Programming ideas

This is the place to suggest program ideas, along with the best time slot and possible group or person(s) to see that it happens.

Wider Horizons hour

Here is what we are now broadcasting during the Wider Horizons hour:
Monday - Humanism Today
Tuesday - Topics in Evolutionary Science
Wednesday - Voices for Religious Pluralism
Thursday - Freethought Radio Archives
Friday - Songs of Conscience
Saturday - Encores
These programs start at 10 am and run for about an hour, though they can be as short as 30 min. and as long as an hour and a half. At present each program Monday through Friday is repeated at 6 pm. With the exception of Fridays, past programs and some coming programs can be listened to online at

Ideas for the Wider Horizons hour

At present Wider Horizons has the 10 to 11 am hour from Monday through Saturday. Ideas have been developed for 3 of those days. On Mondays, "Humanism Today" will features recordings of monthly meetings of the Humanist Union of Madison and podcasts from Humanist Network News. (Thanks to Duncan Crary for permission to broadcast those podcasts.) Fridays (later changed to Thursdays) will feature broadcasts from the FreeThought Radio archives of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. (Thanks to Dan Barker for permission to broadcast those.) On Wednesdays at theme of "Voices for Religious Pluralism" is planned. Nick is recording a series of talks by Rev. Michael Schuler of First Unitarian Society of Madison on different religious traditions which are headed for that spot. As plans for the hour develop, the proposed schedule is being posted at

Tibet-focused program

Jampa Khedup says the Wisconsin Tibetan Association would like to do a weekly radio show focused on Tibet, and would prefer the Friday at 6:00 pm time spot. Students for a Free Tibet are also interested in the program.


This is an important topic and I don't know what the general answer is to scheduling -- in fact there probably is no general answer. But of course most folks will want the times when they perceve that there will be the most audiance. Is this a show for the refugee community or for the general population or is that a false dichotomyTo some extent, but certainly not exculsively, I think WORT schedules shows based on how many contributions they bring in. While there are some problems with that, it does make sense as it is a sort of specific type of arbitron rating (maybe not of total listeners, but of passionate listeners). I suppose it is something of a chicken and egg problem. You would expect shows in prime listening time to get more sponsors.

I also believe, but do not have any real expertise, that stations try to go from one kind of programming to another that the same audiance would like. So should we try to find other shows from that region to compliment that program?
Should we promise a specific time slot at this point? I am not sure. I definitely would not want to promise something until the end of time.  But I would like to start making things more concrete.  And we certainly do not have anyone else signed up for Friday at 6:00 let alone all Fridays at 6:00. 

WORT scheduling

you wrote:

To some extent, but certainly not exclusively, I think WORT schedules shows based on how many contributions they bring in.

-- Actually, for your information that is completely untrue. There have been very few changes to the WORT schedule in terms of programs (rather than program hosts) in the last fifteen years. I don't know how all the shows were originally scheduled, but as you go on to say, it's a chicken-and-egg kind of thing because who knows how much shows will bring in until they are running for a while. I can state with certainty that we have never moved a show that raises a lot of money into a more prime time slot because of that reason. Some DJS that got moved from a later night rock slot to an earlier rock slot were given the spot because we knew they were popular, but money is not the only indicator of that by any means. --

you wrote:
While there are some problems with that, it does make sense as it is a sort of specific type of arbitron rating (maybe not of total listeners, but of passionate listeners). I suppose it is something of a chicken and egg problem. You would expect shows in prime listening time to get more sponsors.

--Yes, we struggle with that idea when evaluating our shows: does this program do poorly because it's lacking in some way, or because it needs a different time slot? Experimentation and moving things around might be the way to go for a 'young' station like WIDE. And what one might think is prime time or not really does vary from city to city and station to station. Some of our highest listenership is on the weekends, and that's not supposed to be prime time for radio. Whatever works for YOU is best.

Congratulations and I wish you all the luck in the world with the station!

Sybil, WORT music director


A scheduling question of particular interest to me, and probably to others in the Humanist Union of Madison, is what we do with the first hour of City Wide air time after 12 hours of Christian programming, the 10 to 11 am hour on Monday - Friday. I don't know of any other radio station that routinely has to plan for that sort of transition. I would be interested in hearing what others think of giving this hour a title such as "Broader Horizons" and using it for a variety of programs aimed at dealing with the sort of ethical and social issues addressed in the Christian programming, but from a broader perspective. Here are some program ideas for this hour:
1. Programs developed by groups such as Outreach Inc. and PFLAG dealing with LGBT issues in the Madison area.
2. Humanist Union discussions such as the recently recorded one on "Naturalism, a Science-based Alternative to Faith-based Religions".
3. Programs by Rev. Ralph Tyksinski of Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society with such things as interviews of local Buddhists, Muslims, and other non-Christians, commentary on current ethical issues, etc.
4. Rebroadcasts of "Freethought Radio" programs produced (for broadcast on Air America) by Madison's Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with music from CDs by their co-president Dan Barker.

During the 10 to 11 am time on Saturday we could rebroadcast the week's best program (or the one most requested online in response to program descriptions on our Web site) for listeners whose work schedules preclude listening on weekday mornings. We could use Holly Near's "I Ain't Afraid" (lyrics posted at as our theme song for the hour. (She and Dan Barker have both recorded versions of it.)
With regard to going from one kind of programming to another that the same audience would like, we may find this less applicable during the City Wide air time than at the typical radio station. I think we should see our role, in part, as meeting needs of small, diverse groups within the Madison community whose needs are not currently being met, even by WORT. If, for example, we have a weekly hour developed by and for the Tibetan exile community, broadcast at least partly in Tibetan, members and friends of that group are likely to highly motivated to listen during that hour, even if it is the only hour they listen to.


Of the things that you mention, I like number 3 the Universalist option as the first hour. I think that those perspectives might contribute to "Broader Horizons" for the listeners.

Some of the other options like Freedom From Religion Foundation seem likely to be disrespectful. I have to admit that I have not listened to that program so I know the Freedom From Religion Foundation mostly from their public face (lawsuits). Perhaps that is the less congenial part of their agenda.

I would think that having them on the station would be fine. But to put them right after the Christian programing seems unlikely to promote dialogue and open up new viewpoints, and more likely to provoke.

There is also the 9:00-10:00 pm hour. I think that the same opportunities and problems could influence the choise of programming at that time --- and it is not necessary to reference the SoulWide programming at all.

Blocks of programming

I think that it may make sense to group organizations, each organization might not want to have a weekly show but they can create an hour of programing an upload it to our servers. Then we can schedule those programs into a slot that will have a similar topic. That way listeners can have some expectation of what will be on the station (like a traditional radio format) and the organizations will have more flexibility about providing the programs.

So one question is what groupings should we try to group organizations into.

Blocks of programming

That makes a lot of sense. For example, we could have an hour each week devoted to book talk, invite various Madison book clubs to contribute an hour, and let each club know ahead of time when their hour would be scheduled. When the annual Wisconsin Book Festival was approaching, that hour could be used by people working on that, with news of what authors would be coming to give presentations on their writing, etc. After the festival recordings of several of the events could be broadcast in the time slot.


This is a better example of this type of schedule than I had been thinking about. The issue remains that someone needs to then do the work of scheduling these shows and promoting to the book clubs that this is available -- at least untill they start beating down our doors.