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Thursday, September 30, 2004
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WOUB-AM Radio introduces new format

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Starting this month, residents of Athens County have another option for music and entertainment as WOUB 1340 AM unveils a new format. The new programming comes under the direction of Bryan Gibson, AM Radio program manager, and features a mix of news, talk and arts and entertainment, including a new weekday music program. The station will focus on news in the early morning and late afternoon, and will continue to provide community-based programs such as "Live from Studio B."

Consistent with WOUB's mission, WOUB AM will provide a unique alternative to what listeners in Athens County hear on the radio, with music and information programs not found anywhere else. Since WOUB FM changed to a NPR News format in May 2004, Gibson and staff decided to move the AM station in another direction.

During summer 2004, informal meetings were held with College of Communication faculty and staff, WOUB community volunteers, listeners and students to obtain comments, feedback and suggestions about programming for the station. Based on the feedback, the decision was made to provide more arts and entertainment programming, along with local features and student-produced programs.

A new music program, "4A" (Athens Adult Album Alternative) will feature an eclectic blend of music, including modern rock, neo-soul, alternative folk, world and Americana. The show will air weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. While students are being trained on the new format, Gibson will host the morning segment, with graduate student Christine Albert handling the afternoon shift. Eventually, the program will be hosted by students and will include arts features and interviews with local, regional and national musicians. Discussions are also underway to develop new student-produced shows that will focus on multicultural issues and international music.

Student professional development is a large part of WOUB AM's mission, with approximately fifty students on-air over the course of the school year. The station is also in the process of installing a new digital audio workstation and a new digital console. According to Gibson, "We're starting the school year with a new format and new equipment. Hopefully this will combine to provide more of a real-world experience for the students."

The weekday morning and afternoon line up features new shows, each dealing with a variety of topics. "BBC World Briefing," local news, sports and "Marketplace Morning Report" starts the mornings at 6 a.m. The "BBC Newshour" takes over at 8 a.m., and NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show" is making its debut at 9 a.m. This popular show offers intelligent talk, news and commentary from fresh, diverse points of view, and reports on everything from politics to pop culture. The noon hour will remain the same, with local news, sports, "Family Health," "Writer's Almanac" and the community-hosted "Live from Studio B."

The "BBC NewsHour" will still air weekdays at 4 p.m.; however, it will be followed by two new programs from 5 to 7 p.m. At 5 p.m., "Odyssey," hosted by Public Radio International's Gretchen Helfrich, features topics such as politics, science, culture, philosophy, law and the arts. At 6 p.m., PRI's award-winning program "The World" will air, featuring breaking news, in-depth features, hard-hitting commentaries and thought-provoking interviews found nowhere else in U.S. news coverage. The student-produced music program "The Nightshift" will continue to air 7 p.m. to midnight on weeknights.

Saturday programming on WOUB AM will remain the same, with "Radio Free Athens" and "Shades of Color" (also heard Sunday evenings). "The audience for 'Radio Free Athens' has grown over the past couple of years, and partly because of its success, I'm optimistic that listeners are willing to tune in to the AM band for eclectic, adventurous music during the weekdays," says Gibson. He also notes that listeners can hear all programs in stereo via the station's web site at woub.org.

Sunday's schedule will be scattered with new programs, including "To the Best of Our Knowledge," a PRI audio magazine beginning at 10 a.m. and "The Ticket," airing Sundays at noon, is hosted by the BBC's Mark Coles, and covers entertainment, film, music, and literature. Other new Sunday programs include "Studio 360" and "Conversations from the World Café," heard at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

WOUB 1340 AM will continue to feature Ohio University sports, including hockey, women's basketball and the student-produced "Sportsbeat" on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. A complete schedule of listings is available online at woub.org/radio.  

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Media Contacts: Public Information Coordinator Olivea Oldham, (740) 593-4944 or olivea_oldham@woub.pbs.org or WOUB-AM Radio Program Manager Bryan Gibson, (740) 593-4946 

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