On Air, Online, and On the Sofa: Listening During the Pandemic


To say radio listening was impacted by the pandemic would be an understatement. As the country went into lock-down in March 2020, many people had their schedule upended and were no longer commuting. As you can imagine, at home listening surged during this time. This was especially true during the summer of 2020. Today, these numbers have slowly returned to normal and in-car listening is on the road (pun intended!) to normalcy.

As program director, I understand that radio listening is largely driven by habit. But when our daily routines are disrupted, as with the pandemic, our habits are also disrupted.

Prior to March 2020, the radio habit that most listeners were into was getting up, turning on the radio and listening at home, then listening to the radio in the car on their way into work. These hours, usually between 6 and 9 a.m., are known as “drive time” or “morning drive.” It’s also when there’s a large audience listening. Similarly, heading home after work is knows as “afternoon drive,” and it’s also important although the audience isn’t quite as large.

With a disruption as broad as the pandemic, I have no doubt it had an impact on your listening and radio usage. Maybe you’ve now formed new habits and now listen to WBHM on smart speaker or our app. Instead of turning on the radio, you might now check our website for the latest news. Maybe you’re listening more during midday hours.

Is your routine back to normal? Are you listening to WBHM differently than before? Are you engaging with WBHM in new and different ways? Let me know!

(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 […]

More Than Meets the Ear

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 […]

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 […]

More Michael Krall's Program Notes Coverage