Public Radio Is for Moochers

NPR listeners should pay what they owe.

Spring is here, which can mean only one thing: torture.

You might know it by its more familiar name, the public-radio pledge drive.

The pledge drive resembles Chinese water torture. It starts out as a minor irritant. But it continues, hour after hour and day after day, growing first uncomfortable and then agonizing. By the end of it even hardened commandos are reduced to blubbering, mucus-snuffling wrecks begging someone to make it stop, please just make it stop.

If the pledge drive is hard on listeners, one can only imagine how excruciating it must be for public radio employees. For days on end they are forced to say the same things over and over, until they start to crack. You can tell when that happens. They start telling tepid jokes that elicit forced, slightly hysterical laughter from the other on-air personalities. Then comes the singing. And the skits. And the madcap antics. Don’t the Geneva Conventions prohibit this?

The fundraisers' points all revolve around the theme of what a wonderfully valuable service public radio provides: While other media are cutting back on coverage, toeing a partisan line, or selling out to the sleazy dollar of sensationalism, you need a voice you can trust to bring you in-depth coverage of the stories that matter. That sort of guff.

True—at least in part. Yet it doesn't explain why the pledge drive drags on so long it feels like a cross between a middle-school "Say No to Drugs" assembly and the Bataan Death March. The good people of public radio are constrained from explaining that by the necessity of not insulting their listeners.

But someone should explain it. Here goes:

Public-radio listeners are moochers. Brazen, shameless welfare kings and queens, sponging off the generosity of others.

Not all of them, mind you. A small percentage contribute. An even smaller number do so with great generosity.

But the vast majority are—how to put this gently?—good-for-nothing, deadbeat, leeching, parasitic, freeloading scroungers.

Here in Central Virginia, the local public-radio station has almost 200,000 listeners, according to Arbitron ratings. But fewer than 10,000 contribute any money to help keep programming on the air.

This is pretty standard. It's also—to be nice about it—pathetic. It's especially pathetic in light of the fact that public-radio fans are better off than the average Joe.

The median household income for NPR listeners, for example, is $86,000—nearly twice the median household income in the U.S. What's more, they are disproportionately liberal: According to figures from the Pew Research Center, they lean left to almost the exact same degree as Fox News audiences lean right. They're disproportionately into recycling, buying organic, and twice as likely to drive a hybrid vehicle.

Think globally, act locally. We're all in this together. Unless that means actually paying for something you use. Then the purse strings close up like a sphincter.

True, most public-radio stations benefit from government subsidies, either directly or indirectly. And they shouldn't. We shouldn't have government radio any more than we should have government newspapers or government television. But then, taxpayer financing makes up only a thin slice of most stations' revenue pie charts. The wish to make the slice even thinner is an argument for more voluntary contributions, not less.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Ahem. I paid at the office.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Yeah, doesn't *everybody* pay for NPR? Even those who never listen to it?

  • VicRattlehead||

    Nope only people who work for a living.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Wasn't the idea of cutting public radio and television roundly ridiculed in these very pages two years ago?

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Why do you hate Big Bird?

  • Anomalous||

    Because he's big, and he's a bird.

  • ||

    And he's yellow.

  • John||

    yes. The idea seemed to be that even though public radio is a waste of money, the Republicans were just silly and vindictive for wanting to kill it because it doesn't involve much money. Reason seems to reject the concept that if you can't cut something small like NPR you can't cut anything or that maybe the way to cut the big things is to start with cutting the small things and let that success build on itself.

  • DJF||

    Many of the small budget items are the grease that gets the big budget items approved. Cut a small bridge in Iowa and maybe a big project somewhere else will be one vote short.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That's a fair point, but it also fair to point to congresspersons who want to cut NPR funding and then turn around and argue for a new dozen heli-carriers to fight box cutter wielding terrorists.

  • Invisible Finger||

    You're actually arguing for fair waste (or even fair theft).

    Which makes a mockery of the concept of "fairness".

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I am not sure what you are getting at.

    If you know a fellow who is fine with his girlfriend being in gangbangs but then gets upset about her kissing another guy you would find his behavior odd, right?

  • wareagle||

    the Congressmen who favor the war machines will use the Constitution's enumeration of national defense in support of their case. There is no such equivalent for Big Bird. Their case may not be great but it's better than the one for NPR.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    By that logic spending on the Post Office is not bad.

  • Ivan Pike||

    By that logic spending on the Post Office is not bad.

    Not that it is good or bad, only that it is an enumerated power of the FedGov. Spooner was right in that it doesn't say 'exclusive.'

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    My point is that I don't equate libertarianism with what is constitutional, so when something violates the NAP I don't excuse it because it is in the Constitution.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    So you are an ancap?

  • Ivan Pike||

    My point is that I don't equate libertarianism with what is constitutional,

    I can't answer for wareagle, but if the congressman votes against NPR and then turns around and votes for national defense, the congressman can at least point to the constitution. That is what they are supposed to support and defend. I think that was his point.

  • Restoras||

    It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you have been purified.

  • Ivan Pike||

    It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you have been purified.

    Sounds like my priest.

  • Restoras||

    Bo is the High Priest of Puritan Libertarienism.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!

    [sprinkle with holy water and repeat as needed until demon leaves Ivan Pike]

  • VicRattlehead||

    I completely get your point Bo
    and I agree with both sides, on one hand it is not enumerated in the peace treaty with government known as the constitution that they may tax us to fund NPR and it is for them to buy a dozen heli-carriers for "national defense"
    on the other
    he would be a massive hypocrite to not want to slash spending on large $ projects if he was getting antsy over a small $ one.
    the terrorists can keep it up longer than the US military can just based in spending alone aside from the fact that you can't kill an idea even if you kill everyone who ascribes to it, at some point there will be another human who reaches the same conclusion and idea.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    ya know the second

    amendment has a surplus of punctuation

    you could borrow

    some

    from there to be more readable

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure, cutting funding for NPR, PBS, and whatever are low priorities, but, at the same time, the principle of cutting shit we don't need is served by low-hanging fruit like these. After all, neither gets primarily funded by government (if I understand the funding breakdown correctly) and could continue without the government money. And if they couldn't, oh, well. And I like several PBS programs, so it's not because I oppose it as a network. I oppose it because it's a quasi-government network.

  • John||

    I can't tell you the last time an actual federal agency ceased to exist. Not merged with another agency to create a new one like INS but actually went away and the government stopped doing whatever it was charged with doing. To my knowledge it has never happened in my lifetime. Killing off NPR would have enormous symbolic significance. It would show that yes, the government can stop doing things once it starts and yes some agencies can go away. To me that would be a big deal.

  • Zeb||

    Kill the CPB, that's the government agency.

    I think PL is right and NPR would continue to function without the CPB money. They might have to put more non-ads on or cut some less popular shows, but I think they'd be just fine. They already have a pretty good endowment from a few major donations in the past several years. And local stations don't get much from the federal government.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    When NPR defends itself it often notes that the vast majority of its funding comes from non-governmental donations, so it could easily survive without the theft derived funds.

  • Bryan C||

    Essentially admitting that stealing money from people isn't essential, they just enjoy it.

  • SweatingGin||

    I never tracked it down, but I always got the impressions that NPR the national org got *some* from CPB, and then local affiliates got more from CPB that went back to NPR itself.

    That said, I haven't tracked down how much local stations got from CPB - just had the impression it was more substantial.

  • Zeb||

    I think that is right. I may have mixed thing sup a bit. NPS gets very little from the CPB. The local affiliates get more and then pay NPR for their shows.

    From what I can find, public radio overall gets around 10-12% from federal sources. They'd have to make some cuts, but they could certainly survive without it. I think there are a lot of people who would be more inclined to give them money if they didn't take tax money.

  • SweatingGin||

    From what I can find, public radio overall gets around 10-12% from federal sources. They'd have to make some cuts, but they could certainly survive without it. I think there are a lot of people who would be more inclined to give them money if they didn't take tax money.

    Agreed, and then, no longer being state media, they could actually ask tough questions of the head of the NSA and such. Ya'know, do journalism.

  • wwhorton||

    I think NPR's argument is something to the effect that they operate on such a tight budget that the 10% loss would be terminal, which I find difficult to believe.

    With NPR, as with public broadcasting as a whole, the argument is that it provides an outlet for "quality programming" that isn't beholden to advertisers; serious documentaries, niche entertainment, etc. But last I checked there's a metric shit-ton of Sesame Street paraphernalia for sale in any number of retail stores. And Masterpiece Theater gets contributions from like Dow and Exxon (how that must gall the left). The target audience is middle- and upper-class, college-educated (or at least well-read), and the monied elderly, people who can certainly afford to pay for the kind of entertainment they'd like.

    People in public housing aren't crushed under the oppressive thumb of CBS, yearning to raise themselves out of benighted ignorance with a documentary on the mating habits of the ibex or Maryland's crabbing industry, or an hour of British antique appraisal. They're watching cable, brother. They're watching professional sports, daytime television, Celebrity Apprentice and that type of thing if they're watching tv at all. Speaking in generalization, the only people who watch public television are people who can afford to pay for it. And don't get me started about public goddamn radio.

  • Zeb||

    NPR has a shit load of shows that no one has ever heard of. They could cut most of those and focus on their main news shows and the more popular cultural/humor shows and I think they'd do just fine without government money.

    I'd miss public broadcasting if it went away, but I'm willing to take the risk on removing government funding.

  • soflarider||

    "I think NPR's argument is something to the effect that they operate on such a tight budget that the 10% loss would be terminal, which I find difficult to believe"

    Sounds like the same scenario as when the minuscule cuts required by the sequester threw the entire galaxy into turmoil.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've heard 15% generally about both NPR and PBS, so that sounds about right. Surely that could be made up easily enough.

  • JWatts||

    "From what I can find, public radio overall gets around 10-12% from federal sources."

    Yes, but that's just the direct Federal money. They also get funds directly from local governments & state governments. In addition, they receive funds from various universities, which is just repackaged Federal grant money filtered through a different organization. For that matter, most of the local government money they receive is just repackaged Federal grant money.

    To me, it all has the appearance of a shell game designed to be able to claim that they don't rely on the government.

    How much money does NPR receive from private and corporate donations & corporate sponsorship? Add that up. Subtract from their total revenues. The rest is all government money, whatever channel it's filtered through.

  • JWatts||

    "From what I can find, public radio overall gets around 10-12% from federal sources."

    Yes, but that's just the direct Federal money. They also get funds directly from local governments & state governments. In addition, they receive funds from various universities, which is just repackaged Federal grant money filtered through a different organization. For that matter, most of the local government money they receive is just repackaged Federal grant money.

    To me, it all has the appearance of a shell game designed to be able to claim that they don't rely on the government.

    How much money does NPR receive from private and corporate donations & corporate sponsorship? Add that up. Subtract from their total revenues. The rest is all government money, whatever channel it's filtered through.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, there is also the state money and other grants. Still, I think they could carry on. From what I can gather, they get over half of their money from private and corporate donations.

  • VicRattlehead||

    or better kill off the FCC and let the government pound salt, private citizens will always do better than government and they will always do it cheaper.
    fuck we should really just abolish the current incarnation of fed gov and start over again sometimes you just cant fix something once its this broken.

  • Bostonian_in_Gotham||

    The was a federal agency that ceased to exist in the 1990s. It was something like the National Historic Preservation of Something or other. Gingrich wanted it gone. The Clinton appointee worked out a deal where Congress would fund it for three years to give him time to set up alternate funding. And he did. I just cannot remember what it was called.

  • DJF||

    “”””After all, neither gets primarily funded by government “””

    They got a sneaky way to pay for it, they get some tax money directly, but then give lots more to affiliates who then buy programming which goes back into NPR and PBS.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's interesting. I suppose it would be good to know exactly how much support they get, both direct and indirect, from the government. Not that that affects my desire to totally defund both organizations and tell them to compete like normal broadcast.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    IIRC, it was tied to a poll showing that the average Republican thinks NPR and PBS are getting some ridiculous 10-20% portion of the entire federal budget.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That seems unlikely.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Debt and Loving It:

    On average, for example, surveys shows that on average respondents estimate that anywhere 10 to 25 percent of the federal budget is devoted to foreign aid. In fact, it’s closer to 1 percent. A CNN poll last year found that Americans believe that about 5 percent of the federal budget is devoted to public broadcasting. The reality? It’s about 0.1 percent.
  • Pro Libertate||

    It was the 20% I had a problem with. People always guess wrong. I probably would. NASA is often perceived as being some major spend, even though it's only in the $10 - 15 billion range. Not that it needs even that much to not put men in orbit.

  • Brian||

    Your cite refers to average americans instead of average republicans.

    I assume you conflate the two because of your rigorous honesty and lack of agenda.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    You're right, my failure to perfectly remember a Hit&Run; post from nine months ago is a reflection of my bias.

    Although, wouldn't conflating "average Republican" with "average American" be evidence of a bias in FAVOR of Republicans?

  • Brian||

    You're right, my failure to perfectly remember a Hit&Run; post from nine months ago is a reflection of my bias.

    You linked and posted a quote that actually contained the distinction. If I overestimated your reading comprehension skills, I'm sorry.

    Although, wouldn't conflating "average Republican" with "average American" be evidence of a bias in FAVOR of Republicans?

    Can you explain why?

    If you conflated democrats with republicans, and said, "the average Democrat thinks NPR and PBS are getting some ridiculous 10-20% portion of the entire federal budget," do you think that would make democrats look good?

    Or, instead, are you saying that you were pointing out how awesome republicans are?

    Stop. While. You're. Ahead.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    You linked and posted a quote that actually contained the distinction.

    Which I had not bothered to look for until after I was challenged. The "average Republican" claim was based on my memory of the article, not on a current reading of it.

    Can you explain why?

    Because it implies on some level I see Republicans as the "normal people" and Democrats as the exceptions.

  • Brian||

    Because it implies on some level I see Republicans as the "normal people" and Democrats as the exceptions.

    So, being normal is favorable?

    How glorious it would be to live in the land of average.

  • Jose Chung||

    Or a bias against the average American, depending on your point of view.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    My entire life, people have brought up examples of questionable government spending and outright waste, and the Panjandrums in DC have told us "that's too small to be worth cutting". Frankly, it makes me want to spit, preferably on a politician.

    Maybe a few hundred thousand dollars is chicken feed to our woild-be lords and masters, but it woild be amheck of a nice windfall to ME. Imsuspect that most folks would say the same.

  • Zeb||

    That's not how I remember it.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "For just the price of a totebag, you can bring joy to the life of a station manager...won't you give today?"

  • ||

    Well now you've kind of sold me. TOTE BAG!

  • gimmeasammich||

    Totes.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    You mean the, ahem, Nina Tottenbag?

  • Anomalous||

    I got your totebag right here!

  • Jose Chung||

    "And for a $500 donation you get this lovely totebag, emblazoned across it's entire surface with the color brown."

  • Jose Chung||

    "And for a $500 donation you get this lovely totebag, emblazoned across it's entire surface with the color brown."

  • DJF||

    I don't mooch off of NPR, sometimes I turn on my radio and their signal invades it. They need to keep their signal out of my radio. Shaking my cane!!!!!

    However I don't leave the radio on for long since it does not take long for it to say something stupid, or wrong or one sided.

    Just a few days ago it talked about pensions in Detroit, and how some pensioners got as little as $20,000 but it did not say what others got, what the top rate was, what the rules were and who was paying for what. In fact the whole report sounded like a Union press release.

  • waffles||

    Ah, but that's why I listen. Also it's far less sensationalist or stupid than cable news. Still the "Obamacare let me quit my job and play guitar all day" stories are getting tiresome.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This. NPR is theft in action but I do listen to it a lot because, well, what else am I going to listen to, Glenn Beck or some religious station going on about how we must send money now to help send Jews to Israel to fulfill Revelations?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Silence is golden.

  • Loki||

    what else am I going to listen to, Glenn Beck or some religious station going on about how we must send money now to help send Jews to Israel to fulfill Revelations?

    Where the fuck do you live that those are literally your only options? There's no rock and roll stations? Heavy metal? Hip Hop? Fucking Country music, for fuck's sake?

    Or are you one of these "modern music sucks and get off my lawn!" types who refuses to listen to anything other than talk radio?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I was talking about non-music options. When I want to listen to music I listen to a CD of my choice.

  • gimmeasammich||

    You could get some books on tape.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    I only listen to hi-fi vinyl in my car.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    8 Track fo' evah!

  • ||

    Sirius offers enough options. Why does everyone point to Beck as if he's the only game in town?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    They point to Beck because they have learned that attacking Rush just gives him ammunition to make them look even more ridiculous than God and Nature intended.

    Beck isn't as adroit.

  • Redmanfms||

    Sirius offers enough options. Why does everyone point to Beck as if he's the only game in town?

    Because Bulpa is a dishonest shithead.

  • ||

    we must send money now to help send Jews to Israel to fulfill Revelations?

    Did they find the red heifer yet?

    I have zero interest in funding the end times unless I know there's already a red heifer on hand to be sacrificed at the reconsecration of the Temple.

  • Loki||

    Did they find the red heifer yet?

    Yes.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They did find it, except it's in Canada

  • ||

    Sacrificing that on the Temple altar would probably earn you a personal apocalypse.

  • ||

    Dunno what Short is surprised about. It's no different than how bad boy athletes and celebrities remain popular. It's a popularity contest.

    Not only that, some people tend to back up a person they perceive to be mistreated by the public or media no matter the vices.

  • wwhorton||

    C-Span. Especially during Question Hour. Sports radio, so you can sound like you follow baseball if you need to for smalltalk purposes.

    Or Nile.

    Or these guys, one of the two best bands to come out of Maryland.

    It works for me.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Hey, it could be worse. We could be saddled with the BBC.

  • Zeb||

    For all its failings and annoying bits, I think NPR is still about the best of the mainstream broadcast news media. Which isn't saying much at this point.

  • SweatingGin||

    Ah, but that's why I listen. Also it's far less sensationalist or stupid than cable news. Still the "Obamacare let me quit my job and play guitar all day" stories are getting tiresome.

    I'm two or three weeks out from the last time I listened to them. I thought for sure you were joking, making up a ludicrous story that was just plausible enough.

    Nope, it's right there on npr.org. Bearded, middle-aged guy playing guitar.

    Podcasts. I listen to podcasts. Useful information. Classical on the way into work. Rock on the way home. Substantially less rage than a few minutes of Proletariat Radio.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I like ESPN radio in the morning when it is Mike and Mike, but I can not listen to Colin Cowherd. That guy is more cocksure than Limbaugh and half as entertaining.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I've been listening to old radio broadcasts of The Shadow and Vincent Price (done by the BBC)
    http://oldtimeradiodownloads.c...../index.php

  • Bryan C||

    I've been doing the same. There's tons of excellent radio drama from that era. (And a lot of junk, too, of course, but some of it is still entertaining.)

  • Invisible Finger||

    Less sensationalist, yes. Less stupid, no.

  • Loki||

    NPR: "All the derp, none of the sensationalism entertainment value."

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can spare no pity for people who voluntarily listen to NPR.

  • RightNut||

    How can I be a moocher when my tax dollars pay for it?

  • Hugh Akston||

    How can they be your tax dollars when you have no choice of how much to contribute and no input on how they are spent?

  • wwhorton||

    BAM! The phrase "my tax dollars" implies that you're the consumer. You've got it backwards.

  • Christophe||

    You're not the consumer, you're the one being consumed.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    In new Amerika, radio listens to you?

    Wait... "mass media consume you"?

  • Tim||

    Why can't they run ads for Dinovite and Erecterin like everybody else.

  • gimmeasammich||

    "Di-no-vite!"

  • waffles||

    I donated to reason and npr in token amounts because these sources are how I get the news. Still the pledging periods induce me to fits of rage. Here it's not so bad.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I never should have given my real email address to Reason.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    Classic Blunders;

    Getting involved in a land war in Asia,

    Trifling with a Sicilian when death is on the line,

    Giving your real email address to the Reason Foundation...

  • Restoras||

    Conceivable?

  • SweatingGin||

    It turns out that the opportunity to make fun of the pledge drive to other readers/listeners, and bitch (unsuccessfully) about the Taboola ad, actually makes the pledge drive way more tolerable.

    Having donated to NPR, NRA, and Reason at various times, my snail spam is rather... diverse.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Did you get the "Chad Henderson" packet from Reason? That one clogged my mailbox, which is rather small.

  • SweatingGin||

    I don't remember that one explicitly (although it was probably a few months ago). but yea, every few weeks, a giant envelope.

  • mb||

    The pledge drive only takes forever because of all the advertisements, I mean messages from sponsors.

  • SweatingGin||

    Also true: NPR's slant can be almost insufferable.

    ALMOST?!?

    And, nowhere else but public radio will you find such delightful jewels as "Click and Clack," "Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!"

    delightful?!?

    Cartalk has funny moments the first three times you listen to it. Then you realize they've been off the air for a year, and apart from the year of cars, you could never guess when an episode was from. It's the same jokes for 30 years. Satellite radio runs re-runs of it, showing the original date. Cover that up and guess the year. You can't.

    Wait Wait is a spot for Paula Poundstone to be obnoxious and pretend she is relevant.

    Hell, all of their weekend variety programming (leaving out On the Media) is basically there to make people who are conservative but think they are anything but conservative feel more comfortable that nothing ever has to change, because Garrison is there to tell the same fucking jokes from 30 years ago. Nothing ever has to change for them. They're so progressive, nothing will ever change.

  • Zeb||

    Oh, I like Car Talk and Wait, Wait... This American Life and The Moth can be pretty good too.

  • waffles||

    Radiolab has frequently been pretty good.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, I like that a lot too.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    No love for Science Friday?

  • Zeb||

    Do they still have that? I don't think my station carries it anymore if they do.

  • SweatingGin||

    You should keep a tally of the jokes.

    CarTalk's last episode was in October 2012. Can you tell? Could you tell if the show was from '99 or 2009? Our law firm is Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. Our Statistician is Marge N. Oferror.

  • Zeb||

    You are right, and I did know that they have been playing reruns. Your criticisms are all spot on, they have been making the same jokes and giving out more or less the same advice forever.

    I like it exactly because it is familiar and comforting and doesn't change.

  • ||

    Exactly. Also because they are adorable!

    I love Wait Wait too. For anyone who likes it, FYI, it's WELL worth seeing live. Much funnier.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Before Parks and Rec went to shit, they had some great parodies of NPR.

    "And now, Nefertiti's Fyord, the lesbian Afro-Norwegian funk duo."

    *Horrible music plays, the DJ turns off the mic*

    "Wow, they're really bad."

    "Oh yes, they're terrible. Still, they are lesbians."

  • Homple||

    Garrison Kiellor is the Lawrence Welk of the baby boomer generation. His very reason for existence is the fact that he's done the same unchanging schtick for 40+ years.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Garrison Kiellor is the Lawrence Welk of the baby boomer generation. "

    Great line.

  • Aloysious||

    Garrison Kiellor is rage inducing. When that guy comes on, it is a race to the radio to shut it off, or I go all HULK SMASH on anything handy.

  • Apple||

    I once gave $20 to This American Life because I enjoy their podcasts. I haven't done it in a few years. If they charged, it would be a lot easier to remember to pay.

  • Homple||

    If you donate $200 to me, I'll listen to Ira Glass's annoying metrosexual voice for an hour on your radio and promise not to smash it.

  • Mokers||

    I donate to two public radio stations in my area, mostly for the in depth reporting I get on local and state issues. As terrible as it is, it is much better than watching the local news or other radio news stations and I get traffic reports. It also makes it easier to talk with progressives when you know their talking points.

    One thing I can't stand about the pledge drives is when they talk about all the value I get. You want value? Try Amazon Prime. And if the station is poor, stop moving into expensive buildings in trendy parts of town.

  • waffles||

    stop moving into expensive buildings in trendy parts of town

    Now that I think of it, yeah, always located in the "hip" part of town. I guess it's a compromise these stations aren't willing to make.

  • Loki||

    if the station is poor, stop moving into expensive buildings in trendy parts of town.

    You can't expect them to broadcast from the run down, toxic waste part of town, do you? Then they might actually have to come into contact with some of those poor people they claim to care to so much about.

  • SweatingGin||

    It takes a lot to focus my NPR hate only on the national feed. Michigan Radio is even worse (and it's really unfortunate, because they actually did journalism 10 years ago or so). They'll spend the entire damn summer talking about wolf hunting. Ages talking about someone vandalizing a spot at the state capital. Environmental sermons twice a week, with repeats on the other days. More about wolf hunting. Not like the biggest city in the state is bankrupt or anything.

    The Detroit station (from Wayne State University) actually has *gasp* journalism! And it tends to have a bit of slant, but, it's ya'know, actual journalism, and actually about things that matter to people besides wolf hunters and the people who clutch pearls about wolf hunters.

  • sarcasmic||

    I give money to the college radio station, but NPR can suck it.

  • Zeb||

    I stopped giving my local station money after they called me on the phone to ask for money. That's my rule. Anyone who calls me on the phone to ask for money never gets any money from me ever again.

  • ||

    My alma maters haven't gotten this message yet, both undergrad and lawschool. I'm almost even inclined to start making small yearly donations to the undergrad one as I have no debt but I've repeatedly told them that I won't till the current president has left, it's pretty much the only small say I have in the matter.

    Law school on the other hand, fuck that. Not a single penny till my loans are paid off.

  • Zeb||

    I told mine that they spend money on stupid shit and I'm not ever giving them anything. I paid plenty. They finally stopped calling me a couple years ago.

    If more of the money went to scholarships and hiring good professors and funding real research, I might consider giving, but they seem to spend most of it on unnecessary campus "improvements".

  • Jordan||

    I let my school know that if they can afford to fund an Office of Diversity, they don't need donations.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    I used to give when it was still actual people from my alma mater calling to ask. I would ask "So, how are things in downtown placepoliticsbyyothermeanswenttocollege?" Usually, a nice conversation took place and I got to hear about things back at State U.

    Then, they hired an outside firm and my meager donations stopped right then.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    My wife gives to her law school and it pisses me off. She thinks it will help the rankings.

  • Loki||

    She thinks it will help the rankings.

    Actually alumni giving rate is one of the factors that US News & World Reports uses in their college ranking. Why I don't know.

  • sarcasmic||

    About the only time I turn on NPR on purpose is when I'm driving to the transfer station on Saturday mornings. So NPR is forever associated with the smell of garbage.

  • Loki||

    You expect progressive assholes to actually contribute a dime of their own money? That's what tax dollars are for: to make those EVUL KKKOCHPORASHUNZ pay for theit shitty radio.

  • Loki||

    Holy shit! The SKWIRRELZ appear to have come down from their cocaine bender (for now).

  • SugarFree||

    NPR should be cut off until they decide to do something about their polluting externalities. They spew so much crap in the air I am occasionally forced to listen to a few seconds of it as I fumble desperately to plug in my phone and start up music. This is not right. I should never have to listen to smooth jazz.

  • ||

    Or Krista Tippett.

  • SugarFree||

    It's the calming tones of someone trying to get a lunatic to drop a knife that bugs me.

    Is there a middle ground between MORNING DRIVE TIME WITH IRA AND THE DOUCHE and vocal Klonopin that radio could strive for?

  • ||

    If it were vocal Klonopin I might like it a lot better.

    And apparently the answer is no.

  • SugarFree||

    NPR knocks me right out. Even when they are straight up slurping Dem pole, those liquid vowels puts me to sleep. Audio books and podcasts are the same. Probably a defensive mechanism from graduate school.

  • ||

    Actually that reminds me...we briefly had a guy doing the local news here on WBEZ who was a former Trib reporter and just a really (really!) good journalist, with a nice voice, who had never worked in radio before and just talked...like a normal person reading you the news. He was pretty great. So there is a middle ground!

  • SugarFree||

    Briefly? I guess they had to get rid of someone like that.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    Or Diane Rehm. She sounds like she has been dead for 8 years.

  • Ivan Pike||

    Audible Books; no reason to listen to commercials.

  • ||

    Too true by half, but also far too hard on tight-pocketed liberal listeners...after all they are realists. Really, why should they shell out hard cash to support a station that's already going their way? Better to support some politician into muzzling Fox or Reason!

  • RishJoMo||

    Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    www.GoGoAnon.tk

  • RishJoMo||

    Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    www.GoGoAnon.tk

  • gimmeasammich||

    The skwurlz got anon-bot!

  • ChrisO||

    Terrestrial radio is going the way of buggy whips. Not much point in hating on it anymore.

    However, I think the proper distinction is between "listener-supported" radio and "public" radio. Washington DC's listener-supported station is one of those godawful Pacifica Network jobbies where the editorial slant is basically that Stalin and Pol Pot weren't nearly thorough enough. On the other hand, I recall on a visit to Philly hearing a wonderful listener-supported music station that played an incredible mix of music, not one note of which you'd ever hear on advertising-supported radio.

  • ||

    WBEZ can have a voluntary contribution as soon as they stop taking stolen money.

  • ||

    The government already steals my money so NPR can play.

    I don't see why keeping what money i have left in my pocket after scumbag government agencies like NPR dig into makes me a free loader.

    Also NPR does play ads....may as well call me a moocher when i listen to privately run radio stations who get all their revenue from ads.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Well it's been a quite week in public radio. Over at Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Lutheran Church, the ladies are donating their bingo proceeds to quality news programming. Zach the hippie carpenter nods his head to Mara Liassen as she described the devastating effects of Republican cuts to indigenous pottery collectives in Arizona. Zach is building a prize which he will donate to the pledge drive. A lucky listener will get Zach's handcrafted organic spice rack for a contribution in the $1000 area. The Latino landscapers are had at work on the yards of community members. A Spanish-language pledge drive is being made ready for them. Over at the Starbucks, over Mocha Double Lattes (a portion of the price of which goes to our pledge drive), Bob Lundquist is holding his audience enthralled with a description of the time he met a black person..."

  • Zeb||

    Kiellor is certainly a tired old lefty, but I think he does much better than that being even handed in his political jokes.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Yes, he's all right, I was just poking a little fun at him.

  • Aloysious||

    His voice hurts my brain, and makes my ears bleed.

  • Zeb||

    He seems to do that to a lot of people. I happen to like his voice and delivery.

  • waffles||

    Since we're griping, I'm not sure who it is (maybe Soraya Sorhaddi Nelson) but there's one correspondent who has the most cringe-inducing accent I've ever been subjected to. It's a very special kind of irritating that I've never heard duplicated.

  • SweatingGin||

    Oooh! how about over-pronunciation of any ethnic name! Or words, really.

  • ChrisO||

    SNL had a very funny skit about that years ago. The Public TV hosts in the skit were going out of their way to say "Neee-harr-aw-gwa" and other Spanish words in a very comical (and spot-on) way.

  • Zeb||

    When Spanish speakers do that it makes sense because that's how the word is pronounced. But it is funny when people obviously put it on. And you never hear people trying to pronounce, for example, whatever they call China in Chinese in the way that a native speaker would say it.

  • SweatingGin||

    And we're going to have at least one story a week, probably more like one a day, that exists only to make our more sensitive listeners cry.

    They'll cry about the wolf hunting. Or about all the people who could quit their jobs to play guitar because of Obamacare. Or about a village of drug addicts in Afghanistan. Cry cry cry.

    More seriously, a lot of the NPR broadcast starts to take on the feel of a religious ceremony to me, not a news broadcast. Get a global warming sermon in there, a nice story about the great guitar player who could quit his job because of the kindness of our lord. We'll even end it with a benediction, "Don't drive like my brother"

  • Homple||

    Are you old enough to remember Barry Schweid and Sylvia Poggioli before they had speech therapy or something? They personified dreadful speech for quite a while.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    It's gotta be Eleanor Beardsley. She reports mainly out of France and other parts of Europe (most recently she interviewed people in Crimea).

    She has an obvious deep southern accent that she's trying so very hard to hide with the most affected radio voice ever contrived. It's maddening. To put it into perspective, its actually a relief when she spouts of a bit of French because her French pronunciation is actually pretty good, for a 'Murican.

    Every time she speaks I think of that Ben Folds song "Your Redneck Past".

  • Stormy Dragon||

    So the next time Reason does its annual beg-a-thon, can we draw the same conclusion about all of its readers?

  • SugarFree||

    OBJECTIVELY HILARIOUS!

  • waffles||

    Based on the scrollbar thing it seems like most of the regulars donate something.

  • Jordan||

    wat

  • sarcasmic||

    Garrison Kiellor... Now there's a face for radio.

  • Aloysious||

    Even his name makes me angry.
    grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • ||

    The Libertarian Wife and I attended a taping of Wait, Wait. The audience was almost entirely insufferable liberal snobs, but still, a damn funny show. The guest that week was Martha Stewart, who seemed to be... oh, how shall I put this... drunk. Actually dropped an f-bomb (which they helpfully edited out when the show aired). But the alcohol did seem to make her considerably looser than one would have expected, which makes for great radio.

    The highlight for me was afterwards, when I went up to the stage and got to chat with PJ O'Rourke. Super nice fellow, actually engaged me in interesting conversation about the underground newspaper scene in 1968 Baltimore. I think he, my wife, and I were the only people there who hadn't voted for Obama.

  • ||

    Yeah we've been to a live showing too. The audience is a bunch of dbags, but it's super fun to watch.

  • ||

    Bah, I had introduced a friend to the show and then he went to a taping in LA a few weeks later without telling me it was going on.

    He said it was great.

  • ||

    Advice: get new friends.

  • ||

    There's already overcrowding in the cages...

    Appropriate

  • ||

    I wish I had a gun on me.

  • ||

    There's something disconcerting about the low framerate on that video, right?

  • ||

    On my "what's disconcerting" list, that comes in at about #49.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Ahem. I paid at the office.

    That was just the Ponzi Tax, to sustain you in your dotage.
    NPR is extra.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Idea: pass a law that any programming funded with taxpayer dollars must be public domain. See if Garrison Keillor is so keen on public financing when it means he can't make millions off of merchandise sales.

  • SweatingGin||

    There's merchandising sales for Proletariat Radio?

    I mean, sure, for Sesame Street, but I don't think they've licensed out the tote bag brand for big bucks. Maybe Prius stickers, though.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Prairie Home Commercial:

    Keillor, meantime, decided he wanted to reward loyal listeners with a free poster of “Powdermilk Biscuits,” an allusion to a fictitious sponsor that was part of the Prairie Home gag. The poster giveaway evolved into a thriving for-profit merchandise operation that MPR sold off to Target Corp. in 1998 for $123 million.
  • Brian||

    So, pass a law that says that NPR can only buy the rights to air content that's free.

    They should need a lot less money then.

  • Steve G||

    The moocher guilt trip doesn't work for me esp when I hear, "...brought to you by..." during every non-commercial commercial break. Listener supported my ass...

  • Homple||

    What you got against "building a more just, verdant and peaceful world", huh?

  • SweatingGin||

    "building a more just, verdant and peaceful world"

    AND THEY'RE PROHIBITIONISTS

    Freaking Robert Wood Johnson Foundation...

  • Tony||

    Congratulations, you've just made the argument for why taxation is necessary. When allowed, people freeload.

    Of course, NPR itself is an argument for why the free market doesn't always produce optimal outcomes. The best news in the world is publicly funded, and news sources that rely on the market alone either struggle to survive or are the crap sensationalistic partisan cheesy poofs of news. Don't ask me why, it just happens to be the case.

  • Homple||

    Indeed. People freeload when allowed.

    And?

  • Homple||

    By the way, "optimal" doesn't mean "stuff other people like that I don't".

  • Homple||

    Or,simply, "optimal" doesn't mean "stuff I like".

  • Jordan||

    Of course, NPR itself is an argument for why the free market doesn't always produce optimal outcomes.

    Bullshit. "Optimal" doesn't mean "Tony agrees with it".

  • Tony||

    Oh yes, much easier when we can define optimal as whatever the market pukes up. Nice and circular that way.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Congratulations, you've just made the argument for why taxation is necessary. When allowed, people freeload.

    Because, without taxation, no one has figured out how to sell a product and avoid free loaders.

  • MJBinAL||

    "The best news in the world is publicly funded"?

    If YOU like it, YOU pay for it.

    "The best news in the world" my ass.

  • MJBinAL||

    No one asks you Tony, or haven't you noticed?

  • anon||

    ut the vast majority are—how to put this gently?—good-for-nothing, deadbeat, leeching, parasitic, freeloading scroungers.

    That is putting it lightly. My description has more expletives.

  • ||

    Congratulations, you've just made the argument for why taxation is necessary. When allowed, people freeload.

    Holy shit! When people can get something for free, they will. Therefore, taxes. If we don't fine people for not picking up money, it will all just lie there on the ground!

    The best news in the world is publicly funded, and news sources that rely on the market alone either struggle to survive or are the crap sensationalistic partisan cheesy poofs of news. Don't ask me why, it just happens to be the case.

    Yup. Imagine where we'd be without NPR employees like Woodward and Bernstein. I mean, without top-tier state-run journalism like NPR where would people like Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning turn to when the whistle needs blowing?

  • anon||

    The best news in the world is publicly funded, and news sources that rely on the market alone either struggle to survive or are the crap sensationalistic partisan cheesy poofs of news. Don't ask me why, it just happens to be the case.

    um, what?

    Who's determining this "best news" here?

    I have a feeling we have very different definitions of good.

  • Swiss Servator ...etwas||

    Oh come on, their investigative journalism is legendary - they have broken lots of stories...like...um, ...

  • Big Chief||

    I donated to NPR & PBS every year from 85 to 95. After the GOP took the house in 94 and put CPB funding on the chopping block. The outrage at both the local and national level made me furious. At that point you started getting real numbers about funding & support. I decided if NPR & PBS were so intent on taking my forcibly paid tax money for the unconstitutional CPB support that I would no longer support them voluntarily. I began getting calls from them for a couple of years and told them I'd be happy to double my prior donations once they stopped taking my tax money. So I listen to their pleas without the slightest twinge of guilt.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Hinkle, I usually like you, so I'll say this nicely. Fuck off. I listen to a community supported music station that doesn't take government handouts and I contribute to it happily. I don't care if government funds are only a thin slice of the NPR budget. They'll get my donations once they kick the government spending addiction, not before.

  • MJBinAL||

    Yes you scumbag deadbeat, not only should you kick in if you want to listen to this crap, you should send ME back the money I am forced to contribute to it.

  • steedamike||

    At least NPR (probably) doesn't set a goal of $100k and then, when one person donates $50k, moves the goalposts to $150k. To top if all off, Reason couldn't use the extra $50k to remove the Taboola ads. Why set a goal at all?

  • HenryC||

    I stopped listening to them, that solved the mooching problem.

  • Darth Soros||

    What I dislike most about the NPR fund-raisers (at least the one in the city I live in) are the self-congratulatory comments from contributing listeners, about how smart and wonderful NPR is, and therefore, by implication, how smart and wonderful they are for listening to it and supporting it.

  • jmomls||

    Can't NPR get their funding from the Palestinians? I mean, they've donated enough in kind to them over the years.

  • PaulBot1776||

    I probably listen to more than 20 hours of NPR every week and don't contribute a dime. I've listened for 18 years now, and every year it's the same horrible pledge drives. And no matter what fund-raising goals/records they meet/break, still more pledge drives. NPR is like the government, and will never get enough. I was happy with the programming line up 10 years ago, and since then they've added a number of programs I have no interest in hearing. If I thought the station was in dire straits, I would be happy to donate. But I'm not donating just so they can have more money they haven't figured out how to spend yet.

  • steve baker||

    Maybe "taxpayer financing makes up only a thin slice of most stations' revenue pie charts", (my local affiliate brags that it's "only" 15%.

    What private business couldn't use an extra 15% revenue with no increase in expenses?

    And, coincidently, "only" 15% is about the same amount that's confiscated from the first dollar the poorest worker earns by the federal government for Social Security/Medicare funding, and "only" 15% is also the lowest federal income tax bracket.

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