Requests to Programme Committee VCR
This page revised 2011 July 11.
Update to the status of my requests
2011 July 11
By Korky Day.
The Programme Committee of Vancouver Co-operative Radio has not acknowledged the letter (below) from me of the DM-VCR.
I sent it thrice or more: 2011 February 17, March 1, and July 11.
Neither have they mentioned it in a monthly meeting (several have been held).
After many months, a few of the committee members have acknowledged receiving it (to me, privately). One has refused to receive it by e-mail from me.
Letter with 16 proposals
Requests to our Programme Committee,
Vancouver Co-operative Radio.
Sent 2011 February 17, March 1 (slightly revised), and 2011 July 11.
Published here in Co-op Radio Matters 2011 April 11.
From Korky Day,
former member of our Programme Committee.
korkyday (at sign) yahoo (dot) com
Dear Programme Committee, VCR,
Thanks for all your good work.
Please present this at your next meeting, 2011 March 1.
In the next 5 years we have a chance to save Co-op Radio from bankruptcy.
We easily could fail.
The media is highly competitive and getting more so.
I think we might survive if you act positively on requests such as these--and on others coming from the members and public, and on ideas you come up with yourselves.
As always, we must all be involved democratically in making any changes.
The programmers, especially, must be "on board" for the changes, as much as possible.
Let's remember that the survival of each programme depends on the survival of the whole station.
So even if a programme must change its time, that could be worth it if that helps the station itself survive. I am proposing herein that we keep every current programme.
Almost all of our programming has been coasting along for years--
and even declining in many respects.
That trend must be reversed radically.
You might object and say that we cannot do more, that we already are over-worked. That's true!
So the only practical answer is to double or triple our volunteer corps in order to accomplish all the extra work that is necessary.
Those of you who remember well, as I do, our first 15 years or so, will remember that the station was a hive of activity.
Often we had around 20 people on our premises working on various programmes, hanging around looking for how to help, arguing politics, proof-reading our Listener's Guide, sweeping, answering our much-busier phones, looking for love, etc. Compare that to now.
People coming to our station now generally do not feel so welcome, impressed, or useful.
A change is going to take leadership, wisdom, and a unifying attitude from you and from all of our co-op.
These ideas below might take 2 or more years to fully implement, and would be revised a lot, I'm sure.
And they might be totally junked if others come up with better plans.
A. New & revived programmes
A-1. In the early days of Co-op Radio we realized that we had to have consistent weekday (Monday-Friday) programmes in order to build
a large-enough loyal audience for our entire schedule.
We started "The Brown Bagger" and "The Rational", both every day Monday-Friday.
Currently we have "Democracy Now" from the USA
on Monday-Friday (when it doesn't get forgotten).
We have nothing else (and nothing we produce)
that's on now more than 3 days a week.
I propose the following 8 horizontal rows
(on our schedule in our Listener's Guide), every weekday (M-F).
That might take time to phase them all in.
We should give all the displaced programmes other good slots.
Times, titles, and everything else mentioned here can be revised.
time; M / F Programme title
midnight-1 am. "Make Jokes, Not War" All comedy,
usually pre-recorded, gender balanced.
6-7 am. "Democracy Now" As now scheduled.
7-9 am. "Wake Up with Co-op" Expand to 5 days,
2 h / day; possibly with a live audience at W2.
11 am-noon. "Call and Click" A live call-in talk programme;
listeners will telephone, e-mail, or text-message to us.
noon-1 pm. "The Brown Bagger" Lectures & speeches only,
as now on Tue. & Wed. only; gender balanced.
3-4 pm. "Brave Debaters" Real debates;
mostly live; gender balanced.
4-6 pm. Afternoon commute: various public-affairs
programmes, as described below.
6-7 pm. "The Co-op Radio News" Formerly
"The Rational". Possibly use "News 101" instead on
Mon. and Fri., as on CiTR 101.9 FM.
I can explain how each of those is so important, appealing, and feasible,
if that is not immediately obvious to you.
Of those 8 rows, only these 2 would necessitate more than 1 programmer to get them off the ground: "Call and Click" and "The Co-op Radio News".
In addition to those (consistently-named) programmes M-F, the afternoon commute (M-F, 4-6 pm), would also be a consistent horizontal band and would consist of some of our "public affairs" programmes in English.
The afternoon commute could become one of our prime times for listeners and donors, as is our morning commute.
That would mean moving 4 hours of music out of the 4-6 pm slot.
Into that slot I propose putting some of our existing public affairs programmes with the widest appeal which are now in less-desireable slots, such as these 6, especially:
"The F Word", "Radio Ecoshock", "Each for All",
"Think for Yourself", "People's Health Radio", and "Sne'waylh" (each an hour), and "WINGS" and "411 Seniors" (each 30 min).
A-2. Every Friday or Saturday evening from 9 pm to midnight:
"Co-op Dance Party:
local, live, benefit dance for Vancouver Co-operative Radio."
It could be broadcast from W2 with a live, dancing audience
(in the replacement for the Woodward's building).
We'll charge admission and earn $ for our station.
Discount admission for Co-op Radio members.
All events would be open to all ages. Free of alcohol and other drugs.
Sometimes live bands and sometimes playing recorded music, but all would be danceable.
Hosted and/or DJ'ed by a rotating crew from our other programmes.
Other possible venues: Vancouver Aboriginal Centre,
St. James Hall, WISE Hall, Carnegie Centre, SUB UBC, SFU, Britannia Centre, Capri Hall, Langara College, Unitarian Church, Russian Hall, Russian Community Centre, Ukrainian Hall.
Half or more of the live bands would have one or more females.
Half or more of the recorded music cuts played would be include one or more female musicians or composers.
B. Other schedule changes
B-1. We exist as a radio station to serve under-served listeners. But that doesn't mean we have to give our best time-slots to our least-heard programmes.
Therefore, programmes in our most popular time-slots almost always should be in English only:
Monday-Friday 6-9 am.
Every day 4-10 pm.
Non-English programmes should be stacked together (vertically in our "Guide at a Glance") as much as possible, as we often do already.
That policy is to minimize the instances of listeners turning off Co-op Radio because they have been hearing English but all of a sudden it's some language they don't understand.
B-2. Music programmes are a popular and essential part of our programming. That should continue.
However, we now have too much music on our schedule:
75 1/2 hours a week, about 45% of our total time
(as of our 2010 October Listener's Guide).
It's more than 45% if you include temporary fill-in programmes, etc.
That glut of music keeps us from accomplishing our larger goals of providing alternative information, building membership, and increasing revenue.
Luckily, we can "free up" badly-needed time-slots for non-music programmes without cancelling any programmes.
We can do that by gradually reducing our long music programmes to 1 hour each, especially from 9 am to midnight.
That will be relatively painless for us--and often will even be a welcome change for the listeners and volunteers.
An exception could be "Working Classics"--because a single symphony can be longer than 1 hour.
That new timing policy eventually will give us more than 18 hours a week to fill with non-music from 6 am to midnight.
Music then will be ~34% of our time--still quite a lot.
B-3. Before any schedule change, the Programme Committee should compare the schedules of all the other local radio stations, especially our main competitor, CBC radio.
C. Programme production & content --
C-1. Programmes should have 2 or more volunteers at a time helping in the studio throughout their programme, unless exempted for stated good reasons.
Excused could be programmes with little complicated live content, such as programmes of music recordings.
But even the music programmes are greatly enlivened if they have 2 hosts, as Paul Norton and Sue Malcolm have shown us lately when they present "In the Pines".
"Ragbag" has proven itself to be very well produced by one person, Steve Bowell.
C-2. Interviewers should not operate at the same time as they interview someone (in studio or on the phone).
They should get another person to operate or should pre-tape the interview.
C-3. We cannot compete with other stations with money.
The only other way for us to increase our audience to more of its potential is with superior content--especially our friendly, informed, energetic, engaging announcers.
We need more people who are (or will become) talented on-air personalities. However, some of the ones we have now don't speak into the mic often enough to engage the listener fully.
We should talk to the audience after every recording or 2, not 3. We need to beat other stations in this respect, not copy them. The commercial stations de-emphasize their DJs in order that the listener, desperate to hear human speech, listens more to the commercials. In that style, the music is more like Musak, which sedates rather than energizes the listener.
Most people listen to radio because they are lonely or bored.
They want good company.
They want to hear someone befriending them on the air,
not just a long succession of recordings.
Somebody warm, wacky, and/or wise!
And the listener wants to know what they've heard:
including the performers, titles, and composers of the music.
Unfortunately, after hearing 3 or more cuts in a row,
the listener usually has forgotten what song they were curious about.
An announcer then rattling off 3 or more bands and titles in a row is frustrating to the listener trying to figure out which is which--
and maybe try to write down their favourites.
The commercial stations frustrate the listener like that in hopes of making them dissatisfied enough to respond to the commercials.
C-4. Increase "station ID" announcements in English to every 15 minutes. We have to build more listener awareness and loyalty.
Those anouncements should include, as much as possible:
time of day, station name, call letters, frequency,
name of programme, and programme host(s).
We should interrupt even recorded programmes (such as "Democracy Now") to air our station ID, which we don't do now.
Also, at the end of a programme, let's be helpful and polite.
Let's state the name of the following programme, too.
C-5. Many of our mornings from 2 to 8 am are a total mess.
Programmes start late, if at all.
They leave a lot of "dead air" between programmes.
They forgo station ID in English, or often in any language.
They fail to mention the name of their programme and/or the name(s) of their hosts until well into their time-slot (often over 30 minutes).
They play a lot of recorded music with no description of it or friendly talk between the cuts.
They end a recorded programme before it's over (in mid-sentence or mid-song, etc.) with no apology.
Often a programme (such as Democracy Now) is replaced with nothing but one CD playing automatically over and over again.
Often it is very obvious to the listener that no one is in the studios.
No one is fixing the problems.
The companionship we could be offering the listener is instead just our computer or our CD player set on "repeat".
C-6. We should re-play specific programmes in permanent, published time-slots, not just announce "Public Affairs REBROADCAST" in our Listener's Guide, as we've been doing for years.
D. Other changes
D-1. The Programme Committee should put into their minutes--
and report to the board--
all exemptions they grant to the rules and policies,
and all lapses by the programmers.
All such lapses (such as a programme starting or ending more than 2 minutes late) should be reported by the programmers.
D-2. Are we still doing written listener assessments of individual programme episodes? (I wrote some decades ago on our special form when I was on your committee.)
We and our listeners not only should write them often, but we should post them on our Web pages.
D-3. Each programme should e-post (on our Web pages) a preview of each episode, with specific content, including probable playlists of music, interviews, etc.
That should be as far ahead as possible, and no less than 24 hours.
After the programme airs, they should revise the preview (if needed),
adding any new information or recordings that the programme included, etc.
For instance, listeners should be able to read our Web pages to get the guests' names, Web addresses, telephone numbers, upcoming event details, names of books and movies mentioned, etc.
The CBC radio Web publication offers those.
Our listener often cannot or does not write those down on first hearing.
D-4. Listeners should be able to sign up for e-reminders to listen to their favourite Co-op Radio programmes--
or even to ALL of our programames, if they want.
They can now, I am pleased to say, with "Redeye", which sends a nice summary of each upcoming episode's special content.
If a listener wants a reminder for more than one programme in a day,
she should be able to get them combined into one e-mailing a day.
D-5. Each programme should supply an up-to-date recording
("promo cart") promoting their particular programme,
so it can be played on other programmes.
It seems that most do not do so now.
Unlike in the past, our carts should emphasize, whenever possible, our fabulous hosts--by name and voice. That builds loyalty among listeners.
I don't know who is on your committee now.
Could each of you please acknowledge that you've received this, along with comments, if you wish? Thanks!
Published here in Co-op Radio Matters 2011 April 11.
End of page "Requests to Programme Committee".