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NPR & The Modern Media Distribution

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the best-content-isn't-always-the-most-expensive dept.

272

Isao writes "The U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) network is feeling the pinch between giving their content away for free on the radio and on the internet as podcasts. The dilemma is that some of their audience is turning from the radio to podcasts, not for flexibility, but to either access locally unavailable content or avoid fundraising marathons (NPR is partially funded by listener donations). This has begun to skew their financial model. What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever."

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FRIST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065385)

I believe the article is right, we can not let the dolphins free!

Re:FRIST POST (1, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065496)

I believe the article is right, we can not let the dolphins free!

Too late, they already left, and they wanted me to tell you, "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"

This American Life & Car Talk (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065395)

I grew up in Minnesota where the land is flat and it would take me three and half hours to drive between my parent's house and the University of Minnesota. My car was a complete junker and therefore wasn't worth the two hundred or so dollars it would take to equip it with a CD player. So instead, I listened to the many programs that NPR and MPR had to offer.

Two of my absolute favorites were This American Life [thislife.org] and Car Talk [cartalk.com] . Oftentimes, I would find myself in a parking lot listening to Ira Glass [wikipedia.org] as the episode he was doing had me hooked and I couldn't even get out of my car to buy groceries.

My senior year of college found me looking up TAL episodes online and using Total Recorder [highcriteria.com] to compress the Real Audio feeds directly to MP3. Was I stealing from TAL? I didn't really feel like it, I was a poor college student and I had heard the program on the radio--I just wanted it on my computer to listen to it time after time.

I'll never forget the time I heard the two part series of Come Back to Afghanistan [thislife.org] and it's sequel [thislife.org] . What really happened and is happening in Afghanistan never hit home until I heard it through the voice of a young teenager named Hyder Akbar.

I have made a few contributions to NPR since I've graduated but I can see where they'd be strapped financially. I think NPR could take advantage of the modern media formats that all of us seek. I have purchased Car Talk CDs and I'd purchase TAL CDs too. Even more importantly, I'd be more than willing to pay a dollar through iTunes or Napster or whatever service you choose to have a random episode of TAL or Car Talk on my MP3 player. They seem to have the audio book version of Poultry Slam but not every episode, correct me if I'm wrong but I don't have any kind of service to check on hand.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065505)

I like NPR too, but here's the bottom line: if we are forced to contribute regardless of personal choice (which we are), then anything less than 100% free access is an insult. Furthermore, as long as I am forced to contribute, I will never so much as consider giving them a voluntary donation. The fact that they ask for donations, after forcing me to contribute, is nothing but another insult.

I don't care how valuable NPR is or thinks it is -- as long as they are funded through coercion (taxation), then I will treat them as an organization which is funded through coercion. That is, I will never so much as consider helping them, no matter how much they need it.

Taxation? What are you talking about? (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065585)

I don't care how valuable NPR is or thinks it is -- as long as they are funded through coercion (taxation), then I will treat them as an organization which is funded through coercion. That is, I will never so much as consider helping them, no matter how much they need it.
As you can see from their website [npr.org] not a goddamn red cent comes from your taxes. Look through their income sheets [npr.org] and point out where your money is going in. They're a non-profit organization delivering free information to anyone with a radio.

Anyone who wants to know what is going on in the world need only tune to their channel. In my opinion, they're taking a stab at eliminating ignorance in our nation by bathing everyone in nearly free (and unbiased) information and I'd consider that more valuable than cable TV.

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (3, Informative)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065780)

Two caveats you should mention or learn that the corporation for public broadcasting is funded by congress and pays for both public content production and local station expenses, which directly supply the budget for NPR (about 50% station fees and about 50% direct grants).

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (1, Informative)

MrFlibbs (945469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065791)

Umm, according to the NPR link you posted, some of NPR's revenues do indeed come from tax dollars. From the NPR site:

          "On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member
          stations) receive the largest percentage of their revenue
          (34%) from listener support, 25% from corporate underwriting
          and foundations, and 13% from CPB allocations.*

          "(* These figures are derived from the most recent CPB data
          available, FY02. The remaining average revenue breakdown is:
          6% from local and state governments, 15% from institutional
          support, and 7% from all other sources.)"

Looks like a few "red cents" from our taxes are subsidizing NPR after all.

Yeah. We need to spend it on better stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065940)

If we spend too much on NPR, we won't have money for important things... like invading Iraq!

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065822)

The link to their website says:

"A very small percentage -- between one percent to two percent of NPR's annual budget -- comes from competitive grants sought by NPR from federally funded organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts."

Which, as I'm sure you are aware, get at least some of their money from our taxes.

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (1, Insightful)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065823)

Anyone who wants to know what is going on in the world need only tune to their channel. In my opinion, they're taking a stab at eliminating ignorance in our nation by bathing everyone in nearly free (and unbiased) information

NPR = unbiased? Interesting thought...

As you can see from their website not a goddamn red cent comes from your taxes.

Let's see... from their website:
On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member stations) receive the largest percentage of their revenue (34%) from listener support, 25% from corporate underwriting and foundations, and 13% from CPB allocations.*

You clearly don't know what the CPB is, do you? It's the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They get money from the federal government.

Proposed Budget Cuts to Public Broadcasting Budget
http://www.npr.org/about/funding.html [npr.org]
In early June, in an unanticipated move, a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee recommended cutting $190 million from CPB's budget for fiscal year 2006, which begins this coming October. This was subsequently approved by the full House Appropriations Committee.

"An overwhelming number of adults in this country (80%) say that they have a favorable impression of PBS and NPR as a whole. Additionally, there are several indicators throughout the survey that demonstrate the extent to which the public values public broadcasting. For example, only 1-in-10 Americans (10%) would say that a per capita expenditure of $1.30 in taxpayer funds is 'too much' for the government to be spending on public broadcasting. Nearly half (48%) say the amount is 'too little' and roughly 1/3 (35%) say the amount is 'about right.'"

Oops... you're wrong!

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (2, Informative)

mrtrumbe (412155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066259)

Not that you are entirely wrong, but you certainly are being disengenuous.

The 13% figure that you quoted as coming from CPB is actually describing where individual public radio stations get their operating funds. NPR (which does not operate individual radio stations) receives less than 2% of its operating budget from competitive federal grants. They compete with any other not-for-profit to receive those grants. Read the page you quoted again more carefully as the information is all there.

You might be interested in reading exactly how NPR works. Check out this link for more information: http://www.npr.org/about/nprworks.html [npr.org] The bottom line is that because individual public radio stations operate independently from NPR, they are (more or less) free to choose their programming. This is why not all NPR content is available on all stations across the US.

To sum up, you can bitch and whine all you want about the feds supporting local public radio. However, NPR itself is a largely self sufficient operation that produced some really great content.

Taft

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (0)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066099)

Why the hell was that modded informative when it is flat-out wrong?

Re:Taxation? What are you talking about? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066224)

Why the hell was that [slashdot.org] modded [+5] informative when it is flat-out wrong?

Because this is Slashdot. And all independent-minded correct-thinkers like NPR.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (2, Interesting)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065591)

OK, I'll bite, troll.

1) NPR isn't funded by the government, though they do apply and compete for the occasional grant.

2) That said, many local non-commercial radio stations which carry NPR content do qualify for and take government funding. Sometimes that funnels into NPR, sometimes it doesn't, but ultimately it's the radio station that makes the decision.

So, if you're so libertarian that you can't stand the idea of government-assisted community radio, I suggest that you call your local station and make the substantial pledge it will take to get them off the gubmint's teat.

$0.02USD,
-l

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (5, Insightful)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065672)

I don't care how valuable NPR is or thinks it is -- as long as they are funded through coercion (taxation), then I will treat them as an organization which is funded through coercion. That is, I will never so much as consider helping them, no matter how much they need it.

What a dick. Do you have any idea just how many organizations, profit and non, receive some funds somehow through the government? I wish this argument worked for my college tuition... since I pay taxes, and some portion of that goes to financial aid, which goes to my college, I should be able to go to college for free.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (3, Insightful)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065945)

I wish this argument worked for my college tuition... since I pay taxes, and some portion of that goes to financial aid, which goes to my college, I should be able to go to college for free.

No, but if you go to an in state college you pay a lower tuition rate than someone from out of state. So, your argument does work. Congrats.

yes, I know who gets money from the Feds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066020)

And PlannedParent Hood is the biggest recipient, $40 billion a year from fed, state, and local.

NPR, counting all 3 levels, gets 80% of its dollars from taxes. Remember, the local stations and transmitters are entirely tax welfare. I particularly like the corporate aspect, you're getting news shaped by ArcherDanielsMidland, Exxon, Siemens, and other corporate agendas. That's why liberals are idiots.

If NPR was shut off, you wouldn't know what to think.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065561)

I also grew up in MN and just recently moved out of state. The one thing that still ties me to home is the fact that MPR streams its content on the internet.

I still listen to 89.3 the current almost every night, and would listen at work all day if it wasn't for the proxy. I feel more of a need to contribute now as I am actually using their bandwidth rather than just grabbing the frequencies out of the air.

Perhaps this could sentiment could be 'exploited' to actually increase listener support.

p.s. If you haven't listened to 89.3 and you are a music lover you really should. Its a music lovers radio station, and one of the best in the country both online and over the air. www.mpr.org

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065730)

What I don't get about 89.3 is how there isn't at least a couple hours a week devoted to some sort of electronic music. I really wouldn't care what type, give me house, trance, techno, whatever, it'd just be nice to hear some on the radio.

Or maybe I'm wrong and there is?

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065610)

"Was I stealing from TAL? I didn't really feel like it, I was a poor college student and I had heard the program on the radio -- I just wanted it on my computer to listen to it time after time. "

Why is it that some people feel that considering themselves to be a "poor college student" is a justification to violate copyrights? "Being poor" is not a justification for violating copyrights. The copyright holder SELLS CDs so that you can "listen to it time after time".

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065647)

You could make that obnoxious comment.

You could also read his post where he specifically says that TAL does not sell CDs and he wishes they would so he would buy them.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1)

ztirffritz (754606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065709)

Audible.com allows users to purchase much of the NPR content. TAL in particular is available for purchase. iTunes also has lots of NPR stuff avaialable for purchase. Those models help to fund NPR more than listening to the stream online does. The online stream, aside from a single promo at the beginning (usually for Acura in my exerience) is nothing more than a financial drain because it consume bandwidth on a per user basis. Broadcasts cost the same amount if they have 1 listener or 10,000 listeners. Feeding a stream online is different though. Every person that connects to the stream costs them more bandwith with little or no probability of being paid for.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1)

dsgitl (922908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065752)

I think you're being disenguous here. You CAN order CDs from This American Life ($13 though? Get real.) and you CAN purchase episodes from audible.com for $4. A very cursory glance at their website will tell you this.

This American Life is a wonderful production that should be encouraged to continue. How does that happen? Pay up. Stealing episodes because you like it so much doesn't make it right.

Re:This American Life & Car Talk (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066298)

Was I stealing from TAL?

Do you pay taxes?

Then you've already paid for it.

Marathons on podcasts (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065402)

Couldn't one simply add the marathon-style begging for financial assistance to the start of each podcast? Many people listen to podcasts on the go (jogging, for example) where they aren't about to manually fast-forward. Some simply won't fast-forward out of laziness. Surely that sort of advertising, as long as it is short and to the point, could be effective.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065527)

Someone will simply offer funding-free versions of the podcasts on the internet and poeple will flock to these versions. For these people, ANY advertising is far too much.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065577)

Someone will simply offer funding-free versions of the podcasts on the internet and poeple will flock to these versions. For these people, ANY advertising is far too much.

But are there enough freeloaders out there to threaten profitability? I'm not sure. If you have Firefox, you can block pretty much all advertising with a combination of Flashblock [mozdev.org] , Adblock [mozdev.org] , and Adblock Filterset.G [mozilla.org] . Firefox is a cinch to download, and these extensions take little effort to find and install (I've just linked to them). Yet, very few people run these. I think that the average man puts up with advertising because he doesn't bother to seek alternatives.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (1)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065912)

But are there enough freeloaders out there to threaten profitability?
I think that there clearly are, especially when you read the article. They talk about how on average only 8% of listeners are members of their local NPR stations. I mean think about that, that is huge.

Here in Austin, the local station touts around 200,000 listeners. They also talk about how they need around $800,000 semi-annually to maintain operating costs. That would come up to $4 a listener. Clearly they don't get that, because they usually come up around $50k shy of their goals. Think about that whole 8% thing, that would only be 16,000 members. Now you are looking at $50 a listener. That is a huge difference. And a big burden to put on listeners who do donate to them (if you don't donate).

Back when I worked, I did my best to donate to KUT, but now that I am back in school, I just can't do it. But I would say that as a listener to their station, I should do what I can to help them out. I am using the content, why not try to make sure that I can listen to it years into the future?

RonB

Re:Marathons on podcasts (3, Insightful)

massysett (910130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065556)

They already have commercials before the podcasts. "Support for NPR podcasts comes from Acura." Adding a short plug for money isn't much of a stretch.

The beg-a-thons are so irritating that I don't listen to public radio while they're going on. I once emailed my local station and suggested that they have a separate Internet feed for people who have given money. That would be the reward for donating: a beg-a-thon free version.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (1)

scarolan (644274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065686)

The problem with this idea is that the fundraising marathons are conducted by member stations. The member stations pay NPR for the rights to air their shows. Shows like Morning Edition are broadcast on hundreds of stations. NPR couldn't be reasonably expected to create hundreds of different podcast downloads, each with a donation plea for a different station.

NPR does accept donations directly, but as far as I know a large chunk of their revenue comes from member stations who pay for access to the shows.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065708)

It may be necessary to also set some sort of mechanism to funnel at least part of the money gotten from poscast begging to the local NPR stations to make up for lost local station revenue. This mechanism could become a point of contention between the stations and between the stations and NPR; the contention could become a story that would be covered very well on NPR News.

Re:Marathons on podcasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065922)

The problem is that these marathons would benefit the organization distributing the podcast, and not the local station.

Science Teacher (4, Interesting)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065407)

To be honest, my sciences teacher (Yes, that's right, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Principles of Tech teacher :P ) is an absolute NPR junkie. I would say the reason he uses the podcasts and other materials available on the website is that it's easier to present to the students than telling them to listen to something in advance on a Friday of all days! (I've recently started listening to NPR on the radio on the way to and from school and I can see why people like it, but it's too bad its only a 10 minute drive.)

business models (2, Insightful)

dubloe7 (966214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065411)

at least they're admitting that their business model is having issues transferring into the "podcast age" of media distribution. most businesses operate along the lines of "its only a fad", or "we have to load our media up with so much drm it will turn an ipod into a bomb".

NPR is good stuff (1, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065422)

My prediction is that NPR will be acquired by the AFN and be their "liberal" station.

Re:NPR is good stuff (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065499)

> My prediction is that NPR will be acquired by the AFN and be their "liberal" station.

Yeah, that is a bad analogy. Why is it that people automatically assume intellectual==liberal? Does this mean that Entertainment Tonight is only for conservatives? Seriously, does being informed about things in the world outside of my own personal interests automatically make me a liberal, with all the poisoned connotations that word has aquired? Am I required to be oblivious to the rest of the world outside of my local 6:00 newscast to be a proper American?

Re:NPR is good stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065538)

Am I required to be oblivious to the rest of the world outside of my local 6:00 newscast to be a proper American?

You're new here, aren't you?

Bad moderation (surprise!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065529)

Pointing out that the Armed Forces Network may be a future home for NPR as a counterbalance to their existing mixed lineup of 'conservative' and 'liberal' shows is not a troll. If NPR is having trouble with funding, they may find it in the strangest places.

Re:NPR is good stuff (1)

homerules (688184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065582)

The ultra left has the opposite feeling, it thinks it has become Fox news because it reports the conservitive opinions on issuses along with a liberal point of view.

Search for Mara Liason, an NPR host, and you will see what I am talking about.

Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (1, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065445)

Putting a very short advertisement at the beginning of the Podcast is an obvious solution to this problem. NPR already as 'brought to you by' segments between their shows anyway, so what is the difference? This would help pay for their costs and 5 seconds is not so long that it would be annoying, so everybody wins.

P.S. Frank DeFord had a great segment about A-Rod today. [npr.org]

Re:Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065518)

Why is this scored as redundant? I think this person's on to something. The key is to have advertising personalized to the person downloading the podcast. If you know their geographic location, you can identify an NPR affiliate and give specific ads.

True, everyone hates advertising, but you can always skip over it in a podcast.

Re:Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065604)

Why is this scored as redundant? I think this person's on to something.

I think it was marked redundant because I didnt read CRCulver's post above mine, which said put the marathon at the beginning of each podcast. I think that a shorter commercial would be better, we'll just have to wait and see what NPR decides to do.
Thanks for your support though. I will happily take any donations you would like to make, and will send you a mug and a t-shirt if you give me at least $120 (which you can easily spread out over the year at $10 a month ;)

Re:Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (2, Informative)

ZipR (584654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065801)

NPR's podcasts are underwritten. Listen to one.

Re:Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066208)

LOL got me there, I don't listen to NPR podcasts, can you tell? ;)

Re:Solution: Put a 5 second Ad on the Podcast (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065851)

Putting a very short advertisement at the beginning of the Podcast is an obvious solution to this problem.

Additional points on this:

1. These ads would not have to pretend not to be ads, because they would not be airing on NCE-licenced stations

2. There would be a positive, specific number of listeners that NPR would be able to report back to the advertisers.... no guessing, estimating or extrapolating involved.

A better funding model (2, Interesting)

Peter_Pork (627313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065453)

The old business model is also far worse, so radios should really welcome the new era. Adding coverage used to require a huge investment in equipment. Content can now be distributed to the entire world in the form of podcasts and streams, which are much easier to scale, making the number of potential listeners and therefore revenue sources much much larger. Good content can now pay off far more handsomely. For example, my favorite station [classicalstation.org] is outside my state, and it would have gone through very hard times without out-of-state contributions.

Re:A better funding model (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065627)

That may work for classical music, but the RIAA has its fist clutched tight around Internet radio stations like my favorite, WOXY [woxy.com] . They actually upped the rate Internet radio stations have to pay and it's both a global fee and a per-listener fee.

Sucks to the RIAA's assmar
-l

NPR and advertising (2, Insightful)

rakkasan (444517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065457)

NPR and its local station here in MN MPR do advertise in a fashion. They never fail to announce who's supporting the broadcast. Its usually quick, non abnoxious, and lets the the listener know who's paying the bill. I always try to buy products from these companies. To me, that's the best way to support public radio.

Re:NPR and advertising (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065534)

They never fail to announce who's supporting the broadcast. Its usually quick, non abnoxious, and lets the the listener know who's paying the bill.

Mentioning corporate sponsors is like the old story about letting a camel sticking his nose into your tent. The mentions get bigger and bigger until the public television channel or radio station you're watching makes a slow metamorphosis into just another channel. It's already happened with PBS. The older posters here can remember a time when a company mention was just that, someone saying the name, and it took no more than half a second. Now many PBS shows contain what are essentially commercials. Sure, there might not be commercial breaks during the program, but in between shows the level of corporate influence is obscene.

This tendency, along with an increasing pandering to the lowest common denominator of society, has really sent PBS on a slide downhill.

Re:NPR and advertising (1)

bano (410) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065546)

Same here. However the shows I want to listen to on the go dont have podcasts(TAL).
So I utilize the local npr stations free(for now) mp3 stream, and use podcastamatic to form a podcast from it.
I start recording on the hour, the local station does commercial/announcement on the hour, so I pick up 30-60seconds of it before TAL starts.
And someone posted about podcast listeners probably not fastforwarding thru commercials cuz they are busy, and in my case this is true.

Re:NPR and advertising (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065853)

>> Its usually quick, non abnoxious,...

You must have a different affiliate than I do. My main reason for listening online is that I avoid the endless "sponsorships", promos for other shows, inaccurate weather forecasts, and inconsequential local commentary. I like many NPR programs, but I *hate* my affiliate.

charge for it (3, Insightful)

jonathanduty (541508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065504)

I've really enjoyed NPR for a long time on the radio and I've really started to use their podcasting feature. I can't speak for others but I would be willing to pay a flat yearly rate, around the amount of a minimum donation, to have access to that feature. I wouldn't blame them for charging for that service. The only issue I could see arising is that the podcasts are hosted by the national NPR, but people usually donate to their local NPR stations. I would think they would have to figure out how to trickle the money made from podcasting to the local stations.

Re:charge for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065743)

I've been using Audio Hijack to MP3-ize the RealAudio recordings of "This American Life", to timeshift "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" (now available as a podcast!), and to record WUNC's excellent "Back Porch Music" from their broadcast stream for my iPod. My perception is that the audience for these shows can only increase by making them *freely* available over the web. I wonder if they stopped making the podcasts available during the pledge drives if it would encourage some of this broader, non-local/non-radio audience to contribute?

(Because of this article, I renewed my membership today. $40 for a basic membership to my local NPR affiliate is a bargain when you consider the high quality and the thoughtful nature of the programming.)

Numbers behind the FUD (4, Interesting)

flipper65 (794710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065511)

Yes, it is a new era, yes we need to face these challenges. Since NPR is our radio station, they owe more to the people than they do to their affiliates. If you look at their 2003 Annual Report [npr.org] you can see that they derive less than 3% of their annual revenue from members and that their internet initiatives account for 5% of their annual expenses. I say it's time for a paradigm shift in radio and let's see public radio lead that charge. Is there a chance that the affiliates will go under? Absolutely. Are we required to support those affiliates even as the world changes around them? No. Sure, my grandmother may not be able to listen to Prairie Home Companion until I come over and set her up with the podcast, but she is in the minority at this point in my opinion and that minority is getting smaller by attrition every year.

Re:Numbers behind the FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065603)

Prairie Home Companion is the reason I don't listen to NPR on weekends (or is it just sundays?). I pray it doesn't make it into their new business model, whatever that may be.

Re:Numbers behind the FUD (1)

schiefaw (552727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065996)

Not to split hairs, but The Prairie Home Companion is produced and distributed through American Public Media, not NPR.

Re:Numbers behind the FUD (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065648)

You are in the minority. There are more people in this country who don't own MP3 players than people that do. Radio will be around for a long time to come.

Re:Numbers behind the FUD (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065661)

The problem with that logic is that, with the exception of Morning Edition and ATC, it's the affiliates that produce the shows. If the affiliates go under, it's goodbye This American Life, goodbye Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and goodbye all the other great shows that are produced by affiliate stations and distributed through NPR/PRI/APM. If the St. Paul affiliate goes under, your grandmother won't be able to listen to Prairie Home Companion in any medium.

Public broadcasting's business model... (0, Troll)

Zigg (64962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065516)

...has always been "we're in danger! Fund us, Congress!"

I also find it somewhat amusing that the typical response to a for-profit business facing the same conundrum around here is "adapt or die!", but for NPR... the poor things!

Worry not your pretty little heads. If Congress has shown anything, it's a willingness to spend, spend, spend. NPR isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (4, Informative)

dlc3007 (570880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065612)

Maybe you should do a little research before posting knee-jerk reactions that do nothing but wave the ignorant-twit flag.
For the record, a whopping 2% of NPR's budget comes from government sources. That money is not given to NPR -- it comes by way of competetive grants that they apply for. My local stations get 0% of their opperating budget from government sources.
Apparently you don't know the difference between the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (government funded), the Public Broadcasting System (government funded) and National Public Radio (not government funded).
Congrats! You now score as high as Rush Limbaugh on the Accuracy of Research scale. Now go spend three minutes on Google before posting again.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065935)

You are missing an important point, all those great programs recieve a huge public funding source. The CPB gave $90 million in grants to radio. $60 million to stations and $30 million to content producers. Without those grants the news and information portion of their expenses would rise and member station contributions would sink. Just because it isn't direct doesn't mean it isn't supported.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (2, Informative)

mstockman (188945) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065644)

Oh, please. There are major corporations and sports franchises that get a lot more from government welfare than NPR does:
About 2% of NPR's funding comes from bidding on government grants and programs (chiefly the Corporation for Public Broadcasting); the remainder comes from member station dues, foundation grants, and corporate underwriting.
That's from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . There's a handy pie chart available on NPR's own financial disclosure [npr.org] as well.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (2, Interesting)

theskipper (461997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065659)

Agreed on the spend,spend,spend part. However:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2005/06/09/AR2005060902283_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

Personally, I like the pay-for-play model so I donate to both NPR and PBS every year. Programming like Cartalk for me and Arthur/Cyberchase for my kid are well worth the dollars. If Congress succeeds in shutting down funding then I'll double the donation and hope that there are enough other people in my financial situation to do the same.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065782)

I also find it somewhat amusing that the typical response to a for-profit business facing the same conundrum around here is "adapt or die!", but for NPR... the poor things!

Nowhere is it written that it's a matter of "oh, poor things." NPR has to adapt or die just like the commercial stations. The difference here is, NPR acknowledges that fact rather than ignoring it entriely or suing the world for not keeping its ancient business model going.

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065807)

I also find it somewhat amusing that the typical response to a for-profit business facing the same conundrum around here is "adapt or die!", but for NPR... the poor things!


Oh, I am sorry that you have never heard of any of these for-profit business going to the government looking for a handout:

Mining
Airlines
Oil
Technology
Car industry
Lumber
Agriculture
Alternative fuels

Re:Public broadcasting's business model... (2, Insightful)

schiefaw (552727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066068)

Yeah, the business world would never think about getting help from the government to stay afloat (airlines, agriculture, Amtrack, ...).

And, although people can't seem to read financial statements, NPR is not a direct recipient of any Federal budget. The "tax" money that they receive is in the form of grants or fees charged to the local affiliates that are somewhat government funded. But, it the audience shifts from the radio to the internet, the affiliates will have no reason to pay for the programs.

Their fundraising must not be very effective (2, Insightful)

dheltzel (558802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065533)

I watch public television and listen to NPR, but I turn it off whenever they start with their "Beg-athons". I know they get government funding, plus at least the television broadcasts are now rife with commercials. The commercials are not as bad as the commercial media yet, but then the commercial media need to turn a profit and don't get government money (in fact they pay taxes, which I doubt the public versions do).

The Beg-athons must be terribly ineffective or else the organization is very inefficent with their funding. Either way, I'll never contribute money directly (I already do though, via taxes and watching the commercials).

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065549)

Just watching the commercials doesn't contribute anything, it's patronising the advertised sponsors which give them a return on their ad investment and make it profitable for them to pay NPR for ad time.

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (1)

dlc3007 (570880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065723)

Thanks for informing the world that you're a free-loader. People like you help create the ClearChannel world we are moving toward. Good job.

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066191)

If he pays taxes, as an NPR or PBS listener/viewer, he's not a freeloader.

Now, if he were an illegal immigrant working under the table and listening to NPR, he would be.
Likewise, if he were on welfare and listens to NPR, he would be.

He has to pay for part of NPR's budget whether or not he chooses to listen, as do you if you are American and pay taxes.

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (1)

monstermagnet (101235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065736)

Unfortunately, NPR's gov't funding has been on a steady decline since the 1970s, when most of their funding came from our tax dollars. The share contributed by the gov't is now approximately two percent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR [wikipedia.org] That's not a whole lot, and in return they have to put up with the Corp. For Public Broadcasting, which in the last few years (thanks, Dubyah!) has been taken over by conservatives who seem bent on undermining its mission.

"They get gov't money" is no longer much of an excuse to donate. And yes, I put my money where my mouth is.

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065868)

The fact that NPR and PBS get government money is not an excuse not to donate -- it is in fact the reason that I don't donate. If NPR and PBS were to stop accepting government funding, I would donate. The problem is that by taking government funding, they are forcing me to donate. It may not be much money, but it is the principle.

Re:Their fundraising must not be very effective (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066064)

I already do though, via taxes and watching the commercials

As has been pointed out here [slashdot.org] already NPR receives very little gov't funding. And what they do receive is through competitive grants that they must work for, competing with other orginizations going after the same funding.

And watching the commercials doesn't exactly qualify as support. How many do you skip while you make a sandwich or use the bathroom? How many do you react to and buy products based on seeing them? Do you tell the vendor that you bought something because of their donation to PR? Of course that's a very subjective argument and the same could be said of most advertising but the point is NPR get's the majority of it's funding through donations.

Check their website [npr.org] for more info.

Glad to see so many people from MN here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065552)

I was born there myself and lived there most of my life. I swear it seems like MN has more NPR listeners than any other state.

Anyway, it's good to know that they're willing to adapt to a new buisiness model and that they're going with the change instead of trying to fight it. If this was run by the RIAA, they'd probably run half hour of commercials during the broadcasts and lobby to make podcasting illegal.

It's not the cost, stupid (4, Informative)

SWroclawski (95770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065562)

I'd happily pay $1 or $2 per show for some NPR shows. This American Life is certainly worth that and more...

I just can't use Audible's DRM nonesense. iTunes aparently has the same issue (I've never used it).

The big difference with the podcasts for me is they're in a format I can use.

Re:It's not the cost, stupid (2, Informative)

jj00 (599158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065779)

I'd say it IS the cost - Audible is expensive. It's hard to justify paying so much in advance for a show that you could hear for free. At least Car Talk [cartalk.com] is available for free for the first week via their website, then by Audible [audible.com] from there.

Which brings up an interesting point - there is no standard model for NPR shows. Some of the local stations just publish directly in mp3 (kuow.org [kuow.org] ), other NPR shows are just on their website [npr.org] , and others (like previously mentioned) show up on Audible.

I would like to see them offer all shows for free in mp3 off their website for a limited time period, then as a paid download after a week or two. And go a head and throw in a small "this podcast is supported by X company and from donations from people like you..." in the beginning of each downloadable show.

Re:It's not the cost, stupid (1)

dsgitl (922908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065833)

All this talk about This American Life and it doesn't seem that anyone has brought up the fact that TAL isn't an NPR show, whereas Car Talk is.

This American Life is distributed by PRI -- Public Radio International. It just happens to be a perfect fit on several NPR stations.

Actually... (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065580)

What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever

What's different is they're not suing their competition for patent infringement or their listeners for downloading content.

That makes them smarter than Netflix and RIAA. Admittedly a pretty low standard to meet on the later.

What is this? (2, Interesting)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065600)

"What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever."

A content provider in this day & age not trying to screw their end customer? That's inconceivable!

Local affiliates, meet Dodo Bird (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065602)

There was a time when the physical infrastructure (i.e. local radio transmitters) of affiliates was a NECESSITY. Today, with satellite and the internet, they are more of a luxury. All they have to offer is local content, and many of them have gotten so lazy and lax over the years that they don't offer much, if any, of that.

The best NPR (and TV network, for that matter) affiliates offer great local content. They will survive and deserve donations from everyone who downloads their show (why should a person give to their local affiliate when they show they're listening to is produced by another affiliate?).

The worst NPR and local TV affiliates have sat on their asses for years, resting on their local transmitters, and produced nothing original of their own. They will die. And they deserve to.

-Eric

Re:Local affiliates, meet Dodo Bird (1)

MrByte420 (554317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065926)

(why should a person give to their local affiliate when they show they're listening to is produced by another affiliate?).


Because your affilate pays the producing affilate hundreds of dollars per episode for the right to air that show! Morning Edition, according to the pledge-a-thons costs my local npr station $600/hr to broadcast.. On top of thoose costs, radio towers don't power themselves, microphones aren't free and you gotta heat the place...

Quality radio costs money and its worth every penny.

Re:Local affiliates, meet Dodo Bird (1)

smithcl8 (738234) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066000)

On one of the NPR shows (Weekend Edition, maybe,) I heard a discussion regarding this about 2 months ago. According to the interviewee, studies and polls show that most listeners prefer the non-local content, which is why stations are moving toward it. The interviewer gave a similar reaction to what you would give, in that he liked the local stuff better. These national shows (Prairie Home Companion, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Car Talk, and so forth) actually bring in more listeners than the local stuff.

So, to say "the best NPR (and TV network, for that matter) affiliates offer great local content," is accurate ONLY for the purists. Even NPR listeners are not immune to the appeal of good nationally-covered shows.

Times have changed.... (1)

peterpressure (940132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065607)

I listen to NPR from time to time, even more so I watch WGBH for its Wall Street Journal and Jim Lehrer news hour.
My only complaint about publicly funded programming is the fact it doesnt have anyone to compete with.
In fact I would argue the reason it has a slightly left slant is due to its lack of any real competition since its publicly subsidized...
If public broadcasting did not exist, would the Vacuum for unbiased news be filled by private industry, Yes I believe it would. Air America in my opinion is a sorry sorry example of left broadcasting, so far left it makes fox news et al seem only semi right wing....
This is just how i feel about public broadcasting, but as an avid listener and watcher I really can't complain much, other than I often wonder what would occur if publicly taxpayer subsidized programming did not exist.

I firmly believe private industry woudl fill the void....
NPR and WGBH do get tax money before people accuse me of having mistaken facts... http://www.cpb.org/aboutpb/faq/pays.html

Re:Times have changed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065749)

Wall Street Journal isn't even on PBS anymore. It was so awful it was killed... Only reason it was on in the first place was Ken Tomlinson of the CPB illegally threatening local stations to put it on their air or suffer the consequences.

Re:Times have changed.... (1)

shis-ka-bob (595298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066008)

As many posters have noted, NPR get only 2% of its funding from government sources. As for the lack of competition, I simply don't know what you are talking about. They are competing with all sorts of options for my time. I can watch any number of news broadcasts, read newspapers and magazines (for free if I drop by the library). IMO, the News Hours is the finest broadcast news available.

I would also like to point out that competition in a market is only one of several ways in which people make collective decisions. (There are command hierarchies and 'gift economies', for example) Most economic models of markets make assumptions about the markets being free and with each member of the market having reasonable (if not perfect) access to information. I submit that is is quite rational to have organizations, especially non-government organizations like NPR and PBS, that provide information outside of a 'market'. When access to information is 'marketed' you often end up with all sorts of market perversions like insider trading.

Finally, a jab at Air America seems out of place. Air America is privately funded and is in a free market. It is enjoying its First Amendment rights just like Rush Limbaugh does. Free markets don't belong to the right. All the faults in the world are not do to a lack of market forces - there are other ways to organize human activity that are frequently more effective than a free market. Markets have a place, but they are not the only mechanism for cooperation.

optional micropayments vs ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065671)

Rather than an ad, embed into the media stream a link to a webpage (something within the capabiity of most streaming media formats). Once the program is over, it pops up a little screen that says "if you liked this program, please consider clicking here to make a 10 cent microdonation". Make it as easy to do as possible, and as unobtrusive as practical.

The lower the barrier to donation is, and the more closely associated it is with the listener feeling they've received something which they enjoyed, the more likely someone is to want to donate. And the easier you can make that, the more likely it is that they'll actually do so.

I paid them (1)

stibrian (848620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065710)

I used to commute a little over 100 miles a day, and NPR was the only station that really worked and made the time feel like less of a waste.

When the first fund drive came up, i ponied up my $20 - not much, but a lot to a college student. It was a good feeling to support something I used every day.

If you haven't tried NPR, at least give it a shot - you may be surprised.

If you use it, help em out.

Re:I paid them - AC minirant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066291)

If you use it, help em out.

Admriable goal but nowadays thanks to the relentless sqeeze put on working stiffs everywhere in the USA due to cost cuts, computerization, offshore employment, and general corporate 'race to the bottom' mentality, their money goes toward food, clothing, shelter, and (maybe) entertainemnt.

In that order.

Get the picture.... :(

Which is worse?

Unchecked capitalism...or unchecked communism?

Bad programming in Pittsburgh (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065754)

Here in Pittsburgh, we only get NPR for six hours a day -- 6:AM-9:AM, and then again from 4:PM-7:PM. At all other times, the station plays moldy vibrating-old-man jazz (no, not even some good stuff). I like to listen to Marketplace, on at 6:30 PM. There's lots of other programs I wouldn't have heard, unless they were available from the web -- 'cause our NPR station is only NPR for a quarter of the day. I find myself listening to WRCT from CMU more often, in spite of the constant noise that is their programming lineup.

Re:Bad programming in Atlanta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066302)

We have a gawdawful NPR affiliate here: WABE. They play ATC, Morning Edition, Marketplace, Fresh Air, This American Life, Car Talk, Wait, Wait... and a little tiny bit of other public affairs content - a fair amount of which is crap.

But when Morning Edition goes off at 9AM, you have a "Workday Full of" mainstream top-40 classical music. Not anything adventurous, just the same old crap.

The worst part is that the license fee WABE pays to NPR entitles us listeners to almost all of the content that NPR offers. WABE is STANDING IN THE WAY of listeners that want NPR content.

So what's wrong with listening to WAMU and KCRW on the web? What's wrong with getting podcasts of stuff that WABE blocks?

Oh yeah, and the other dirty-little-secret: in cities where public radio and public television are run by the same organization, the money from both Radio and TV fund drives can land in the same pot. In Atlanta, the NPR fund drive props up WPBA, channel 30.

So they're getting MORE funding than they need to deliver a full day of NPR content, but siphoning it off to run the TV station. Gotta love it. Where's my iPod?

Atlantans should check out the Atlanta Public Radio Initiative [tripod.com]

Unnecessary Locals? (2, Interesting)

mjh (57755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065768)

From TFA:
Marszalek says the NPR ad-sharing arrangement described by Thomas largely benefits stations that produce content of interest to folks beyond their localities, and only a few of the largest stations do that.

"It is the local affiliates who popularize these programs at their expense, and then the producers are going to reap the benefit on podcasts," he says. "All of the new delivery systems are great for the stations that produce the content. It's not good for the local affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They're really, really reliant on programs from elsewhere to draw listeners and members."

This suggests to me that the local stations are no longer adding any value to the situation. If they can't generate enough listeners for their local content, then their primary purpose is as a distribution mechanism for the national content. But the podcasts are turning out to be a more efficient mechanism for that distribution. Which means that the local stations aren't necessary.

I see a couple of options for the local stations all based on this assumption: if an entity is adding cost to the supply chain without adding value, that entity can and should be removed. In this case, the local station is no longer providing a valuable delivery of national content, so here are the options that I think the locals have:

  1. Shut down altogether.
  2. Stop broadcasting the national content and broadcast only local content.
  3. Stop broadcasting all content, but podcast local content.

Is this wrong? If so, wouldn't it invalidate the oft use argument around here that the RIAA [riaa.com] should be removed because they're also no longer providing value?

Try really being listener-supported? (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065835)

I gave regularly to my local NPR/PBS stations for over fifteen years. They were listener-supported then and I was happy to support them. Then someone, named Ives IIRC, announced that they were "considering" running short commercials, which some other stations were "experimenting" with. I wrote to him and said that if they did, I would stop donating. They did. So I did.

I'll pay for commercial-free programming. I'll tolerate commercials on free programming. But I am damned if I'll voluntarily pay for programming with commercials in it.

Although NPR believes that there is some meaningful distinction between their sponsorship announcements and just-plain-old advertising, it still makes them beholden to their corporate sponsors. And the effects have been noticeable. (On TV, first they had brief little announcements. Then the announcements started to twinkle and sparkle and dance. Then they started to include corporate slogans. Then suddenly a lot of homeowner and "how-to" shows started to spring up, and the camera suddenly and for no apparent reason started zooming in on cans of paint and other products that just happened to have their labels turned toward us--that just happened to be manufactured by the companies named as having so generously given their support).

Other weird stuff started to happen, too, like one FM station dropping all their classical music programs in favor of news and talk--and the other FM station dropping their drive-time classical music programming in order to broadcast the identical news programming at the same time as the other station.

I am sure I am not the only listener who feels that "public" broadcasters cannot serve two masters. If they are going to serve the public, well and good, and I'll be glad to pay my share. On the other hand, if they are going to take money from Babson Executive Education, Top-Ranked by the Financial Times, Enrolling Now for its Executive Managing Knowledge Program, on the web at Babson Dot Eee Dee You, and Archer Daniels Midland, Supermarket-of-the-World--and Keane, Outsourcing Your Job to India, We Get IT Done--and broadcast their slogans--that is all well and good, but that is a different choice and they do not need my money.

Re:Try really being listener-supported? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065993)

I second this. I think All Things Considered is among the best propaganda instruments ever created: people think it is liberal, yet it always stops short of really questioning the groupthink status quo. Every week, until my stomach couldn't take it any more, I heard stenographers to power, talking about when and how to conduct a war without ever questioning why or whether, all proudly supported by transnational corporations. I'll enjoy my local stations' classical music, but they won't get a penny out of me until they either drop the advertising or give equal time to real journalists like Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now".

Why NOT listen to podcasts? (1)

Grym (725290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065897)

I like NPR, but for every worthwhile segment there are ten segments on things like the Wisconsin Cheese industry, or the effect of jazz music on the modern housewife, or some truly terrible music that's only included because it's "interesting."

Listening to NPR on the radio is like browsing slashdot on 0. Sure some of the things are very insightful, but the vast majority are not. It's a very basic signal-to-noise issue. Fortunately, with podcasting, you can skip through the riff-raff, with the added benefit of simply only recording shows that you enjoy. Plus, you can skip past commercials. It's no wonder people aren't even bothering with the radio version.

-Grym

sponsorships (2, Interesting)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065914)

From the article:

"She says she's seen few new donations from out-of-market listeners but that the expanded audience helps her sell larger underwriter sponsorships."

Selling larger underwriter sponsorships is the key here. If people are switching off during pledge drives, or fast-forwarding through them on MP3 players, they'll end up dying a slow death. I don't know about your local NPR station, but ours always seems to be on the ragged edge of dropping a lot of programming, at least to hear them tell the story. They might be able to keep up with a few CD sales here and there, and perhaps people will pay a buck or two to listen via legal dowloads, at least for a short time.

But as we've already seen, if people can download it for free, they'll do it instead of buying those CDs. People might not like the idea of sponsorships, but it's what is going to keep them on the air.

Anybody mentioned the $200 million? (2, Interesting)

mstansberry (872862) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065952)

I didn't notice it in the main posts, but McDonald's Corp.'s founder's wife Joan Kroc left NPR $200 million back in 2003. AND NPR has practically shifted to an all-sponsorship model. You can't hear more than 10 minutes of radio during drive-time without hearing a thinly veiled ad. But it's the best thing going. Here's a NYTIMES article that explains what NPR's management is going through right now http://www.freepress.net/news/14516/ [freepress.net] From this article, it looks like NPR is doing pretty well for itself.

Rename NPR to "National Socialist Radio" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065956)

Ooops! That would make them "Nazis" [wikipedia.org] , wouldn't it?

Wait a minute. . .

That reminds me... (1)

helix_r (134185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066095)

I really should make a pledge to support NPR because of shows like "This American Life".

Every once in a while I scan over some AM radio stations and come across Limbaugh or some other wack-job... All I can say is that I am very very glad to be able to listen to Ira Glass rather than some ham-fisted fathead like Limbaugh.

who's suffering more - NPR or the affiliates? (1)

escay (923320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066223)

It appears that the submission, as well as many of the comments here, consider NPR as the victim of free podcasting. NPR is not a direct victim of podcasts - it is the affiliate stations that suffer because of the lack of listeners. these stations pay (buy) programs from NPR and air them in their areas and thus need revenue to run - unlike NPR, which receives money from sponsors and the same affiliates to produce their shows. podcasting robs the local stations of their listeners (and thus, donors), which would affect NPR ultimately - but the direct effect is on the affiliates.

and for people who suggest putting an ad in the podcast and consider themselves smart, think! the fundraising marathons are not for NPR - it's the local stations!! while there's only one given episode of 'wait wait don't tell me' podcast for any one in the US, there are 292 affiliates airing it all over the country with their own advertising. it isn't an easy task to personalize/localize the episode for each podcast listener.

even if they did come up with a fee/subscription scheme for podcast, to whom should the money go? if it is NPR then the affiliates are still losing.

Here's a thought! (-1, Troll)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066281)

Why continue to fund NPR anyway? What is available on NPR that you can get from no other source? I mean, if you want a Leftist skew to your news, that's available in spades.

There is no content you can obtain via NPR that isn't available elsewhere. And here's a novel thought: It can actually be MARKET-DRIVEN, and not the result of taxpayers' largesse.

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