News & Politics

WAMU to Listeners: Good Luck Getting Home

Nobody expects public radio to do traffic reports, so the station is cutting them off after the morning shift.

Not WAMU's problem anymore. Photograph by Flickr user Dome Poon.

Washington-area commuters who preferred dulcet traffic advisories between segments of All Things Considered will have to make do with more manic, commercial-radio reports to get home in the afternoons, following WAMU’s announcement that it is cutting traffic reports after the morning shift.

WAMU’s marketing director, Kathleen Allenbaugh, tells Washingtonian the decision comes after market research led the station to conclude public-radio audiences just don’t have that big of a thirst for traffic reporting. The review followed a few listeners complaining that there were too many traffic reports throughout the weekdays, Allenbaugh says.

“We know that there are other traffic sources,” she says, noting that few look to public radio for round-the-clock traffic updates. Allenbaugh also says that WAMU’s research showed that more people are relying on social media and smartphone apps for commuting information. The other big contributing factor is more public-radio listeners tune in at home than in their cars.

But WAMU is keeping its morning traffic reports by retired NBC4 reporter Jerry Edwards, who broadcasts four times an hour from his home in Florida. Edwards and afternoon traffic jockey Mike Cremedas work for Radiate Media, a DC company that supplies traffic reports to area radio stations. Allenbaugh says WAMU is keeping Edwards in the mornings “because we feel the commute is so complex.”

Edwards will file his last traffic report at 10:04 AM, Allenbaugh says. WAMU’s news staff will report on major traffic incidents if needed.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.