How Colorado Public Radio Added 17 New Shows Without Making Cuts

The Daily host Michael Barbaro during a 2017 appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
The Daily host Michael Barbaro during a 2017 appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Late Night With Seth Meyers via YouTube
The revamped schedule for Colorado Public Radio's news channel that debuts today, January 14, adds seventeen fresh shows, including such high-profile entries as The Daily, the popular New York Times podcast, without removing any programs the service had previously been airing at 90.1 FM and online.

How does that math work? Stewart Vanderwilt, who took over as CPR's president and CEO in July following the retirement of Max Wycisk, the statewide network's longtime overseer, jokes that "we're just going to play everything faster, and that way we can fit it all in. We're going to bend the space-time continuum."

More seriously, Vanderwilt says, "We eliminated repeats. For example, Here and Now is a two-hour program that we were airing for three hours by recycling a previous hour. We had a lot of recycling throughout the day and on the weekends, and by reducing that recycling, we didn't actually eliminate a single show."

This approach will certainly lessen the number of complaints stations typically receive when changes are made, but it won't eliminate them completely. After all, there are plenty of schedule alterations in prominent time periods. Vanderwilt is particularly bullish on the shift of Colorado Matters, CPR News's most ambitious local production, to 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays, which he refers to as "prime time." The result, in his view, "is going to be more impact for the program, and also the issues and the discussions that happen on that show. It's a real investment and vote of confidence for what we're doing there."

To accomplish this, however, CPR will stop airing a repeated hour of Morning Edition, one of National Public Radio's signature offerings, during the same slot. And an even bigger switch involves another NPR fave, Fresh Air, a captivating interview hour hosted by radio institution Terry Gross. In the past, Fresh Air was heard from 2 to 3 p.m., and again from 8 to 9 p.m. — but now it will only be on at night.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts