Thursday, January 22, 2009

Don't cry for National Public Radio

I fall right in the middle of the demographics for listeners of National Public Radio (NPR), except in political, social and religious views. I first started listening regularly shortly after it went on the air in 1970 and have listened regularly since then. When I started listening, it was common for me to mention the broadcasts and receive totally blank looks. No one listened to NPR. Now it exactly the opposite, to quote their Web site: "The audience for NPR programming has doubled in the last ten years to 26 million weekly listeners. Since Fall 2000, the audience to NPR programming has added nearly 8 million listeners, an increase of 40 percent. In the early 1980s, about 2 million people listened to NPR."

Part of the reason for the increase, I am sure, is the simple fact that there is nothing else to listen to on commercial radio, unless you want to be yelled at or sworn at or both by the radical right or the radical left. Unfortunately, as the audience for public radio has expanded, NPR has become more and more politically correct and sensational. I used to love hearing commentators like Red Barber and John Ciardi. I cried when both of them died because it was like losing a friend. In fact, I can still feel sad just thinking about them. Unfortunately, as they died off, no one replaced them.

Today, other than a few highlights, like Story Corps, most of the commentary is either so politicized to be offensive or so bland as to be offensive. The programming is so predictable that I know exactly what they will be talking about regardless of what is happening in the world. Some of the commentators are so biased that I have to turn off the radio. Recently I am getting tired of hearing about challenges in the Gay Community and how the Palestinians are suffering under the attack by Israel.

Historically, NPR has been so liberal that more conservative Congresses have almost cut off their funding. Now, with a Democratic Congress, that is unlikely to happen. But although it will be hard for me to break my long time habit of listening, I am cutting down more and more. I can only be offended by Howard Burkus so many times before I will quit entirely especially now that I can listen to Car Talk, Science Friday and Story Corps on Pod Casts and don't have to put up with the rest of the drivel.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you've stuck it out with NPR much longer than me. I sort of miss Car Talk and Science Friday. If they're podcast, I'll have to pick them up there. The only radio I listen to anymore is an occasional basketball or baseball game.