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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

KDHX Management Weighs In on Fate of Station's Talk Shows

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 2:01 PM

After posting a story yesterday afternoon on possible formatting changes at KDHX (88.1 FM), I got a call from the station's co-executive director, Nico Leone.

Here's the status of the station's evening talk shows per Leone: As speculated, the KDHX's programming committee is considering a plan to end the shows in their current state.

Under that plan, the shows would no longer be broadcast over the air on weekday evenings. Instead, KDHX would podcast the shows online and then run snippets of the shows on the radio station throughout the week.

Leone says the proposal would allow one- to two-minute clips from the shows to run on the station 10-15 times a week. Meanwhile, the podcasts would allow most of the talk shows to increase their program times from 30 minutes to a full hour.

"The thought behind this is that we have some high-quality shows produced by some great volunteer hosts," says Leone. "But, in our listener surveys, the talk shows just aren't connecting as well as we'd like."

Leone says hundreds of KDHX supporters and members completed an online survey last November that found that the station's talk shows just didn't resonate with listeners as much as its music programs. (The station airs just four hours of evening talk shows per week.)

"So we've invited the hosts in (this Thursday) to discuss this plan and get their thoughts," says Leone. "At this point it's premature to say when -- or if -- the plan will go into effect."

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, several of the station's talk-show hosts met at a south city home last night to discuss the proposed changes.

D.J. Wilson, co-host of the news and politics program, Collateral Damage, says the group of about eight programmers discussed a few talking points they plan to bring up during the Thursday meeting with the programming committee.

First and foremost, says Wilson, is what he and other hosts see as a dearth of locally produced talk shows that provide St. Louisans with an alternative view of current affairs.

The programmers also queston how KDHX determines the number of listeners tuning in to the talk shows. As even Leone concedes, the station's Arbitron statistics don't provide KDHX with enough information to get "granular detail" of who's listening to any one show.

"Maybe we're only getting dozens of listeners," says Wilson. "But this I know: If they do away with talk shows, the programs will get absolutely zero listeners." 

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