More Than Meets the Ear

 1544266611 
1635955809

As Program Director, an important part of my job is to field listener questions and, yes, answer complaints.

This week, I received a particular vitriolic message regarding the program Reveal – public radio’s weekly investigative journalism program. This listener was concerned the program missed crucial elements of the story and accused us of censoring the program.

There are two issues going on here.

First, it’s important to know that WBHM, like many public radio stations, offers a hybrid approach to programming. On the one hand, we purchase programming such as Reveal. But WBHM also produces its own content through our news department.

As a listener, I get it – you hear a program on WBHM so you contact WBHM! But there is an important distinction.

Unlike the news we produce in-house, we have no editorial control over purchased programs such as Reveal. Sharing this fact is not meant to dismiss your feedback or concerns. Just know that I cannot answer for a program we don’t produce. However, I often forward listener feedback to program producers who are almost always interested in genuine feedback.

Second, there were some special circumstances around this episode. It was produced as part of a larger series called Mississippi Goddam – The Ballad of Billey Joe, a seven-part series about a high school football player who dreamed of going to college and playing in the pros.

Last week’s broadcast was the third “chapter” in the series. If you didn’t hear the first two chapters or know there were additional documents online, I can see how you might have questions about the story or how this individual episode might sound a bit out of place. But that’s the nature of listening – sometimes listeners don’t realize there’s more to the reporting than just the bit they’ve heard. And it’s my job to help fill in the gaps.

(Through “Programming Notes,” we hope to keep you connected to what is happening at WBHM both internally and on-air. Have feedback you’d like to share? Or a programming question? Let me know!)

News from WBHM will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.

 

I’m no Mama Stamberg, but…

Even if you haven’t tried it, you’ve most likely heard about it. I’m speaking, of course, about that pink Thanksgiving concoction from NPR’s Susan Stamberg – her mama’s cranberry relish. This recipe has become such a tradition at NPR they’ve dedicated an entire online series to it. Over the years, Mama Stamberg’s holiday concoction has […]

Here Comes the Sun

Starting in late October until just recently, we heard from a number of listeners who were having trouble picking up WBHM on their radio. They reported ongoing static where previously the signal was uninterrupted. As best, they found this anomaly annoying. After all, WBHM sounded fine yesterday, so there must be a problem with our […]

Happy Halloween!

Just a quick note looking forward to All Hallows’ Eve this weekend. Don’t miss the ghoulishly good fun of Snap Judgment: Spooked – four hours of scary stories you can hear Sunday night from 6 to 10 – if you dare. You say storytelling isn’t quite your thing but still want to get into the […]

Where is this cutting room and what’s that on the floor?

Last week, I wrote about speaking with artists who come through Birmingham and how a good interview should be thought of as a journey of discovery. I also mentioned the art of editing and how we must boil an interview down from 30-45 minutes to somewhere between four and eight minutes. (Missed it? Here you […]

Speaking with the Stars

I’ve been fortunate to get to interview many artists and musicians making their way through Birmingham. From soloists performing with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to singer-songwriters, the purpose is to introduce you to interesting people. Some you’ve heard of; others maybe not. But they all have a passion for what they do, and as an […]

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Part 2

Last week’s trip down memory lane was so popular, I thought I’d share some additional finds.  It used to be that if you wanted to be on the air, you needed a license from the Federal Communications Commission. There was no test. All you had to do was fill out a simple postcard application! This “restricted/radiotelephone operator permit” was […]

More Michael Krall's Program Notes Coverage