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From Neil Best's Desk: How We Look At Changes On The Radio

KUNC Pres. Neil Best

Changes in public radio have been in the headlines. Garrison Keillor told a newspaper in Massachusetts he would be retiring within the next year. That was followed by the announcement that after more than 12 years of anchoring All Things Considered, Melissa Block will be leaving that seat to become a Special Correspondent for NPR.

This is not the first time that Garrison has indicated plans for retirement. The difference being he also announced that Chris Thile will be the new host of A Prairie Home Companion. Thile is a mandolin player, member of the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, and a MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient. You may have heard him hosting for Garrison this last February. It is anticipated he will co-host A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison this season as part of a transition period.

In her new role Melissa will be producing richly reported profiles of figures in the forefront of thought and culture, as well as series on critical issues.

What does this mean for KUNC?

In the case of Melissa I think it means the various news magazines you hear on KUNC (Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition) will be enriched by Melissa's reporting ability. As an added bonus there will be an opportunity for the development of new talent at NPR as a new host will be named later this summer to work with current hosts Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish.

The changes at A Prairie Home Companion will be more vexing. For decades the show has been Garrison Keillor. Will the listening audience accept a new host, even as talented as Chris Thile is as a musician? If not, what is the alternative for two hours on Saturday afternoon?

It is our tradition to be open to new ideas, new programs, new ways to serve you, our audience. Many of the programs now considered indispensable received their first airings in Colorado on KUNC because of that approach.

As times change and audience needs change we endeavor to always be looking forward. That thinking drove our decision last summer to create space for new weekend programs. Shows like The Moth, Latino USA, Snap Judgment have found audiences on KUNC, while creating new and dynamic voices for the station.

An immediate change will take place this month as the program State of the Reunion ends production. In its place (Saturdays at 3 p.m.) we will offer a second airing of The Moth which has aired on KUNC Sunday mornings to really great reviews from you, the listening audience.

Coming to KUNC later this year will be Reveal, a weekly investigative news series produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting. We are currently airing the occasional reports from Reveal as part of our Sunday night Spotlight series.

Please know that our efforts and our goals are to always bring you the best programs that public radio has to offer.

Warm Regards,

President & CEO

PS: Your thoughts and comments are always welcome below... or you can reach out directly at neil.best@kunc.org, @neil_best, or 970.350.0806

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