WEKU's News-Talk Format Catches on with Listeners in Central, Southeastern Kentucky

photo of WEKU News Director Charlie Compton

When a radio station changes its format, it is often accompanied by controversy and disappointed long-time listeners.

It didn’t take long, however, for WEKU-FM to return to its perch as a favorite listening destination for central and southeastern Kentuckians.

In fact, recent industry data shows that the Eastern Kentucky University-based public radio station, which switched from classical music and news to a daytime format of news and talk in 2010, is now enjoyed by as many listeners as ever. In fact, WEKU’s ratings are its highest since 2009 and lead the way among area public radio choices.

"Clearly, this shows a growing awareness of WEKU as a source of high-quality public radio in the region,” said John Hingsbergen, assistant manager and program director for the station. “And I think it is an endorsement of the changes the station has made these last few years.”

Hingsbergen said the news-talk format also means listeners often turn to WEKU first in the event of major breaking news.

“We want to impress upon listeners that if there’s a presidential news conference or some major news story (such as the recent Newtown school shooting), we will modify our daytime programming and go to live coverage that’s available to us. Our goal is to have the listener think, ‘Something major is going on. I better check WEKU.’”

Perennial NPR favorites such as Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and All Things Considered anchor WEKU’s lineup and are supplemented by other news and talk programs from around the world (such as BBC Newshour) as well as award-winning local news coverage.

Whatever the source of the news and talk, listeners can expect a high standard of quality, Hingsbergen said.

“Public radio covers stories in depth, goes into the why and the history of a story,” he said. “It tends to be more analytical. There are strict editorial standards within NPR and the other organizations that produce these shows that require balance and objectivity. Our goal is to challenge the listeners to think.”

For a full schedule of WEKU programming, visit weku.fm/schedule.

The station reaches most of central and southeastern Kentucky through WEKU (88.9 FM in Richmond-Lexington), WEKH (90.9 FM in Hazard), WEKF (88.5 FM in Corbin) and WEKP (90.1 FM in Pineville) along with 106.7 in Frankfort, 96.9 in Barbourville, 96.3 in Harlan, 102.5 in Middlesboro and 95.1 in Pikeville.

In addition, many in central Kentucky who miss the station’s former classical music and arts programming format can dial Classic 102.1, WKYL. The Lawrenceburg-based signal, which (effective Feb. 1) now broadcasts jazz overnights, reaches listeners in a large portion of Lexington.

WEKU offers both of its over-the-air signals via its web site, weku.fm, also reachable at wkyl.org.

“Through anecdotal reports, we’ve learned that some of our most passionate classical music fans have found something to listen to with the new format, and many in greater Lexington are appreciative of the ability to choose news or music as their mood suits,” said Station Manager Roger Duvall.

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

Published on January 30, 2013