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MPR cancels 'Weekend America'

A couple of days ago I wrote about a $1.5 million to $2 million budget shortfall at Minnesota Public Radio and its national programming sibling American Public Media. Today comes news that APM has canceled the long-struggling Saturday program "Weekend America."

The national show, which like MPR programming is produced in St. Paul, already suffered cutbacks this year; the last broadcast is Jan. 31. Axing a single two-hour program probably doesn't "solve" the combined APM/MPR shortfall, but laying off 13 people is clearly part of some solution.

Update: Margaret Ann Hennen, APM's VP of Corporate Communications, says, "Yes, there will be further reductions, but we don't know when or what. This is part of the alignment of revenues and expenses ... that has been going on for the last year. We continue to make very methodical decisions."

In my earlier piece, an MPR spokeswoman said they would try to cut in ways listeners wouldn't notice, but some will clearly miss the noon-2 p.m. show.

Here's the release:

American Public Media is cancelling weekly production and distribution of Weekend America as a result of the current economy’s impact on station carriage and sponsorships. The final broadcast will be January 31, 2009. Thirteen full- and part-time positions will be affected. Weekend America is carried on 134 stations with a weekly audience of about 657,000 listeners.

American Public Media is proud of the many accomplishments of Weekend America’s talented staff. They have produced personal, thoughtful, funny and challenging journalism that you couldn’t hear anywhere else. The program topics ranged from in-depth reporting on the fallout from the Iraqi war, multi-part series on foreclosure and immigration, and the lessons of racism. The hosts and reporters also engaged people all across America on their weekends, skydiving or dancing or giving concerts or celebrating the diverse cultures and festivals of our country.

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Comments (8)

This literally brought tears to my eyes just now. On a Friday afternoon, even.

"...but some will clearly miss the noon-2 p.m. show."
Wow, that is an understatement, as far as I'm concerned. I LOVE Weekend America's podcast and it will be sorely missed. I'm so sorry for those creative individuals who made the show possible, behind the mic and behind the scenes.

Although I don't like the idea of the shortfall or having to scale back programming, I won't miss Weekend America. They did a fine job of what they did, but allocating two hours to a magazine show when there's so many other things they could put on was a poor allocation of airtime. It just wasn't about anything, and when the time was up I hadn't been entertained or informed.

Move It's Only a Game, or bring over Wisc PR's Calling All Pets, or something that's different than just an upbeat version of ATC. And for god's sake, don't trot out a fourth (or is it seventh) rebroadcast of Marketplace.

I've got to go along with Jim Camery. With all due respect to the people working on the program, it's no great loss. It was not fun, not newsy and tried to be too cute and airy. Apparently MPR believes we don't want to laugh or think on weekends, or at least in that slot.

I'm increasingly mystified at the corporate machinations of "listener supported" MPR/ APR. Why was the show designed as a two-hour vehicle in the first place? Why not try it as a one hour show before canning it (and it's entire staff)? O K-- budget shortfalls, etc. (la dee daa) but what about the ludicrous compensation packages of certain MPR/APR bigwigs? How about Bill Kling' s personal salary and bonus , and G. Kiellor's "earnings"? Why aren't more non- APR programs broadcast? This is, I suppose, priviledged information, but it begins to seem as if the "listener-members" are bankrolling an elite answerable to no one. In the mean time, diversity is being lost for what "sells"-- a bit odd for a member supported entity.

There are some good thoughts here about why gassy Weekend America will not be missed. I would like to add that there were excellent programs offered by the late lamented WCAL that were dropped after the, uhhhhh, acquisition by MPR that could be brought back to the MPR listening area.

can they can "wait, wait, don't tell me", too?

ps. "morining edition" was doomed from the start - literally in that their theme/opening song is about the blandest, most uninspired jingle one would be unfortunate enough to imagine (i like the "as it happens" theme, myself).

@tom moore

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12692633

Those lyrics will explain the Morning Edition theme song, written in the late 1970s, for ya.

Personally I wouldn't want anything more exciting when my radio turns on and wakes me up each morning.

Almost as reassuring as "From NPR News, I'm Carl Kasell"