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The other shoe drops: WBFO + WNED = talk (mainly)

Starting tomorrow at 4 p.m., Buffalo’s two major NPR stations become one, as the same programming is simulcast on both WBFO (88.7 FM) and WNED (9.70 AM).

So far, most of the controversy surrounding the purchase of WBFO by WNED has been focused on the former’s blues and jazz programming, and what would happen to it. Now we know for sure: blues will continue at night on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 7 p.m. During the day, the simulcast programming will focus on such NPR favorites as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, On Point, Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, A Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, and other staples of public radio news and entertainment programming.

As for jazz, a new HD station, Jazzworks, will be broadcasting jazz 24/7 to WNY listeners who can listen to it via HD radio, web streaming, or a smartphone app.

With daytime music programming out of the way, time slots were available for most of the talk programming, but not all of it. Say good-bye to these WNED AM shows:

Left, Right, and Center
To the Best of Our Knowledge
The World

To the Point
PBS Newshour
A World of Possibilities
Travel with Rick Steves
Prime Time Radio
Perspectives with Curt Smith
Tech Nation
Law Line
The Health Show
Washington Week
New York Now

(Some of these shows were TV shows broadcast on radio; others were aired at off-times.)

Say hello to Day 6, a new Saturday afternoon program. Like As It Happens, it is a CBC offering. As for WBFO’s talk shows, all remain (including the local Theater Talk and Press Pass), in some form or other, while the individual music shows Jazz Favorites, Thistle and Shamrock, and Piano Jazz will be discontinued. BBC World Service will continue to run late night. There are other shifts—Capitol Pressroom moves to the evening and Bob Edwards Weekend moves to the afternoon, while Car Talk airs both Saturday and Sunday. People who just tune in for NPR news in the morning or afternoon won't notice most of these changes.

While  the talk programming that’s been cut won’t be loudly missed—the cuts were based mainly on listenership—WNY blues fans are probably disappointed, though WNED president Donald Boswell promised live performance and other local blues music to add vitality to the weekend blues segments. Boswell and others at the station are also focusing on potentially much larger Canadian audiences. Those north of the border like NPR standards as much as we do, apparently. Canadian radio listeners are also strangely fascinated by American politics.

Some listeners might be more concerned about the promise of more local news on the new combined station. Some might feel that more and better news programming is what Western New Yorkers need more than anything else.

Without good and accurate information about what's happening in our community, we'll all be singing the blues.

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