The future of Eight Forty-Eight? | Bleader

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The future of Eight Forty-Eight?

Posted By on 11.02.11 at 02:00 PM

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Two days after Crain's Chicago Business reported that WBEZ's considering shuttering its morning show Eight-Forty Eight, Robert Feder says that it ain't necessarily so. On Monday Crain’s said that ’BEZ is “evaluating” whether its two locally produced newsmagazines—the aforementioned, as well as global news outfit Worldview—are “meeting its strategic goals,” and that the station would put Eight-Forty Eight on a one-month hiatus while it considers the question. On Chicagoist this morning, Kevin Robinson chimes in with a lament that the station's not what it used to be—he’s particularly upset that resources have been diverted to Vocalo, and that WBEZ no longer broadcasts jazz in the evenings. Robinson says Chicago Public Media president and CEO Torey Malatia’s Vocalo dalliance is “the broadcast equivalent of Chicago Now or Red Eye.” (Low blow!)

The Crain's report was alarming, and Robinson's piece was both irked and irksome—c'mon: comparing Vocalo to the Red Eye is not entirely fair—but Robert Feder reported this morning that the goal at WBEZ is actually to gain more, not fewer, locally made shows. Feder’s following up on something that he wrote about back in August—that Malatia wants to boost local programming in consideration of two new WBEZ competitors, Merlin Media on WWWN FM 101.1 and CBS News on WCFS FM 105.9, both of which operate an all-news format. Via Feder:

“The idea here is to add hours — not to take away hours,” Malatia said Tuesday. “We have two hours now [Eight Forty-Eight and Worldview] that we do Monday through Friday. We’d like to add one more before the summertime, and we’d like to add one or maybe two next fiscal year, which is from July 2012 through June 2013. Over a period of time, we want to add hours and do more live, original talk during the day. It’s not in our interest to go backwards. It’s in our interest to add.”

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