Well, not quite. But next week, pledge drive and all, will be crazy and I wanted to take a minute this week to commemorate a year of Midday Matters. What fun this has been and what an accomplishment for such a small staff to pull this off and do it so well.
A bit of history – we learned last January that NPR was discontinuing Day to Day, the hour-long show that ran in our noon time slot, because of budget cuts. Most stations started to scramble to find suitable replacements, but we saw it as an opportunity to run with an idea that had been percolating for a while — a strip of locally produced news/community affairs programs that would bring topics of local interest to our listeners and invite the community to process that information with us. Brave or naive, whatever it was, we geared up.
Great examples of locally produced talk shows are everywhere, but we had trouble finding a model that seemed to fit our station and our community. But, through a chance meeting at a conference, discovered Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s morning shows, set up in a way that seemed to make good sense. A host that stayed the same each day, a local expert on the topic of the day, guests from the broad community, and the ability for listeners to participate via phone. The MPB folks were generous with us, giving us all sorts of things to help get us going and we were off.
We settled on our five topics, knowing that we wanted to have a news review day, something for the arts, health, and probably finance. MPB’s Director of Radio said, “You’ve got to have a gardening show.” I will admit I was skeptical – a what? And of course, the rest is history.
We are so grateful that when we approached Joe Weiler, Deb Romary, Dr. Deb McMahan, Ricky Kemery, and Julia Meek, they all said a resounding “Yes.” And the family has grown as we so often include Dan Stockman of the Journal Gazette and Bob Caylor of the News-Sentinel on Mondays. These “resident experts” as we know them, provide so much content, energy, expertise, and vision for community service. There’s no way MM would be happening without what they bring and they all do it for the satisfaction of knowing that great information is being shared with listeners and then passed on even further into the community.
And of course, we just scored big when Phil Shaull agreed to come on board as the producer and host for Midday Matters. Phil’s easy style and rapport with guests is such a plus. And he has a pretty scary ability to talk, listen, read email, manage phone lines, work the ops board, and write smart alec text messages to the phone screener, all at the same time. He’s the driving force and we’re so glad he’s on our team.
As we look ahead to year two, we’ll probably make some changes. We’ve got two sets of rating scores showing us what you listen to most and with a year of experience under our belt, are a little more savvy about what it takes to keep these programs going. We’d like to include more science and tech somehow, Phil’s dying to get some sports in there somewhere, and we’re always looking for ways to better highlight the great work of the not for profit organizations in our community.
So, much to think about, much to celebrate, much to be grateful for. And of course, none of it would matter (midday or otherwise) if folks weren’t listening. Your thoughts and opinions do count and we’re always glad to hear about what you’d like to hear when you turn on that noontime radio.
Happy Birthday, Midday Matters!