When Public Radio fulfills expectations

Take two stations, the phenomenally successful KQED in San Francisco and the less successful (and what station isn’t) KPBS in San Diego.

The former runs an endless stream of information programming, produced either locally or at least in the U.S., from 3:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night.

The latter, meanwhile, is solid information from 4:00 in the morning until 6:00 pm (!!) when it rolls into the news from the BBC. I don’t know about you, but I’m not keen on having the Brits tell me what’s news in my country during my drive-time every day. KQED is in Marketplace (a great show) and the last half hour of All Things Considered at this time. Then KPBS moves out of the proverbial wheelhouse altogether with Classical music at 7pm, while KQED moves into the terrific Fresh Air.

Now I know what I’m going to hear from some of the folks at KPBS. “We get a lot of demand for this or that.” “Such and such is a great fundraiser.” “This is what our audience tells us they want.” Etc., etc.

Sometimes listeners don’t understand the scope of their expectations until you delight them by satsifying those expectations they didn’t even know they had.

If you want to be known for information then you should do what KQED does and provide the best information at the times when the most information-seeking people are available.

This will build your audience which in turn will build your financial support.

Yeah, I know San Francisco has a commercial Classical station and San Diego does not, so a station can theoretically stretch to fill the space available. But that stretch does not come without consequences, sacrifice, and dissatisfaction. And the information audience is far larger (not to mention younger) than the Classical one (plus this doesn’t explain news from the Brits in prime-time).

One last thing: What’s with the short program California Report ? Why does this interrupt the broader issues of the day in any program schedule? Memo to management: Nobody in California lives in California. They live in their city and their country, but not in their state.

Think about it.

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