KBCS announces expanded public affairs lineup

On August 24, KBCS Community Radio in Seattle will dramatically increase its weekday news and public affairs offerings, the station announced this week.

Under the new schedule, national news program The Takeaway will air early mornings Monday through Friday; the popular Democracy Now! morning broadcast will move from 6am to the more accessible hour of 8am. The afternoon rebroadcast of DN will begin at 3pm, followed by the Michael Eric Dyson Show at 4. 5pm programs will vary day by day; the lineup includes locally-produced programs One World Report and Voices of Diversity, the regional program Listen Up! Northwest, and nationally syndicated programs GRITRadio, CounterSpin, and The Sound of Young America (unfortunately the station plans to drop Making Contact).

Hard Knock Radio will air daily at 6pm, along with news headlines from Free Speech Radio News. The station's morning jazz lineup will be replaced by an eclectic format programmed by Earshot Jazz Festival impresario (and host of the KBCS program Caravan) John Gilbreath.

In a statement published on the station website, KBCS management describes the thinking behind the upcoming program changes: "Over the last three years, KBCS has undergone a rigorous process to better understand our audience… [involving] hours of interviews, volunteer and community meetings, street corner surveys, as well as extensive consideration of when and how KBCS listeners currently listen to us. This work has led us to the new programming we’ll present next month, programming we believe will offer deeper service to our listeners." Declining listenership poses challenges for KBCS. Dropoffs in contributions have been exacerbated by the recent financial crisis, hurting the station's ability to invest in its growing public affairs department.

Several of the displaced volunteer DJs have launched a web-based "Save KBCS" campaign, protesting the changes. The group's website savekbcs.org focuses on appeals from displaced DJs and listeners alarmed by what they perceive as a betrayal of the community station's core values. However, the basic issue seems to be the push-pull between music shows and public affairs/talk programming, which commonly causes friction at noncommercial stations making schedule changes.

More information about some of the new public affairs lineup:

The Michael Eric Dyson Show:

Award-winning author, scholar and social commentator Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is the host of a one-hour weekday news/talk radio show. “It is an honor to be at the helm of a show that is dedicated to providing valuable information, generating discussion about news of the day and the issues which affect our world, and giving a voice to those making a difference,” says host Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. “There are several topics about which I care deeply – politics, religion, economic policy, arts and culture – which will be regularly represented on the show. I hope that we will grow to become a go-to source for listeners who want to think, reflect and engage.” The show is produced by the African-American Public Radio Consortium in partnership with WEAA Baltimore.

The Takeaway:

The Takeaway, hosted by public radio veteran John Hockenberry, delivers national and international news and cultural stories through a conversational and personality-driven format. The web presence of the program strives to be a virtual public square, allowing listeners to respond immediately to news and participate in editorial decision-making, as well as building a significant online community around the content. The Takeaway is a unique partnership of global news leaders. It is a co-production of PRI (Public Radio International) and WNYC Radio in collaboration with the BBC World Service, The New York Times and WGBH Boston.

Hard Knock Radio:

Hard Knock Radio, out of KPFA Berkeley, is Pacifica Radio’s daily talk show for the hip hop generation. Hosts Davey D, Weyland Southon, Anita Johnson and Tsadae Abeba Neway feature in-depth interviews and profiles with elected officials, community leaders, activists, authors, Hip Hop artists and musicians. We give voice to community concerns and offer a unique forum to explore issues relevant to the hip hop/urban community.


GRITRadio with Laura Flanders is a weekly news and arts discussion show, with interactivity and a positive take on what's going on. Best-selling author and broadcaster Laura Flanders has built a reputation for presenting new perspectives on national and international issues, and for introducing non-traditional “experts” into the conventional political debate.

The Sound of Young America:

The brainchild of host and producer Jesse Thorn, "The Sound of Young America" is an irreverent weekly arts and entertainment interview program, described by its creator as "a public radio show about things that are awesome." An hour-long episode can showcase comedians, writers, punk rockers and rappers, each of whom Thorn interrogates with equal parts empathy and enthusiasm. Salon.com wrote, "If you've never heard 'The Sound of Young America,' then 'The Sound of Young America' is the greatest radio show you've never heard."


CounterSpin is a weekly, half-hour radio program produced by the progressive media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). It is hosted by Janine Jackson, Steve Rendall, and Peter Hart, and describes itself as offering "a critical examination of the major stories every week (that) exposes what the mainstream media might have missed in their own coverage."

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey