"American Routes" host and founder Nick Spitzer
The music show “American Routes” is about to get stood up for its standing Saturday night date with MPR. The New Orleans-based program, helmed by folklorist and Tulane professor Nick Spitzer, has held a prime 7-9 p.m. spot on KNOW 91.1-FM., following “A Prairie Home Companion,” but is being replaced by the quiz show "Ask Me Another" and the comedy/music show "Wits" beginning this weekend.
"Routes" can still be heard on MPR's The Current (89.3-FM), but at 6 a.m. Sundays, a graveyard shift for that station.
Spitzer said the show claims about 31,000 listeners from the Twin Cities area. “I’m perplexed and sad,” he said. “This is an issue between MPR and its listeners, but it’s important for the listeners to have a say-so.”
On MPR’s Facebook page, most of the more than 40 listener comments mentioned the cancellation as a disappointment.
“My family has loved having ‘American Routes’ as the soundtrack for our Saturday nights together,” wrote Maud Cordelia Lee.
MPR spokeswoman Jen Keavy said the decision was made with listener wishes in mind. “One of the inflexible laws of radio is that for every show we add, another must be moved to a new time slot, or dropped altogether,” she said. “We appreciate that 'American Routes' has a loyal following and devoted fans.”
The show was launched 15 years ago by Spitzer and producer Mary Beth Kirchner as a local New Orleans program. Each installment is themed, with interviews wrapped around musical performances by artists ranging from Al Green to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings to Wilco. Formerly distributed by APM (TC-based American Public Media, of which MPR is a subsidiary), now by PRX, it can still be heard on 275 stations nationwide.
Twin Cities fans not up and at 'em at 6 a.m. on Sundays can still tune in at americanroutes.wwno.org.
“There’s also an app you can get for your iPhone, but I’m enough of an old analog guy to just love the magic of broadcast,” said Spitzer, who hopes that MPR brass might reconsider down the line.
Steve Nelson, program director for news, didn't rule that out: "We've heard people want fewer repeats and more new shows. We will consdier everything that comes in as part of our programming decisions in the future."
Nelson encouraged audience feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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