Drive Time – The Takeaway vs. Morning Edition


John Hockenberry is a name you might be familiar with. One of the earliest National Public Radio (NPR) correspondents and newscasters, he has been active in the industry for quite some time. Now he finds himself in a position many would see as adversarial, but one that he considers a matter of apples and oranges.

Mr. Hockenberry is the co-anchor of a new radio show called The Takeaway, which is syndicated by Public Radio International (PRI). As he builds up a network of public radio stations to broadcast the program, he finds himself going head to head with NPR’s venerable Morning Edition.

Mr. Hockenberry denies that The Takeaway is an attempt to clone or reinvent Morning Edition. Stressing immediacy and on the fly content as opposed to the traditional format of other programs, he compares it to a dialogue.

Via Bill Virgin at

“The Takeaway,” he says, is “live, conversationally driven,” an approach that “allows us to take advantage of the instantaneousness of information sources.”

“Morning Edition,” by contrast, is a magazine show, he says. “It’s pretty much all on tape. … Conversations are a great medium for advancing knowledge about things, whereas sometimes packaged pieces are obsolete the moment you feed them onto the satellite. Live has a lot of advantages.”

That calls for a certain amount of flexibility and nimbleness in running the four-hour show. “The work is remaining vigilant to how quickly things are changing in a news environment,” says Hockenberry, whose resume also includes stints at NBC’s “Dateline,” MSNBC and ABC. “There’s no such thing as a line-up in our show. We sort of understand what we’re doing 20 minutes ahead. On a really quiet day we understand what we’re doing two hours ahead. We may set a tentative agenda the afternoon before, but that could change completely by morning.”

It will be interesting to see how this immediacy translates into a drive time program. While drawing a lot from the social media world as far as interactivity and speed of reaction, the show still has obstacles before it. First, there is the large and established audience for Morning Edition,  a dedicated crowd that I predict will be hard to woo away. Second is the fact that it is based in New York. I don’t have any problems with New York, but is does create a significant time difference to listeners on the West Coast, possibly problematic with a drive time program.

Looks like another interesting option is out there on the airwaves. Drop us a line and let us know what you think of it since its not broadcast here in New Orleans yet.

Photo courtesy of Burning Image, used under ts Creative Commons license


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