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Back of KPBS line – A Way With Words, Fresh Air, Lawrence Welk

Pushed to front – Latino USA, Our Body Politic

KPBS-FM makes a major weekend commitment to minority-hosted shows like Our Body Politic with Farai Chideya. - Image by Daneka Peniston
KPBS-FM makes a major weekend commitment to minority-hosted shows like Our Body Politic with Farai Chideya.

Retired educator Doug Knox is a fan of KPBS radio/TV. As a $100-a-month supporter of the non-commercial stations, he's in the KPBS Producer's Club. KPBS thanks those members by giving them access to special events and social activities. Knox went to Iceland five years ago on a trip organized for KPBS Producer's Club members.

A Way With Words, hosted here in San Diego by locals Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, was moved to 5am Sunday.

Knox, who lives in Crown Point, was not consulted on a recent programming change which impacted one of his favorite shows on KPBS-FM. He has been a longtime fan of A Way With Words, a weekly one-hour show on language that features callers from across the country.

"I just like language and how they play with it," says Knox. "It's fun to hear where the words come from."

A Way With Words, which is hosted here in San Diego by locals Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, was taken off its longtime 3pm Sunday slot and moved to 5am Sunday.

The station makes it clear that A Way With Words is available via podcast. But Knox, who only listens to KPBS-FM in the car, says downloading radio shows is just something he doesn't do. "I vote for putting A Way With Words back on a time when I am awake."

Also cancelled by KPBS-FM in July was Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross.

Docent Betty Peabody has been volunteering in Balboa Park for 52 years. She is a longtime supporter of KPBS and A Way With Words. She tells how she used to talk up the show to former SDSU President Stephen Weber. "I told him this is exactly the kind of show we want to hear on NPR. It covers every culture, all our different dialects – whether our words came from Greek or Roman roots. It is a huge asset, and it's right from our own back yard. This is one of the few NPR shows that really embraces the young people who call in and get put on the air."

Peabody says she hates to have it pushed down [to 5 am]. "It's on at a reasonable time in hundreds of different other communities. What's wrong with here in its own hometown?"

Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA move into A Way With Words' Sunday slot.

Peabody doesn't podcast either. "I just entered my 90th year. I do not use a computer and I don't have devices to record things. If I don't watch or listen to them in actual time I don't get to hear them at all."

Recent weekend programming changes made by KPBS management suggests A Way With Words' exile to a pre-sunrise hour may have come at the expense of KPBS' heavy embrace of minority-themed shows. Latino USA took A Way With Words' former time slot. It's Been a Minute and Our Body Politic are now aired twice Friday-through-Sunday. A Way With Words has only ever taken up one hour per weekend.

Our Body Politic is self-described as "A podcast unapologetically reporting how women of color impact today's political events." One segment on It's Been a Minute was called "constant images of Black pain in the news."

KPBS-TV just ended a commitment to air repeats of the Lawrence Welk Show Saturdays at 6pm.

KPBS Producers Club member Knox says he is all for minority-focused programming. "But it seems like they could find someplace better than 5 in the morning for A Way With Words. A different Producer's Club member who declined to be named says the changes may be due to a Black Lives Matter over-reaction and that, "the pendulum will eventually swing back."

Here's how John Decker, KPBS Interim Associate General Manager describes the new format tweaks. "The changes in our programming lineup allow for other programs to be added to the schedule and bring new audiences to public media. It is common practice to shift schedules around in response to audience interest and content that reflects current, important social conversations."

Also cancelled by KPBS-FM in July was Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross. Of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in the U.S., only San Diego/KPBS now does not carry Fresh Air. (San Diego is the 16th largest radio market). Decker indicates Fresh Air's cancelation was over money.

"We are stewards of our members' donations, and we have to make fiscally sound decisions that serve the needs of the organization," Decker says via email. "Keeping Fresh Air - long after it made sense to do so financially - was no longer prudent. The programming schedule changes are an effort to redistribute some of our programming funds and time slots in support of our needs in the podcast and digital content area."

But A Way With Words is provided to KPBS for free. Grants and other financial sources allow the show to be delivered to NPR stations in 40 states at no charge. "When we do a fundraising campaign, thousands of our listeners donate to keep making new radio and podcast episodes," says Barrett.

Neither Barnette or co-host Barrett were bitter over their new KPBS time slot. "We are the chefs, we are not the restaurant owner who is entitled to make changes to the menu," says Barnette. "As chefs, we are responsible for making the best possible cuisine we can." Barrett says he would prefer to return to the afternoon, but, "They are our [airwave] landlords and we want to keep them happy."

A Way With Words started in San Diego as a KPBS in-house show in 1998. Author Martha Barnette became host in 2004. When lexicographer Grant Barrett took over as co-host in 2006, A Way With Words was syndicating to a other stations. In 2007, a company formed by Barnette, Barrett, and executive producer Stefanie Levine took over the show's ownership and production from KPBS.

Only a handful of nationally distributed broadcast programs originate in San Diego. The pro--Trump One America News Network provides a 24-hour TV news/opinion feed on select cable and satellite systems.

Skratch 'N Sniff is a two-hour weekly music show created in 2003 and is now carried on some 50 rock radio stations including San Diego's Rock 105. The show features songs by Foo Fighters, Daughtry, and Alice in Chains remixed or – mashed – together with techno or hip-hop beats.

Meanwhile KPBS-TV just ended a decades-old commitment to air repeats of the hour-long Lawrence Welk Show Saturdays at 6pm. "I grew up watching it," says tech firm accountant James Frost of Fallbrook. "It was always present at our house back in Nebraska. It was good, clean, hokey fun."

The Lawrence Welk Show, a mix of accordions, polkas, and American pop standards, aired Saturday nights on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1971 and then in syndication until 1982. KPBS-TV has aired Welk re-runs since the 90s.

"It was part of American culture. It was goofy stuff but the musicians were top notch." Frost says emotional Irish tenor Joe Feney, the ever-smiling Lennon Sisters, and ragtime pianist Jo An Castle were household names. "Lawrence would dance with a couple old ladies and you just know it was the highlight of their lives. I remember once they had a couple sing 'One Toke Over the Line,' and they had no idea what the song was about. It's a piece of Americana culture that was embedded in our lives, especially those of us from the Midwest."

Yet Frost says he understands why KPBS may have pulled the plug on Welk. "The original fan base was people like my parents who were born before World War II. They loved the show but there aren't so many of them around anymore. As the population ages, there's just less of a demand for Lawrence Welk."

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KPBS-FM makes a major weekend commitment to minority-hosted shows like Our Body Politic with Farai Chideya. - Image by Daneka Peniston
KPBS-FM makes a major weekend commitment to minority-hosted shows like Our Body Politic with Farai Chideya.

Retired educator Doug Knox is a fan of KPBS radio/TV. As a $100-a-month supporter of the non-commercial stations, he's in the KPBS Producer's Club. KPBS thanks those members by giving them access to special events and social activities. Knox went to Iceland five years ago on a trip organized for KPBS Producer's Club members.

A Way With Words, hosted here in San Diego by locals Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, was moved to 5am Sunday.

Knox, who lives in Crown Point, was not consulted on a recent programming change which impacted one of his favorite shows on KPBS-FM. He has been a longtime fan of A Way With Words, a weekly one-hour show on language that features callers from across the country.

"I just like language and how they play with it," says Knox. "It's fun to hear where the words come from."

A Way With Words, which is hosted here in San Diego by locals Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, was taken off its longtime 3pm Sunday slot and moved to 5am Sunday.

The station makes it clear that A Way With Words is available via podcast. But Knox, who only listens to KPBS-FM in the car, says downloading radio shows is just something he doesn't do. "I vote for putting A Way With Words back on a time when I am awake."

Also cancelled by KPBS-FM in July was Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross.

Docent Betty Peabody has been volunteering in Balboa Park for 52 years. She is a longtime supporter of KPBS and A Way With Words. She tells how she used to talk up the show to former SDSU President Stephen Weber. "I told him this is exactly the kind of show we want to hear on NPR. It covers every culture, all our different dialects – whether our words came from Greek or Roman roots. It is a huge asset, and it's right from our own back yard. This is one of the few NPR shows that really embraces the young people who call in and get put on the air."

Peabody says she hates to have it pushed down [to 5 am]. "It's on at a reasonable time in hundreds of different other communities. What's wrong with here in its own hometown?"

Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA move into A Way With Words' Sunday slot.

Peabody doesn't podcast either. "I just entered my 90th year. I do not use a computer and I don't have devices to record things. If I don't watch or listen to them in actual time I don't get to hear them at all."

Recent weekend programming changes made by KPBS management suggests A Way With Words' exile to a pre-sunrise hour may have come at the expense of KPBS' heavy embrace of minority-themed shows. Latino USA took A Way With Words' former time slot. It's Been a Minute and Our Body Politic are now aired twice Friday-through-Sunday. A Way With Words has only ever taken up one hour per weekend.

Our Body Politic is self-described as "A podcast unapologetically reporting how women of color impact today's political events." One segment on It's Been a Minute was called "constant images of Black pain in the news."

KPBS-TV just ended a commitment to air repeats of the Lawrence Welk Show Saturdays at 6pm.

KPBS Producers Club member Knox says he is all for minority-focused programming. "But it seems like they could find someplace better than 5 in the morning for A Way With Words. A different Producer's Club member who declined to be named says the changes may be due to a Black Lives Matter over-reaction and that, "the pendulum will eventually swing back."

Here's how John Decker, KPBS Interim Associate General Manager describes the new format tweaks. "The changes in our programming lineup allow for other programs to be added to the schedule and bring new audiences to public media. It is common practice to shift schedules around in response to audience interest and content that reflects current, important social conversations."

Also cancelled by KPBS-FM in July was Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross. Of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in the U.S., only San Diego/KPBS now does not carry Fresh Air. (San Diego is the 16th largest radio market). Decker indicates Fresh Air's cancelation was over money.

"We are stewards of our members' donations, and we have to make fiscally sound decisions that serve the needs of the organization," Decker says via email. "Keeping Fresh Air - long after it made sense to do so financially - was no longer prudent. The programming schedule changes are an effort to redistribute some of our programming funds and time slots in support of our needs in the podcast and digital content area."

But A Way With Words is provided to KPBS for free. Grants and other financial sources allow the show to be delivered to NPR stations in 40 states at no charge. "When we do a fundraising campaign, thousands of our listeners donate to keep making new radio and podcast episodes," says Barrett.

Neither Barnette or co-host Barrett were bitter over their new KPBS time slot. "We are the chefs, we are not the restaurant owner who is entitled to make changes to the menu," says Barnette. "As chefs, we are responsible for making the best possible cuisine we can." Barrett says he would prefer to return to the afternoon, but, "They are our [airwave] landlords and we want to keep them happy."

A Way With Words started in San Diego as a KPBS in-house show in 1998. Author Martha Barnette became host in 2004. When lexicographer Grant Barrett took over as co-host in 2006, A Way With Words was syndicating to a other stations. In 2007, a company formed by Barnette, Barrett, and executive producer Stefanie Levine took over the show's ownership and production from KPBS.

Only a handful of nationally distributed broadcast programs originate in San Diego. The pro--Trump One America News Network provides a 24-hour TV news/opinion feed on select cable and satellite systems.

Skratch 'N Sniff is a two-hour weekly music show created in 2003 and is now carried on some 50 rock radio stations including San Diego's Rock 105. The show features songs by Foo Fighters, Daughtry, and Alice in Chains remixed or – mashed – together with techno or hip-hop beats.

Meanwhile KPBS-TV just ended a decades-old commitment to air repeats of the hour-long Lawrence Welk Show Saturdays at 6pm. "I grew up watching it," says tech firm accountant James Frost of Fallbrook. "It was always present at our house back in Nebraska. It was good, clean, hokey fun."

The Lawrence Welk Show, a mix of accordions, polkas, and American pop standards, aired Saturday nights on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1971 and then in syndication until 1982. KPBS-TV has aired Welk re-runs since the 90s.

"It was part of American culture. It was goofy stuff but the musicians were top notch." Frost says emotional Irish tenor Joe Feney, the ever-smiling Lennon Sisters, and ragtime pianist Jo An Castle were household names. "Lawrence would dance with a couple old ladies and you just know it was the highlight of their lives. I remember once they had a couple sing 'One Toke Over the Line,' and they had no idea what the song was about. It's a piece of Americana culture that was embedded in our lives, especially those of us from the Midwest."

Yet Frost says he understands why KPBS may have pulled the plug on Welk. "The original fan base was people like my parents who were born before World War II. They loved the show but there aren't so many of them around anymore. As the population ages, there's just less of a demand for Lawrence Welk."

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