Major New Public Radio Program, Weekend America, Makes Its Debut, Saturday, Oct. 9

Contact:  Connie Molby
(651) 290-1113
cmolby@americanpublicmedia.us
www.americanpublicmedia.us

Major New Public Radio Program, Weekend America, Makes Its Debut, Saturday, Oct. 9

Three years in development, the new radio magazine is a
weekend companion for busy listeners

(Los Angeles) Oct. 4, 2004 — Weekend America, a live two-hour radio magazine designed for the weekend state of mind, will be launched on public radio stations across the country on Saturday, Oct. 9. Weekend America is a major addition to the public radio lineup—one that responds to today’s listening habits.

Hosted from Los Angeles by public radio veterans Barbara Bogaev and Bill Radke, Weekend America reflects our complex, diverse and multilingual nation back to itself. Produced by American Public Media, Weekend America allows listeners to encounter the world around them with creativity, compassion and curiosity. It eavesdrops on America, revealing this nation’s talents and cultures in stories that move listeners. Through these stories, listeners to Weekend America will understand the important ideas that shape and influence their lives, and obtain real insight into what Americans value and want, refreshing their intellect and replenishing their spirits.

Weekend America is a radio companion, offering listeners programming of the same quality, intellect and continuing educational value they’re used to on weekdays, but in a way that matches their weekend living patterns. Weekend America features segments on news, issues of the week and the diversity of American culture and the arts. Its magazine format allows busy listeners to tune in at any point without getting lost. Weekend America has been in research, development and piloting for two years and has already been picked up for broadcast by more than 65 stations.

Weekend America‘s creator, Executive Producer Jim Russell, feels that too much of current weekend radio imagines a listener able and willing to focus completely and solely on a radio program. "That is simply not our audience in 2004. Even when they’re at home, running errands, exercising or relaxingóthey need radio that goes along with them and the weekend," said Russell, who is also Senior Vice President and General Manager for American Public Media—Los Angeles.

Incorporating the best of public radio from content partner stations, independent producers and national producers across the U.S., Weekend America reflects America back on itself.

Segments planned for Oct. 9 include:

  • Special Series: Weekend America commissioned independent producers Richard Paul and David Welch to explore core values of selected voters. Learn what they came up with in a special series on America’s values.>

  • Live Broadcasts: Award-winning Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith joins Weekend America to discuss the end of the baseball season, the beginning of football season, and all the sweaty sports people participate in during the fall.

  • Local Feel: "What’s happening in your neighborhood?" Every week, the hosts talk with partner radio stations across the country to learn what’s going on.

  • National Interest: On October 10, Cincinnati Camerata will perform The Mass for the Dead that Frank Lewin composed in memory of Robert F. Kennedy. Weekend America speaks with the composer. This is the first time the piece has been performed in 35 years.

THE HOSTS

Barbara Bogaevís broadcast experience bridges television and radio, behind the scenes and in front of the mike. She is best known as fill-in host and interviewer for Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. She has also hosted a weekly radio newsmagazine on health and medicine, and produced sound features and in-depth documentaries.

Bill Radke was the creator, writer and host of Rewind, a weekly news satire program broadcast by KUOW-FM in Seattle. At KUOW, Radke was a reporter and Morning Edition host and became the station’s news director. While in Seattle he wrote a weekly news and humor column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 2003 Radke published his first book, "Seattle, " from Sasquatch Books.

THE BACKGROUND

The Weekend America project launched in 2001 after the Corporation for Public Broadcasting challenged public radio producers to think about ways to match weekend programming to public radio listening habits. Research had shown that despite a high share of total radio listening on weekends, that there is serious attrition between weekday and weekend audiences to public radio. More than 50 program directors, dozens of producers and public radio listeners around the country were consulted to gather ideas from across the country.

During piloting, audiences were asked to listen and critique the program online. More than 500 did and the results were encouraging. Nearly all found the program diverse, informative, interesting, engaging and memorable. More than 50 percent of listeners found the program unique and 40 percent called the program "edgy." Audiences that listened to the program during its pilots, listened while doing other tasks including working around the house, running errands, cooking, and while driving themselves or others to destinations.

THE TEAM

The Weekend America team is led by Jim Russell, who is also the creator of the award-winning public radio business program Marketplace, and includes Senior Editor Jeremy Skeet and Managing Producer Laurie Selik.

Content partners include WBUR Boston, WCPN Cleveland, KPCC Los Angeles, WMFE Orlando, KUOW Seattle, KNOW St. Paul and AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio. Information about the format and audio of past broadcasts can be found on the Web site. Funding for Weekend America is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Minnesota Public Radio.

Look for press information in the Weekend America Press Room.

American
Public Mediaô is the national production and distribution unit of Minnesota
Public Radio. It is the nation’s second-biggest producer of national
public radio programs, reaching 11.9 million listeners nationwide each
week. National programs include
A Prairie Home Companion®, Saint Paul Sunday®, Marketplace®, Sound Money®, The Splendid Table®, Being® and special reports produced by its documentary unit, American RadioWorks®. Minnesota Public Radio, along with its sister company Southern California Public Radio, belongs to a larger family of companies within American Public Media Group, a national nonprofit organization whose purpose is to develop resources, services and systems to support public media for public service. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be obtained at www.americanpublicmedia.us.

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Source: Data are copyright Arbitron, Inc. Arbitron data are estimates only.
Fall 2003