Saturday, April 17, 2010

NPR redux

For years our kitchen radio had a short in it that made the stations on the left end of the FM dial almost impossible to receive. The local NPR affiliates were in that range (Isn't it an interesting coincidence that NPR stations so often broadcast on the left end of the FM dial?). This means among other things that I wind up listening to more conservative talk radio while I'm washing the dishes than anything else.

During Lent I usually go on a media blackout, which means that that radio gets much less use. This calms me down and clears my mind.

When I started listening to the radio again after Easter week I found out that suddenly and for no apparent reason the left end of the FM dial is now fully available without any trouble! This has meant that I now listen to a lot more NPR than I was able to for years. I once commented on why I like NPR. The things I said there still hold true. NPR is still much more interesting than talk radio by a long, long shot. The only talk radio I ever find anywhere near as interesting is Michael Medved and Bill Bennett (who is now not available in Milwaukee radio, as far as I know).

What do I like about NPR? It is international, for one thing. You hear sympathetically about all kinds of countries. You get a taste for a variety of cultures, in the USA and abroad. Second, it is concrete and personal. You hear the stories of real people in their own very interesting and unusual voices. With great musical accompaniment. Third, you hear about non-mainstream arts (some good, some very not good).

And, not all the stories have the "spin." It is not a relentless ideological harangue, like conservative talk so often is. It isn't all ideologically driven, although a lot of it is.

I wish "conservative" radio were more interesting, but the problem is that radio news is so expensive to produce well. NPR gets at least some government money, plus they get contributions from listeners, plus they run ads. Three sources of income! Although I know they operate on a shoestring in many ways, they also seem to be able to get their tape recorders (or whatever they use these days in the digital age) all over the world. Plus, they have great production values.

By the way, I don't contribute to public radio or television. Not because they are ideological, but because they run commercials. I won't ever contribute another dime to them until they stop running commercials. It really irritates me.

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