I suspect that any number of us could have written this piece at Unherd—at least in echoing its message—but it was written by William Deresiewicz, author, critic, and former English teacher at Yale.
What I mean by the above is that many readers have declared themself sick to death of NPR, offended by its fulminating wokeness that once wasn’t there. And if you deny that NPR is getting woker and woker, hewing to a “Progressive Leftist” line with little deviation, then you haven’t been listening. I have the local NPR station as the only one set on my car radio, and now I almost prefer silence, for what comes out of the speakers is absolutely predictable.
Why would somebody want to listen only to news that fits your ideological bias? The radio, like a college, is an instrument for learning, and, when partly funded by the taxpayers (as NPR is), should help challenge our thinking. Taxpayers don’t fund the New York Times or Fox News, yet even in this article Deresiewicz doesn’t mention the one-sidedness of a station that’s partly funded by tax dollars. What he’s beefing about is the ideological slant of NPR. The fact that it’s publicly funded only makes its one-sidedness more objectionable. Believe me, if Fox News were funded by taxpayers, Democrats would be up in arms, and I’d be among them.
At any rate, click below to read. Yes, I know some of you will approve of NPR’s shows on art or music that NPR has, but what the author is talking about is a pervasive ideology.
Deresiewicz begins with his discovery of NPR in 1987, when it was meatier and doing in-depth stories that simply couldn’t be covered by other stations (the author refers to an “All Things Considered” story about hiking the Appalachian Trail). He also fell in love with “Morning Edition” and “Fresh Air”. I liked those shows, too, and am not sure that even “Science Friday” with the inimitable Robert Krulwich is aired. (I have to admit, though, that I always detested Garrison Keillor.) But, then. . . things changed:
And that’s the way it was for over 30 years, through the advent of Talk of the Nation and This American Life, of On the Media and Here & Now. NPR became the soundtrack of my life — when I drove, cooked, ate, exercised, did laundry — three or four hours a day, every day.
That is, until around the beginning of last year. My discontent had been building since the previous summer, the summer of the George Floyd protests. It was clear from the beginning that the network would be covering the movement not like journalists but advocates. A particular line was being pushed. There was an epidemic of police violence against unarmed African-Americans; black people were in danger of being murdered by the state whenever they walked down the street. The protests were peaceful, and when they weren’t, the violence was minor, or it was justified, or it was exclusively initiated by the cops. Although we had been told for months to stay indoors, the gatherings did not endanger public health — indeed, they promoted it. I supported the protests; I just did not appreciate the fact that I was being lied to.
But it wasn’t just that story. Overnight, the network’s entire orientation had changed. Every segment was about race, and when it wasn’t about race, it was about gender. The stories were no longer reports but morality plays, with predictable bad guys and good guys. Scepticism [sic] was banished. Divergent opinions were banished. The pronouncements of activists, the arguments of ideologically motivated academics, were accepted without question. The tone became smug, certain, self-righteous. To turn on the network was to be subjected to a program of ideological force-feeding. I was used to the idiocies of the academic Left — I had been dealing with them ever since I started graduate school — but now they were leaking out of my radio.
So that is pretty much what I did. Now, in addition to The Unspeakable, I listen to Blocked and Reported (Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal), The Dishcast (Andrew Sullivan), The Glenn Show (Glenn Loury, with John McWhorter as a regular guest), Honestly (Bari Weiss), and LibertiesTalk (Celeste Marcus). I don’t agree with everything these people say, still less with everything their guests do. Weiss is on the centre-Left, Sullivan and Loury on the centre-Right, but more to the point, all of these figures are heterodox, which means that their positions aren’t predictable.
The problem is that I don’t much like podcasts, as I can read faster than I can listen, and I don’t have a substitute for NPR, which I listened to only in my car. (I can’t listen to the radio if I’m doing something else, for I can’t pay attention to two things at once.)
You may disagree with Deresiewicz’s characterization of NPR, but it pretty much jibes with mine. I listen because I have to, but not raptly.
He goes on, decrying one-sidedness as not conducive to examining one’s views:
. . . But for me the most important way, and not just because it is the one I find most salient for me, is this. You change your mind when you consent to stop ignoring things you know full well but do not want to think about — things that you push to the edges of consciousness, or all the way out. Few of us are scientists. We do not gather facts through careful, ordered processes; we aren’t compelled to make our arguments in formal terms in front of expert referees. Our thinking is less about finding the truth than about making ourselves feel good. And so when we encounter a countervailing piece of information, an uncomfortable truth, we dismiss it as an anomaly, or as not undermining the general point, forgetting the previous “anomalies” and not regarding how they might together utterly destroy the point.
Yes, that’s it: NPR’s mission isn’t to change minds, or even inspire thought; its mission appears increasingly to make those on the Left feel good about themselves—it’s an audible and constant source of self-affirmation. More:
A few examples from my own thought. Some concern the recognition that we on our side are not any better, in many respects, than those scoundrels on the other. Yes, conservatives are making common cause with authoritarian regimes, but only lately did I let myself acknowledge that the Left has done the same for many years: with Cuba still today, Nicaragua in the 80s, North Vietnam in the 60s, the Soviet Union in the 30s. Yes, Republican leaders are cowards who refuse to denounce the Trumpian extremists in their ranks, but only recently did I allow myself to see that many leaders on the Left are equally spineless, equally faithless, equally complicit in the face of the extremists on their own side. For a lifelong Leftist pushing sixty, admitting this is, as Joe Biden might say, a big fucking deal.
I wouldn’t go nearly as far as Deresiewicz in demonizing the Left equally with the right (but remember the Return of the Lapbook Story!)—and Deresiewicz does say he leans Left—but I still feel manipulated by NPR in the same way he does.
And he’s right on the money when he calls for more “heterodoxy” in reporting. When you read for the first time an essay by Hitchens or Orwell, for instance, you can but rarely guess what they were going to say about politics. You might disagree with them, but they had formidable arguments that you needed to answer if you were to be thoughtful about your own views.
The only media I’ve found that isn’t clearly biased in its reporting is the Wall Street Journal news section, but its op-eds are usually a hotbed of predictable right-wing pabulum. The NYT is often reliable, but increasingly its ideology seeps into its news. The same goes for The Washington Post. In other words, the media has become derelict in its duty to make people think.
60 thoughts on “The slow death of NPR”
In partial defense of NPR and PBS, I will only say they’ve decided on the “great issues” of the day, so that’s the agenda. There are great issues, but they conflate the importance of the issues with the Progressive Left solutions – they’re not the same things.
Generally, I agree with your remarks. The question I have is, what’s the alternative? The last thing NPR needs is an ideological censor, and it’s not like there is a dearth of freely available alternative opinions available in every medium including corporate-funded talk radio (despite the stations themselves being private, the airwaves are publicly owned and licensed). For similar reasons, the taxpayer argument lacks merit: in the 1980s, the religious right advanced similar taxpayer arguments against public funding of teaching evolution.
I would say if you are constantly on the lookout for anything that irritates you, you will find it. I can read the newspaper without the need to like everything in it. I take the WP. I have never listed to public radio but I do watch things on public television once in a while. The only thing I can say is — if something bothers you allot, stop doing it.
If I get PCC’s point, he is unhappy that he cannot stop paying taxes that fund the irritating stuff.
I take this as criticism of the content here. But I am not alone in finding NPR more woke; I am not “looking” to be offended by it as I’ve listened for years. The fact that many readers agree, and that I was writing an article about it shows that I am not alone.
And I’d tender the same advice to you about this website. Your comment, which I take as thoughtless, is irritating.
I used to listen to NPR every day on the way to and from work. I loved All Things Considered and thought it was a very appropriate name and philosophy. All things should be considered, and then some may be rejected though never so thoroughly as to not consider new evidence or thoughts on the matter. I eventually began feeling bored and stopped listening in favor of music. This post makes me wonder if the boredom came because they weren’t making me think anymore.
Listen to the podcasts in the car! Or when cooking or something similar that doesn’t require much concentration.
What have you done! You know that Jerry will record podcasts onto a casette tape so he can listen to it in his car! (he also had the quirk to print out online articles to read them, rather than getting a newfangled reading device like a table or kindle).
Joking aside, that’s the great option, and might be possible with ease when the phone is anyway connected to the car’s stereo. Only need to download the podcast, and it should work.
I love the way we all think of driving as something that “doesn’t require too much concentration”. Jerry says he can’t do two things at once. Clearly driving doesn’t count as a thing. I’m the same. I listen to podcasts (I don’t listen to the radio “live” anymore, only the podcast versions of the programmes I like) only when I’m driving or walking. I don’t listen to them even when I’m doing other menial tasks.
What iis it about driving that makes it so easy to listen to something else whilst doing it?
I noticed with other tasks that it has to do with what “parts” of your mind are occupied. I can’t listen to music with lyrics, or podcasts while writing, but no problem when doing tasks that don’t enlist speech cognition.
I often listen to BBC Radio 4 while driving and I have noticed that whilst driving along straight stretches of road I can follow the discussion quite easily but if I have to negotiate a junction or similarly ‘complex’ traffic situation I emerge the other side of the junction with absolutely no idea of what has been said on the radio for the duration of the manoeuvre. There is no conscious decision on my part to stop concentrating on the radio programme; my brain somehow automatically recognises that it needs to switch full attention to the more critical task.
That’s apparently why cellphones are so dangerous while driving. It’s not fiddling with buttons or keeping the thing between your cheek and your shoulder so you rely entirely on your mirrors for lane changes. It’s that you can’t switch off the conversation easily when necessary—the client is still yelling at you about delivery being late and won’t shut up the way he might if he was in the car with you. And if you stop apologizing so’s to concentrate on traffic he’ll just get angrier that you’re ignoring him. Permitting hands-free devices is just a recognition that the police can’t enforce a total ban.
And of course texting is nuts anyway.
I never liked NPR. Not due to bias but just because it was sugary. Too much human interest time and the like. I don’t mind long journalistic stories if they have a lot of information, but often it’s just long form touchie-feelie descriptions of some point that could’ve been made in 30 seconds.
I do online BBC (center l left…but British left, not US left) and CNN (center left). The BBC is like the WSJ in that you often find articles on it’s pages about the US that the US mainstream doesn’t cover. Plus, it’s not always about us, and they have a better international section than most US news services. But not a little bit, I use these two because they have yet to move to paywall.
So my answer to boring or irritating radio: audiobooks. I have a stack of them in my car and they are my answer, even for short trips around town. Fiction only since listening to nonfiction requires a level of attention I need to use for driving and planning. They’ve turned the chore of running errands into moments of pleasure I can only get by doing that chore. It’s a great motivator for a procrastinator extraordinaire like myself.
If you ever do decide to give podcasts a go, I recommend Dan Carlin’s Hardcore history. Not sure it is technically a podcast or what but I find it really interesting. I am currently listening to Supernova in the East, a history of the Pacific War during WWII. This series is currently free, other series have relatively low prices.
I used to listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered whenever I was driving, especially when I was traveling. I stopped about four or five years ago. The shame of it all is that it receives government funding.
As a source of unbiased news, you can’t beat The Economist. Even when they editorialize, they stick to rationality, science, and data.
I agree mostly (have been reader of The Economist for many many years). Though since I have familiarized with the work of University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, I have come to realize that The Economist’s recent stances on US foreign policy, I don’t agree with them anymore. Case in point: The Economist was opposed to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. In general, Mearsheimer advocates for a more restrained US foreign policy (he gave a talk on this in 2017 at Yale, it’s on YouTube; restraint does not mean isolationism). This is also the topic of his book: The great delusion: Liberal dreams and international realities (Yale Univ Press, 2018). (The great delusion is the idea that the US can spread democracy around the world by invading other countries or meddling in their politics by other means.)
But even if the Economist expresses an opinion you disagree with, can you honestly call it biased?
At one time, an NPR affiliate station in the Seattle/Tacoma region had a regular
program on the weather and climate science by UW professor M. He is a vastly
well-informed atmospheric scientist, an engaging speaker, and a heterodox sort
who antagonized the local climate activists by his scrupulous factuality. That is,
although, concerned about climate change, he carefully warned that one could
not blame each and every windstorm unambiguously on global warming.
After the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations, some of which turned violent
in parts of downtown Seattle, Professor M. decried the violence in his personal
blog (separate from his radio program), and wrote that the broken windows and
boarded-up shopfronts reminded him of the 1938 Kristalnacht in Nazi Germany.
This analogy elicited an immediate uproar on social media, whereupon the station
abruptly discontinued Professor M.’s weather program. This peremptory action
illustrated the station policy: off the air for anyone who departs from the
required reverential attitude toward the “mostly peaceful” BLM demos.
I have not listened to NPR consistently since Car Talk.
Me too! I used to wake up to Car Talk. But that was the only thing I listened to on NPR. (This is not a criticism of NPR — it was just the only thing that interested me.)
I too no longer listen to NPR on a regular basis for this reason.
Here’s a game you can play (I call it “Skin or Genitals?”): turn on NPR randomly during the day and time how long it takes for them to start talking about racism or sexism. I’ve been doing this for over a year now and it’s often <5 seconds and rarely over 10 minutes. Whatever the issue, they'll analyze it in terms of race or sex. It's so tedious, so simplistic, and so transparent…. it's unlistenable. I too have turned to podcasts….
“Here’s a game you can play (I call it “Skin or Genitals?”): turn on NPR randomly during the day and time how long it takes for them to start talking about racism or sexism.”
Yup, I do the same thing with the News Hour as well. The invasion of Ukraine has shifted things a bit, but I’m sure it’ll return to the identity politics default soon enough.
If you dislike the focus on race and gender at NPR, you will really hate listening to CBC radio.
In spades. CBC might as well be re-labelled the 24 hr Indigenous Radio station and if there be a respite from that it will be in the form of interviews/topics related to the experience of being women, black, or LGBTQ+ or, as an apparent treat for listeners – a combination of all the above.
It is sad that so many of us who would identify as liberal increasingly find the only snippets of rational discourse at conservative venues (buried amongst their usual crap).
Indeed. I was a faithful CBC listener for years. I found it was generally very good, but then it turned woke and I stopped listening. Given that it has no advertising, except for its own programs, it is presumably just about wholly funded by taxpayers, which makes its current “unlistenability” maddening.
Curiously (and thankfully), the French version of CBC radio has not been infected in the same way, so that’s what I listen to now.
It makes me wonder who the CBC answers to. Is the current content really what Canadians want to listen to? If the Conservatives got into power (not something I hope for), I assume things would change. Of course the Tories might do away with the CBC completely, although they didn’t during Stephen Harper’s long tenure as prime minister.
Paul, we all know the CBC answers to the Liberal Party of Canada. It’s a creature of government and the Liberal Party is the Natural Governing Party of Canada. They know that people like you will keep voting for the Liberal Party and so they keep supporting Liberal propaganda even though it drives away a lot of its listeners. The CBC doesn’t care if anyone other than the hacks in the Prime Minister’s Office and the party bosses listen to it. The hacks listen to it, of course, just to make sure it is “on message” like everyone else in the Party has to be. From friends and family reports I can tell you that school teachers, union activists among nurses, and civil servants are devoted listeners still.
Given the tenuousness with which the Conservatives are likely ever to hold power in Canada —we are fond of a huge redistributive nanny state that gives money to everyone and nothing to self-defense—, the CBC’s tax money is probably safe. As a rent-seeking insider, it knows how to play the game.
“The only media I’ve found that isn’t clearly biased in its reporting is the Wall Street Journal news section, but its op-eds are usually a hotbed of predictable right-wing pabulum.”
I couldn’t agree more. My wife and I recently changed our subscription from the NY Times to WSJ and are very impressed. Even the book reviews, the last remnant of quality in the Times, are as good or better. I’ve got no beef with the op-eds, but then I’m probably more conservative than you or most here.
That American tribalism is everywhere. I used to read Slate but I dropped it a few years back. And I stopped watching Trevor Noah’s Daily Show since he became too Americanised. I still watch John Oliver though. Personally, I stopped reading American news for the most part. I suppose that’s not really much of an option if you’re living in the country though. I know some news sites that are decent for South African news and I get my international news from the BBC and Deutsche Welle.
“I still watch John Oliver though.”
I stopped watching after he did an entire segment on black hair.
I think the show would be better if it were only half an hour. He can be very good, but he can also drag.
“I have to admit I’ve always detested Garrison Keeler”.
Thank you, Jerry!!! I never understood the appeal of “A Prairie Home Companion”, let alone how it ran for 40 years.
I could never stand Garrison Kiellor’s voice. Some of his early written pieces were amusing.
I am slowly ploughing through some of the books on my shelves that I haven’t read for years, and recently had a look at Lake Woebegon Days. I found it virtually unreadable: slow, mawkish and above all unfunny. Another one for the charity shop, I’m afraid.
Once I discovered the Radio Garden app I find that I am listening less and less to NPR. Our local station has gotten stale. I listen to BBC on this app. BBC world service and BBC radio 4.
I think there’s something other than “wokeness” responsible for the changes in NPR; I’ve not watched enough PBS to know whether it has blossomed there, also. It seems to me that almost every news article is focused on the emotional impact of events rather than the events themselves. And every [expletive adjective avoided] report is headed by personal interactions between the reporter and the host/anchor. I suppose that’s nice, but I want the news, not a gossip report so I don’t give a … about how friendly the reporters are.
And this is a phenomenon not limited to NPR; it’s global! Check out the article in PNAS:
“The rise and fall of rationality in language” by
Marten Scheffera,1, Ingrid van de Leemputa, Els Weinansa,b, and Johan Bollenc,1
PNAS 2021 Vol. 118 No. 51 e2107848118
I find this to be a huge problem with virtually all TV news outlets these days. I’ve fast forwarded through literally hours of war coverage where a Ukrainian citizen is asked, “How does it feel to have your whole life disrupted by an invasion?” Same thing with extreme weather events, riots, crimes, etc. I am not against a good human interest story but I hate those where you pretty much know what they are going to say.
It is a staggeringly stupid question, of course. And the obvious answers have been made wobbly by academic exercises. If a citizen of Kiev admits to feeling “unsafe”, the word is associated with students supposedly endangered by the news that Laurence Olivier wore blackface to play Othello. If an injured Ukrainian bombing victim seems to have been “harmed”, that word reminds us of an academic suffering the trauma of being addressed with a disfavored pronoun.
Which brings up an interesting question: will the real victimization of millions of Ukrainians at last put an end to the victimhood charades that are so popular in academia? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Yeah, for the past few years The PBS NewsHour has increasingly focused on anecdotes and personal accounts.
Glad that a number of folks here listen to the BBC. The dear old Beeb has its faults, but at its best it is pretty good, and does its best to report most issues honestly (which of course upsets people on one side of the political spectrum or the other). Do tell HMG, because some of them seem to want to emasculate the BBC once and for all.
And if you’re into music and podcasts, may I recommend ‘The Listening Service’, a regular programme on Radio 3 about aspects of ‘classical’ music, by the music journalist Tom Service. All his many past aural essays should be available on the BBC iPlayer, if you can access it. Endlessly fascinating.
“In other words, the media has become derelict in its duty to make people think.”
I would argue that the role that many of us see the media filling (championing the truth) is only a recent invention. In many ways I think the golden age of media only spanned the time from Edward R Murrow’s later career to Ted Koppel’s retirement. That was a time when you could tune in to learn not to reinforce your biases. Even Fox probably would have seemed mild in the heyday of the Hearst papers for example.
I’ll read this entirely later tonight but…. INDEED!
Although I’m a liberal (of PCC (E) type) I’m becoming sooo sick of the woke-o-racy that P(BS) has become. Pretty much every non-hot news piece there is BIPOC this, or “First all (B)black summit of Everest”, “ways of knowing” and other nonsense. There are other people than JUST high achieving (“INSPIRING!!”) gender and racial minorities in the world. Not to P..BS.
It is a shame as P..BS was/is the very last US TV news I can watch as the rest of our TV “news” – cable or satellite is pitched at a special ed elementary school level. The kids like the colors. 🙂 All the networks are tabloids for people who move their lips when they read, if they can read. Go ahead, call me arrogant but I’m RIGHT.
I watch Al Jazeera, Japanese NHK, Deutsche Welle, all online.
As a millennial that graduated college nearly a decade ago, it’s unsurprising to me that NPR has ended up where it is. Anybody at my college that wanted to intern/work at NPR (and this was the type of school with the type of kids where they definitely could land such a gig if they really tried) was dyed-in-the-wool left-wing, a good deal further to the left of the average Democrat in 2010 or 2011. Also very into academic theories of patriarchy, racism, evils of capitalism, and so on, and since it was a big deal at the time, very pro-Occupy Wall Street. At the end of the day, individual people matter, and as mighty as an institution and the norms it professes might be, if all of your employees think one way, what can you do except accommodate them? They can’t really fire everyone without going under completely.
“…I know some of you will approve of NPR’s shows on art or music that NPR has…”
Can’t stand the music they focus on. Lots of folksy, rustic, baby-boomer nostalgia. And now they’ve added lots of rap and rap-like stuff. As a gen-Xer, I feel like they’ve snubbed a whole generation.
I haven’t listened to NPR for years, but a reviewer up here in Seattle turned me on to Modest Mouse with their ’97 release of “The Lonesome Crowded West”. Been a fan ever since. It might be a local thing?
Partly had Modest Mouse in mind.
Today’s NPR’s All Things Considered goes after astronomers and their collective carbon footprint.
“By dividing up the total annual emissions by the number of astronomers worldwide, the researchers figure that each astronomer’s share of the profession’s emissions is around 36 metric tons per year.
“And that’s just from using the telescopes — it doesn’t include things like scientists’ travel to conferences, supercomputing power and office heating. “For our lab, the total is actually about 50 tonnes of equivalent CO2 per year an astronomer,” he says.
“Knödlseder points out that this is about the amount of emissions from driving an average car in France 165,000 kilometers, or over 100,000 miles.”
I don’t see the significance of France, as compared to other countries. What fraction of the total sea-land-air vehicle footprint is attributable to those awful astronomers?
“The most prolific emitters were the biggest, most expensive observatories, such as the new James Webb Space Telescope and the Square Kilometer Array, according to the report.
“What’s more, they say, until research can be made more sustainable, through measures like renewable energy sources, one option to reduce emissions is to slow down the pace of building ever larger and more sophisticated new telescopes.”
Once launched into space, how significant is their carbon contribution? Shall we not return to the moon? Launch more interplanetary probes?
Can’t say with much confidence at the moment how many professional astronomers there are (who among other activities fly/drive to conferences with some sort of carbon footprint), but the below link estimates 10,000. (Do they all fly each year?)
So, from the above, each astronomer on average is responsible for 36,000 – 50,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses annually.
I’d like to know the carbon footprint from the manufacturing of plastic children’s toys and various and sundry gewgaws. I’d like to know what the world-wide media’s carbon footprint is in general and that of NPR in particular as it cycles its occasionally breathless and quasi-histrionic hosts in and out of Ukraine.
What about the carbon footprint of parents? There’s always a blind spot in the world in regards to population and climate change.
Blind as a newborn babe.
The nice thing about making plastic is that aside from the carbon dioxide emitted in making it, plastic is the ultimate carbon sink. Almost all of it goes to landfill where it will sit unchanged for millennia. It is almost like leaving the oil in the ground, with the difference that, unlike oil left in the ground, the plastic served some useful purpose during its brief life. Hospitals use tons of the stuff and throw all of it away after one use. Even burning it for power is not useful because it is bulky with a low heat value compared to coal, by mass or by volume, and you need enormous quantities at a steady supply to keep the lights on. We don’t waste enough plastic for it to be a reliable fuel source, apparently.
The fuss about plastic in the oceans comes from the fantasy that plastic collected by municipal recycling programs is ever going to be recycled into new products. It won’t, and never would. It went to giant dump yards which piled progressively higher in the wishful thinking that someday someone would invent something economical to do with it. Then we started shipping it to China and Africa in the hope that maybe they would. But they gave up on it too and started dumping it into their large rivers, just to get rid of it. If we had just kept it home and sent it to landfill, hardly any would have reached the oceans, other than the occasional six-pack ringset tossed overboard from a bass boat and which manages to get past the trash guards at power dams.
Attempts to conflate plastic litter and greenhouse gasses are just an attempt to do two unrelated things that happen to appeal to the same tribe: “Plastic = oil = bad.”
Once upon a time, WAMU in DC was great – it seemed like they played bluegrass all afternoon, so I would wait till that came in range on treks back home from Jersey or Pittsburgh. But then that changed, but there was one good show, Hot Jazz Saturday Night with Rob Bamberger. But then I quit making treks back to DC. But when Alexa came to live with me last fall, I asked her to fetch AMU up for me, and she did! It turned out that I had dialed into just the second episode of Hot Jazz after it had been cancelled for the previous two yrs. Apparently enough people complained and they brought Rob back, so it is possible to reverse things on an NPR station.
Otherwise, aside from news, AMU seems to be largely angst radio.
Bt for bluegrass, which only comes on my local public radio station every Sunday night (I guess they’re an NPR affiliate but they just play music), I’ve found an all-bluegrass station from Narrows, in SW VA. Besides the music, it’s refreshingly devoid of redneck sentiment – at one time they were even promoting vaccination(!) The only downside is that every so often a preacher comes on, and then I go over to another station. They also cover highschool sports in the evenings. But if you’d like to give it a try, ask your Alexa to play WNRV (W New River Valley) or “Nine-ninety the Ridge”
We always really enjoyed programs like “This American Life”, to the point where I would download hundreds of episodes and play them on the bridge of the ship. But the last few years, even programs like TAL started focusing on politics, instead of good story telling.
I almost exclusively listen to audiobooks and podcasts these days. I download tons of them onto thumb drives, and most of our cars have USB ports to plug them into.
But, the last few weeks, I have been driving a car which only has a radio, and only picks up the public radio station.
It is really maddening. The other day, they did a story on a new law in one of the nearby states. The details are irrelevant, but the way they covered the story was that they interviewed one person about the details and implications of the law, and that person was a hard left activist, campaigning against the law.
The problem with activist journalism is that they do not seek to inform, they seek to agitate. In the particular story I mentioned, the goal of the NPR story was not to give the listeners the facts about the law, along with the potential advantages and drawbacks of it’s passing. All they wanted to do was to present a narrative likely to provoke the listener to anger at the law, so that perhaps they would oppose the law, or protest against it.
In order to do that, they omitted or misrepresented key elements of the story.
That should not be how publicly funded journalism sound like.
I am irritated in the same way that Jerry and WD are. What really irritates me ,though, is the delivery of the on air talent in some of the morning shows. It iseems so very concerned about the listeners’ feelings. It’s delivered in a personal tone, often so concerned and soothing – about little old ME! I listen to be informed and entertained, not to be treated as if the too frequent very bad news is traumatizing me. The radio is a one way medium. Add phones and it can be a call-in format. Other than that, I listen to NPR, not the other way around. There’s often an assumption of “we know what you must be feeling” and that’s what’s really irritating. I think that it’s one manifestation of the Therapyzation that sometimes surfaces on the Left. But that’s another topic.
I am so glad to hear others have the same gripes with NPR. And CarTalk!!! Where is it? I miss it! Here in NYC the local NPR station is WNYC and if you want bleeding heart sentimental frivolous
airing of People With Problems, that’s up your alley. Of course those problems are more like “Cheap furniture for your kid’s college room”, or “Finding A Good Haircut for Those with Rasta Braids”. Or
how your Asian grocer was too busy to hear your complaints. Terry Gross was at least professional and varied in her guests. All the media now are transfixed by dark skin, curly or frizzy hair, indeterminate gender that paralyzes social relations. I skip past all news that focuses on physical identity or sex confusion. That doesn’t leave much. Folks, put the real name on all of this: ANTI INTELLECTUALISM. You know these freshmen know nothing about history, philosophy, science,
art, classical music, nonfiction books, anthropology, evolution. NOTHING. We live in a barbarian nation where barbarism is not just tolerated but celebrated. Put your energy into saving western Europe, birthplace of the Enlightenment which gave us science, equal rights, democracy, cultural freedom, philosophy by abolishing religion and theocracy (in most places). If you haven’t been to Europe, GO NOW before the philistines destroy it. Go everywhere. Stay as long as you can. See how people live, eat, move, learn, talk and treat each other. You may never come back. Europe is the last trace of human civilization.
You can listen to some of them at https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510208/car-talk
Late to the party here, but one more who used to have only NPR on in my car and all weekend at home and I can no longer listen to it at all. I have switch to exclusively music.
I think this is one episode on NPR that will be appreciated. It is a short story in audio form produced by Symphony Spaces (an NPR affiliate). Symphony Space’s mission is “Symphony Space was founded in the belief that the arts bring people together, transcend barriers, and celebrate both our similarities and differences.”
The story starts at timestamp 34:00