KCBX to drop 'Afternoon Classics' and add news, talk shows

Public radio station KCBX is moving away from music programming and toward news and talk shows in an attempt to attract listeners more interested in current events than classical tunes.

Beginning in January, KCBX will drop “Afternoon Classics” — which currently airs 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — in favor of a slew of new shows, including “Fresh Air,” “TED Radio Hour” and “The Splendid Table.”

The new schedule debuts roughly five months after the station announced it will cease live broadcasts of San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meetings on Tuesdays.

Marissa Waddell, KCBX’s director of programming and new media, said the changes are the result of several months of evaluation and years of listener feedback.

“These decisions were not made on a whim,” she said. “We really, truly want to serve our community.”

KCBX serves between 43,000 and 48,000 listeners in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and southern Monterey counties, Waddell said. Its broadcasts can be heard as far north as Salinas and as far south as Montecito.

According to Waddell, KCBX’s weekday broadcasts of NPR’s “Morning Edition” draw at least 50 percent more listeners than any other program. “That’s where our core audience is,” she said.

To retain that audience’s attention, KCBX is offering a mix of locally and nationally produced programs, including “Central Coast Voices,” a community issues call-in show hosted by Kris Kington-Barker and Fred Munroe, and “The Reluctant Therapist,” Elizabeth Barrett’s mental health discussion show.

Guy Rathbun’s interview program “IdeaSphere,” formerly known as “An Evening With ” will switch from evenings to afternoons. And news magazine “Issues & Ideas” will move to an earlier time slot.

KCBX is currently searching for a news director to provide Central Coast coverage, Waddell said, adding that the station hopes to start airing local headlines by the middle of 2013.

“We can provide something that folks can’t get on their MP3 players: local news and local information,” she said.

Meanwhile, two music-oriented evening shows will join the weekday lineup: Andy Harp’s “KCBX in Concert,” showcasing local performing arts groups, and “The Road Home,” an Americana show hosted by Waddell herself.

Click here to see KCBX’s new schedule »

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