I’m thinking Dean’s a bit conflicted about National Public Radio:
I am confused as to why NPR exists.
I love NPR. I really do. Get in my car on any given morning, and it’s tuned to the local NPR station. You’d have to be an idiot not to notice that they’re left-wing biased, but, the quality of what they put out is extraordinary. I’m glad they’re there, and I’ve given them money.
Still, let’s tell the truth about NPR: pasty-white to semi-tan mid-to-upper class white people going on and on how important they are and how their cultural perspective is vital because they’re “non-profit.” Meanwhile, look at who really listens to them, and what they’re all about. This really demands taxpayer subsidy, eh?
It occurs to me that if they do put out stuff of extraordinary quality, their perceived pastiness and/or self-importance should become secondary considerations at best.
The taxpayer-subsidy argument carries a bit more heft, especially in Oklahoma, where two of the top three NPR outlets are operated by state universities. (The third, Tulsa’s KWGS, is operated by the private University of Tulsa.) In other areas, stations might be operated by private foundations. Pretty much all of them, though, draw some sort of funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — in fact, far more than does NPR itself. The station closest to this desk, KGOU (which, perhaps ironically, is located at the right end of the dial), gets maybe ten percent of its budget from CPB.
In 2003, Doc Searls suggested that it was time to get off the CPB dole:
Turn to listeners and viewers. Operate in the real marketplace. You already have a huge advantage over commercial broadcasters, thanks to the fact that your listeners and viewers are customers and not just “consumers.”
At the time, I, perhaps prematurely, predicted the death of CPB:
Ultimately, I think Congress will kill the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the right wing will present the death of CPB as an ideological triumph, of course, but CPB needs to go, not because it might offend a segment of the population, but because it’s an anachronism, and one which adds (albeit only slightly) to the ongoing budget deficits at that. While public radio isn’t exactly awash in money, they’ve learned how to turn a buck just like their rivals on the commercial side of things.
And the slack, I predict with somewhat greater assurance, will be taken up by the likes of Dean, and me, and Jennifer and Ted Stanley.