The Well-Tempered Ear

Wisconsin Public Radio needs timely online playlists and other fixes | March 15, 2023

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By Jacob Stockinger

March 8 was International Women’s Day.

To its credit, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) celebrated the event all-day long by airing music composed and performed by women. 

The Ear heard some very memorable and noteworthy pieces that were new to him.

But when he went to the WPR website and looked for online listings to find out specifics about the composers, the pieces, the performers and the record labels, he found — nothing.

Today is March 15.

And one week later The Ear still finds nothing — no playlist for the March 8 broadcasts.

In fact, there are no online listings going back more than a month — to February 5.

You will find just a longstanding apology with a promise to fix it and some boilerplate warning about federal regulations that really have nothing to do with such a prolonged delay.

Take a look for yourself:

That is disappointing and frustrating. Some might even say unacceptable.

The digital technology fixes that have been promised and, one assumes, already paid for can’t be THAT difficult to implement. WPR used to post the playlist information as soon as the piece started airing. (And, curiously, the non-WPR overnight service still offers that.)

Why not again? Technological updates are supposed to make things work better, not worse.

Fixing the playlist is especially important right now because WPR and its outstanding hosts have taken on the admirable mission of exploring music of women composers and performers; of composers and performers of color; and of neglected composers and works.

But without a playlist to consult, that mission remains unfinished. How else is the unfamiliar supposed to become more familiar?

That is not the only troubling thing at WPR.

The station did a superb job during the pandemic with home broadcasting.

But ever since then, there seems to be more dead air, miscues, interruptions and repeated programs than ever before. 

Yet you also hear many more promotions and pleas for public financial support in between quarterly membership drives than ever before.

WPR would be wise to attract and serve its supporters and listeners by focusing on completing the fixes, whether it requires hardware, software or staff training.

And correcting the disservice of not posting daily playlists online seems an excellent place to start. After all, The Ear was told that the problem of incompatible software “would be rectified soon.”

That was over a year ago.

And if it can’t be corrected?

Hope they kept the receipt.

Do you miss WPR’s daily online playlists?

Have you noticed other problems at WPR?

What about WPR would you like to praise? To criticize?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. The Ear has received the following comment from Martha Casey of Madison:

    “I certainly agree with your comments about the quality of WERN decreasing, but didn’t get to comment, and can’t find that piece now.

    “I find more ads between music than ever, and complain to them all the time.
    “We also find the variations in the sound level (can’t set volume as sometimes loud, sometimes soft on same setting) distracting.

    “We have gone to listening to WETA (Washington) and Hawaii Public Radio for music, much more than WERN.

    “Thanks for your efforts. Martha”


    Comment by welltemperedear — April 4, 2023 @ 6:42 pm

  2. I have trouble sleeping, but the middle-of-the-night non-WPR program is not helpful because I become too upset if I try listening to it. One reason is the host’s terrible diction so if she does announce partial info before or after playing a recording, it’s so difficult to understand her. That’s not the only problem with that “service,” and I wonder how much WPR is paying for it. Oh, for the Karl Haas (sp) days!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ginny Moore Kruse — March 16, 2023 @ 4:51 pm

    • Hi Ginny
      Thank you very much for this reply.
      I am often up late and listening, and I completely agree with you.
      The all-night hosts have terrible diction along with awful ways of introducing the music.
      They also seem uninformed and lazy and do not do basic research.
      I recently heard one — Melanie Renate of Minnesota Public Radio — pronounce Leipzig as Leapzig and scherzo (skertzo) as sssherzzo.
      I wish WPR could find a better alternative similar to the one they have used to replace to replace Anders Yocum’s “Sunday brunch.”
      Let’s hope for better.
      Best wishes,


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 18, 2023 @ 9:58 pm

  3. Jake, I am glad you brought up this unfortunate situation. Regardless of the respect I have for WPR the prolonged problem with the playlists cannot be ignored.

    Like you I have spoken with one of the on-air personalities and was told a fix was coming soon. That was last fall.

    A few times I have emailed the listener help email box and I have always heard back, though a response has sometimes taken two weeks.

    There are many reasons listeners use the playlists. A host may sometimes identify a work and tell listeners it was performance by the XYZ Philharmonic, but no conductor’s name is given. Many times an orchestra has recorded a work under more than one conductor.

    With the more varied and diversified musical selections programmed we hear composers and performers name that are unfamiliar, and we listeners need to verify what we’ve heard.

    I hope your blog and its comments are noticed by WPR.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Bob — March 15, 2023 @ 4:42 pm

    • Hi Bob,
      Thank you very much for your detailed-filled reply.
      I couldn’t agree with you more.

      I am especially bothered when hosts do NOT identify the composer, the piece and the performer both BEFORE and AFTER after they air a piece. (It is especially bad on the overnight service but also happens occasionally with local programmers.)

      I was also told that sometimes they deliberately do not identify a specific performer (such as conductor Charles Dutoit) because they say there is some convincing evidence or discussion about sexual assault or sexual misbehavior — even if there has been no legal verdict but only suspicion and accusations.

      But more often I’m guessing the intent is to tease you into staying until the end, which is not always possible.
      And if you miss the on-air IDs, there is no playlist to catch up until many weeks later.
      So I am not teased but frustrated, angry and disapproving.
      You seem to feel the same way.

      Best wishes,
      The Ear


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 6:06 pm

  4. I did not know about the playlist problem. I listen to NPR. But I know their funding and all of public media, have been slashed by Republicans leaders. That’s why Public TV is almost constantly holding fundraisers. And I would guess public radio is under the same pressure. And it doesn’t help when the head of WPR cuts popular programs, like Live from the Chazen, etc.


    Comment by Genie Ogden — March 15, 2023 @ 12:07 pm

    • Hi Genie
      I appreciate your reply.
      You make very good points.
      I have no doubt there is truth to what you say.
      But that is all the more reason for the management and hosts to please the public, not frustrate it.
      Be well,


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 12:30 pm

  5. I agree! I’ve often wanted to go to the play list to identify a composer or performer — without success!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by George Shook — March 15, 2023 @ 11:51 am

    • George,
      You are right.
      Very annoying.
      Thanks you for replying.
      Best wishes,
      The Ear


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 6:07 pm

  6. Totally agree. The absence of online playlists is most annoying!


    Comment by Cal Bruce — March 15, 2023 @ 9:30 am

    • Thank you for your reply Cal
      It is reassuring to know I am not alone in my frustration with the lack of playlists
      Best wishes
      The Ear

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 12:28 pm

  7. Dear Ear, and Ann, and KO,
    I so sympathize. Several weeks ago, I spent too much time trying to find the play list, which once upon a day was easy to access.
    As a former employee of WPR, way back when, our wonderful program director was ALWAYS listening and you could expect him to call whenever something went or was wrong. Jim Collins.
    You’re giving me an opportunity to vent about the 50 years of change I’ve seen, so let me be careful. Consider the alternative – without money from us (as well as other funders) there would be no public radio. Classical music might not be as readily available on the radio, at no charge. So, let us try to find out what the problem is and work with WPR to fix it. Full disclosure, I don’t contribute funds to WPR (should somebody look up the rolls) but my spouse does.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ronnie — March 15, 2023 @ 9:16 am

    • Hi Ronnie
      Thank you for your balanced but empathetic reply.
      I’m betting that like you, many other longtime listeners and supporters are not about to abandon WPR.
      But it behooves the management to make the changes that will once again make the station more friendly and usable to the public that supports it with public and private funding.
      All the best
      The Ear


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 9:22 am

      • Yes, absolutely. That’s what I meant by fixing.


        Comment by Ronnie — March 15, 2023 @ 9:24 am

  8. I wonder if it’s a problem of decreased staffing. Or maybe they’re not getting enough criticism about it that would make it a priority.


    Comment by Ann Boyer — March 15, 2023 @ 8:49 am

    • Thank you for the reply.
      Both are certainly possible.
      Greater transparency about the problems and their causes might generate more understanding and acceptance.


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 9:14 am

  9. Oh boy, don’t get me started. I’ve been a supporter of WPR for years and years, and dutifully endure the “member” drives when they come around. Despite the apparently successful increased revenue and improved technology, there is more “dead air,” miscued hand-offs, advertisements disguised as sponsorships, and yes – too many program repeats. The playlist deficit is truly inexcusable. I believe that these problems originate with the leadership, because the programmers and show hosts are awesome. Sadly, when one contacts WPR through the website, there’s no reply. I would like to maintain my support for this valuable local resource, but it’s rapidly becoming an expense that’s difficult to justify.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by KO — March 15, 2023 @ 7:59 am

    • Dear KO
      Thank you for your reply that is both emotional and thoughtful.
      Clearly, you write as a WPR friend and supporter.
      And the backlash you are feeling is exactly the kind of reaction that should prompt WPR to fix things that need fixing before listeners and funders become more upset or alienated.
      Please stick with WPR longer and let us hope that management gets the message.
      Best wishes
      The Ear


      Comment by welltemperedear — March 15, 2023 @ 9:18 am

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