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Some of the new, controversial programming changes at WPFW went into effect today. But one of the staffers tasked with implementing them won’t be sticking around much longer. Per this email to the station’s volunteer programmers, Interim Programming Director Bobby Hill has resigned:
After 30 years of varied service to WPFW, I sincerely regret that, in my second and current term as Interim Program Director, I have been involved in implementing a grid change that has caused such discomfort to many programmers and listeners. That pain has been felt on different levels, and not just with what was implemented. The new grid was finalized late last week, resulting in notifications of impacts being shared with programmers with very little lead time. This was far different from the then new grid that I implemented as Program Director in the spring of 2008, which had a 5-month collaborative development process, and provided a one month lead time for impacted programmers and listener notification. When I had concerns that caused me to tender my resignation from my current interim position late in this new grid development process, I reconsidered and rescinded such tender, and instead worked hard and earnestly to implement the new grid as best I could. I have offered to meet with our General Manager John Hughes to revisit our new grid.
None of this sits well with me. Should the aforementioned meeting/grid revisit occur, I would return in this position, if it were the greater will of John and the staff/programmers. Until and if such occurs, I tender my resignation as WPFW Interim Program Director, effective immediately.
Over the weekend, some programmers, listeners, and staff gathered to discuss how to push back against the programming changes—-although a concrete plan of action has not emerged.
Today, the chair of WPFW’s listener-elected Local Station Board, Tony Norman, tells City Desk that he and some members of the LSB feel the changes were not handled well and should be suspended. “We’re asking the general manager to roll them back,” he says.
Although Norman supports major changes to the programming grid, “they did this all at the 11th hour and the last minute and they didn’t go through this properly,” he says. Although it was widely known that WPFW would see programming changes, he says, “there wasn’t any detailed discussions about which programs, and what are you discussing changing.”
Norman says that at a meeting this Wednesday, the LSB will ask General Manager John Hughes, who masterminded the changes, to explain the grid updates. The LSB plans to host a town-hall meeting for listeners sometime next week, Norman says.
In an interview last night, Hughes defended the programming changes, which have refocused the station’s workday schedule to include more news and talk programs, some of which are syndicated. Hughes said the changes were necessary to turn around the station’s flagging audience and revenue, and were made following months of community input. He said that although he regrets how the changes were carried out and received, the programming changes were urgent: “For those of us who have been in this business, we know that choosing to grow isn’t easy in community radio.”
As always, way more on this soon.