I was a long time listener to public radio. But in recent years I have largley given up on it and have stopped contributing money. The major programs like Morning Edition, All things considered, and talk of the nation have become more and more like commercial radio, parroting the statements of the Shrub administration and being less questioning of government policies, especially during the lead up to the Iraq war. I still listen to selected programs like On the Media and Le Show but I listen to them in podcast form. I almost never turn on the radio. Because of th enormous amount of money required to do tradional radio, NPR (and PBS and Corp for Public Broadcasting, especially CPB under republican hack Ken Tomlinson) have become water carriers for the government because they are terrified of getting completely de-funded. There is also the issue ofwanting to here the programs when I want to listen to them, not necessarilly when stations decide to broadcast them, if the local stations carry them at all.
Doug Kaye, who runs the amazing IT Conversations site and podcasts has a very good post on the future of public radio. In essence it like other mainstream media are doomed.
This started for me when I blogged about Doc’s suggestion that we all call our local public radio stations and request they carry the new show. It took me no time at all to realize how little sense that made. There’s no doubt that if KQED-FM were to broadcast the show at all, it would be at some obscure time of day when I wasn’t likely to listen. No, that’s not even correct. There’s no time of day that would be good for me. I don’t plan my days around a radio or TV schedule because, quite frankly, I don’t need to. I have an iPod and I can listen to what I want, where I want and when I want. And given that there’s already more good programming than I have time for, anyone who doesn’t make it easy for me by providing an RSS feed with enclosures simply won’t make the cut. Even in my car, unless it’s just a trip to the grocery store, I no longer tune in a broadcast station
With the technology that is available now and coming in the future, for both creating content, and distributing it, large television and radio networks will soon have no reason whatsoever to exist. This is a good thing because it will allow more specialised programming to flourish. The old technology required content to be generalized in order to make it economically viable. Because the audience for specialised programs might consist of many groups of relatively few people distributed over large geographic areas, it was not feasible to broadcast such programs because of the very limited bandwith of over the air communications. The internet and the technologies that enable podcasting allow these types of programs to reach an audience at relatively low cost now. A major change is underway in the media and it is irreversible no matter what main stream media tries to do about it.