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The story behind Spencer Art Minute from Kansas Public Radio / Spencer Museum of Art


On Sept. 20, 2004, Kansas Public Radio debuted Spencer Art Minute, an ongoing series of 90-second programs that provides listeners with quick peeks into the Spencer Museum of Art's permanent collection. Each week's recording is played four times: Monday at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., Friday at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at 9:28 p.m. An archive of the recordings, along with the scripts of each "

According to a news release from the museum, "'Spencer Art Minute' engages listeners in the Spencer's visual treasures by entertaining their ears with lively descriptions of objects, written by a diverse group of contributors and voiced by David Cateforis, associate professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at the University of Kansas."

The project's impetus came from Sally Davis, a long-time museum docent and board member who believed the museum's collection would make an appealing topic for radio.   Writers who contributed scripts to the inaugural round of the recording project included Reed Anderson, Cateforis, Susan Earle, Patrick Frank, Stephen Goddard, Bill Hambleton, Dave Hiebert, Frankie Kern, Marni Kessler, Andrea Norris, Martha Rose, Roger Shimomura, Linda Stone-Ferrier, and Pat Villeneuve.

Frederick W. Pawlicki, interim director for the museum at the time of the program's inauguration, said "'Spencer Art Minute' represents another aspect of the museum's regional outreach and exemplifies the benefits of interdepartmental cooperation at KU... We believe 'Spencer Art Minute' will attract listeners to the museum to view the objects described on the air, as well as add to the listener base for KPR, our public radio station at the University of Kansas,"

Mr. Pawlicki further said. "We're thrilled to present such a high quality program. It's very important to acknowledge and thank museum staff, art history faculty, and volunteers for their insightful and carefully crafted writing contributions -- this is a team effort all the way around, and they worked diligently to create the best possible product... We also greatly appreciate the contributions of David Cateforis, who has agreed to serve as the voice of the Spencer. His voice will 'brand' the program, making it easily recognizable. The wonderful staff at KPR has been incredibly supportive in this endeavor as well, and their expertise and enthusiasm help make this an excellent program that reflects well on every entity involved."

Through a conversation with Darrell Brogdan, Program Director of KPR, TFAO learned that since the Spencer Art Minute series launched is September 2004, there have been 30 segments produced. Darrell said that the cost of the first 3 months of programming were contributed by KPR, and after that a donor to the Spencer Museum of Art funded the series. The production cost per 90-second segment approximated $100. The segments were contracted for on a quarterly basis, with one segment per week or 13 segments per quarter. In addition, airtime charges were paid to KPR by the museum. He said that the museum is planning to archive the segments on its web site, with perhaps images to compliment the audio. KPR has no plans to stream the audio on its own web site as was done in Nebraska. In response to TFAO's question on methods used to measure the success of the series, Darrell said that there is anecdotal evidence of the program's success evidenced by complimentary letters received by the station. Quantitative audience measurements were not conducted, due in part to the difficulty to measure less than a 15-minute interval of air time. Darrell believes that both KPR and the museum share an overlapping audience of individuals interested in the arts.


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