National Public Railroadeo

The controversy about all the elitist condescension galloping through the halls and programming policies of National Public Radio are both on point and beside the point. Even if NPR’s appeal were universal, it is not the proper function of government to be funding and controlling media.

Just the same, NPR’s appeal is far from universal. It serves not “the public,” but a slice of it — about 11 percent, according to Sue Schardt, member of an NPR distribution committee. She concedes that those who built NPR “unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominantly white, liberal, highly educated, elite” but stipulates that it was “never anyone’s intention to exclude anyone.”

True, but not meaningful. Coca Cola would love to get all the Pepsi people, Mother Jones would love to get all the National Review people, plus Esquire and New Yorker people, plus CBS and NBC and ABC people. But every successful enterprise must target its product.

Schardt believes that the way to answer political challenges to NPR’s funding is to expand the base with a broader appeal. The 30-year incubation period is over, now let’s be all we can be! Prove the nay-sayers wrong!

Fine with me if NPR tries this — or any other audience-building strategy. Just not on my dime. NPR would probably do best preaching to the liberal choir as they’ve always done. But, again, in the marketplace. Don’t make the rest of us pay for it.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar
    17
    8:59
    AM
    Drik

    The problem is that liberal radio can’t stand on its own.
    That dirty little “secret” has been proven over and over with failures in the free market.
    Without government funding of liberal radio, there is no liberal radio.
    And what is a socialist/progressive government to do if it loses this mouthpeice to its minority constituency? There is a finite amount of radio air time(limited by the frequencies available). Like shelf space in the gorcery store. Less shelf space for the liberal ideas means more shelf space taken up by the conservative ones. The only way to combat that is to fund competing uncompetitive products until the conservative ideas are drowned out by all of the background noise.

    No National Pravda Radio?

    How would the liberals sleep at night, knowing that people might actually hear ideas that counter the offical approved government spin on the news?

  2. Mar
    17
    10:54
    AM
    Tom

    If NPR truly wants to expand their listening base, they should host Glenn Beck or the EIB Network(Rush).

  3. Mar
    17
    2:54
    PM
    John Ken

    Public radio and TV are for the public with no commercials.

    When my kids were young they watched Sesame Street, Mr Rogers and a host of other educational programs. I would hate to see the Republicans kill off Big Bird and Bert & Ernie.

  4. Mar
    17
    3:53
    PM
    Ken Warner

    I have listened to NPR for a lot of the last 18 years, but if I am every discussing it with someone, I preface my comments thus:
    “I listen to NPR to find out what the enemy thinks, as this is the voice of those who HATE the rule of law and the voice of the people.”

  5. Mar
    17
    6:38
    PM
    Paul Jacob

    But John Ken, NPR and PBS do indeed have commercials. They simply package them differently.

    For the public? The whole point is that even NPR admits it is a subsidy for an elite, wealthy audience comprising 11% of the public.

    If there is an audience for Big Bird and Bert & Ernie, than removing 20% of the funding (taken from taxpayers who may or may not wish to listen or watch), won’t “kill” them.

  6. Mar
    18
    12:34
    AM
    Atlanta Roofing

    I’ve heard that too, and that’s what I don’t understand. If a rural radio station was faced with defunding from the CPB because they provide NPR content, it seems likely to me that they’d just jettison the NPR content and rely more on local content, PRI, etc.

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