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Why Did WLRN Replace The 11 a.m. Hour Of The Diane Rehm Show?

Dear Listener,

This is Peter J. Maerz, director of programming for WLRN Radio. I know many listeners are concerned about our recent change in programming, replacing the 11 a.m. hour of “The Diane Rehm Show” with “On Point” on our main channel, 91.3 FM. Let me explain why this decision was made.

First, some background, please. I am responsible for everything that comes out of your radio (or any other device which carries WLRN Radio content). It is a big job, encompassing everything from what our announcers say on air, to how underwriting announcements are written, to what programs we air during each of the 168 hours of the week.

Every decision I make is aimed at serving you, our listener. That may sound simple, but there are approximately 250,000 “yous” who tune in to WLRN each week and quite a few more who listen to our web stream. It would be impossible to program our station to everyone’s satisfaction. But I do my level best to provide the best radio service to all our listeners.

There is more to my task, though. I must program our station to ensure we welcome new listeners to WLRN, while retaining our friends who have listened for years. That is essential to WLRN’s future. As you may have heard me say on air during pledge drives, listeners – i.e. members – are our most important source of income. If I program the station solely for current members, we will find ourselves bereft of new listeners who may become supporting members down the road.

This is where my decision to change our 11 a.m. lineup comes into focus. “On Point,” with stellar public radio host Tom Ashbrook, has been a favorite with our audience when it airs weeknights from 7 p.m. WLRN airs a rebroadcast of this nationally distributed public affairs program, live earlier in the day, eliminating the opportunity for South Floridians to call in. The second hour of “On Point” is equally powerful. This hour “feeds” live at 11 a.m. We feel our audience deserves the opportunity to listen to and call in to “On Point” live.

But, frankly, there is more to this decision. Audience data gleaned by Nielsen Services show 17 percent of the audience for Diane Rehm’s 11 a.m. hour is under the 45. The same age group for our 7 p.m. hour of On Point is closer to 40 percent. I wanted to offer a program at 11 a.m. that would draw younger listeners without alienating our older, “core” audience. Let me re-emphasize that last phrase: our data show “On Point” is already extremely popular with our members. That was key in my decision to make this programming change.

I do want to emphasize that the 11 a.m. hour of the Diane Rehm Show can be heard Monday through Friday on our WLRN XTRA HD service. This can be accessed through an HD radio receiver, or via the web stream found on our site. (Just click on the “LISTEN LIVE” button and choose “Listen to XTRA HD”.) Also, both hours of the Diane Rehm Show’s Friday News Roundup can still be heard each week, from 10 a.m. to noon on 91.3 FM.

We at WLRN take any and all programming changes very seriously. Our mission is to best serve our richly diverse and intelligent audience with the finest programming possible; programming that educates, inspires us to action and allows us to reflect upon our world.

While no programming change will please all of our listeners, our sincere hope is that these changes will make listening to WLRN an even more enriching experience. I hope you will listen in to “On Point” at 11 a.m., Monday through Thursday. I invite your comments and questions via email at peterj@wlrn.org, or give me a call at 305-995-2228. If you get my voicemail, you will be offered my mobile number as well. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Peter J. Maerz (AKA “Peter J”)

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