You’ve no doubt read about Joan Kroc’s $200 million bequest to National Public Radio. Courtesy of artsjournal.com, our invaluable host, this Boston Globe editorial suggesting what NPR should do with the money, including the following suggestion:
Bring back music and culture programming. NPR’s news reports are thoughtful and compelling. Its talk shows are topical and a nice way to bring listeners into conversations. And “Car Talk” is great entertainment. But occasionally all this talk is wearying. Balance could be provided by music shows and radio documentaries.
What’s going on outside the often overwhelmingly adolescent world of popular music? Who are the up-and-comers in jazz and classical music? NPR should take more time and programming space to offer answers. And whether radio documentaries are made in-house or by independent producers, documentaries transport listeners around the country and the world or back into history. And their fascinating use of sound gives the mind’s eye creative work to do.
Read the whole thing here. It speaks for itself (albeit stodgily and obviously, as you’d expect from the editorial page of the Globe), but I want to make one additional point. If National Public Radio doesn’t seize this opportunity to restore and revive the cultural programming that once made it genuinely “public” in its appeal, it will prove beyond doubt that it’s no longer a “public” radio network, but the purely commercial, ratings-driven talk-radio shop that many listeners reasonably suspect it of having become–and I don’t see that such an enterprise deserves to be subsidized by public monies. A radio network that does nothing more than follow the ratings should be required to live and die by them.