‘Car Talk’ shuffle opened doors for new programs on station schedules

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Sam Sanders speaks into a microphone during a live event.

Mauricio Castro

Sam Sanders hosts a taping of the "NPR Politics Podcast" in Washington, D.C., in February 2017. Sanders' podcast and radio show "It's Been a Minute" was among popular replacements for "Car Talk" on station schedules in fall 2017.

New NPR programs saw the biggest gains on public radio weekend schedules after stations dropped Car Talk en masse last fall.

A Current analysis of the schedules of 51 public radio licensees that dropped Car Talk last fall found that stations filled nearly one-quarter of the time slots vacated by the show with another weekend staple, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! — in most cases by moving the show into Car Talk’s slot. We focused on these licensees because they either publicized the schedule changes in a press release or had archived schedule information on their websites that allowed for before-and-after comparisons.

The second- and third-place runner-ups were two NPR programs that debuted as Car Talk left schedules. It’s Been a Minute replaced Car Talk in seven time slots. Hidden Brain moved into six open slots.

Many stations that dropped Car Talk took the opportunity to revamp their weekend schedule while replacing the show. Again, NPR programs saw the biggest carriage gains. Planet Money/How I Built This gained about 18 percent of the hours in station schedules devoted to new shows. About 15 percent of the new hours went to It’s Been a Minute and about 12 percent to Hidden Brain.

The three shows account for about 45 percent of the new programs added to weekend schedules during the Car Talk shakeup. Thirty-one other programs were also added to the 51 station schedules during the change.

Planet Money/How I Built This now airs on 173 stations. Hidden Brain airs on 167 stations, and It’s Been a Minute is on 155 stations, according to NPR. Some stations dropped shows, but no national programs saw big losses among the 51 licensees.

NPR said in September 2017 that around 280 of the 400 stations then airing Car Talk would drop the show. Car Talk’s producers are continuing to provide Best of Car Talk episodes for stations that want to keep airing it.

Do you know of programming changes at a licensee not represented in our data? Email tyler@current.org to let us know, and we’ll update our count.

StationDate Car Talk removed from schedule (2017)Time airedPrograms filling former Car Talk slotsNew programs added to weekend
Alabama Public Radio9/3010 a.m. Sat/SunIt's Been a Minute (Sat), Wait Wait (Sun)It's Been a Minute, The Moth, Wait Wait (additonal hour), Reveal
Arizona Public Media10/110 a.m. Sat, 5 p.m. SunOnly a Game (x2)
Boise State Public Radio10/110 a.m. Sat, 4 p.m. SunWait Wait (Sat), It's Been A Minute (Sun)Hidden Brain, Planet Money/How I Built This, Flyover, It's Been a Minute
Capital Public Radio10/110 a.m. SunHidden BrainHidden Brain
Colorado Public Radio9/3110 a.m. Sat, noon SunTED Radio Hour (Sat), Fresh Air Weekend (Sun)Second airings of Radiolab and TED Radio Hour
High Plains Public Radio9/309 a.m. SatMountain StageMountain Stage (two hours)
KANW9/303 p.m. SatAsk Me AnotherNew Yorker Radio Hour
KERA10/82 p.m. SunAsk Me AnotherAsk Me Another (second airing)
Nevada Public Radio10/14 p.m. Sat, 8 p.m. SunHidden Brain (Sat); It's Been a Minute (Sun)It's Been a Minute (two hours), Ask Me Another (two hours) Planet Money/How I Built This, Hidden Brain
KOSU9/309 a.m. SatFreakonomicsFreakonomics, New Yorker Radio Hour, Ask Me Another, Planet Money/How I Built This
KPBS9/242 p.m. SunThis American LifeFlyover
KQED9/3010 a.m. SatNew Yorker Radio HourPlanet Money/How I Built This
KRCC9/3010 a.m. SatWait WaitPlanet Money/How I Built This
KRCU9/309 a.m. SatIt's Been A MinuteIt's Been A Minute, American Routes (two hours), Planet Money/How I Built This, Hidden Brain
KSMU10/1noon Sat, 6 p.m. SunFresh Air Weekend (Sat), Live From Here (Sun)Planet Money/How I Built This (two airings)
KTEP9/3010 a.m. SatWait WaitPlanet Money/How I Built This
KTNA9/3010 a.m. SatTravel with Rick StevesTravel with Rick Steves
KTTZ9/309 a.m. SatWait WaitPlanet Money/How I Built This
KUHF9/309 a.m. SatPlanet Money/How I Built ThisPlanet Money/How I Built This, Intelligence Squared
KUT9/309 a.m. SatWeekend Edition (extra hour)Only A Game, Weekend Edition Saturday (extra hour), BBC World Service (two hours)
KWIT9/309 a.m. SatAsk Me AnotherAsk Me Another
Nashville Public Radio10/19 a.m. Sat, 5 p.m. SunWait Wait (Sat), Planet Money/How I Built This (Sun)More Perfect, It's Been a Minute, Hidden Brain, Planet Money/How I Built This
New England Public Radio9/3011 a.m. SatWait WaitSays You
OPB9/3010 a.m. SatPlanet Money/How I Built ThisPlanet Money/How I Built This
Prairie Public Radio10/79 a.m. SatA Way With WordsA Way With Words, Planet Money/How I Built This
St. Louis Public Radio9/3010 a.m. SatSnap JudgmentLive From Here (two hours)
Vermont Public Radio9/3010 a.m. SatIt's Been a MinuteIt's Been a Minute, Reveal
WAMC9/3010 a.m. SatNew Yorker Radio HourNew Yorker Radio Hour
WAMU9/3010 a.m. SatWeekend EditionWeekend Edition (extra hour), It's Been a Minute
WBFO9/246 a.m., 10 a.m. Sat, 11 a.m. SunMarketplace Weekend, Planet Money/How I Built This, TED Radio HourMarketplace Weekend, Planet Money/How I Built This, Travel With Rick Steves
WCVE9/3010 a.m. SatFreakonomicsFreakonomics
WEOS10/110 a.m. Sat, 11 a.m. SunWait Wait (Sat and Sun)Hidden Brain (two airings)
WFIU9/3010 a.m. SatHidden BrainHidden Brain
WFPL9/3010 a.m. SatHidden BrainHidden Brain, On Being (second airing), Travel with Rick Steves (second airing)
WFYI9/3011 a.m. SatWait WaitPlanet Money/How I Built This, Ask Me Another, It's Been A Minute, The Pulse
WHQR10/110 a.m. Sat, 1 p.m. SunTED Radio Hour (Sat), Bullseye (Sun)TED Radio Hour, Reveal
WILL-AM10/19 a.m. Sat, 11 a.m. SunSplendid Table (Sat), Says You (Sun)Splendid Table, It's Been a Minute
Wisconsin Public Radio10/111 a.m. SunBullseyeBullseye
WJCT9/3010 a.m. SatWait WaitPlanet Money/How I Built This, Freakonomics
WKAR9/3010 a.m. SatWait WaitWait Wait
WLRN10/710 a.m. SatNew Yorker Radio HourSnap Judgment
WNIN9/309 a.m. SatWait WaitAsk Me Another (second airing), It's Been a Minute (two airings), Planet Money/How I Built This (two airings), Inflection Point, A Way With Words, TED Radio Hour (second airing), Beat Latino
WNPR9/3010 a.m. SatIt's Been a MinuteBBC NewsHour Extra, It's Been a Minute
WOSU9/301 p.m. SatThis American LifeMilk Street Radio, It's Been a Minute
WRVO9/3010 a.m. SatHidden BrainHidden Brain
WUIS10/11 p.m. SunPlanet Money/How I Built ThisPlanet Money/How I Built This
WUWM10/111 a.m. SunHidden BrainHidden Brain, It's Been a Minute
WVXU9/3010 a.m. SatIt's Been a MinuteIt's Been a Minute, New Yorker Radio Hour, Hidden Brain
WYPR9/3010 a.m. SatWait WaitBBC World Service (four hours), Hidden Brain, It's Been a Minute
WYSO9/3010 a.m. SatDinner Party Download (after cancellation, replaced with It's Been a Minute)eTown, Dinner Party Download
WYSU10/110 a.m. Sat, noon SunWait Wait (Sat), Fresh Air WeekendFreakonomics, New Yorker Radio Hour

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