Ask the President: Bill Kling discusses WCAL purchase

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On August 10th, Minnesota Public Radio announced that St. Olaf College had accepted its bid of $10.5 million for the college's radio station, WCAL, also known as Classical 89.3. Minnesota Public Radio President Bill Kling joins Gary Eichten to answer questions from MPR listeners about buying WCAL and a range of other topics.

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(00:00:00) Austin (00:00:00) Florida still assessing the extent of hurricane Charlie's impact on residents while people are cleaning up what's left of their homes and businesses many of them are doing so knowing. The storm has also wiped out their jobs from Member station WG see you in Fort Myers Ryan Warner reports the storm destroyed businesses and left many others without power as a result nearly 50,000 people may be unemployed. That's according to the state's Labor Department. Spokesman war in May says Florida will use federal dollars to create a temporary jobs program, which will also help in rebuilding they'll be able to work in a variety of jobs either in Demolition and reconstruction in humanitarian Services. As long as those services are being provided to a not-for-profit organization. May says similar programs followed earthquakes in California and the 9/11 attacks for NPR news. I'm Ryan Warner (00:00:56) in Fort Myers, (00:00:57) Florida on Wall Street the Dow Jones Just real average is down 31 points at 10050 one. That's in moderate trading of 625 million shares. The NASDAQ composite index is down about four points at 1826 the sp500 down to at 1093. This is NPR support for NPR comes from the Joyce Foundation protecting the Great Lakes fresh water at the heart of America on the web at Joyce FD n dot org from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Steven John austin-based Hormel Foods saw investors Pummel its share price today after the company announced earnings that were below expectations or Mel's operating profit Rose 28 percent in the third quarter, but analysts had predicted growth of 36% hormones stock price fell more than ten percent in the first three hours of trading its biggest drop in two years president. Jeff Edinger says turkey sales grew but not as much as Company had hoped I agreen cause have significant increase our cost of goods within both our protein businesses and particularly for the Jennie-O turkey store segment at Andrew says sales of spam have been mostly flat and sales are falling for products like canned hash and Dinty Moore beef stew at the same time the beef and pork that go into these products are becoming more expensive at injure says the good news is that grain prices are falling again and hormonal expects strong results in the coming year from a new line of chili Metro. Transit officials. Say fares collected during the first month of operating the Hiawatha light rail line were about 105 thousand dollars higher than expected but expenses were also higher than projected because the Transit Agency added trains and extended hours to serve crowds traveling to twins games at the Metrodome. The release of the revenue report follows news that ridership for the First full month of operation was double expectations. It was a frosty morning in parts of Minnesota. The National Weather Service says Tower had an overnight low of 25 degrees while Baris dipped 227 International Falls Duluth and Morris all set record lows in the mid 30s wind gusts near 50 miles per hour ushered in the latest cold front causing power outages yesterday for thousands of Rural Electric customers. The next cold front will drop into Minnesota this afternoon bringing another shot of cool air this evening. That's news from Minnesota Public Radio. All right. Thank you Stephen at six minutes past 12:00. And good afternoon. Welcome back to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten, but you've probably heard the news by now. Minnesota Public Radio is buying Northfield based public radio station WCA lfm, the station owned by st. Olaf College in Northfield has been on the air since 1922 and over the years gained a national reputation for its classical and sacred music programs. However, the college says st. Olaf students will benefit more by adding the proceeds from the sale and a half million dollars to the college endowment as you might imagine the announcement has caused quite a stir and joining us today to talk about that story and whatever else you'd like to discuss is Minnesota Public Radio President Bill Clinton. Yes, it's asked the president day again. And if you have a question or a comment for Minnesota Public Radio President Bill Clinton, we invite Give us a call six five one two two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand. That's our Twin City area number toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 or go to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question Bill. Welcome back to midday. Thanks. Gary. Nice to be here. So why buy WCA L Minnesota Public Radio already has a classical music station in the Twin City metropolitan area. (00:04:58) We've been watching the college the way colleges around the country have been determining that they can't afford to keep their public radio stations over the years and just in the last few years. We've had colleges and Colorado and Johns Hopkins out in Maryland, Portland, Oregon the District of Columbia this week Grace University in Omaha. We got a call saying there station is for sale Vo-Tech college and Dallas University of Northern Michigan is looking at what they can do. So colleges are are making the same decision saying all of had as seems to have come to which is that they they have a very clear Mission and the radio stations were something they wanted to provide for the community, but they they it just doesn't fit as well as it once did so we have let Say No Love No, we told them 10 years ago that They were ever going to sell wcl we hope they come to us first. Because it is a public radio station and that's what we do. And if there's a possibility that they can't maintain it then we thought we could try to do it. We have a single purpose of single Mission which is to provide Public Radio Service. And that's a very good frequency serving the Twin Cities. There are all kinds of programming ideas that have been percolating here for years that we can't accommodate on the two stations that we have. So we think we could do something exciting with it. We could do something that serves the community well and when they decided to sell it we decided that rather than have it be sold to some entity that wouldn't provide Public Service broadcasting we would go after it. (00:06:49) Do you know it was reported today in the Star Tribune that an organization called the educational media Foundation which is described as one of the country's largest non-commercial written religious broadcasters report. The offered st. Olaf even more money than the ten and a half million that Minnesota Public Radio would be paying. Do you know why your bid was accepted and there's was not (00:07:13) well, I think no, I don't know because I wasn't in the debate at st. Olaf and really that's a st. Olaf College answer but I but we did know the broker that was representing. The college did tell me that there was a another bidder they did tell me that our bid would have to be more aggressive. We said we really couldn't be any more aggressive than we had been. He did tell me that it was one of the National Religious broadcasters educational media Foundation actually operates a series of radio stations called K Love and they are basically Christian music and religious teachings. I think saying all of concluded that for the good of the community if they once they made the decision to sell it this is just my speculation, but it seems to me that they decided what would be best for the community and what would be best for the college in terms of the long Legacy it is it is had of serving the community. They've spent an awful lot of money over the last 50 years subsidizing radio for this community. So we had a cash offer. I understand from the broker that it was not the highest cash offer. But we did say we were able to work out some things with the university with the college was soon all college about providing promotional announcements about our ability because we do the same thing they do the staff of the station many of the staff will be able to be accommodated in open positions here at Minnesota Public Radio Etc. So it was a much friendlier. You're fit. I think I would say for the college and they made the decision that only they will fully understand and could fully explain but it seems to me they made the decision in the best interests of this community and week. I certainly commend them for that (00:09:15) lots of listener questions. I want to get to those but a couple more one having to do with the finances ten and a half million dollars. Where will that come (00:09:25) from? Well, because we didn't know this was going to happen. We are we aren't really in a position to come up with 10 million dollars, but we have the ability this company has no debt and we've never had any long-term debt. We've had short-term debt where we bought for instance we bought 99.5 back in 1992. I think it was and we borrowed the money for 99.5. We split our services so that we had classical music full time on one channel or almost full-time and news and Nation full time on the other channel the audience has doubled we had major gifts given to us for / for increasing our service and we had more membership support. So the station was ultimately paid off in that way and we're hoping the same thing will happen this time. We're going out on a limb. We're borrowing the money to do it. We see ourselves. This is really something we could not. Not not do because this is a public radio frequency, which if it were sold to someone else would be gone would be would be unavailable for public service use. So we have the balance sheet it strong enough. We can borrow the money and we'll hope that we are going to be able to find some people that will help us pay it off (00:10:44) now more than a few letters to the editor people who are not happy about this and said, well, that's fine, Minnesota Public Radio, but if you've got ten million dollars to willy-nilly by a radio station you sure as heck don't need my membership money. (00:10:59) Well we do and as I just explained we don't have ten million dollars, so we may be making a mistake that will come back to bite us later. But it didn't last time last time the audience doubled last time we were able to pay off the purchase price of 99.5 in the Twin Cities and we bought other stations. We bought a station in Duluth commercial station that enables us to have dual channel in Duluth. So Could be that it's the wrong decision. But we think it's the best decision for the community and we think that we didn't have a choice but to go ahead and and to acquire the (00:11:35) station. All right, let's get to some listener questions. Now Bill cling is our guest this our Minnesota Public Radio president. This is one of our periodic asked the president programs a chance for you to talk with the president of Minnesota Public Radio get your questions answered about what's happening at the radio station. Let me give you the phone number dont call right now though. We have a full Bank of callers, but as the calls clear as lines clear, you can get your question on 6512276 Thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight write it down and try us in a few minutes or six five. One two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight four you again can use our online service go to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question Victoria. Your first go ahead, please. Thank you. I'm bill. Please don't change the BCI. You can't make it. That are you can mass-market it you can turn it into a mass Market radio station. Also, we don't want it to turn into a caliph station. We don't want it Evangelical eyes. We like it the way it is and that's why we've been supporting it if there's any way that I would continue supporting it under mpr's ownership. Is there any way I could keep my money separate so I would not be and supporting any NPR programming. (00:12:46) No, I don't think so. I mean either you feel that NPR is providing a service to this community and you support it as some 85 or 86 thousand people do or not. But I we certainly understand what WCA L is we have we just counting up we have six current staff that I could think of here used to work at WCA L including Eric nikamoda who makes all of the decisions on where programming will be fit into our schedules Etc. W CL is got at least three maybe four people who used to work including their manager. John Gatto used to work Minnesota Public Radio. So we know each other pretty well and I can't imagine that we are going to have any difficulty at all deciding what the best use of the station is the the course of the controversy is will we keep to classical music stations? And I think that's unlikely if you look at the major cities in this country the top 50 cities half of them don't have even one full-time classical music station, and these are cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta and Miami and San Diego in Detroit. So we've been exceptionally fortunate what we what we do want to be sure is that there is classical music in in one form or another all of the time. So it's very likely that we will have a morning classical music show as wcl is had Many years in which has been something that many listeners have have liked. We also have the morning program which is one of the most popular things we do in Minnesota Public Radio and we have Morning Edition, but with three channels we ought to be able to accommodate all of those (00:14:40) formats. If and I understand that this is all subject to public comment and lots of meetings and so on so forth, but if Bill cling tomorrow were to program this new station, what would you do with it? (00:14:53) We he wouldn't be smarter than that. (00:14:56) Is this all pledged all the time all (00:14:59) of you and I do together Gary. That's of course what we would do the seriously, I mean what what (00:15:04) what are you thinking about? You must have something in your mind's eye that well, this is something that we really have always thought about maybe trying and now we've got snot a place to do it. What's a couple of things number (00:15:15) one? There are a whole lot of programs that we get emails and letters and calls about every every week that are not carried in this market. So that's Possibility there's another possibility that and we've been thinking about this for two or three years. We do have as you suggest a whole series of format ideas world music is another that people have talked about we've got more ideas than the channel can possibly accommodate but I think that one thing we do know is that it will add to the to the diversity of public radio programming available in the Twin Cities, and that's a good thing. And as we found when we added a 99.5 the audience doubled I would be very happy if we could come anywhere near close to doubling the audience Again by the addition of this channel, but what we're going to do and we've said we do have ideas but we are we've been really impressed by some of the emails that have come to us from people saying here's what I would do if if I had the opportunity without station, so we're going to put up a website it's not Yet it won't be there until after the final closing on the station and ask you for your best ideas. There's no guarantee that we'll do that. We're not going to devoted to democratically vote on a program schedule because these are things best done by professionals. But we want the ideas. We will look at them carefully and we'll try to put together the best third service that the Twin Cities can accommodate (00:16:51) Chris your question, please yes, I do another classical station at the same time. I think this is an exciting opportunity. I'm glad I'm heartened to hear that you that you are considering World music. I'm a classical music fan who also loves Jazz and World music and I'm hoping that you know, you will have a more adventurous playlist or our repertoire and the next and your room programming of the Um, you know the new WCA lru but I don't know if you're going to even keep the same call letters but Jazz would be good full-time jazz station. Anyway, those are my thoughts (00:17:40) one of the other things that we will add I should add to that is that we want this to be local we want this to reflect the community. So whatever we do on it, whether it's a music format or an information format we want it to to to get is deeply into the community as possible and bring out whether it's musicians who fit that format or whether it's issues and discussion Etc it in my mind has it's one of its primary criteria to be local. (00:18:15) Let's see, how are your next? Go ahead, please? Yeah. I want to know, you know, one of the things I appreciate it was the st. Olaf. College providing the chapel service and also Central Lutheran's programming on on Sunday evenings. Are you going to be doing any of that is that totally off the charts now? I mean, we won't have any the benefit of that nowadays. (00:18:39) I would be surprised if we did that. I don't know whether this is a true story and I'm somebody once told me that the call letters WCA L stand for calling all Lutheran's and that that went way back to the early days when the immigrants came to Minnesota and many of them from the Scandinavian countries didn't speak English and the station was a rallying point where programming was done in foreign languages Don even up through the 60s. I think in foreign languages, so it's had a very strong Lutheran tradition, but in in our environment that is probably not something that we would maintain we would have no reason to emphasize any particular religion. We will have religious shows or spiritual shows such as speaking of Faith but not probably not a chapel (00:19:28) service Rosemary from Richfield sends in an online question asking do we get our live and Uncut st. Olaf Christmas concert this year or not? And if not, why (00:19:40) not Rosemary? I would tell you that if I have any control over this radio station, you will absolutely get the Christmas concert from st. Olaf and we'll also send it out as a national broadcast. We have been envious of that broadcast for many years. It's not been available to us and we would be delighted to put it on the air. So I think you can count on it. (00:20:03) Is there any chance that the sale won't go through? (00:20:08) I suppose there's always a chance Gary but pretty well caught it is wrong. It's likely I would say that it would go through but we of course it requires governmental approvals as well as legal approvals and sign-offs from various parties, but it looks good. (00:20:23) Mmm mark your question place. Yes, we've been listeners and supporters of NPR for about 10 years and over the last couple of years. We changed our financial support over 2W cael simply because we felt that the the commercial flavor on NPR was becoming too prominent and I had a question as to whether you will try to maintain the lower commercial flavor of w scal that I think is important to many listeners. (00:20:55) Well, I know what you're saying and it's a toss-up between telling listeners as much as we tell them these days about things that we're doing. We're trying to engage audiences not only by radio but Also in person to come to the Fitzgerald theater to go out to the state fair to C A Prairie Home Companion Etc. We do have underwriting support for the program's the good news. Is that the things that we're doing on air which I believe are still very low-key compared to if you tuned over to a commercial station lately. If you haven't done it do it and then give me a call back because I think you'll find there's an extraordinary early low-key approach here compared to what's happening in commercial radio. So I think that you'll find that that what we do at MPR our classical music draws about four times the number of listeners that the WCA L signal has been drawing now that doesn't mean anything. Other than that that we're doing a good job in the audience likes it. We want to be very careful not to do something that would switch us back. We'd rather have our audience size three hundred and twenty or thirty thousand people then double ucl's audiences. We don't want it. We don't want to reverse the success at the same time. We've heard a lot from people about what they value about WCA L and some of the WCA all staff will be coming to work here but interestingly, you know, many of them already are John Zack firm. For example, many of you remember from his honor shifts at wcl and he's on the air here. So the Is a really not very much different. I looked at just randomly yesterday at the schedule and found Virgil Thomson second Symphony. That's not a that's not a warhorse. We found the piano Concerto Number Two by Franz Xavier sklar Svenska. I'm not even sure I can pronounce that correctly, but that's not a word. So the diversity is there there is a slightly different approach. We're listening to what you're saying about it. We want it to be the most successful service for you. And at the same time we don't want to go backwards we want we don't want to become so esoteric that we're doing it for the those who have music education degrees as opposed to the general public. (00:23:34) What about this? Another criticism that has been that has come up Sir regarding the sale of and I'm thinking specifically of Other newspaper columns that have been written about about this and you see words like conglomerate Minnesota Public Radio Monopoly insatiable appetite swallowed up another station and so on. What about that? I mean our is Minnesota Public Radio out to conquer the world to gain control over every radio station in the state or what? (00:24:10) Well, you know, we got a long way to go. But before we do that Gary most of them are commercial stations, that's unlikely. You hear that every time we do something when we bought 99.5 here in the Twin Cities 10 years ago people said exactly the same thing and I don't know what we can do about that except that it's people say it. Oh, they're buying commercial stations. Now, what are they going to do next? Then we put it in use we split the format. So that listening is more rational and the audience doubles and the membership Rises and The Support for the institution grows. It seems to me that those are the right decisions and adding this station. I mean if you think back to where we came from we were part of st. John's University St. John's University started Minnesota Public Radio in 1969. The president of St. John's who was responsible for the the founding Minnesota Public Radio father Coleman Barry went to see the president of st. Olaf and said, why don't we do this together? Why don't all the private colleges get together and create a Statewide Public Radio Service. He also went to the president of Concordia College which at that time had applied for radio license. Many of the institutions joined together we have in terms of the the colleges that are supporting is the College of Saint Benedict st. John's University Luther College Concordia College in Moorhead the College of st. Scholastica, Michigan Tech in on the upper peninsula and the University of Minnesota Morris. Those institutions have said we can do this more efficiently together than we can separately and they're absolutely right. You don't have to have complete infrastructure for each one of those institutions. We have one membership system that serves 35 stations. St. Olaf College wcl has its own membership system. Well, that's something that can be Consolidated in and that'll be a savings. We have one technology department. We have one legal department. We have one human resource department. We have all kinds of what I call back office infrastructure that will Be much more efficient in terms of running these stations together and I think the track record shows that if you can do it that way you end up with the best public radio in the country and there is all I can't find anyone. That's knowledgeable about this industry. That doesn't say that Minnesota Public Radio is the best public radio in the country even some of the columns that were critical ended up saying, well, actually it's the best there is but you know, we wish they wouldn't do this and they wouldn't do that and they wouldn't do something else. We do it as best we can we make the judgments that seemed right and we hope that we continue to provide this state in this region with the best public radio in the country (00:27:09) Stephanie your question, please I wanted to ask in particular about Harmony and the distal and Shamrock. Those are two programs that I really enjoy from WCA L. And I was hoping MPR would continue to carry those. (00:27:24) That's exactly what we will collect on the website that I talked about. And since you've raised it now will write it down. Now, I can't say right now what whether those would be there or whether they won't but we want to know what you care about and then we'll put together a format that works. There is a an old rule in this business that if you are never predictable that is to say if you run Opera one minute and Bluegrass the next hour and Country Western the hour after that and news and information the our next to that that you don't draw any kind of a significant audience. So there is an art to developing a format what the best elements of that are is what we will try to put together and knowing what you care about will instruct us. Let (00:28:11) me shift gears just a bit here Chef subjects and take an online question from Peter Minneapolis. Who asked what influence might Underwriters such as Walmart exert on the direction of Radio content in the future (00:28:27) none. There was a bit of a controversy when Walmart became an underwriter on National Public Radio partly because of some of their social policies, but they had no impact whatsoever. We have to carry that announcement because it comes through to us from national public radio programming if Walmart would like to underwrite on Minnesota Public Radio. We'd be delighted to have their support and it wouldn't affect our programming decisions one iota (00:28:56) another online question. This is from Ron and Minneapolis who says the news station signal gets clobbered on the street around the Hilton Hotel and TCF Bank area by a jazz station. He says this is true around the Walker Art Center and the beginning of Lyndale Avenue as well. Are you aware of this? And what do you do going to do to correct (00:29:17) it well two things. We're aware that that signals that come from the shore of you tower out. Northern north of the Twin Cities which both Canada value and ksjn do do get garbled as they bounce off the buildings in Downtown Minneapolis and that affects some of the nearby neighborhoods. It affects the university area to fix Kenwood Etc. One of the real wins is that when we convert to digital broadcasting which were now authorized to do it's just a matter of are figuring out how to pay for it, but when we convert to digital and when you get a digital radio all of that clears up and goes away meantime about the best alternative Is to try another radio there are radios that are what we call more discriminating me. They can handle interference better than other radios. So try short-term just see if you can find a slightly better radio but long term Digital radio digital FM will solve that problem (00:30:22) back to the phones Lisa your question, please thank you Gary. Mr. Cling spoke just a few moments ago in response to folks that have been concerned that NPR is developing a monopoly and he explained that NPR is not in a position to be able to buy up commercial stations. He said well, you know, of course there are a lot of commercial stations and I work in radio in public broadcasting. So I understand that he's not in a position to be buying up commercial frequencies but WCA L was a member of Amber's if I remember correctly amperes is the association of Minnesota educational public radio, and there are only a handful of ampere stations left. So from that, Standpoint it kind of does seem like the Empire is spreading in terms of independent public broadcasting in the state. (00:31:10) Well, what would you have had us do would you have had st. Olaf sell it to K love with that be a better solution according to the Minneapolis Tribune was an organization called K-LOVE. It's a it's a Christian music and Bible teaching radio network based somewhere in California. They were the higher bidder and the alternative once the college decided to sell was to sell to them or for us to come in with a bid to keep it as a public radio station. Now, it may not be exactly the kind of public radio station that you're talking about. But at least it's a public radio station and from my perspective that's a win for those of us who believe in public (00:31:57) radio. Well, and obviously, I'm on board with that working in public broadcasting. I think it is important also that folks in the community understand who perhaps don't work in public broadcasting that there is a little bit of unease about the lack of public broadcasting options in the state perhaps. (00:32:20) Well, we can't and won't buy anybody that doesn't offer themselves for sale if they do and if it fits strategically into what we're trying to do in terms of public service and if we can find the funds to do it, I would rather keep stations locally owned locally managed locally focused then to have them bought up by out-of-state networks, which have more narrowly focused agendas. And so that's the way it is. We certainly can't afford to force anyone to sell and and we don't intend (00:32:56) to Judith from Minneapolis says K bem is a public radio station playing mostly. I hope says Judith. I hope you don't go into competition competition with this small station. (00:33:09) I listened to K bem. I think they do a terrific job of jazz. And that's one of the things that we'll go into our thinking on. What we should do is what exists in who does it well already and what does not exist in what does the community need (00:33:26) there was speculation that another step down this road is that Minnesota Public Radio will actually sell ksjn the existing classical music frequency. There was a story quoting some radio station brokers who I think if you if you took the median number that they were tossing about in the story worked out to about 50 million dollars. You could sell that frequency for are you going to do that? That's a lot of money that you could buy a lot of good programming (00:33:57) down probably more that that's an interesting finger. We bought 99.5 and were criticized for doing it for I believe is 11 and a half million dollars in 1992 today. They were bit low. I think you could sell it for 60 to 70 million dollars and that's that's money that does that that goes if we were to do that that would go to public radio, but The other side of that is that station is critical to what we're doing and to our mission in this community and the community helped us by that station and while the board of directors at some point in time might decide to make any change they have the power to do anything they want if the if the if the if the operating budget of the funding of this station is somehow seriously threatened, but that is not the plan the plan is to bring this in and to provide new service and we have people in this building today who are meeting talking about how to program it in the best possible way when they will be meeting with the WCA all set staff as soon as the state sale closes to get the best ideas out of the WCA all staff will be talking to the community for the best ideas for the community and the plan is to use this as an additive service for the Twin Cities. (00:35:24) You for those folks outside the Twin Cities. Do you see this as the start of a third Channel service in Minnesota? (00:35:32) I don't think so. We've talked about the importance of this being local and really dealing with Twin Cities culture Twin Cities issues. I would never say never Gary but I think that is unlikely. It's just, you know, we have 35 stations around the state and to start a another third network Statewide. It'd probably take another 12 or 15. There just aren't enough frequencies to do that. And if we were to do it, it would eliminate the possibility that we're the largest metropolitan area is we could have something that really addresses that area and not something that has to be broader in its approach to serve the whole region John your question, please (00:36:17) hi. I'm thanks for taking my call and thanks Bill for being available to us. I'm very concerned the I'm my Our radio in my home radio, you know, it's all public radio stations. Whether it's KF AI or WCA l or ksjn or new stadium new station for for public radio and my concern is first of all, like others have said about WCA L and losing a second classical frequency and and your your explanation that that other cities don't even have one. Well, I think that's something that's been extremely unique about the about the Twin Cities is that we do have to but as importantly and probably more importantly for me everything you seem to be saying that sounds like a direction you could be going would be duplicating fresh air Cafe. I radio from World music which they have about 30 hours a week to local programming which they have it at least that much and it seems as though that something that is so unique to the whole country, which is KF AI which is community based radio would possibly go to the Wayside if you were to take a stronger signal and basically take over some of the same kind of programming and My question is, you know, you said that you know, the public radio mission is for the community, but I don't see how by duplicating something that to existing frequencies already have 90.3 and 106.7 would really be adding something to the community that doesn't already exist on those (00:37:41) stations. Well, first of all remember that I was just trying to give some examples of some of the kinds of things that public radio's doing in markets that that aren't available on a full-time basis here. So don't take my suggestion of one or two different formats as in any way saying that's what we're going to do. We really have made no decisions on what we're going to do and the second thing is if we can't do it differently and better and really add it add something of value to the community. We're not going to do it either. So I understand what you're saying that that we shouldn't just come in and take something that somebody's trying very hard to do and doing it well and just take it over that's not our plan. (00:38:25) Let's see, we have a question here about practical nuts and bolts question from John and Saint Paul a John asks what happens to gifts that were previously made to WCA L. Will they become the property of Minnesota Public Radio or st. Olaf (00:38:42) College any gifts made prior to the sale will remain with st. Olaf College (00:38:48) linear question, please. Yes. Thank you, Gary and mr. Clink. Thank you for taking my call. I'm a longtime NPR member wcarver listener and a st. Olaf graduate. And first of all, I have to applaud the college because I think this is a great business decision on behalf of the college as st. Olaf has in education not the radio business and I very much appreciate your comments today. Mr. Clang that you're going to look carefully at the WCA ell programming so that it will not all be lost to the residents of the state of Minnesota and my question relates to timing. I'm assuming that after the closing on the sale. The decisions will be in. About programming and can give us a sense as to when that will be. Thank (00:39:29) you. Well the closing because it has Federal regulatory approval Etc. The closing will take a couple of months. I think it might be October before the final decision comes through. So the station will as far as I know stay exactly the way it is until the closing occurs. And even when the closing occurs, we may not be ready to decide if we're going to make changes what those changes are. So until we change something as far as we're concerned there won't be any difference in the WCA. You'll schedule the college may decide to change it in one way or another we have no knowledge of what their plans would be but it's theirs until final FCC approval, which is probably probably at least October. (00:40:19) I want to change subjects again little subject close. The heart of news listeners and that has to do with the campaign coverage. They here on Minnesota Public Radio in your mind is the coverage that people here on this station objective and balanced coverage or is it biased one way or the other? (00:40:43) Well, if you were to hear my voice mail you I think would have to conclude that. It's balanced Gary. I'm I came in this morning to hear a voice mail from a listener who was very upset that we were broadcasting all three of President Bush's speeches in this region yesterday. We did them live actually we did too but we do to just just like, oh, well, I know I heard to in the region. So what we a little bit later this morning one of the founders of national public radio in the first program director who created All Things Considered was here and he'd come in from Some wonderful work he's doing around the world and starting radio stations in places like Sierra Leone and Kosovo Etc where they really need them to help democracy flourish. And he said it was so interesting to hear the president live. It's so much. I think his words were it is so interesting that in this country, we raise hundreds of millions of dollars to to change opinion through advertising and spend so little time with a broadcasting station letting people really hear what the candidates actually are saying said, I was surprised at at the president's Approach at at the quality of what he said. We will hear the same thing when Senator Kerry comes and we'll run the same number of speeches and the same number of events live because that's what we do. We want you to be able to hear who is George Bush. What does he have to say not what does some advertising agency want to push into a 30 second or 60-second commercial either done by him or by his opponent. We want you to know who Senator Kerry is and get as close to him being Senator Kerry in front of a group of people for an hour so that you can make your own choice. So I'd say that people may tune in and hear that we've run two speeches by one political candidate in one day because he happened to be visiting that day and you'll hear that we've done the same from the other side the next day to me. That's the kind of balance we ought to have and it's kind of service we ought to provide (00:43:04) interesting story on National Public Radio the other day they had a Series of stories about the the media and so on and one of the items that came up one of the ideas that came up during the course of those stories was that there may not be all that much interest anymore in what amounts to straight straight ahead balanced news coverage Ted Koppel was quoted to that effect. Do you share that thought they are people really do want they want their their red meat on either side and and are not so much interested in the in the old (00:43:39) approach. I'm afraid I do share that Gary as far as commercial broadcasting is concerned. I mean you think about it most of these stations are owned by major public companies. There are a few exceptions, but most of them are owned by Clear Channel radio one's 1300 radio stations around the United States the the fox organization owns Fox News, and any number of other things. They're going to they're in business to make money. I mean, let's just face what they are. They're public companies and they're supposed to give their investors of return and if you're going to give your investors a return you're going to give them the best return you can give them if that means that you slant your programming to be conservative or liberal or whatever you are going to get an audience that agrees with you and it'll probably be a bigger audience than if you try to go right down the middle. So that's what's happening. And I think Ted Koppel is right on and one of the Oasis in all of that. I hope is public radio and every time somebody accuses us a bias. We examine it we look into it. We see did it happen was it there? The intention is to provide the most balanced Fair coverage of all issues. Not just political but really all issues and we're spending an enormous amount of money here in Minnesota Public Radio trying to come up with a system the drawers knowledge The audience that brings information to us that we couldn't get access to otherwise so that the stories we present our even richer in content and then they would otherwise be in richer and content than then other media entities are willing or interested in providing. Hope it's I hope are doing it well and every time we're not please let us know (00:45:28) callers on the line from Isanti Bruce. Yeah. Thanks for taking my call. I was just curious. Are you buying any real property or equipment or are you just buying colors? This would be back to the WC. (00:45:41) I'm see how know the what most of the value in a radio station these days is in the license and the right to broadcast on a frequency, but we are in fact buying a thousand foot Tower a lot of technical equipment studio equipment all of the elements that go with the broadcasting of WCA L. (00:46:04) Let's see Dave your question. Good afternoon. Gentlemen, thank you for taking my call. I think we should all be honest, but you know Minnesota Public Radio is a business tool and I'm a very devoted classical music fan and I'll be honest with you. I prefer WGAL programming to mpr's and I'm not a music major or music education major. I'm actually chemist by training and I kind of get a little resentful of the comments that by mr. Claim. That's perhaps W sealed programming generated more towards professional musician, but my real question here is given that the MPR is a business and you are your return on investment is getting more members. What can you say about the future of classical musical programming at all in on a continuing basis on Minnesota Public Radio? Well, I (00:46:58) okay. Thanks for your call. I think that you make a good point. We are a business and I hope that we are seen as a business because we Try to run with whatever that means we try to run in a businesslike way. But remember that our return goes back into the programming. This is a nonprofit organization and we don't have shareholders that we have to pay our profits out to the shareholders really is the public and the poly only way the public can receive value from it is for us to improve the programming Etc. So I think what wcl is doing I have no criticism of what wcl is doing and I tried to point out that you know, they are we and we are they in many cases. If you look at this the way the staff has changed over the years. There may be some philosophical differences. Those will get sorted out the future of classical music. This is where we came from Coleman bury St. John's University wanted the the college to extend the liberal arts nature of the institution out to the community and arts and classical. Is part of that we're doing more all the time. We're now in partnership with the BBC to bring you the proms concerts were broadcasting both of the orchestra's from the Twin Cities. Where were we would be been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in something they call the classical music initiative to see how to reinvigorate classical music listening all across the country. There are there are many people here working to see the classical music succeeds. And in my view it is a long-term mission for Minnesota Public (00:48:39) Radio, Jamie Lennon from Roseville asks, why was the choice to choose a name for Minnesota public radio's National programming? Why was the name chosen that has no mention of MPR or Minnesota (00:48:52) connection? Well, that's the American public media entity. We formed in the mid-80s. I guess a National Distribution arm called American public You and then it went through a variety of metamorphosis (00:49:11) metamorphosis. I (00:49:12) maybe maybe something like that. Anyway, it morphed into other forms. And at one point in time we decided that it was best for us to have a direct relationship with our audiences. And so we've come back to Distributing through American public media when you are in New York or California or Chicago that is a name that can develop a brand as national public radio has developed a brand where the second largest distributor and producer of public radio programming in the United States national public radio is the largest they've got about 22 million listeners across the country where the second largest with about twelve point six and the third-largest is way down from that. So it is the most effective way for us to operate we've want people here to know that when they hear Public media in California, it's us and it is something that those of us here in Minnesota supporters as well as those who work professionally have made possible, but it's more effective to operate with a national brand than it is with original brand when you're operating nationally Cliff your question. (00:50:27) Well, my question goes back to your presidential coverage in terms of the fairness Doctrine in the sense that if you're broadcasting all presidential and Main party presidential candidates speeches in the state and there again you broadcast Wisconsin yesterday. I haven't heard anything from Michigan in that sense. But but the idea being that if one candidate comes to Minnesota six times and gets MPR coverage and another candidate comes 12 times and gets PR coverage it would seem that somewhere the fairness Doctrine is not being fair in terms of your coverage. And are you monitoring the minutes that each gets and at a certain point one candidate will be cut off. (00:51:19) Actually, we do monitor the minutes that each gets we don't need the fairness Doctrine to force us to do anything. No, we're not going to cut off one Canada to the other when they reach the minute limit, but we will not be unfair. We will not give you more or less. We're trying to give you mean think about what we're trying to do. We're trying to give you the the the best information on which to make a decision for the election. Who are these candidates in what do they have to say? We will do it in a fair way. We will not give you twice as much of one as we will have the other but we also probably will not go down to the minute-by-minute calculation, but we do keep (00:51:59) track Paul quick question here before we wrap up. Yes, so that WCA. Oh you said it? Getting that you are essentially acting as a white knight to keep 89.3 public. Are you willing to commit that if there were no other bidders you would withdraw your offer? (00:52:17) Well, they're the state of the college has put the station up for sale. So there certainly are other bidders. And if you read the story that's in the online version of the Minneapolis Star Tribune right now. There is a quote from the from the bidder who did not succeed. That's I would say somewhat bitter so they're certainly going to buy it if we don't there's no question about it. And there's it's done. There's no point in my saying. Well, we won't we won't go forward if there are no other bidders because there are I think that the college has been extremely responsible in this so I've watched St. John's go through the same process where they wanted to do something good for the community. They came to a point where it just didn't make Financial sense for them Concordia College in Moorhead, Michigan Tech up in the upper peninsula gave us the radio station saying we want it to be here. Would you please take it over and run it and Here we have the college President talking in a wonderful way about the this being a vital part of their legacy. But how these new resources are going to enable them to focus and invest in academic programs and Christopher down at st. Olaf I think is one of the most thoughtful presidents of any private college. They've done something for this community as long as it made sense for them to do and now they've handed it to us in a way that we can take it over and continue to provide and follow that Legacy and we will do our best to do that (00:53:52) Jim from Lakeville asks, when can we expect the sale of Minnesota public radio's commercial station que El Bebe? (00:53:59) Well, we do own KOB be it was donated to us by the Cargill family some years ago and it is actually it's run on our for-profit side and it makes money and it makes a significant amount of money that helps. Port Minnesota Public Radio, so it's not seen necessarily as a format platform. It is seen as an income generator. And as long as it's successful in doing that we will were likely to keep it. However, there's nothing would from a mission perspective. There's nothing that would stop us from selling it if we needed to do that (00:54:37) before we wrap up with it's worth mentioning again. Now you had said earlier in the program bill that people who want to weigh in on the the format for the for WCA l or the new double whatever it is. What should they (00:54:51) do? Well, they got to wait until the closing. I think the sorry until the purchase agreement is in place. We think the purchase agreement will be in place in about three or four or five days something like that at that point go to Minnesota Public Radio Dot o-- r-- g-- and you'll see right on the web page a place where you can go for comments and ideas and thoughts about how we best. Use this facility and we encourage you to do it and we really look forward to the kind of create a creative thought that we know will come from this (00:55:24) audience. Thank you Bell. Appreciate your coming over Minnesota Public Radio President Bill clang joining us said during this hour of midday will be re broadcasting is program by the way at 9:00 tonight. So he's right second chance to hear what Bill Clinton had to say tomorrow over the noon hour Commonwealth Club presentation from 9/11 commission members lots of victims families in the audience and think you'll find it. Very interesting. That's tomorrow at midday. Thanks for joining us today. (00:55:52) The sounds of Minnesota we're (00:55:53) going to enter the generator room. There's four generators in here are the sounds of Minnesota (00:55:58) Public Radio digital trap doors caps mosquitoes down here. We have reporters around the state covering the news that matters to you Keith land wherein his father-in-law are working to ready a (00:56:09) field for planting west of Rich (00:56:10) st. Paul the st. Cloud for more head to Mankato. We keep you connected to Minnesota. This is the news and information service of Minnesota Public (00:56:18) Radio. Programming is supported by the Swedish made Ducks bed Dux a dynamic Sleep System designed to allow your shoulders and hips to sink in while supporting your back information at Dux Your to 91.1 cater wfm Minneapolis and st. Paul Sunny Sky 63 degrees currently in the Twin Cities and the Weather Service says it might hit 75 before the afternoon is out tonight. We can look for a clear to partly cloudy Sky pretty chilly again tonight with an overnight low around 50 and then tomorrow partly cloudy skies are forecast little cooler tomorrow than it is today 65 to 70 for a high as we move into the weekend. You can make your plans if the forecast holds out right now, we're expecting a sunny sky on Saturday with a high near 70 on Sunday a little warmer, but there's also a chance for rain on Sunday shower or thundershower high 75 to 80. From NPR news in Washington DC. I'm Neal Conan


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