WaPo Radio experiment nearing a plug pull?


The joint effort to run an in-depth news radio station struck in Washington between the Washington Post and Bonneville International appears to be on life support, according to local city magazine The Washingtonian. The two-stick station, WTWP-AM 1500 kHz and WTWP-FM 107.7 MHz, utilizes the vast journalistic resources of the Post. It's a compliment to Bonneville's local all news institution WTOP.

The latter station follows the standard headline-oriented radio approach to news interspersed with traffic and weather reports every ten minutes. Washington Post Radio was designed to go into greater depth, and the newspaper's reporters are utilized on air to provide information on stories they are following and writing about. Unfortunately, few are tuning in, and according to Washingtonian, the plug may be pulled by the end of the current baseball season (the stations carry MLB Washington Nationals baseball games).

SmartMedia observation: We recall awhile back that the Post was butting heads with a trade union over on-air duties for reporters. But Washingtonian mentions a problem that our readers probably thought of immediately. Just because you can write a story for print doesn't mean you can discuss it on the air in a way that pulls in listeners. Washingtonian had a word for many if not most of the Post reporters: "boring." We work in this market, and are regular listeners to WTOP.

If we find ourselves out of the office and on the road during the middle of the day, then we certainly consider WTWP as an alternative to the cyclical news items on the main station. We would note that the format requires a very gifted radio host who can speak intelligently about an astoundingly wide range of topics. But during drive time, we want what WTOP has. Anyway, maybe WaPo and Bonneville will surprise us, but the apparent failure of this experiment may take a bit of the edge off calls to make it easier to build cross-ownership clusters.