Contact: Connie Molby
Contact: Jeannie Bunton
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Support From The Corporation For Public Broadcasting For Public Broadcasting Strengthens Public Radio Program Service on Weekends
Weekend America to debut Oct. 9, 2004
(San Antonio, Texas.) Sept. 30, 2004 — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Minnesota Public Radio today announced a $1.8 million grant to Minnesota Public Radio to support the new national program service Weekend America™ (formerly Public Radio Weekend).
Announcing the grant at the annual meeting of Public Radio Program Directors in San Antonio, Texas, CPB President and CEO Kathleen Cox said, "CPB has a tradition of providing funding for programming that is creative and takes risks. Weekend America does just that. It promises to present programming which reflects the breadth of todayís America and engages stations and independent producers actively in a manner that serves weekend listeners."
Weekend America is produced and distributed by American Public Media, Minnesota Public Radio’s national arm, and is a collaboration of public radio stations and producers led by Minnesota Public Radio. Produced in Los Angeles, Weekend America has been piloting for two years and is led by Jim Russell, Senior Vice President and General Manager for American Public Media — Los Angeles, creator of the award-winning public radio business program Marketplace.
Weekend America is a live program service that is available to public radio stations for up to six hours each Saturday and is designed for the weekend listening attitude. Hosted by public radio veterans Barbara Bogaev and Bill Radke, the program features segments on news and newsmakers, trends and ideas, and the arts. Of special interest to the program are the diverse voices of Americans.
"Public radio listeners expect the same strong editorial content on weekends as they do on weekdays," said Russell. "Our job is to create a fresh new program that is smart, fun to listen to, and has compelling subject matter and weekend style. By providing stations with a live continuous program service in the middle of the day, Weekend America will let public radio stations sound more like themselves on weekends. This is a terrific and enjoyable challenge, and I am grateful to Minnesota Public Radio and CPB for making it possible for us to invent a new high-quality public radio sound."
The Weekend America project launched in 2001 after CPB 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 in 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.
Bill Kling, President and CEO of Minnesota Public Radio, said weekend broadcasting could be more engaging. "Weekend America invites listeners to take someone smart — our hosts — along for the weekend. It is radio that is ‘smart’ and alive, reflecting America back to its audience."
Already carried on more than 60 stations across the country, Weekend America and its audience continue to grow. 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." As expected, audiences listened while doing other tasks including working around the house, running errands, cooking, and while driving themselves or others to destinations.
The Weekend America team includes Executive Producer Jim Russell, Senior Editor Jeremy Skeet and Managing Producer Laurie Selik. 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 www.weekendamerica.org.
The grant for Weekend America is subject to execution of a contract between CPB and Minnesota Public Radio.
CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, develops educational public radio, television and online services for the American people. The Corporation is the industry’s largest single source of funds for national public television and radio program development and production. CPB, a grant making organization, funds more than 1,000 public radio and television stations.
Public Media™ 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.
Source: Data are copyright Arbitron, Inc. Arbitron data are estimates only.