On-Air Highlights

Changes in the Morning

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | Aug 6, 2018 1:09 PM

We don't always talk about changes within a show, but Morning Edition is built upon routines and consistency.  If you're like me, you set your morning to when you hear certain things on the air. You may want to know about some changes that will happen beginning August 13.

Periodically NPR reviews the structure of an hour of a program.  An hour of a program's structure is referred to as a "clock".  The clock dictates what happens when. It describes when stations can fill in local content, if/when segments can be moved, etc.  The changes are not taken lightly because the slightest change has major impact across the public radio system. 

The last time NPR made a change to the Morning Edition clock was November 2014.  Those changes were over a year in the making.  In 2014, that was the first time several changes were made to Morning Edition in a while.  This year, NPR is revisiting some of those changes to make some fine-tuning which results in what you will hear beginning this month.  The changes are not as significant as they were in 2014, but the changes may be noticable nontheless.  

NPR creates a clock to ensure program segments for Morning Edition air within a range of time, and newscasts are broadcast live, among other parameters.  There are breaks in the program which are where local stations like WITF determine how to fill them.  As I mentioned in a post as part of the trusting news project, you can hear quite a bit of difference between Morning Edition if you're traveling along the Pennsylvania Turnpike between WHYY in Philadelphia, WITF, and WESA  in Pittsburgh...or along the I-81 corridor with WYPR in Baltimore or WVIA  in Scranton.  Every station approaches the program differently to present Morning Edition in the way that makes sense for each market.

So, what exactly is changing?

  • The News Headlines at 6:19, 7:19, 8:19 and 6:42, 7:42, 8:42 will be removed.
  • A newscast from NPR will be added at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 followed by a regional newscast from WITF. 
  • BBC Topline is moving to 6:42 and 8:44.
  • The 6 o'clock hour will not have traffic reports.

More about those changes:

The News Headlines at 19 minutes past the hour and 42 minutes past the hour are removed in favor of a bottom of the hour newscast.  Morning Edition used to have a newscast (similar to All Things Considered) at half past the hour, but ended it in favor of the shorter headlines (similar to what you hear on Weekend Edition).  NPR's changes include resuming a newscast at the bottom of the hour which will be followed by a regional newscast from WITF. 

When the move was made in 2014 to drop the bottom of the hour newscast, WITF decided to continue to read national and international news from the Associated Press at half past the hour.  Eventually we began using a newscast produced by BBC World News in that spot, which leads to the next change...

BBC Topline is moving.  BBC Topline is the name for the newscast produced by BBC World Service which has been running at the bottom of the hour on WITF.   It will continue twice a morning instead of three times every morning at 6:42 and 8:44

We're reducing traffic reporting.  More and more people are getting up to the minute traffic updates from their mobile devices and we seek to reduce the repetition of some of the traffic reports.  If there is a newsworthy traffic incident, we will absolutely mention it as we would with other news priorities.  Traffic reports are eliminated in the 6 o'clock hour.  This leaves reports at 7:19, 7:33 and 7:43  and 8:19, 8:33, and 8:43.  The design of the Morning Edition clock doesn't allow us to have a catchy consistent time-based report, "on the 5s". We can provide traffic reporting when time permits.

The changes begin August 13. 

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