Timing Is Everything: A Note On NPR's Clock Changes

Nov 14, 2014

There’s a structure to what you hear on West Virginia Public Radio that’s about to change.

Each show on the station is governed by a “clock.” These graphical representations of each hour lay out what happens in a program and when.  

Whether it’s a newscast, a promotion for what is coming up later in the show, or a regular segment such as West Virginia Morning or the Marketplace Morning Report, it all happens at a precise time according to the clock. This clock is how we coordinate between hosts that are in NPR’s studios in Washington, D.C. and beyond, and West Virginia Public Radio’s hosts who are in our studios in Charleston, so we don’t end up talking over each other.

For years these broadcast “clocks” have remained the same. But how we listen to the radio and get our news has changed radically.

Over the last year, NPR has been redesigning the show clocks with a team of Program Directors from stations across the country. We spent countless hours on conference calls and in face to face meetings, going over every minute of the shows. We evaluated and debated when we should be telling you about local business sponsors and when we should be starting the big story of the day. We considered research about how people’s morning routines differ from their afternoon routines. That affects how often we need to tell you about the weather. Lots of thought went into what you will hear during each second of the shows when the new clocks go into effect on Monday, November 17th.

Some of the adjustments are really small and you probably won’t notice them. Others are more substantial. For instance, the times when you hear news updates in Morning Edition are changing. Instead of a newscast at the beginning of each half hour, you’ll hear news updates every twenty minutes during the program. Some segments, such as West Virginia Morning, will air at a different time.  

The bottom line is, if you know when to walk the dog or leave the house based on when something happens on the radio, you might want to keep your watch handy until you get to know the rhythm of the new “clocks.”

Here are a  few changes to note:

  • 6:30:30 This Week in West Virginia History
  • 7:30:00 West Virginia Morning
  • 8:30:30 StarDate
  • 4:48:00 This Week in West Virginia History