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2002 Public Radio Conference Managing Change

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  1. 2002 Public Radio ConferenceManaging Change NPR Board NOVEMBER 2000

  2. To Change or Not to Change A Tale of Two Stations—WKSU and WUNC NPR Board NOVEMBER 2000

  3. Eric Nuzum Director of Programming and Operations, WKSU NPR Board NOVEMBER 2000

  4. Listening to classical music on WKSU had been on long term decline • Local classical music listener hours Local classical music listener hours (millions) Project name Project date 4

  5. WKSU Listener Hour Consumptionby Format WKSU listener hours (millions) Project name Project date 5

  6. “Loyalists” to classical listen to news programs, but they are less loyal. Project name Project date 6

  7. “Disloyalists” to classical show mixed loyalty. Project name Project date 7

  8. Changing formats would encourage “Disloyalists” to listen more, but “Loyalists” would listen less or not at all. Project name Project date 8

  9. Risk is significant Project name Project date 9

  10. Project name Project date 10

  11. What can WKSU do that would persuade “Loyalists” to listen the same amount, yet encourage “Disloyalists” to listen more? Project name Project date 11

  12. Didn’t change format, but refined approach • Attitude towards format. • Playlist selection broadened. • Announcer approach and tone of talksets adjusted slightly. • “Appreciation of music” instead of “discovery of music.” Project name Project date 12

  13. What is the WKSU listening experience? • WKSU is a moment—that time when you have a few minutes to yourself at home. Work, the family, the household chores can wait for a little while. In your jeans and a denim shirt or that sweater your spouse won't let you wear in public anymore, you collapse into the leather chair in your den, library or living room, a warm drink at your elbow. You reach for that book or magazine you keep having to put down, the one you've been reading while everyone else is reading People or the latest product by John Grisham. You put your feet up, snuggle a little deeper into the depths of the chair and breathe a sigh. That moment, that feeling is WKSU. Project name Project date 13

  14. Growth in classical consumption in Fall 2001 and Winter 2002 WKSU listener hours (millions) Project name Project date 14

  15. Chart looks similar, but shows encouraging shifts in gains and loses Project name Project date 15

  16. Relative riskDo we worry too much about easy decisions? Project name Project date 16

  17. Data and research should enlighten your thinking and judgment…not make decisions for you. Project name Project date 17

  18. The WUNC Story Changing middays using the language of listeners NPR Board NOVEMBER 2000

  19. WUNC was a strong station before its changes • Consistently attracted strong listenership • Known for being the launch pad for respected broadcasters • Consistently performed well in fundraising and underwriting support Project name Project date 19

  20. Project name Project date 20 SOURCE: Arbitron / RRC (Fall 91-95 & 97-99), ARA (Fall 96)

  21. Midday Weakness is not unusual in Public Radio • Many mixed-format stations see similar tentpoles, but not as pronounced as WUNC • In Fall of 2000, researcher David Giovannoni reported that if the tentpole issue in middays was addressed system-wide, public radio would see a 6% increase in listening • An assessment of WUNC determined that the station could achieve double the increase in listening if it addressed its midday problem Project name Project date 21

  22. But numbers were only part of the story • WUNC lacked coherent focus • WUNC had identified a need to be better at producing original programming in order to remain strong in the future • WUNC’s primary market was served by a full-time non-commercial classical music station with a very good signal • WUNC was not content with resting on its laurels Project name Project date 22

  23. WUNC Change Steps • Conducted focus groups of listeners • Used focus group information and other data to inform strategic planning process • Made decision to make program changes and began extensive stakeholder communication plan • Reorganized staff to allow for daily program production • Used information gathered in focus groups to explain the change process to listeners Project name Project date 23

  24. Key Points from Focus Groups • WUNC was identified by listeners as an intelligent source of news and information • It’s classical music was indistinguishable from the full-time public classical station in the market • News and Information-sounding language was used to describe WUNC’s news and entertainment programming • Classical music was not seen as WUNC’s strength Project name Project date 24

  25. Listeners also helped inform communication strategy • Even people who did not like classical music expressed concern about it going away • Listeners demonstrated that their prime benefits from WUNC came from its national news programming • Listeners perceived WUNC as being a strong station and expressed an interest in ways the station could help other public broadcasters in the area • Listeners were proud of WUNC’s history as a launching pad for respected broadcasters Project name Project date 25

  26. Things we decided not to say • “We’re really sorry we took away your classical music.” • “This’ll help us make more money.” • “The classical listeners were cheapskates and way too old for our liking.” • “Every other public radio station is doing this. We’re just riding the wave.” Project name Project date 26

  27. “More of what you expect from your NPR station” • More in-depth news from NPR and other respected public broadcasters • More programs from WUNC that help put North Carolina in context • Changes were made to help strengthen the range of offerings you get from North Carolina non-commercial radio stations • Builds on WUNC’s reputation as a leading NPR station Project name Project date 27

  28. Project name Project date 28

  29. But numbers are only part of the story • WUNC has focused on its strengths • WUNC produces a daily program and has expanded its local news efforts • Reassigned employees have found meaningful work at the station and even won awards • WUNC still recognizes there is much work to do Project name Project date 29

  30. Feel Free to Try This at Home Project name Project date 30