Wasn’t National Public Radio always NPR?

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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35 Responses

  1. RWBoyd says:

    According to their website, only 15.9% of their funding comes from the government and 13.6% come form licensees, which include many state colleges. So if we assumed that their licensees were all state colleges and those stations got 100% of their funding from the state (neither of which are remotely true), their total government revenue would still only be 29.5%.

    By comparison, 32.1% of their funding comes from listeners, which accounts for NPR’s notable pro-Volvo bias.Report

  2. Nob Akimoto says:

    Except that the vast majority of NPR’s revenue ISN’T from tax dollars. It comes from private charitable donations from either listeners or big endowments from foundations. Most of the “tax money” that NPR receives through CPB are for local regional affiliates who serve a very important niche for local news that has largely been abandoned by private media like newspaper. The rest is raised from pledge drives and foundation grants.Report

  3. Matt S. says:

    I suppose the question is why — despite what appears to be a conflict of interest — does NPR still manage to produce quality journalism?Report

  4. Rufus says:

    Whew! I’m glad I can come out of the closet on that one. I have plenty of conservative friends and I always find it uncomfortable when I say that I like NPR and think the Times generally does a better job of covering the news than other papers. Oh, and also when I point out that the global warming theory is actually pretty plausible. I guess my liberal friends get most annoyed when I point out that the Tea Partiers actually have a good point about deficit spending or that Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer and it’s best to lighten up about him. Anyway, glad we can speak openly here.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Rufus says:


      Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer and it’s best to lighten up about him

      I’d be more open to this argument if Congresspeople didn’t find it necessary to apologize for having offended him. (That is, if he really were the flip side of Keith Olbermann.)Report

      • @Mike Schilling,
        You don’t apologize to people you offend?Report

        • JosephFM in reply to Mike Farmer says:

          @Mike Farmer,
          Not if they don’t deserve it and you don’t regret it. You’re entitled to take offense, I am entitled to think you’re an idiot for doing so and not apologize, especially if you’re just some guy on the radio (or the internet!) and I don’t actually know you.

          I imagine Mike meant that he wishes that elected officials didn’t think they had to kowtow to an entertainer to stay in office. Which I would agree with, as a rule and not just in Limbaugh’s case.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Farmer says:

          @Mike Farmer, Only if they deserve an apology, and not because I’m afraid of them.Report

          • @Mike Schilling,
            I always apologize when I offend someone. It’s not really necessary, and often I don’t mean to, but if someone is offended, then I’ve been too harsh, most likely. I imagine the apology to Limbaugh was because the offender felt he went too far in making a point, not out of fear. Hell, being on Limbaugh’s shitlist is popular among the Republican moderates. Don’t forget, as we’ve been told, Limbaugh’s influence is limited to a fringe group of extremists, and it’s the independents and moderates who count in the elections.Report

  5. Mike Farmer says:

    I’ve never understood the attraction of listening to NPR. It’s so boring and lifeless — I can listen for about a minute or two if I reach it by mistake and leave it there to find out what they’re reporting. I mean, I tried to like it. But seeing as how I can news elsewhere, I avoid it so that I don’t get depressed.Report

  6. JosephFM says:

    @Mike Farmer,

    Were it not for NPR I would most likely barely listen to the radio at all, and then only to the student-run station, and maybe occasionally a Totally 80s Weekend. As it is, though, I listen to more radio than I watch TV – and I regularly listen to the All Songs Considered Planet Money podcasts as well. I am a second-generation NPR member, and
    I have, no lie, a vintage Morning Edition shirt from around 1980 and I am proud to wear it.

    I imagine the drop of their full name has to do with attempts at going international and online (a podcast isn’t really either national nor radio), but it is kind of stupid, I have to agree.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    I am, and remain, madly in love with NPR. Maribou and I are members and we re-up every fund-drive.

    Part of me wishes that it were feasible for NPR to have longer drives and abandon Federal Funding altogether with cities like NYC and San Francisco doing what they can to help subsidize little podunk cities like Pueblo and Duluth…Report

    • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, JB, I don’t listen to NPR, except now and then when I get a yen for classical music. Do they do ANYTHING that might hint at conservatism or anti-statism, or anti-federalism. I always thought they were effete left wing, over educated progressives.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

        @Bob Cheeks, it’s more like this…

        I grew up listening to the classic rock station and their wacky morning comedy crew. One of the big events was their attempt to get a fan of theirs to go over to the competition’s building and moon the competition. Bonus points if you got into the building and put your butt against the glass (this was called, if I recall correctly, “pressed ham”).

        One day, I started listening to NPR and instead of zany and wacky, they were talking about Israel and Palestine.

        Do I agree with the news on NPR? No, not at all.

        But I can have a conversation with NPR even though I disagree with them. I cannot have a conversation about pressed ham.Report

        • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, Dude, no but you can have a good laugh. The proper title is “pressed ham under glass.” The last time I did that was Aug of ’64, at teenage couples making out in an old church parking lot…we laughed ’til snot vacated our noses!
          It hurts my head to listen to two libruls talking!Report

          • Cascadian in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

            @Bob Cheeks, Some businesses play classical music to drive off street urchins. Perhaps coastal cities could do the same with NPR to drive off hidden knuckle draggers.Report

          • Cascadian in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

            @Bob Cheeks, That’s the great thing about anti-federalism. You can have your knuckle draggers and I can have cool neighborhoods.

            You’re not admitting NPR has good programming are you?Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Cascadian says:

              @Cascadian, dear, dear Cas, dude, allow me to assure you NPR has no knowledge or understanding of “anti-federalism” but it warmed my heart when you brought it up.
              Sadly, I can’t admit anything about NPR since I haven’t heard it in years. But, since JB likes it I may have to re-introduce myself to it, assuming I can pry them in between Rush and Hannity.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

            @Bob Cheeks, I can’t listen to Dalit radio anymore, having listened to Brahmin.

            I tried to listen to Rush a few years back on my lunch break. I got in my car, heard Rush say that he’d be right back, I started listening to commercials. I drove all the way to the drive through, made my order, got it, and drove back to my building… and turned off my car without hearing Rush say anything more than how awesome it was going to be when he got back.

            That was 25 minutes.Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Jaybird, Well, you got me on that one JB. There’s usually less commercialism when the taxpayer’s footing the broadcasting bill.
              BTW, being a republican I have numerous differences with Rush, Hannity, etc…albeit Glenn Beck seems to be a pretty good republican, hard to tell….it’s just that I appreciate an alternative to the mind numbing likes of Perky Katie et al…we gotta keep the air waves outta BO’s hands!Report

  8. Bob Cheeks says:

    BTW, if I owned a Volvo (vulva) I’d have it on all the time!Report

  9. JosephFM says:

    Democracy Now is on the NPR affiliate where you live? That’s weird.

    The only really populist-lefty talk radio show I’ve ever heard on NPR is Le Show with Harry Shearer.Report