We all have daily habits, and none are more regimented than the way we listen to the radio.
Your routine may dictate turning on your favorite station in the kitchen while you make breakfast, or punching the button on your car radio for your favorite morning program on the drive to work.
So when local radio stations change their formats or schedules, you notice. Sonoma County listeners certainly noticed recent changes at two longtime local favorites — KRSH, 95.9 FM, and KRCB, 91.1 FM — this winter.
KRCB, the public radio station in Rohnert Park, suddenly shifted from its traditional classical format to a mix that includes predominantly folk and roots-oriented "Americana" music.
"People asked us, 'Why are you playing music that sounds like the commercial stations?'" said KRCB Program Director Robin Pressman.
The answer is that two years ago, KDFC, the classical radio station in San Francisco, boosted its signal in Sonoma County, pulling classical music fans away from KRCB, Pressman said.
Despite the shift in musical format, KRCB will continue to broadcast Santa Rosa Symphony concerts, while expanding its efforts to bring local musicians in other genres into its studio to perform.
KRCB also dropped the popular Public Radio International series "This American Life," but still hopes to get it back. KRCB carried subscriptions to three public radio networks, but only could afford one, Pressman explained.
The station chose to keep National Public Radio, which provides KRCB with morning and afternoon news broadcasts, as well as the popular series "Fresh Air" and "All Things Considered."
On the first two days of its new format, Nov. 4-5, KRCB cut short NPR's "Morning Edition" with local programming starting at 8 a.m. When listeners protested, the station restored the full "Morning Edition" program, once again running from 6 to 9 a.m., Pressman said.
KRCB is negotiating with Public Radio International to purchase the "This American Life" series (originally aired on National Public Radio) separately, without having to subscribe to the network's entire programming package, Pressman said.
Santa Rosa's KRSH, long a bastion of alternative music of many kinds, trimmed its playlist to eliminate some artists and styles management deemed obscure, or perceived as having limited popular appeal. Listeners immediately disagreed, and the station reversed the change in programming.
"Our listeners are articulate and vocal," said KRSH Program Director Debbie Morton. "And we listened to them. Our new philosophy is to have an 'unfiltered' format."
Despite the eventual reversal in policy, the programming shift at KRSH already had led to a permanent change with the departure of morning host Brian Griffith after six years with the station. Bill Bowker, longtime afternoon host at KRSH, took over the morning shift.
"He (Griffith) wasn't happy with the changes," Morton said.
Griffith returned to KRCB, where he had worked for six years before moving to KRSH, and took the morning slot there, bringing his eclectic musical format with him. KRCB expects hope to go well beyond the music played on commercial stations.
"KRSH was changing its programming philosophy, and I was vocal in my opposition, so I was let go," Griffith said.
"We're just getting off the ground with the new format at KRCB," he added. "For the first week, we got negative calls from people who liked classical music in the daytime."