changes at WEKU Include More News, Talk

WEKU, the public radio service of Eastern Kentucky University, has announced some programming changes designed to “better reflect the needs and interests of our community.”

Effective Aug. 1, the station will add news and talk programming weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and make weekend changes as well. The full schedule is available online at weku.fm.

“This past year has been one of reflection at WEKU,” said Station Manager Roger Duvall. “Some of the questions we’ve considered are ‘What are we doing to make a difference in our community?’ and ‘Are we doing enough to deepen our listeners’ understanding of the world?’” As a means of finding some answers, we began a process of defining our place in the region and with our listeners. It has been a remarkable journey which has led us to some important determinations concerning our programming.”

In August 2009, WEKU added BBC Newshour and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. “As a result, we have seen a significant increase in listeners and contributions in support of our news and talk format, while contributions and listening to our classical music have continued to decline,” Assistant Station Manager and Program Director Keith Neisler said.

Now, incorporating feedback from listener surveys and community meetings, WEKU is reallocating resources to support news and information programming from both national and regional sources. “We are partnering with our colleagues at Louisville’s NPR station, WFPL, to bring issues of the Commonwealth to you every day in a meaningful way,” Duvall said.

“One basic principle of radio is to have a unified format,” said Neisler. “To date we’ve been able to serve two distinct programming streams – news and music – with some success. But we have come to realize that while many continue to listen – usually to one stream or the other – the majority does not prefer the mixed format as it is being presented today.”

The station’s commitment to the fine and performing arts has not diminished, Duvall emphasized.

“We are actively seeking partners to help us fund a new fine-arts music station on the regular FM band,” he said. “Michael Carter will move to mornings on our online stream, WEKU Music (formerly WEKU2). We also are dedicating Monday evenings to a new program highlighting high-quality performances from local artists and venues around Kentucky (Kentucky on Stage) and will be expanding our operatic offerings from seasonal (the Metropolitan Opera) to year-round (NPR’s World of Opera).

“Our decision to change programming has not been taken lightly,” Duvall added. “We hope and trust that our listeners will continue to offer their support and feedback as we look to make WEKU an indispensable listening experience.”

WEKU broadcasts to more than 50,000 listeners in central and southeastern Kentucky on WEKU (88.9FM in Richmond-Lexington), WEKH (90.9FM in Hazard) and WEKF (88.5FM in Corbin), along with 106.7 in Frankfort, 96.9 in Barbourville and 95.1 in Pikeville. With studios in the Perkins Building on EKU’s Richmond campus, WEKU airs programs produced by its staff, as well as nationally syndicated shows from National Public Radio, Public Radio International and other producers. Its news department has a long tradition of covering important issues affecting central and southeastern Kentucky, and the team has also garnered recognition from the Associated Press, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Radio News Directors Inc. and the American Psychiatric Association for its in-depth reports on a wide range of subjects, including mental illness, disability issues, child sexual abuse, special education, and youth smoking.

Financial support for WEKU programming comes from listeners, businesses and organizations in its coverage area; from Eastern Kentucky University; and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Published on August 19, 2010