Tuesday, April 06, 2004

NPR Adrift?

Two weeks ago National Public Radio demoted long-time Morning Edition host Bob Edwards to Senior Correspondent. You'd think that NPR would have a solid plan for moving forward after the change becomes permanent on May first. Apparently not:

...If there is a grand plan for bettering NPR, the network is not revealing it to its listeners.
Further, and perhaps more troubling, NPR is not revealing it to its affiliates.
Certainly, as first explained, Edward's ouster seemed to signal some new direction within the organization.
But what that may be is no clearer these weeks later, and some must now suspect that rather than a bold new direction for NPR, all crafted out, there is in its place but a vague notion of a need to change.
All this leaves affiliates asking, Who are we, what are we? What the hell is going on?
And they are asking these questions at precisely the time when they most need answers: Their pledge periods.
While NPR may have the hefty $200 million donation from Ray Kroc’s widow to fall back on, the affiliates aren’t as lucky. They earn their money the hard way, by pitching viewers for smaller sums.
“I don’t understand the thinking behind moving Edwards off the show, and many of my listeners don’t either,” says Gerry Weston, president of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, KY....

And then there's this:

...Edwards has hosted “Morning Edition” since it began in 1979. NPR says over the last five years the network’s overall audience has grown more than 60 percent. Listenership for “Morning Edition” alone is up over 40 percent during the same period. Some 13 million people a week tune in for a taste of Edwards on their radios...

If you feel strongly about the presence of Bob Edwards on Morning Edition, you can sign a petition here. At this site you can also link to hear what Mr. Edwards thinks about the move.

It makes me wonder what my pledge dollars are doing.

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