From time to time at the end of our fiscal year, WMUK reevaluates the performance and the renewal of programs we acquire and broadcast. This year our reevaluation process took into consideration the departure of a long-time host. On July 2nd, Garrison Keillor, the host of "A Prairie Home Companion" for several decades will retire the Saturday night program that has become a staple for many in our listening audience.
We have elected to continue "A Prairie Home Companion" in the Saturday Night slot for many reasons. The most prominent is the appeal of its vibrant young host, Chris Thile. I was fortunate to be in the audience during Chris's performance at Dalton Recital Hall last fall. Not only is he an amazing musician, performing everything from Bach to bluegrass on the mandolin, but he also clearly possesses the ability to assume the hosting duties required for "A Prairie Home Companion". The current plan is for Chris to produce 13 new shows the first year, to be mixed in with repeat shows created by Garrison Keillor from past years. Seeing this talented musician, singer and comedian onstage last year confirmed my belief that he will be an excellent fit for "A Prairie Home Companion" and will engage new audiences for public radio.
Other choices regarding programs for the coming year were a bit more difficult. Our listening audiences for our weeknight programs after 8 p.m. in the past year have not been what we have hoped they would be. Part of the problem has been that with a different program after 9 p.m. every weeknight it has difficult to build a consistent platform to capture evening listeners.
Beginning the week of July 4th, WMUK will re-broadcast a long-time classical music program, "Performance Today" between 8 and 10 p.m. on week nights. Hosted by Fred Child, this popular program has entertained and informed daytime WMUK classical music audiences for years with live performances from around the world for years. WMUK will continue to broadcast "Performance Today" from 1-3 p.m. weekday afternoons. Hopefully some of the program's strong daytime audience will be manifested in our evening audience.
These and other evening changes in the WMUK-1 schedule were made in conjunction with changes to WMUK-2 which will allow listeners to use 102.1 FM as a 24/7 classical music source if they choose to.