Michael Krall’s Program Notes

I’ve Got “It In” For You!

Last week’s column There’s No Leaving and There’s No Returning prompted some good feedback. A listener wrote to tell me another phrase they find irrelevant is “in for,” as in when I host and say, “I’m Michael Krall in for Andrew Yeager.” Their thinking is that it’s unnecessary because if you hear a program enough, […]

There’s No Leaving and There’s No Returning

Here’s some radio inside info you may not have thought about, but it’s precisely the sort of thing that drives program directors like me crazy. See if these phrases sound familiar: When we come back…After the break…Welcome back…When we return…We’re back…We’ll be right back…We have to take a break… It’s common to hear these phrases […]

The Art of Storytelling

This week it’s the WBHM’s Membership Drive – your opportunity to support non-profit journalism and all the programs you enjoy. I wrote about our specific on-air messaging last week and how at WBHM we thought long and hard about what to include. I hope you’re noticing a difference (for the better!) on the air. This […]

It’s That Time Again at WBHM – The Spring Membership Drive

It shouldn’t be news that we have membership drives a few times a year – it’s one of the primary ways we raise money for WBHM, more than half of our annual budget. The last time we had an on-air fundraiser, it was to purchase our new transmitter (FYI, the transmitter is ordered, and preparations […]

The Ever-changing World of Technology

There’s this cartoon I saw on Twitter. It shows a person in front of a computer. The screen reads “STRIKE ANY KEY TO CONTINUE.” The person is lifting an office chair over their head ostensibly in an effort to follow the command…literally. Ever felt like that? I’m sure we all have at one point in […]

I Like Your Dish-position

Sorry about the bad pun. But imagine getting an 850-pound delivery at your doorstep. This is what happened recently at WBHM when we received a new satellite dish from NPR Distribution. The satellite is how we receive live news programming such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as breaking news and special […]

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Worth Revisiting

A while back, I wrote about NPR’s Public Editor – a position created by NPR to make sure they’re responsive to the needs of the listeners. The Public Editor also plays a key role to help NPR stay faithful in its mission to present fair, accurate and comprehensive information so people can make informed decisions […]

Incoming Transmission!

As you may have heard, WBHM’s Transmitter Drive is Thursday and Friday. If you’re in Birmingham and look up at the WBRC tower on Red Mountain, WBHM is located not at the very top but below and to the left (or right depending on your perspective!) But that’s actually not the transmitter. It’s our antenna, […]

What’s so special?

Say this for public radio, there’s no shortage of programming. This week, I’m focusing specifically on one-time specials. What exactly is a special?  It’s any program we air that is different from our regular broadcast. Specials are a way to further our public service by exposing listeners to new perspectives and voices they had not […]

How Do You Know That?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about listener feedback to WBHM and how the news you hear comes from a variety of sources. This week, I want to share another feedback story with you – this time from me. Sunday night, I turned on the radio and heard this episode of On Being. If […]

The News. From Where? By Whom? And Your Support.

The news on WBHM comes from a variety of sources. You hear reporting from NPR in programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, NPR Newscasts air almost every hour, and then there’s WBHM’s award-winning news department bringing you important stories from Birmingham and our region. And programs such as On the Media aren’t […]

A Change in the Air

They say (whoever “they” are) that the only constant in change. I’ve been at WBHM for 23 years now and while there has certainly been changes in programming and staff (it was bittersweet to bid farewell to Janae), our physical space has undergone a transformation as well. Perhaps the biggest change was the renovation to one […]

Tuning In With TuneIn: A Listener’s Question

“WBHM is more than just a radio station.” You’ve probably heard this phrase so much you may be numb to it. But it’s never been more true than now. In addition to a radio station, WBHM is also: a website, an app for your phone, a streaming service, a podcast, a smart speaker, a connected […]

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 […]

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 […]

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UAB Heersink School of Medicine
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A Trip Down Memory Lane

I recently cleaned out my office so new flooring could be installed and came across what I would only describe as blasts from the past!

Membership at WBHM

As you are probably aware, WBHM’s Fall Membership Drive is underway. I often hear from current members who want to know why we still have these on-air membership drives or they want to know what they can do to eliminate them. The fact of the matter is that we can’t eliminate membership drives entirely. Why? […]

Remembering 9/11

It’s one of those moments in history where everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing. I’m speaking, of course, about September 11th. I was attending a workshop in Baltimore ahead of the Public Radio Program Director’s Conference. Long before everyone owned a smartphone, a colleague entered our workshop and said, “You need […]

A Quick Reminder

Just a quick reminder from Martha and me about program changes going into effect this weekend. You can sleep in a bit later Saturday and Sunday (if you’d like) and still stay on top of the latest news, hear quirky, interesting stories, and do the Sunday puzzle! Weekend Edition now airs from 7 to 10 a.m. on […]

A Change in Programming

This week, I’m writing to let you know of some upcoming program changes. TL;DR: Ask Me Another and Says You! are ending resulting in extra hour of Weekend Edition. After an impressive 25-year run, Says You! is ending production. Billed as “A public radio show of bluff and bluster, words and whimsy,” the program airs Friday nights from 6:30 to 7, and […]

You’ve Got…Stationality!

Last week, I wrote about stationality – the “feel” or identity of WBHM – and I asked you to use three adjectives to describe our stationality in a short survey. Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.  The most popular words you chose to describe WBHM were: informative, friendly, trustworthy, smart and intelligent. But there […]

What the Heck is “Stationality”?

You’ve heard of personality? This week, I want to introduce you to stationality.     Stationality creates a sense of place and gives you another reason why you listen to WBHM. It’s the identity, the “feel” of WBHM. In other words, if WBHM were a person, would you want to hang out with us? Do you […]

The Alphabet Soup of the Public Radio Ecosystem

You’ve no doubt heard of NPR. But you’ve probably also heard of APM, PRI, PRX and a host of other acronyms and call letters such as MPR, WHYY, WAMU, and WNYC. Have you ever wondered what it all means? I’m going to give it my best shot and unpack it all for you, hopefully without […]

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 […]

Blocking Off Some Time

Weekends on WBHM are a time when we add a little variety to our programming mix. We still keep you up to date with the news, however the programming is slightly different. You’ll hear analysis of the week’s events, long-form journalism, personal storytelling, and music from our region. Part of the programming secret sauce is […]

A Special Interview for Our Lissa-ners…

Some voices are so familiar and comforting to you that it’s like listening to an dear friend. Lissa LeGrand is that dear friend, and I’m writing about her because 2021 marks her 40th year of working at WBHM! To celebrate her service, I’m interviewing her for this week’s column. When did you start working here? In […]

Clocks, Clocks Everywhere…

Last month, I wrote about technology and time, and I specifically mentioned clocks that sync every mission critical system at the station. Today, I’m writing about a different kind of clock – a programming clock. “Clocks” are the specific templates used at NPR, WBHM and other stations to tell us the precise timing of all the […]