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Chicagoist Visits Chicago Public Radio

By Chris Karr in News on Dec 15, 2006 7:56PM

This morning, Chicagoist hopped on the bus to Navy Pier to listen to a presentation by Chicago Public Radio (CPR) explaining the rationale for their new 2007 schedule.

Torey Malatia, the president and general manager of the station, explained the purpose of restructuring the schedule and doing away with the music formats. Malatia described how CPR was simultaneously a local, regional, national, and global broadcaster. In order to remain relevant with local and regional audiences, CPR was revamping its schedule to better accommodate news and culture. To better connect with local constituencies, WBEZ will be establishing "satellite bureaus" in six communities throughout the region. A satellite in Chesterton, Indiana will serve as the point of contact there. An office in Humboldt Park is being set up to reach out to the Latino community, while another office in Englewood will give the African American community access to the station and its staff. Three more offices will be set up, but their locations have not yet been announced. Each office will be staffed with a full-time reporter who will be responsible for covering news in the respective community and reaching out to the local residents.

These satellite reporters will contribute their work to WBEZ programs that run throughout the day. When one questioner brought up the complaints from listeners who will miss the music programs, the CPR representatives stressed that music is not disappearing from the station and they expect that plenty of music will be incorporated within the programs throughout the day. The CPR staff also declined to elaborate on any changes or increases in the station's podcasting, justifying it by saying that they want to do more, but they want to be sure that they're doing it correctly and not just haphazardly dumping content online.

This particular Chicagoist is not a regular listener to CPR when it comes over the airwaves, but we have been an avid fan of the station's podcasts and we hope that the station continues this trend of releasing time-shiftable content online. We were impressed with the organization's commitment to reporting local news by establishing local points of contact within the community and charging their new reporters to become an established part of the community where they are working. We're not sure how successful WBEZ will be in this endeavor, but we hope that the satellite office idea works out and radio starts to become relevant to the local communities again. We're not a fan of the wholesale homogenization of radio brought on by organizations like ClearChannel and hope that the experiment succeeds and Chicago gets some neighborhood flavor in its airwaves.

If you're interested in offering your thoughts on the revised schedule and programming, visit the Chicago Public Radio community forums.