NPR tweaks the timing on Morning Edition, ATC

NPR has restructured the “clocks” for Morning Edition, the timetable that dictate when you hear what you hear on the program.

This is a big deal in radio because so many people use what they hear on the radio to determine whether they’re ahead of or behind their own daily schedule.

The clocks changed this morning because people listen to radio differently now, according to NPR.

NPR’s national newscasts are more frequent now. Instead of being at the top of and the the bottom of each hour, they’re airing every 20 minutes. Local inserts are now at 18 and 41 minutes past the hour.


The new schedules were to be unveiled in late summer, but many local stations wanted more time to debate them, particular an initial indication that NPR would restrict stations’ ability to “cover” NPR content with their own.

Roman Mars, the producer of 99% Invisible, was among those concerned that his program would no longer be allowed to be included in All Things Considered, but NPR relented.

“I’m proud of NPR,” he told Current Magazine earlier this fall. “I was giving them hell for it, and I was ready to give them more hell. But I’m proud of them. It seems more in the spirit of what we do.”


Related: The Broadcast Clock (99% Invisible).

  • Paul Weimer

    I wondered what was going on. This threw off my sense of time!

  • Paul Weimer

    I remember that WINS (an all news radio station) in New York City broke up their material in a 20-20-20 format.

    Long before I discovered NPR, I listened to WINS…

  • bberheim

    It was a strange way to wake up – I had to look at the clock a number of times to make sure I was on the schedule that I have set for myself. Will take some getting used to. Enjoyed having a sense of news stories as I was waking up. (although sometimes, depending on the stories of the day, I didn’t enjoy it as much…)

  • Carol S.

    I wasn’t aware of the new schedule, and this really mucked up my timing this morning. Eventually I’ll get used to it. As long as Marketplace is still on at 7:50, I’ll be fine…

  • Al

    This morning makes so much more sense to me now. Thought I was on the Current for a minute there.

  • boB from WA

    It sounds like ME/ATC is aligning themselves with other NPR programs that are already using the 20×3 format (Fresh Air, Car Talk, Here and Now, The Take Away, to name a few). And yes it was definitely odd.

  • Jeff C.

    I’m glad that ATC Story A still ends at 18-past. That’s my cue to switch over the The Current to hear Bob and Mary!

  • Quinn

    The new schedule is good, but I wish they didn’t repeat the same show over and over again all morning. Isn’t there enough to talk about to fill the whole morning without repeating everything?

    • There’s not really much choice, considering people’s lifestyles — people don’t all wake up at the same time, so the audience is turning over constantly. It’s an ongoing problem.

  • joetron2030

    I was worried the MPR ME t-shirts with the famous “It’s 7:01…” quote would have to be replaced.

  • “Give me 22 minutes and I’ll give you the world!”: Bill Scott, WINS, Group W News (about 1970).

  • tboom

    Way-back-machine (back in my day Sonny):

    When I “discovered” Public Radio, it seemed every program started at the top of the hour and took only a brief break on the half-hour. I had discovered long-form radio and loved it. So of course I became annoyed with MPR when breaks on the 20 minutes were introduced. It turns out that annoyance was misplaced, I should have been annoyed with NPR all along. Of course when Car Talk introduced their “third-half” segment, I should have realized it was an NPR idea.

    Still, I’m annoyed with MPR over all the short segments on The Current.

    Bring back long-form!

    • Chris

      Abandoning long-form killed Talk of the Nation!

  • Richard Emery

    I intensely dislike the change in Morning Edition’s broadcast schedule. ATC’s changes aren’t as drastic, and hence are easier to accept. The best analogy to explain my reaction to ME’s changes: it seemed like what happens during pledge weeks, when the program is relentlessly chopped up, and you never know if or when a report will begin or end. This long-time NPR listener has not been a happy camper either morning this week!

  • Ardea

    So happy that you are using a Disqus format to tell all of you that I noticed the change right away and I DO NOT LIKE IT. Plus yes, I couldn’t tell what time it is. I don’t like it enough that I am motivated to cuss about it.

  • Don Ridgway

    Why? Why? Why?

  • Tara Jensen

    I hate that you threw out the humorous story at the bottom of the hour. That’s how my kids know it’s time to get out the door. That was the few seconds of silence we all observed before saying goodbye. I really hope you bring it back.

  • Wang Johnson

    The new format is terrible-too many breaks and very disjointed. The “garage band” style music is lame. Some intern on the loose…