Back to the drawing board for WBEZ’s “Eight Forty-Eight”?

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As Chicago’s WBEZ works on plans to double its output of original local news programming, proposed scenarios for scaling up production have fueled speculation over the future of its local flagships Eight Forty-Eight and Worldview.

Crain’s Chicago Business cited unnamed sources in reporting that Eight Forty-Eight will go on extended production hiatus as its format is reviewed, but WBEZ chief Torey Malatia says those decisions are weeks – and possibly months – down the road.

“The idea here is to add hours — not to take away hours,” Malatia tells veteran Chicago media critic Robert Feder. “Over a period of time, we want to add hours and do more live, original talk during the day. It’s not in our interest to go backwards. It’s in our interest to add.”

Over the next few years, Malatia wants to potentially double production of WBEZ-original programs airing during mid-days. The proposal, first unveiled in August, responds to the emergence of two news-talk competitors on Chicago’s FM channels.

“What we’re trying to do is to find a modified way of doing discussion programming that incorporates more product that has been pre-produced from the reporters and the city room, as well as what the bloggers are doing, and use some of that material for broadcast,” Malatia told Feder, a former blogger for Chicago Public Media’s Vocalo service. Feder now covers media for Chicago Time Out.

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