Published on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 15:59
Chicago's biggest public radio station, WBEZ-FM 91.5, will be launching a pair of new local radio programs next week -- one daily talk show and one weekend music/talk show. This will also mean making some slight modifications to its current schedule.
The new weekday show premiering Monday will be "The Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards," heard each Monday-Friday from 2:00pm-4:00pm. It will be a live talk and interview show featuring conversations with newsmakers, artists, authors, and persons of interest to the Chicago listening audience. In addition to news stories, "The Afternoon Shift" will look to delve deeper into arts/music/culture, social media, science & technology, the workplace, and numerous other subjects, utilizing a series of reoccurring expert contributors.
The show's main host, Steve Edwards, who rose to local prominence as the longtime host of "Eight Forty-Eight" (1999-2007), is a veteran of the Chicago Public Media-owned radio station. He was most recently the Chicago Public Media Content Development Director, and has also served as Program Director for WBEZ-FM in the past. Edwards is a Kansas City area native, but has lived in the Chicago suburbs with his family for a great many years.
In a statement released today, Edwards said about his new show: "We'll aim to unpack the important news of the day - what it means, what's the context - but also examine the fascinating trends, ideas and questions in our lives today. The goal is to create a conversation that builds on the very best traditions of public media - depth, context, curiosity, intelligence, fairness and humanity - but to do so in a way that more directly involves our community and leverages the many tools and platforms in WBEZ's digital media."
The addition of "The Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards" means the two syndicated shows that currently air in that time slot will have to be moved. NPR's "Fresh Air" with host Terry Gross, which currently airs from 2:00pm-3:00pm, will shift to 11:00am-Noon. Repeats of "Fresh Air" will then be heard at 9:00pm-10:00pm on Monday-Thursday. WBEZ-FM's daily rotating programming of shows at 11:00am, long a source of confusion for listeners, will finally come to an end. NPR's "All Things Considered," which currently airs at 3:00pm-6:30pm will shift to one hour later, starting at 4:00pm, as of next week. The complete revised schedule for WBEZ-FM's programming will be made available as soon as this weekend on the schedule page
of its website.
Starting one week from this weekend, Saturday, February 18th, will be another new local show on WBEZ-FM. This show will be combination of music and talk content from WBEZ-FM's sister-station, WBEW-FM, called "Vocalo on WBEZ." It will be hosted by WBEW-FM's brightest star Jesse Menendez, and will air each Saturday from 8:00pm-10:00pm. "Vocalo on WBEZ" is being described as "a two-hour 'mix tape' of music, stories and conversation from Vocalo." The shows will contain excerpts from "The Morning AMp" with Brian Babylon & Molly Adams, "The Overdrive" with Luis Perez & Shantell Jamison, "The Barbershop Show" with Richard Steele and Kimbriell Kelly, and from host Jesse Mendez's own shows, "The MusicVox" and "Live from Studio 10."
Jesse Menendez, who is a Chicago native, has been with WBEW-FM/Vocalo since 2008. As a host on Voaclo, Menendez has developed a reputation for being an excellent interviewer and possessing a wealth of knowledge about the local music scene. In addition to his radio work, he is also an actor, as well as reporter/producer for Chicago's WYCC-TV and WOCK-Azteca America. His wife Stephanie is a producer for WGN-AM, working on "The Garry Meier Show."
Silvia Rivera, Vocalo Managing Director, said of the new Saturday night show: "'Vocalo on WBEZ' will showcase diverse cultural perspectives from artists to activists, musicians to musicologists. This will be a great opportunity to introduce Vocalo's storytelling and musical content to the WBEZ audience."
The hope of WBEZ-FM is that by playing some of the best of Vocalo on WBEZ-FM, it will bring the programming to a wider audience than on the barely-heard radio station of WBEW-FM 89.5, as well as possibly turn around the less-than-pleasant perception many WBEZ subscribers have of the station.
Vocalo on WBEW-FM is a sister-station to Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM, with both owned by Chicago Public Media. Vocalo was the idea of Chicago Public Media CEO Torey Malatia, as a way to expand public radio to a much younger and more racially diverse listening audience. It was originally titled "The Secret Radio Project" while it was being developed. On June 4th, 2007, WBEW-FM launched as Vocalo.org, a radio station/website hybrid. While it officially is a commercial-free public radio station, it does not market itself as one. It also avoids airing NPR or CBC produced programs like most public radio stations do. Most of all, it does not have pledge drives. Instead, Vocalo gets its funding quietly funneled to it through pledge drives for WBEZ-FM, which happens to be a source of frustration and controversy for many WBEZ-FM fans and subscribers, who do not wish to have their donations go to Malatia's experimental radio station. Also adding to the frustration of many is the fact Vocalo has almost no measurable audience. It has yet to even register the lowest possible rating on Arbitron's radio research.
The WBEW-FM 4,000 watt transmitter, located out near the Indiana Dunes, makes the station heard fairly strong in northwest Indiana, and into southern MI, but it only really covers the Chicago area from well south of downtown to the south-eastern suburbs close to Indiana. For a great many Chicagoland radio listeners, the new "Vocalo on WBEZ" show will be their first chance to hear some of this Vocalo programming over the radio airwaves.