Monday, 23 November 2015

NPR in 2015

The Washington Post wrote up an article over the weekend.....concerning National Public Radio (NPR).  The jest of this is that listeners are 'dying-out'.  Over the past decade NPR has come to realize that it's losing listeners.....mostly because older and enthusiastic listeners are not being replaced by younger and enthusiastic listeners.   There is some fear that they will cross some mythical line and find Congressional funding to be lessen at some point down the road (at least a decade away).

Around 1971, I was one of those who eagerly found the NPR station in my region of rural Alabama, tuning into a station that carried jazz, opera, and classical music.  They carried readings from Hemingway and Steinbeck, and had intellectual conversations once in a while.  For a kid from rural surroundings, it was a worthy vehicle.

At some point in the 1980s.....they trimmed back on jazz, opera, and classical music......flipping to more news and political commentary.  By the mid-1990s.....they went turbo on political stuff and news.....with almost no jazz, opera or classical music anymore.  A handful of entertainment shows sat around and made the format worthwhile.

Around twelve years ago, I reached a point where I was generally laughing over the political news and couldn't really take them as a serious journalist forum.

For a 18-year-old today?  It's hard to figure what a younger individual would get out of NPR.  They avoid entertainment news like it's the plague.  They rarely cover sports other than some 1,000 word essay over the Brooklyn Dodgers or the old Yankees of the 1950s.  Anything related to the modern culture of some kid?  Forget it.

At some point, you just come to sense that NPR will have to go and re-invent itself.....going back to the old format of the 1970s and 1980s.....which will confuse half the crowd of listeners that they have today.

Sadly, you can only generate roughly twelve minutes a day of real political news before you reach a point where there's nothing worth discussing.  The term.....'overkill' starts to make your journalistic talents marginal and amusing.  It's the same problem that CNN suffers from today.....there's just not enough news to fill an hour and keep viewers you start talking about two-headed cows or page six of some farm legislative bill that concerns Texas cotton farmers.

Maybe NPR will figure a way to survive, but I suspect they've got about five years at best before someone starts talking budget cuts and how they fit into some future operations situation.