NPR — The Same Local Voice, Everywhere

NPR -- The Same Local Voice, Everywhere

It’s August, when American leaders migrate to Bar Harbor, Maine. Kevin Klose, president of National Public Radio (NPR), gave a lecture up there and said commercial radio has lost its “local voice” through consolidation and satellite syndication. He then went on to brag that NPR-distributed programming had a audience of 30 million, as if NPR programming has not displaced locally-produced radio shows.

No one has stilled the local voice of radio more than NPR. The consolidation of content (rather than ownership) on nonprofit radio has turned local land-based radio stations into redistribution points — repeater stations — for the nationally-sydicated fare of NPR, American Public Media , Public Radio International (PRI), and the export arm of the BBC. On the advice of CPB-funded consultants, local stations converted from varied “block-programming” to all-chatter formats by purchasing the same sophisticated, expensive, imported syndicated shows as all the other nonprofit stations. The “low end” of the FM dial sounds the same everywhere in the nation.

Before Mr. Klose congratulates himself again for resisting “media consolidation,” he needs to take a closer look at NPR’s role in stamping out local radio programming.

Hat tip: FishbowlDC

Image by Mike Licht.
Full disclosure: ML is a former employee of an NPR-affiliated station, and far from disgruntled. About that, anyway.

4 Responses to “NPR — The Same Local Voice, Everywhere”

  1. Weer'd Beard Says:

    Wow that totally sucks! I gotta say, Syndicated news and talk radio totally sucks compared to local radio talking about local issues.

  2. Free the airwaves Says:

    Well said! It’s a scary situation when people are getting their news and information from limited sources.

  3. Mike Licht Says:

    I have no argument with the NPR News Division, which I think is a first-rate journalistic enterprise with the highest standards.

    I am less thrilled with the talk-opinion-interview stuff, which adds to the blather and chatter obscuring facts and meaning of events. This may help sell the books, magazines, CDs, and films the guests are plugging, but it undercuts the work of the NPR news division and, most importantly, uses up airtime that once fostered local music forms and artists: regional rock, jazz, R&B, Zydeco, Bluegrass, Polka, Rap, and Chamber Music.

    The chattering of talk radio is a comfort to the lonely, so such programming — whatever the content — pushes numbers up. This is usually called “companionate radio.” Music of any kind will not appeal to everyone, so numbers go down.

    Public stations forget that the rationale for their existence is not to get higher ratings. They exist to broadcast content underserved by commercial outlets. Stations — and the FCC — need reminding.

  4. New NPR CEO Got It « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] locally. Why do vitually all NPR stations sound the same? During the last century, CPB funded consultants to convince public stations to homogenize their […]

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