All Things Dispensed With

I worked in radio long enough that I make a point of never revelling in the job misfortunes of others.

So yesterday’s news – 10% staff layoffs at National Public Radio – don’t provoke a happy jig. I wish em all luck, even the most useless mid-level bureaucrat among ’em.

But…has the organization learned the right lessons?

(Emphasis added):

When asked about his priorities, Lansing invoked what he has called the network’s “North Star” since his arrival in the fall of 2019: a push to ensure the network has a bigger and broader audience base, rooted in younger and more diverse listeners, readers and consumers. The emphasis, he says, must be on drawing in “the future audience to make NPR sustainable for the next 50 years.”

“Younger”? Well, over the past decade, the network has sure jammed down more than its share of breezy mediocrities (“It’s Been a Minute”, “The Moth Radio Hour”) – not sure if yesterday’s news is a verdict on that.

As to “more diverse” – they’ve tripled down on antagonizing half their audience. Even their “game shows” carry the message; the once excellent “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me“, which used to include the late PJ O’Rourke as a regular panelist, has become as lively and politically unpredictable as “Late Night with Steven Colbert“.

But you remember above, when I said I didn’t take joy in others misfortunes?

Well, I’m going to ask forgiveness for this, since I’m going to make an exception. Emphasis added:

The layoffs are in keeping with an increasingly grim landscape for media companies over recent months. Vox Media cut jobs by 7%; Gannett and Spotify by 6%. The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, eliminated its Sunday magazine and a handful of other jobs. After becoming part of Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN cut hundreds of jobs and killed off its brand-new streaming service, CNN+.

Maybe it’s not “joy”. Maybe more “I told you so”.

Except Vox. That’s pure childlike joy.

19 thoughts on “All Things Dispensed With

  1. I run into a local NPR business manager at an event this week. She proceeded to try to convince me NPR was the only unbiased and truthful news outlet remaining. She was very sincere. I did not take the bait… just walked away…

  2. MPR reminds me of every woke corporation. Their product is set up the way they like it.

    Yes, but I don’t like it.

    Yes, but you SHOULD like it. Because we know better than you so we set it up the way it should be set up. Shut up and buy it.

    Fail. Which is why they’re all going out of business.

  3. I’ve been listening to NPR for nearly 40 years, and I do sense exactly this shift, particularly in the last 5 years or so.

    Used to love the afternoon call-in shows, like Diane Rehm and Talk of the Nation. No matter what the topic, they somehow made it interesting. But lately, the topics on the interview shows just seem very narrow, addressing issues that don’t effect many people. It’s mostly about identity, and the grievances of various groups. And not much about international events or politics, or things that effect all of us. In the effort to find new listeners, I wonder how many old ones they have lost, and how many new ones have really tuned in.

    Maybe if NPR returned to its roots of news, analysis, and in-depth interviews and ditched the endless coverage of pop culture, advertising (and audience) would return. A once great network has essentially melted down to draw an imagined audience that has no idea what NPR is.

  4. Everyone who works for NPR and it’s affiliates is actively participating in harming myself, my family and my people.

    May they all experience the eternal flammenwerfer of Hell.

  5. For being public media, NPR seems focused on serving some of its audience more than others.
    NPR is caught in the trap of having a different audience than its paymasters (commercial advertising being conduit between producers and consumers). They have all these white, college educated listeners they depend on for donations and political support, but the people who send them donations (and the feds) want NPR to broaden its appeal to hip hop gangsters and 2nd generation immigrants from some God awful country you’ve never heard of.
    All while keeping their phoney-baloney jobs.
    IF NPR had been around in the 30s it would have pushed Roosevelt’s American-style fascism and segregation, like any other New Deal media effort.

  6. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 02.23.23 : The Other McCain

  7. I asked ChatGPT, and I cannot help but think that the result is a perfect imitation of HR speak.

    How can NPR develop a “bigger and broader audience base, rooted in younger and more diverse listeners.”

    Here are some strategies that NPR could consider in order to develop a bigger and broader audience base rooted in younger and more diverse listeners:

    Expand outreach to diverse communities: NPR could expand its outreach efforts to engage with more diverse communities, both online and offline. This could include partnering with local community organizations, participating in cultural events and festivals, and creating social media campaigns that specifically target diverse audiences.

    Create content that reflects diverse perspectives: NPR could increase its efforts to create content that reflects diverse perspectives and experiences. This could include creating more programming focused on issues that affect underrepresented communities, featuring more diverse guests and contributors, and actively seeking out stories from diverse voices.

    Embrace new technology: NPR could leverage new technology to reach younger and more diverse audiences. This could include developing more interactive content, creating podcasts that are more accessible to younger listeners, and experimenting with new formats that are more engaging to younger and more diverse audiences.

    Engage with younger audiences on social media: NPR could increase its social media presence and engage with younger audiences through social media channels. This could include creating content specifically for social media platforms, using social media influencers to promote NPR content, and leveraging user-generated content to create more engagement.

    Increase diversity in staffing: NPR could make a concerted effort to increase diversity in its staffing, both in terms of race and age. This could include creating more opportunities for young and diverse journalists to gain experience at NPR, and actively recruiting diverse candidates for open positions. A more diverse staff would bring a wider range of perspectives and experiences to NPR’s content, making it more attractive to younger and more diverse audiences.

  8. I keep a preset station to MP4 and try to listen occasionally.

    Almost every story is about another victim class and how they are discriminated against.

    They also leave out so many angles to the story that I end up talking out loud to my radio too much.

    I have a buddy that has enough money to get invited to the high donor events at MPR. He says as the baby boom dies, so goes NPR. Young people today have more choices for news. They may be a member, but very few are coughing up enough money past the first level.

    If NPR/MPR goes, where will people get their tote bags?

  9. FRESCH,
    Yup! Same thing at PBS. A friend of mine, who says she’s a libertarian (most of the time, she acts like one), used to be a door to door fundraising goon. The leaders at Channel 2, ultimately directed fundraising in the suburbs, because they had determined that areas that areas they identified as largely GOP voters, donated more than the yuppie liberal bastions of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This doesn’t surprise me, because numerous studies have shown Republicans to donate far more to charities than libidiots. Of course, that jibes with what we all know about the DemoCommies. They’re all for throwing money at problems, as long as it’s not theirs. Apparently, most of them forget that tax money is their money.

  10. *Blush*, I have to confess to donating to PBS.

    Well, it is Iowa PBS, so not so bad. Still, I can’t bring myself to watch NEWSHOUR, a show I watched faithfully for 30+ years. Instead, I watch DW, which is actually news, though tainted with the same middle/left bias we all used to be used to on the MSM before the Bush-is-evil-meltdown.

  11. I have a button somewhere: “I saved the World Theater.” Got it for donating to MPR because that’s where A Prairie Home Companion broadcast and I could usually score tickets on Saturday afternoon outside the theater for $5, back in the days when Stony Lonesome was the house band and Garrison was from Lake Woebegon instead of Norway or New York.

    I used to donate to PBS when they aired Doctor Who, back when the Doctor was not confused about his gender, cared more about Daleks than about historically underrepresented minorities and wore a long, long scarf because it was fun

    I would donate now except they offer nothing I want. I didn’t change. They did.

  12. Greg;
    I have also contributed to our local station, back in the 90’s when my kids were little and before they went woke. They watched Sesame Street and some of those animated cartoons on grammar, bills and laws. I still watch some stuff on there from time to time, mostly historical stuff. A one hour documentary aired again last year about two young men kayaking around the Lake Superior shoreline, that was pretty good.

  13. How long does an earworm last?

    Conjunction Junction, what’s your function? Stringin’ words and phrases together.

    Interjection! Interjections, interjections, are usually set from the rest of the sentence by an exclamation point! (Or by a comma, when the feeling’s not as strong).

    Holy crap, it’s been 40 years and I still know those songs from my kids watching them on the boob tube.

  14. Bigman, how could they make “I’m just a Bill” today?

    It’s misinformation first of all, and misogynistic to boot.

    They’d have to remake it with Ilhan Omar dancing the Hora with AIPAC and Jonathan Greenblatt while Loren Bobbert chases them through the halls of Congress with a pistol.

  15. I have been a listener of Classical MPR since high school. I spent one day volunteering there (helping with sorting and archiving documents of PHC back in the 90s). From the first time I ever considered becoming a donor member, it was always with the stipulation “MPR stops receiving taxpayer funds before I willingly give them a single cent”. It’s been several years since I decided that even if they did stop receiving taxpayer funds, I still am never going to donate to them. I’ll keep consuming their content for free (not counting their public funding). As for the rest of MPR/NPR, the only thing other than Classical MPR I ever listened to was the defunct gameshow “Whad’Ya know?”

    It was entertaining to me. One quirk: Michael Feldman’s voice sounds uncannily like Ray Combs, the Family Feud host who committed suicide

  16. I don’t know that I’ve listened to NPR for more than 5min my entire life. Closest I get is 89.3FM but that is music. But my ill-informed friends who vote D for some unknown reason, do listen regularly and it is why they are very naive about many things ‘in the news’….especially the idiotic ‘global warming and that we can make things better by tweaking co2’. As a meteorologist, I have challenged them and mocked them and shown them data. They aren’t as ardent as they once were.

  17. Newspapers are losing subscribers at a precipitous rate, but don’t worry – they’re dropping one of the most popular cartoon strips of all time to show how sensitive they are.

    Their analytical skills are as deep as a dog-dish. I’m sure the reason that lemmings stampede off of cliffs is because one lemming squeaked, “racist!”, and the rush was on.

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