Want to free up thousands of dollars in your budget, create an innovation fund and streamline your on-air promotions — all while improving your public service? It’s easy — just drop 70% of your station’s weekend programming.
With national producers offering new programs and the Magliozzi Brothers retiring from Car Talk, program directors at public radio stations may have an opportune moment to update strategies for weekend programming. Yet with no surefire hits available beyond the familiar warhorses, there’s no easy formula for success when Saturday rolls around.
In this commentary, NPR’s v.p. of programming responds to Ira Glass’s suggestion that stations not devote prime weekend airtime to Car Talk reruns after the Magliozzi brothers retire this fall. Like Ira, I’m really excited about all the innovation in public radio today. Each of these new programs will need several things if they are to grow and prosper: an intellectual spark, real talent giving them a unique, authentic voice, money, smart plans for development, and stations willing to take a small risk. There is one other critical thing they need to grow and prosper: Car Talk. Airing Car Talk on Saturday mornings doesn’t stand in the way of innovation.
I enjoy Car Talk. I like those guys. And as a public radio lifer, I’m grateful for what Tom and Ray Magliozzi did to bring a vast audience to public radio, year after year.. … But — with all respect to Doug Berman and my colleagues at Car Talk Plaza — I think when they stop making new episodes in October, they should be pulled from Saturday mornings.