You may know that every NPR program has what’s called a program clock — an hourly schedule that strictly dictates when you hear what you hear. Maybe you’ve noticed it’s the same every day. If your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., for example, you’re going to hear an NPR newscast, followed by a traffic report from Bob August, and then a local newscast from Blake Farmer. It’s like…well, clockwork.
The clocks for NPR’s marquee news magazine shows, Morning Edition and All Things considered, are pretty complex. They have to accommodate local newscasts, funding credits, segments for longer local and national stories, promotional spots that tell you what’s coming up later, and so on. The clocks enable us to stay in synch, from our WPLN studio here in Nashville to NPR News in Washington, NPR West in Culver City, and reporters across the globe.
Having been the same for many years, the program clocks for Morning Edition and All Things Considered will change on Monday. The reason? Peoples’ listening habits have changed over the years, and we’re adapting in a way we think will better serve our audience. NPR has worked with program directors from member stations around the country for months to come up with a new clocks, analyzing listening habits and attempting to optimize the listening experience.
Most of the changes are subtle. You may not notice them at all, especially during All Things Considered, which retains a very similar structure. But a couple of changes during Morning Edition may grab your attention. For example, NPR’s national newscasts will be more frequent. Instead of the top and bottom of the hour, you’ll hear one every twenty minutes. Also, local traffic reports will move to 18 and 41 minutes past the hour, rather than at the top of the bottom.
With any luck, things will go smoothly as our hosts and audience get used to the changes. But we will continue to assess how things are working, and will make adjustments, as needed, going forward.
If you’ve never seen an NPR clock before, it’s pretty interesting to visualize the program you listen to every day.
Here’s the new Morning Edition clock that takes effect Monday. I’ve added labels for local newscasts and traffic reports. Click to enlarge: