May 8, 2001
8:24 AM   Subscribe

Long live Nina Tottenberg, Bob Edwards, Ira Glass and the rest of the gang! "We like NPR! We really, really like it!"

This restores at least a little bit of my faith in the American media consumer.
posted by mapalm (37 comments total)
And don't forget Robert Siegel, Ira Flatow and she who has my favorite name, Sylvia Poggioli.
posted by jpoulos at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2001

As much as we'd like to pretend to worship such noble heroes, let's face itI It really comes down to Click & Clack.
posted by harmful at 8:48 AM on May 8, 2001

The Roper poll findings come at a good time for public broadcasters, who will soon travel to Capitol Hill for annual budget hearings.

What a startling coincidence!
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 8:49 AM on May 8, 2001

So that's how you spell Sylvia's last name! Thanks, jpoulos.
posted by mapalm at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2001

NPR/PBS is feel-good spendage of tax dollars...
posted by owillis at 9:06 AM on May 8, 2001

. . . which sometimes provides a nice antidote to the overwhelming feel-robbed spendage of tax dollars.
posted by Skot at 9:08 AM on May 8, 2001

Sylvia has a really luscious voice, too. Of course, many of the NPR correspondents do, but I especially like listening to hers.

On the other hand, Marketplace has apparently gotten Newt Gingrich as regular commentator and, politics aside, his voice grates. Why can't he have a voice like Sam Nunn?
posted by anapestic at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2001

NPR & PBS is an unnecessary spendage of tax dollars...
posted by TacoConsumer at 9:11 AM on May 8, 2001

The survey also says that many Americans are happy with military spending. I guess they are not paying attention.
posted by 4midori at 9:12 AM on May 8, 2001

"Spendage" is an unnecessary attack on English.
posted by anapestic at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2001

Of course only godless, communistic countries like Sweden should have public radio & tv -- government-owned media is just an evil tool for social engineering, isn't it? I mean, it's a totally communistic idea, just like free health care
posted by matteo at 9:24 AM on May 8, 2001

"Feel good" in this case meaning it makes people feel good, but in reality is a waste of money. Something like PBS should show various points of view, but definitely leans to the left.

To compare tv to free health care is ludicrous.
posted by owillis at 9:37 AM on May 8, 2001

why is it ludicrous? In Europe and Canada they're both considered a given fact by citizens, a few hundred millions people outside the USA are pretty happy to have government-owned media (together with private-owned media, obviously) and are also pretty happy not to go bankrupt if they get sick. I suppose the English would be pretty upset to give up the BBC in favor of FOX News. and I'm sure they wouldn't dig HMO's that much, either. But, of course, they're basically Soviets, aren't they?
posted by matteo at 9:49 AM on May 8, 2001

The government pays for 15%, responsible listners pay for a fair amount, but who's paying for the rest? and what subtle editorial decisions they expecting in return?
I just found out that my local WBUR Boston receives sizable grants from Sodexho Mariott the European food/hotel mega corp that is also by the way one of the largest finaciers of for-profit prisons in this country...
also what about NPR's long$tanding relation$hip with ADM "supermarket to the world" (of genetically modified food treats)...
posted by DixHuit at 9:56 AM on May 8, 2001

It's true, unfortunately -- one of the largest PBS station, WNET in New York, was threatened with removal of sponsership from GE a few years ago when they aired a special criticizing the behavior of corportations in third-world country. Needless to say, you won't see that particular special again...
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:07 AM on May 8, 2001

Minor note: Shows like This American Life and Marketplace are not produced by NPR, they are produced by PRI (formerly APR). (Actually, I think PRI mainly distributes programs produced by other public radio stations instead of producing their own stuff.) However, PRI shows are carried on NPR stations, thus the confusion.
posted by gluechunk at 10:09 AM on May 8, 2001

I guess it depends whether you feel that underwriting messages are ads, or whether underwriters use their influence unfairly, as many have claimed. Me? I just feel that the various *PR stations [and I have listened to about ten of them in the last two weeks] have an eerie homogenized quality to them that seems to create culture as much as it reflects it. But I'm a godless heathen who doesn't watch TV either, so there's no accounting for taste.
posted by jessamyn at 10:39 AM on May 8, 2001

WBUR, of course, was the pioneer in turning public radio into just another form of commercial broadcasting. Just because the commercials don't interrupt the programs doesn't mean they aren't there. 'BUR liberally (no pun intended) peppers their newscasts and local bumpers with plugs for their sponsors.

To their credit, they are also the pioneers in reducing on-air pledging by running targeted hours of on-air pledge and making it possible to donate via the web.
posted by briank at 10:50 AM on May 8, 2001

At the radio where I volunteer, we are not allowed to include an "incentive to buy" in underwriting announcements, which means "no superlatives or adjectives at all." I'm not sure how well this enforced at other stations, but I'd like to think we do a pretty good job of trying to maintain a non-commercial spirit. The FCC has some underwriting guidelines from 1992.

My main discomfort with Public Radio is also its often vanilla-sameness. Am I, as a, ahem, discerning listener, only allowed to listen to a certain brand of "high culture"?
posted by kathryn at 10:55 AM on May 8, 2001

I kept meaning to look up Snigdha Prakash on NPR's site to find out how her name is spelled. There go my plans to name my first daughter 'Snikta.'
posted by owen at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2001

A few fun filled thread facts.

US Millitary budget request for fiscal year 1999:

Appropriations granted for the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) in 1999 (for broadcasting in fiscal year 2002).

Apples, oranges and all that jazz.

Also, remember that NPR isn't government owned, it's government funded. A few years ago NPR (under pressure from members of congress and that bastion of racial idiocy, the FOP) pulled a three minute segment by Mumia Abu-Jamal the day before it was to be broadcast. Mumia sued, saying his first amendment rights were violated by claming NPR was an agency of the US Government. The case was dismissed, primarily on the grounds that NPR was judged not to be a government institution. (The ACLU agrees)

PRI and NPR are two distinct entities. However, both are partnered with the CPB, which is where their government funding comes from. (Anyone know who gets more?)

NPR walks that find line between government funding, corporate underwriting, and viewer support. There's been plenty to be disappointed by in the last nine years(the mentioned and unmentioned Mumia incidents, lack of aggressive reporting on corporate misbehavior), but most of their programming is still head and shoulders above anything else on radio and TV.
posted by alana at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2001

How about Carl Castle, Noah, and Linda Wertheimer? In the latest issue of Brill's Content there is an article that states NPR's budget is over $80 million with none coming from the Federal Government. I know the Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives public funds and I always thought NPR did as well. I wonder if that article is correct.
posted by sw11 at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2001

I am a sometime listener to WBUR in Boston, and have to say that I prefer the occasional mention of corporate sponsorships to weeks and weeks of the ingratiating, self-aggrandizing love-ins also known as on-air pledges.

DixHuit: I just looked at the Underwriter section of WBUR's new site, and couldn't find any mention of Sodexho Mariott...
posted by kahboom at 11:33 AM on May 8, 2001

[found while snooping around the TAL site]
At this year's Public Radio Conference, This American Life host Ira Glass did a session in which he asked Garrison Keillor, Terry Gross, Robert Siegel, and many others to assess how well public radio is fulfilling its mission ... and what it should do next.

There was a surprising amount of consensus about certain things: public radio should take more risks, try more new things, find ways to better nurture young talent. And there was a surprising lack of consensus about whether public radio should aggressively try to diversify its audience beyond the highly educated population who already listen.
How Well Is Public Radio Fulfilling Its Mission? What Does It Need to do Next to Better Fulfill It? -- this site has his presentation [including audience q & a] divided up into 6 sections. the whole thing is over an hour
posted by palegirl at 11:35 AM on May 8, 2001

And there was a surprising lack of consensus about whether public radio should aggressively try to diversify its audience beyond the highly educated population who already listen.

That doesn't seem surprising to me at all. What would it mean to "diversify" their audience beyond the "highly educated?" I think there's plenty of offerings on NPR which are not highly snooty such as Car Talk, Satellite Sisters (bleh), and This American Life. There's plenty on NPR which I just can't sit through but I can always turn it off when I like. I think trying to "diversify" their audience who, I suspect, is already quite diverse would be a bad move.
posted by amanda at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2001

So that's how you spell Sodexho...

WBUR does, or did have some connection with Boston University, my undergraduate alma matter, so no wonder it has especially corporate strings attached to it (assuming that's true--I live in New York now).
posted by ParisParamus at 12:34 PM on May 8, 2001

For those who feel that *PR radio stations are too steeped in a particular brand of "high culture" there's always the Pacifica Radio Network, an entirely listener sponsored radio network. If you think public radio programs lean too far left, then pacifica is probably not for you. That being said, WBAI in New York is often a fantastic source of local and national news.
posted by treedream at 12:38 PM on May 8, 2001

Kahboom: all I know is that on one of the very-frequent underwriting announcements the other morning 2 maybe 3 days ago, they clearly identified Sodexho - I was a little stunned cuz I'd just been doing some reading in the Baffler (#12 i think) about the evils of the contractor prisons in this country and how Sodexho was making huge investments in this growth industry... I doubt that we'll be hearing any hard-edged investigative stories about this alarming social trend on NPR or any other mainstream outlets for that matter.
Alan: while I do agree that most of NPR's fare is better than the corporate news broadcasts, isn't this favorable comparison a little bit of "damned with faint praise?"
posted by DixHuit at 12:38 PM on May 8, 2001

About the prison industry check out: radio diaries, tossing away the keys . KQED, the San Francisco NPR station, carries these series so I assume that they've aired them. I also remember some other (maybe ATC, maybe fresh air, and definitely this american life) programs doing some stories with more emphasis on analysis of the prison industry but I can't find them.
posted by rdr at 2:48 PM on May 8, 2001

TAL has done shows called lock-up and sentencing, among others.

[rah rah rah -- that's me being a this american life cheerleader.]
posted by palegirl at 4:27 PM on May 8, 2001

Those who want public radio should pay for it with commercials, not my tax dollars. What a pile of self-righteous elitism with bad production values. None dare call it propaganda.
posted by Erendadus at 11:46 PM on May 8, 2001

Where's Jackie Lydon these days? Now that's a voice! (Realaudio)

Is Erendadus an obscure spelling for erroneous? If anything public broadcasting is guilty of propaganda wise, is that it trys to teach and enlighten rather than play to profitable hype. How does it do this? Because it gets it's money from a subsidized source and isn't completely beholden to corporate interests. Which a case could be made that corporate media has far more to gain from broadcasting propaganda than could npr/pbs.
posted by crasspastor at 12:07 AM on May 9, 2001

Alas, Pacifica seems to have lost its way of late.
posted by sudama at 10:27 AM on May 9, 2001

mmmm....jackie lyden's voice.....

i fell for her big time when they did a story about her book. it's a memoir about her mother's battle with manic-depression.
posted by jpoulos at 6:45 PM on May 9, 2001

That's how ya spell it. . .no Google found next to nothing!
posted by crasspastor at 7:01 PM on May 9, 2001

Err excuse me. . .

no Google found next to nothing!
No wonder Google found next to nothing!
posted by crasspastor at 7:02 PM on May 9, 2001

"Those who want public radio should pay for it with commercials, not my tax dollars. What a pile of self-righteous elitism with bad production values. None dare call it propaganda."

I don't know about American public radio, but if it's at all like, say, Radio National (or any other ABC (Australian) station), it's a lot better than commercial radio, with a much wider range of view points considered. Propaganda? Elitism? I think not.
posted by eoz at 11:39 PM on May 10, 2001

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