April 05, 2004

NPR chat session fends listener angst 

The reassignment of Morning Edition host Bob Edwards continues to draw the ire of NPR listeners, so Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice president for programming, and Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR ombudsman, put themselves on the line in a live chat session this morning. Here's an excerpt: "bill beckett: I work at one of the many, many stations that were not consulted and in fact were given no warning that this was coming. We were blindsided by this decision and left to face angry listeners with nothing more than some poorly drafted and ill-advised "Talking Point" or "Spin" as I call it. What is your response...?" You can read NPR's response to this and other questions in the aforementioned chat transcript. Meanwhile, here's a note from Jay Pearce, ever the wise WILL Interim Radio Manager even while fielding complaints from irate Bob Edwards fans, to the WILL staff on the subject: "NPR had a online chat with the guy with whom the buck stops regarding the Bob Edwards reassignment today...it may or may not shed any new light on the situation. Here's a link to a transcript: http://www.npr.org/about/morningeditionchanges/transcript.html "We have received a number of emails, phone calls and letters concerning Bob's reassignment. All against it. Several saying they will not give us any more money because of it. I'm not sure it is our place, as a station, to be for or against reassigning Bob. But I do believe we can agree NPR could have and should have handled it better. Personally, I don't believe NPR was considerate enough of listeners' feelings. Thus, I have bent over backwards to listen and respond to those who have contacted WILL. I have made it clear that we care about what they think of this whole thing. I have forwarded their comments to NPR. "On the money front...my advice to them has been to follow their best instinct - but so they had full information before doing that...I told them that their contributions help fund everything we do here at WILL, not just Morning Edition...not just NPR programs. And that withholding contributions will only hurt our ability to provide the service we do...because, NPR gets its money from us, and we'll still be paying NPR. So, if we get less money from listeners, we'll have to make further cuts to our service to come up with the money to pay NPR. Cutting out Morning Edition and/or other NPR programs because of NPR's behavior in this instance would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. "That's where things stand right now." Jay H. Pearce Program Director WILL-AM Interim Station Manager WILL-AM/FM I'll just add that I believe we're part of the baby, not the bathwater...but I'm not saying which part.

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