Film and TV

Here's Where The Story Ends?: An Open Letter to 90.1 KERA-FM Programming


Are you trying to break my heart? I thought we had something good going here. I listen to you daily, I pledge when drive time comes around, and I laud you in public, telling every person I know (and even those I don't) about all of the new and interesting things you teach me, day after day. I listen to you from the moment I wake up (yes, I still use a radio alarm clock) and on my drive to work. I listen to Terry, Jeff, Krys and those word wizards during my extended lunch breaks, and I get my All Things Considered and Marketplace fix on my way home. And I have "driveway moments" with Dick Gordon many evenings.

Or at least I did.

But no. You went and changed that. Sometimes change is necessary, I get that, but not all change is for the better. Yhis new change of yours -- it's no bueno. You've changed into a one-trick pony and it kinda makes me not want to hang with you as much anymore. You and your NPR kin have disappointed me from time to time in the past, but I've forgiven you, because you usually found a way to make things better. I sulked for days when Bill Radke left Marketplace, but I learned to appreciate Kai Ryssdal more. That doesn't, however, mean that I think Kai and his crew should have two shows a day (not including their 10 minute chunk during Morning Edition).

Explain to me how you thought that it would be OK to take away some of the things I loved most about you, things like The Story and Tell Me More, and replace them with repeated programming. You couldn't possibly think that I'd still want to spend time with you after you've amputated some of your best features.

You had issues with repeating programs before, but even then I had forgiven you. If I sleep in and miss Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me on Saturday, I know I can always catch it again on Sunday, no problem. And the Tappet brothers are always entertaining, so I can sit through that repeat the next day while I'm on my way to Home Depot, but come on. There's only so much repeat programming a person can handle before a relationship gets stale.

Now you tell me that you're going to replay my lunchtime episode of Think less than 10 hours later? I may as well start watching The Real Housewives of Wherever They Are Now at 9 p.m. now, because I'm surely not going to listen to yet another repeat. That's what podcasts are for.

And what makes you think that I would want to hear three hours of All Things Considered every day? If it were three hours of new programming, sure, but seeing as how it's a 2-hour show, I feel like you're taking a roll of double-ply toilet paper and separating the layers just to see how far you can stretch it. That's just tacky. That fancy radio bookmark of yours isn't going to be useful when you just re-air everything. Here's the thing: If I hear a story I've already heard that day, I'm going to do the same exact thing everyone else would do and just change the station.

Don't get me wrong, not all the changes you made were bad. I'm glad to have RadioLab back. And having the Friday News Roundup aired in the evening is a nice touch. But that's one show. If we cut out the six hours of BBC World Service at night (which I happen to fall asleep to) and four hours of Morning Edition (which repeats itself already), that leaves us with 14 hours of useable weekday programming to entertain and inform. Now I don't mean to get all mathy on you, but if you take out the Think rerun, the Marketplace and All Things Considered expansion packs, and the already existing Fresh Air repeats in your old programming schedule, only about half of that 14 hours is new news. The rest is just the same old, same old that I've already heard, and frankly my time is too precious to waste on leftovers. If I wanted the same thing over and over again, I'd watch the Headline News ticker or Groundhog Day.

No, what I want is the good stuff back. The non-traditional shows that makes me happy. The stories that I remember the most, the stuff that makes a lasting impression. I want my Dick Gordon back. I want To the Point. I want TTBOOK, One Planet and On the Media. In fact I want every single program you took away, because I, like many others, listened to all of them.

I always thought that our relationship was based on more than your average daily news programs. Yes, your news programs are important, but so is everything else, and the cuts you've made have killed off the awesomeness that was KERA. You gotten rid of your personality, the things that made you so interesting. I know that times are tough and money's tight for all of us, but the stories that make us laugh and cry, the interesting interviews and discussions that make us go out and take up new hobbies, read up on new subjects or buy new ingredients for our kitchens; those are what made KERA so unique. Getting rid of those programs will turn you into a boring old maid, and if that's what you become, I'll be more likely to get easily distracted by that hot new thing down the street.

Please don't let this really be the new you. Please say it's just a phase you're going through, and you've seen the error of your ways. You'll go back to the KERA we fell in love with, one who will grow, not wither away. I'm hoping that this is all just a bad programming dream and that tomorrow I'll wake up to the you that I've spent so much time with. Because right now it looks like you're about to head down a very disappointing path, and I don't think I'll be able to follow you.

With fingers crossed, Jennifer

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Jennifer Medina