Public Radio’s Existential Crisis
By ELLEN GAMERMAN
June 16, 2016 5:13 p.m. ET
When 73-year-old Garrison Keillor retires as host of “A Prairie Home Companion” next month, he’ll leave more than 3 million weekly listeners loyal to a show that began more than 40 years ago. Elsewhere on the dial, “Car Talk” ranks near the top of National Public Radio’s ratings even though co-host Tom Magliozzi died at age 77 nearly two years ago—his jovial cackle still echoing in “best of” versions of the show on more than 600 stations nationwide. Later this year, Washington talk-show doyenne Diane Rehm, 79, who boasts one of NPR’s 10 largest weekly audiences, will end more than three decades on the air.
“We’ve known that the so-called old guard would eventually have to retire,” said Mike Savage, general manager of public-radio station WBAA in West Lafayette, Ind., which has aired all three shows for decades. “There’s concern because these programs are well-known and well-loved.”
Public radio is facing an existential crisis. Some of the biggest radio stars of a generation are exiting the scene while public-radio executives attempt to stem the loss of younger listeners on traditional radio. At the same time, the business model of NPR—the institution at the center of the public-radio universe—is under threat: It relies primarily on funding from hundreds of local radio stations, but it faces rising competition from small and nimble podcasting companies using aggressive commercial strategies to create Netflix-style on-demand content.
I’ll say it up front, in hope: Good! Riddance!
Ucky-Duck … NPR funding is not straight forward, so I’ll cover it briefly (from Wikipedia), and leave the guesstimational Math to ya’ll: NPR gets ~50% of it’s revenue from member stations; 2% of its revenue is in grants from Federal agencies. The member stations, as an aggregate, get up to 30% of their revenue from Federal, State, and local sources (including universities). So taxpayers susbsidize NPR fairly heavily, just not directly and in the open. So that’s a big part of my, “Good riddance!”
NPR’s business model is not viable in modern broadcasting! Politics aside - believe it or not! - that is a very good reason government, on any level, should not be subsidizing NPR and/or its affiliate stations. Force them to become viable, or become extinct. Personally, I believe their thinking is as dinosaurian as their business model, and they would become extinct, just like …