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!)


Welcome Back to Program Notes!

I spent a (mostly) restful two weeks off visiting with extended family – most of us hadn’t seen each other since before the pandemic. But even on vacation, I still listen to public radio wherever I am. Sure, I could (and often do) listen online, but there’s a part of me that’s also a fan […]

Deliberate Indifference – Inside Alabama’s Prison Crisis

You’ve probably heard of our new narrative podcast, Deliberate Indifference. And, given all the heavy news the past few months alone, you may think this is the last thing you want to listen to. I urge to reconsider. As citizens, we have a right to know how more than 500 million of our tax dollars […]

What’s in a name?

Every so often, I hear from listeners who politely (or sometimes not so politely) take WBHM to task for mispronouncing words. As Program Director, it’s my job to make sure we sound not just consistent on the air, but credible as well. Whether it’s a classical composer or name or place in the news, this […]

Summertime and the livin’ is easy…

To say the news has been very heavy lately is an understatement. With that in mind, I want to take a moment to pass along a few different things that are just fun this summer. Thanks to the popularization of plant-based diets, vegan (non-dairy) ice cream is gaining popularity, and there are interesting new flavor […]

The Only Constant Is Change

There’s a small program change coming to WBHM. On Being, which currently airs Sunday evenings from 6 to 7, is ending production as a radio program and transitioning to a seasonal podcast. The final episode will air on WBHM Sunday, June 19th, and you can read more about this change from host Krista Tippett. But […]

More Driveway Moments

A little over a year ago, I wrote about driveway moments – those times when you’re listening to WBHM in the car, you’ve pulled into the driveway, you might have even turned the ignition to accessory, but the story is so good you just can’t bear to get out of the car. Well, this week, […]

More Michael Krall's Program Notes Coverage