Radio Theater

Some prominent Republicans say they want to defund National Public Radio. We’ve heard that line before.

Get ready to suspend your disbelief. One of the most resilient acts in theatrical history has returned to the D.C. stage: the We’re Going To Defund Public Broadcasting show.

Every time this play gets revived, the director alters the story slightly to reflect recent events. This time the performers are riffing on National Public Radio’s October decision to fire Juan Williams after the commentator told Bill O’Reilly he gets nervous when he sees airline passengers in “Muslim garb.” John Boehner, the country’s incoming speaker of the House, told National Review “it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network—and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.” Newt Gingrich, who’s having one of his periodic flirtations with a presidential run, announced on Fox that “Congress should investigate NPR and consider cutting off its money.” The conservative direct-mail king Richard Viguerie launched a petition to defund the network, accusing the suits who dismissed Williams of “censorship of ideas not in conformity with the ruling class elites.”

It’s a more compelling hook than the one Richard Nixon used in 1971, when presidential pique at the Eastern liberals who dominated PBS spurred him to propose a “return to localism” that would have kneecapped the crowd in charge of the system. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the cloak-and-dagger spirit that the State Department flunky Otto Reich brought to the play in 1985, right after Ronald Reagan’s reelection, when he met with NPR staffers in a smoky little room and warned them that the White House thought they were “Moscow on the Potomac.”* Nor is it as colorful as the 1993 spectacle starring Bob Dole and David Horowitz, who attacked the radical Pacifica network rather than NPR, providing an opportunity to quote a much weirder series of statements than anything in the Juan Williams kerfuffle. (“We didn’t have Satan before the white man. So the white man is Satan himself.”)

And the exclusive focus on NPR this time around means the stakes don’t feel as high as they did in 1994, when Speaker-elect Gingrich started musing that he might “zero out” the entire public broadcasting budget. A decade later, a House subcommittee heightened the dramatic tension by voting to eliminate federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) altogether. That element of danger was a suspenseful touch. You could almost forget it was all an act.

Because an act is precisely what this is. The Williams story will be stale by the time the new Congress is in a position to do anything about it. Yes, if Republican leaders want to keep the issue alive between now and then, it won’t be hard finding stuff on public radio that offends rank-and-file conservatives. But even then, there’s a difference between keeping the issue alive and actually ending the network’s subsidies. 

These standoffs never end with public broadcasting getting defunded. Its budget is hardly ever even reduced: Since the CPB was born more than four decades ago, there have been just seven years in which its federal allocation was lower than in the preceding year. The point of these exercises isn’t to cut the broadcasters loose. It’s to use the threat of cutting them loose to whip them into shape.

The system was still standing after Nixon made his threats, but all save one of the programs he found objectionable went off the air. After the Gingrich-era battle ended, the Republican pundits Fred Barnes, Peggy Noonan, and Ben Wattenberg all landed gigs at PBS—and following an initial cut, the CPB’s budget crept back upward. The funding fight under George W. Bush took place against the backdrop of a conservative CPB chief crusading for a more right-friendly PBS and NPR.

Now that Republicans have retaken the House, the show is heading toward its usual climax. If party leaders mean what they say about limiting government, cutting public broadcasters off would be a signal that they’re serious. More likely, the Juan Williams spat is just a familiar way for the GOP to flex its muscles.

Every time this happens, I fantasize that this time, just maybe, the broadcasters won’t blink.

NPR can certainly survive without the subsidies. It gets very little direct money from the CPB—less than 2 percent of its budget. In practice, to be sure, the network depends on the government far more than that: About 40 percent of its money comes from its affiliates, which usually receive their own federal subsidies (the amounts vary from station to station) and are frequently affiliated with publicly funded universities. Still, the network has been accumulating other sources of support. Most notably, in 2003 the philanthropist Joan Kroc willed over $200 million to NPR, which promptly invested the money and has drawn on it each year since.

The institution has found other benefactors as well. The same week that the Williams story took off, the network received a grant of $1.8 million from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations—more than half the amount it got directly in 2010 from the feds. As for the affiliates, nothing quite boosts a public radio station’s pledge week like the possibility that those Republican meanies might pump tear  gas into the Morning Edition compound and set the place on fire.

So imagine that the new Congress really is serious about defunding Car Talk and Elmo’s World. Would that really be bad for public broadcasting? One effect, after all, would be to shield the broadcasters from any politician attempting to stick his snout into their editorial choices. Another would be to prevent anyone offended by NPR’s personnel decisions from being required to give the place any more support.

The concept has thus attracted support from both sides of the conventional political spectrum, gathering endorsements from free market economists and left-wing documentarians alike. Several plans have been floating around since the 1990s that would transmute the CPB from a de facto arm of the government into a fully private trust. The details vary, particularly when it comes to the transition from what we have now to what we’d have then. But the upshot is to create an independent body whose directors are not appointed in Washington and which doesn’t rely on Congress for an annual allowance.

There are, broadly speaking, three ways pubcasters can persist without access to the public purse. 

Commercialize. When you talk about defunding NPR and PBS, the networks’ fans start spinning dark tales in which All Things Considered is transformed into some sort of AM news-talk hell, with quick bulletins interrupted every five minutes by traffic, weather, and waterbed ads. But that’s hardly the only conceivable commercial model. All Things Considered already runs underwriting announcements that are almost indistinguishable from advertisements. With appropriate adjustments in the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations—which currently prevent underwriters from offering price information, comparing their wares with competing products, or otherwise asking listeners for their business—it would not be difficult to convert those announcements into actual commercials and to attract more sponsors. That need not entail alienating NPR’s audience by turning its programs into a Mutual Broadcasting manqué.

Many individual programs have other commercial options, some of which are already legal. Sesame Street makes enough money from merchandising to support itself without once interrupting the show to sell a product.

Decommercialize. Alternatively, public broadcasters can make themselves less commercial. It’s one thing to chase ad money when you’re running a multimillion-dollar news operation that broadcasts safely center-left content to an affluent audience. It’s another to do it when you’re a local station specializing in material outside the mainstream, be it avant-garde jazz or Chomskyan politics.

Such stations existed long before the Corporation for Public Broadcasting came to life in 1967. They traditionally subsisted on volunteer labor, listener donations, and a shoestring. When the CPB’s money became available, many of them decided to take it, only to encounter rules requiring them to hire more paid staff and seek a less limited audience—rules that made the stations more dependent on outside money and more committed to pursuing the mainstream. Losing the CPB’s subsidies would mean losing the CPB’s strings as well.

Because it’s cheap to start a website but tough to make money with it, the Internet has a natural bias toward noncommercial, passion-driven projects. Radio needn’t be different: The technical (as opposed to legal) expense of setting up a station is very low, but the more stations there are on the air, the more competition there is for ad dollars, pushing profits down. Without the current high regulatory barriers to entry, which artificially limit the number of signals on the dial and artificially inflate the cost of launching a station, it’s entirely possible that the noncommercial broadcasters would not just thrive but would outnumber their commercial competitors. That’s already the case in the freewheeling world of podcasting, where it isn’t necessary to maintain a full-fledged station at all. Granted, Congress is even less likely to embrace so far-reaching a deregulation than it is to defund the CPB.

Chase grants. There are plenty of private grant givers eager to lend a hand to specific stations or specific shows. The talk of “defunding NPR” has reinforced the misconception that public radio is a pyramid with NPR’s Washington offices at its apex. In fact, it is a fairly decentralized system, with several different organizations producing programs. If you want to know how public broadcasting will survive without federal support, the more important question isn’t who will fund NPR; it’s who will fund, say, Marketplace.

The environmentalist Bill McKibben recently argued in The New York Review of Books that public radio is undergoing a creative renaissance, thanks to ever-cheaper production tools, Internet distribution, and the influence of Ira Glass’ magazine show This American Life. It’s notable that of all the programs McKibben listed as a part of this flowering, hardly any are produced or even distributed by NPR. This American Life, Studio 360, To the Best of Our Knowledge, and Radio Open Source are produced at local stations and distributed by Public Radio International. Radiolab is produced at a local station and distributed by Public Radio Exchange. The documentarians at Homelands Productions are an independent cooperative. Encounters hails from Alaska Public Radio. Sound Opinions comes from Chicago’s WBEZ. Too Much Information is produced at the New Jersey freeform station WFMU, which isn’t even an NPR affiliate (and doesn’t get any government money). The only bona fide NPR efforts in McKibben’s bunch were Planet Money, Hearing Voices, and Radio Diaries.

Such shows seek funds where they can find them. They could probably survive if the CPB disappeared, and they could certainly survive if the CPB were privatized. And so I imagine a new ending for this recurring Defund Public Broadcasting show, one where the broadcasters and their critics decide to call each other’s bluff and the bureaucracy that binds them together comes tumbling down.

But that’s a pipe dream, not a prediction. Way back in 1995, in the aftermath of the Gingrich-era budget battle, the New York Daily News declared that “all the groups agreed on the need to establish an independent trust fund that eventually could replace federal funding,” citing a CPB spokesman as its source. Fat chance. Fifteen years later, that independence is still little more than a fantasy.

The voters may have elected some Tea Party backbenchers who really are serious about cutting off Nina Totenberg’s allowance. But those legislators will have a hard enough time persuading their own party to pull the plug, let alone the Democrats running the White House and the Senate. Establishment Republicans know how this script ends. As Ben Wattenberg is alleged to have said when he heard the Gingrich Congress was thinking of defunding PBS: “What! Just when we’ve taken it over?” 

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).

* This originally stated that the meeting with Otto Reich took place after Reagan's initial election, not his reelection.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • The GOP||

    They report too many facts. We can't have that... facts make us look bad.

  • ||

    They report too many LIES. We can't have that... facts make us look bad.


    Fixed that for you

  • Tony||

    Name one lie that NPR has reported and didn't correct.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Nearly everything they have ever reported about firearms. Their ignorance in that area is biblical in proportion.

  • cynical||

    You realize that reporting a lie and then correcting is not the same as not lying in the first place. The misinformation will be about there and repeated ad nauseam by people that never noticed the retraction, especially if it confirms their biases.

  • Tony||

    If FOX News ever bothered to air retractions for all their lies, they'd have little time left for actual programming.

  • NBC and CBS||

    You tell 'em, Tony. Good lad, you.

  • JohnD ||

    Forget to take your meds again, Tony? Moron.

  • ||

    WAKE UP "THE GOP" ITS TIME TO TAKE A DUMP, NOT LIKE YESTERDAY IN YOUR BED.

  • tory burch||

    You said it right and support you,sometime we would rather run away and not face.

  • ||

    Although this is a tiresome issue, in some ways its not a bad bellwether for how serious the feds are about cutting spending.

    You can't be serious about cutting spending unless you zero out entire programs. If you won't zero out NPR's subsidy, just what will you zero out?

    You will recall, of course, that Boehner couldn't think of a single program to cut when asked. Not even NPR.

    You do the math.

  • Rather||

    $14 trillion + lying politicians = we're fucked

  • sarcasmic||

    penis + potato + Titanic = dictatorship

  • Rather||

    OK,
    penis = men
    potato = Ireland
    Titanic = Ireland's was last port of call

    So you're saying if we kill off all men, eat fries from the chipper, the economy won't sink?

    Sounds like a plan

  • sarcasmic||

    Uhhhhh ... No?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    penis = dick
    potato = tater
    Titanic = ship

    Geez, if ya have to spell them out...

  • cynical||

    She's a pilot now.

  • kinnath||

    NPR is just a tick on the ass of the grizzly bear.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I listened to NPR for about one month when it first came on the air. As a dyed-in-the-wool, voted for Dick Gregory in 1968 semi-liberal, I have always loathed it. If Republicans can't eliminate NPR, they don't have the cojones to eliminate anything.

  • ||

    That's my thinking, too. It's an easy item to defund, as NPR can easily survive, so it's mostly a transparent move (though, of course, the other side will try to make it look like the GOP is "killing" NPR).

  • sarcasmic||

    Boehner is all boner and no balls.

  • ||

    Kinda like a vasectomy patient??

  • sarcasmic||

    More like a eunuch.

  • ||

    My guess is that if they ever "defund" it, they'll only do so by giving it an enormous endowment.

  • Butthead||

    Hey Beavis, he said "endow".

  • Solanum||

    Christ almighty, Vanneman. Just exactly how old are you?

  • dcw||

    @Alan: So, what you're saying is that you have no idea what is aired on NPR. Since the last time you listened to it was 1970. So, your opinion really counts for a lot. Good job.

  • John-David||

    +1111

  • John-David||

    +1111

  • ||

    As the article notes, the subsidy (even taking into account other, indirect subsidies) isn't the majority of its funding, anyway, so why not defund?

    Frankly, NPR should get off the teat voluntarily, to give it some more credibility. I have no doubt that its pro-government stance would soften somewhat if it viewed itself as private and independent. Not right away, of course.

  • ||

    Its credibility amongst leftists that support it is that it's government funded, dude. Think of how they think, not how you think. If it were completely privately funded (oh noes!), think of how they'd react. And if it had commercials...

  • ||

    Well, they don't run the House. If the GOP wanted to kill it, they probably could. NPR could still get funding via corporate and individual donations and stay afloat.

    I suspect you're right--the statists like the state involvement. How they see that as somehow "pure", despite the obvious corruption of our government and, of course, despite the heavy corporate financial influence on NPR and PBS (NOVA gets money from the Kochs! Flee!) is beyond me.

  • ||

    Dude, I know...I used to watch WGBH out of Boston as a kid (Sesame Street! The Muppet Show! Dr. Who!), and even then I would see the "this show was sponsored by..." before every program and think "how is this not a commercial?"

  • ||

    They run about 7-9 minutes of commercials each hour. Not counting the pledge drives. They just bunch them up at the end and don't call them commercials.

  • Dr Feelgood||

    Please don't kill my infomercials. I'm sure the piano teacher feels the same.

  • Suze Orman||

    Leave your mitts off my show. Women really need it. I get to sell a lot of my books too.

  • ||

    ""If the GOP wanted to kill it, they probably could.""

    It would have been easy for them to do so 2000 - 2006.

  • ||

    That's why it's hard to believe they'll do it now, when the task will be much more difficult.

  • ||

    It does have commercials. Just not the kind liberals hate.

  • ||

    u mean loud ads?

  • ||

    You mean like for the [url=http://shoeblogs.com/2011/01/13/forever-lazy/]Forever Lazy[/url]?

  • ||

    Goddamned html tags!! Now I gotta go shoot someone.

  • ||

    Goddamned html tags!! Now I gotta go shoot someone.

  • Brett L||

    Okay, now the squirrels are just mocking you.

  • sarcasmic||

    non-profit = pure altruism

    for-profit = evil

    government = truth

    capitalism = lie

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  • ||

    u know what makes me sad? sarcasmic w his lil nambie-pambie equal signs.

  • sarcasmic||

    You wouldn't mumble so much if you took my dick out of your mouth.

  • ||

    u know what makes me sad? awful, awful trollz who change their handle as if we cant tell and write in txt lingo.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Well why don't we chug on over to mamby-pamby land and find you some self-confidence, ya jerkwagon?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Shit, it's jackwagon. Which is what I was thinking while my fingers were typing jerkwagon.

    I don't know what a jackwagon is, but it's a great epithet.

  • ||

    barely supressed rage = jackwagon

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Hurrr durrr!!!

    I know you are, but what am I? INFINITY!!

    What are you, fucking 12 years old?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    jackoff, jerkoff, jackwagon, jerkwagon... not much difference there.

  • ||

    "Its credibility amongst leftists that support it is that it's government funded, dude. Think of how they think, not how you think. If it were completely privately funded (oh noes!), think of how they'd react."

    It's the same thing with funding for research at Universities--they talk about "academic freedom" associated with government funding, by which they often mean the freedom to do research no one in the private sector would pay them to do.

    The fact is that private enterprise is more responsive to the desires of their customers than government funded radio can ever be--and you're right. They're afraid that if the government funding wasn't there, all these public radio stations would start changing their programming to suit their audience's tastes.

    They hate the tastes of the general audience. ...and I can't say I blame them--can't say I'm a fan of the lowest common denominator myself. But the fact is that they're afraid a defunded NPR will give the people what they want--and they see refusing to give the people what they want as a feature and not a bug.

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    Wonderful! Another race to the bottom.

  • ||

    Like I said, I'm not particularly fond of the LCD myself.

    But if that's what you really want to do, then why not come out and say it?

    Don't tell us you're about what the people really want--and then turn around advocate polices to stick it to the people and what they want.

    Hell, being forced to pay for NPR is almost like a violation of the establishment clause for some people. If you're all about forcing people to fund stuff they don't like, that's bad enough. Just please don't tell us you're the voice of the people and what they want...

    It's insulting to our intelligence.

  • ||

    They already have commercials in the form of underwriters. Also commercials aren't a bad thing as long as they don't effect the quality of the programming or reporting.

    Th

  • PIL||

    Both NPR and PBS deserve to be shut down. The latest outrage is from a Hispanic-Supremacist that used the word "gringo." How dare her? Juan Williams got fired without any name calling yet this woman gets away with it?

    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....olent.html

  • Mike M.||

    Yeah, someone tell this Daisy Hernandez chick to cut it out with the Eliminationist Rhetoric. President Obama just asked the country for a better tone and more civil discourse.

  • ||

    I can't tell if you're real or just a sockpuppet yet, but one thing you aren't is a libertarian. But you look like a fun piñata (oh noes--a Hispanic-Supremacist word!), so stick around.

  • Rather||

    Epi are you stupid enough to think there is a difference?

  • ||

    Hey rectal, have you been posting new articles to your blog? Wait...I neither know nor care and will never go read them, so don't bother telling me. Although maybe all two of your "regular" readers would like to know. Wait...they don't exist. Never mind.

  • Rather||

    Suck your own cock! Read my blog! READ IT!

  • Rather||

    Come back from lunch and see that I've been posting with my telekinetic powers.
    Yes, Epi you are stupid and a pussie
    Yes, Epi I have a lot of blog subscriptions and since they are "unknown", I'd bet your ass that they are Reason H&R regulars. One of them searches his name-idiot
    No, Epi can't suck his own cock but Heller, I'm sure he'd love to suck yours. Start eating parsley bitch!

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Epi is "a pussie"?

    He's filled with pus?

    Eww.....

  • Fatty Bolger||

    You have a blog? First I've heard of it.

  • ||

    That's not nearly as outrageous as the Atlanta PBS affiliate's incessant broadcasting of Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman. I mean, talk about a program that has zero social value: a bunch of Irishmen lip-synching? Then again, lower middle class women seem to love this crap, which means PBS is panderning to these folks for donations. Which is SO much better than a 30 second Wal-Mart advertisement, right?

  • ||

    ""Both NPR and PBS deserve to be shut down.""

    There's a difference between removing them from the government teat and shutting them down.

    In no way do I support the government shutting down media. Defund them and let them try to survive on their own. They probably will.

  • some other guy||

    exactly. just like "democracy now" and "alternative radio"

  • Fatty Bolger||

    NPR already has several of the most popular radio shows (right up there with Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) so I'm sure they would be fine.

    And of course, the Koch brothers would probably help to keep PBS afloat. Ironic, huh?

  • ||

    If you won't zero out NPR's subsidy, just what will you zero out?

    But who will speak truth to power?

    You monster.

  • Brett L||

    Pretty tough for NPR to do when they're deep-throating power's "microphone".

  • Old Mexican||

    Most notably, in 2003 the philanthropist Joan Kroc willed over $200 million to NPR, which promptly invested the money and has drawn on it each year since.

    Philanthropist? What's so "philanthropic" about giving money to a bunch of left-leaning journalists so they can all play the radio game? And how can I get a philanthropist to fund my equally useless and unproductive hobbies?

  • ||

    We all want the answer to that question, OM. We all do. Bill Gates, for some reason, won't let me through the gates (hah) of his place on Mercer Island, for instance. Why?!?

  • ||

    You know, surely a multi-millionaire or better reads this blog. Why not subsidize a commenter, say, me? I'm a worthy cause.

  • sarcasmic||

    Giving away your own money by choice is philanthropy?

    I thought philanthropy meant putting a gun to some capitalist's head, confiscating his ill-gotten gains in the name of The People, and giving them to some lazy fuck who has never worked a day in his life.

    Wasn't Joan Kroc wife of the founder of that evil for-profit enterprise called McDonalds that is killing unsuspecting children with fatty junk food?

    She's a philanthropist?

    I'm confused.

  • OrelHazard||

    "I'm confused."

    Apparently.

    Although I do have to thank you for providing the libertarian motto for the ages. Translated into latin:

    Ego sum inconditus.

  • Mike M.||

    You know what, good for Joan Kroc I say! NPR could easily survive without a penny of money stolen from the taxpayers. Folks like her and George Soros could fund the entire operation easily out of their own pockets.

  • ||

    She's a philanthropist?

    She's just trying to atone for murdering all those children.

  • Tony||

    Yes NPR tilts left. In today's context, all real journalism does. That's not an indictment of journalism, it's an indictment of the modern right. They simply don't believe in facts if they don't serve their political agenda. NPR is not biased, and it is not the liberal equivalent of FOX News.

  • ||

    Starve the creature.

  • Spoonman.||

    They simply don't believe in facts if they don't serve their political agenda

    The stimulus worked and PPACA would reduce the deficit, right?

  • Tony||

    No the economy began growing on its own, by magic, and the CBO is lying.

  • sarcasmic||

    The economy grows when misallocated resources are reallocated to productive means.
    Government stimulus is designed to prevent this by diverting resources to the politically connected instead of where they would be productive.
    Oh, and the CBO is not lying, they're just prohibited from accounting for human behavior when they make their calculations.

    Go fuck yourself you ignorant fuck.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Didn't you read SugarFree's command?

    Do as the man says!

  • ||

    Not a command, just a simple request. sarcasmic is the author of his own story, he must write it as he sees fit.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    That sounds like something the grand master tortoise in Kung Fu Panda would have said.

  • Tony||

    If you're going to call me names then you should have something of substance to back it up. You're either saying the economy isn't growing now, or it's doing so in spite of the stimulus, which you claim didn't work to make the economy grow.

    And apparently the CBO is mistaken in its projections because your vague intuition about how human beings act trumps their numbers.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm calling you an ignorant fuck because you are ignorant of the basic fundamental principles of economics.
    This is based on an accumulation of observations.

    It is not a matter of name calling, it is a statement of fact.

    So go fuck yourself you ignorant fuck.

  • sarcasmic||

    When presented with sound logic you respond with irrational emotion.

    Someone once told me that the wise person learns from the mistakes of others, the smart person learns from their own mistakes, and stupid people don't learn.

    In addition to being ignorant, you are also stupid.

  • ||

    see tony, in libertarian heaven, one must pay to travel over private roads paved in shit. hope that helps...

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAADDSS!!!@!111@!@!1!

  • Cecil||

    DRIIIIINNK!!!!

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Wow, roads! How original!

  • OrelHazard||

    "Oh, and the CBO is not lying, they're just prohibited from accounting for human behavior when they make their calculations"

    BAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAHA

    I truly love libertarians. Never have so few with so little clue made so many laugh.

  • Tony||

    I just shit myself!

  • cynical||

    I'd say it's an indictment of your abuse of the word "real", but anyway.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I have to say that I actually listen to a lot of NPR and like several of the shows. I'm a regular listener. But I also listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and sometimes a little Hannity and occasionally Michael Savage.

    Doesn't mean I agree with anything any of them say or disagree with everything any of them say. It's all just entertainment, and a lot of the time, it's just to have something to listen to while I'm doing something else, rather than dead silence.

    I agree, though, that there is no reason for my tax dollars to fund NPR anymore than there is any reason for my tax dollars to fund Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. And as the left is fond of pointing out, federal funding is a small fraction of NPR's funding - which means to me that they should be able to deal with losing it.

    But I do like several NPR shows - I've been listening to the Car Talk guys for nearly as long as they've been on. And I actually like "This American Life" - yeah, I know it's a bunch of whiny, nasally liberals, but the shows are well produced and interesting, and sometimes pretty funny. I also like "Wait, Wait - Don't Tell Me" - and again, yeah, I know their humor is going to be all about bashing Republicans and conservatives, but so what? It's an entertaining show.

    I think the most annoying show (other than the "World Music" show) is "On the Media" with Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield, because they act like they're neutral reporters of and objective commentors on the weekly events, but they - particularly Mr. Garfield - are so blatantly left, it's laughable. But again, I listen to it because they do discuss interesting topics.

    On my commute back and forth to work, I switch between the local NPR station (Morning Edition, Marketplace, All Things Considered) and the local A.M. talker Fox affiliate (Glenn Beck, Rush, Hannity). So I get the news from the lefties and the righties.

    We need to start a libertarian radio station. I think the call letters would have to be WFU or something.

  • Spoonman.||

    There is Free Talk Live, though I stopped listening awhile ago because it was getting to be too much Free State Project News and some weird metaphysical shit for me.

  • crazyfish||

    commercial radio is high octane and stress inducing. I will take the sleepy talk at NPR over endless energetic yakking on the commercial radio stations. I don't know what it is about commercial radio that requires the hosts to act like overexcited rabbits

  • ||

    Congratulations at making a generalization. Not all of commercial radio is generic upbeat jock shocks trying to appeal to the LCD.

    The sad part is the decent commercial terrestrial stations tend to be lower on the ratings list than the crap ones. T_T

  • Yeah||

    I would recommend POTUS on Sirius/XM. The morning show at least is the most unbiased journalism I have ever heard. They have some stuff later in the day that leans a little left, but it is an all call in show about opinion so the personality has to lean some way.

  • ||

    No shit? You listen to Wait, Wait??
    Tell me next you think Paula Poundstone is funny.

    Christ man, take up bass fishing.

  • Anomalous||

    Other than Car Talk, it seems like everyone on NPR has this affect that is very off-putting. I can't listen to them, just as I can't listen to Limbaugh.

  • Obama's Volt||

    Car Talk has a commitment to puff me up. They're not going anywhere.

  • ||

    i likes classical on npr

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I'm guessing you pretend to.

  • dc||

    You guys do realize that the government spends a lot more money on stuff that would be way more controversial than NPR if the press ever actually talked about it. Jesus Christ. Let it go already. The same people who say defund NPR don't realize how much of their lives depend on what the government is funding for them to live in a free society.

  • ||

    The government doesn't fund anything. WE fund the government.

    Now run along, your little troll friends are waiting for you down at the troll park...

  • dc||

    Also.... has anyone ever considered....maybe...the possibility...that NPR sounds "lefty" because "lefty" is what is correct? If NPR is the opposite of Rush Limbaugh, then NPR is speaking the truth.
    Since when did Democratic principles become something bad?

  • Yeah||

    big D Democratic, quite a while ago. Why should we pay for your "truth".

    The funny thing is I thought I was funding the Government to live in a free society. But yeah no i forgot that wealth is "created" by the feds in the mind of you types.

  • On the other hand...||

    Have you, DC, ever asked yourself why you sound like a such a shallow little twit?

  • ||

    dc's first comment struck me as a pretty good little trollpost. The last sentence is a masterful non sequitur.

    dc's second comment is too crass, too obvious, too heavy-handed to really cut the trollmustard around here.

  • dc||

    um, what? how am i a troll by adding to the conversation?

    i think you spend too much time hanging out on comment threads dude.

  • Yeah||

    This "that NPR sounds "lefty" because "lefty" is what is correct? If NPR is the opposite of Rush Limbaugh, then NPR is speaking the truth.
    Since when did Democratic principles become something bad?" is the lowest form of Trollspeach. evident by your referencing to Rush and the "truth"

  • Uncle "dc" Stalin||

    I always had Pravda to repeat all of my truths.

  • ||

    IF NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO IS SO IMPORTANT, LET THE LIBS FUND IT W/O TAXPAYER FUNDS. THEY ARE THE ONLY BENEFICIARIES OF IT

  • Ventifact||

    The right derives too much political advantage from complaining about public broadcasting to actually defund it.

  • ||

    Maybe, but they couldn't put that fucking yellow chicken and the homeless fuck in the trash can against the wall quick enough.

  • ||

    Whatever that is supposed to mean.

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • ||

    Name one thing that NPR provides that you can't live without. Classical music? Try internet radio. Those cafones from Baaastun who do the car (cum amateur comedy)show?

    Our local station dropped "Groove Salad" last year: a bad move.

  • But, but...||

    Classical music always sounds better when taxpayers support the broadcast.

  • ||

    The most cogent argument for defunding Public Broadcasting is that we are running out of money, and while public broadcasting and it's sub unit, NPR may have had a role to play in the past when there was a lot of the country that didn't have good coverage by broadcast TV, those days are in the past. We are now left with 200 channel TV anywhere on the continent and radio via Internet from all over the planet. They are anachronistic and now redundant, and just like the redundant military bases, they need to get sold to the private sector and shut down.

    After all, do we really need to have taxpayer funded sources of left wing media bias? Are there really so few lefties in commercial journalism that we can't get that perspective without taxpayers funding it? NPR makes as much sense as tax payer funded McDonalds franchises built down the street from ones run by the private sector.

  • Shablagoo||

    Will I get fired if I say these guys scare me? http://www.meactrust.org

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  • ||

    I agree with all of that except for one part: "...which artificially limit the number of signals on the dial". There are actually very sound engineering reasons for why the number of radio stations on the dial is limited. The number of stations on the dial is not limited by economics, it's limited by physics. But otherwise, I agree with everything you say.

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