Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio

Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio

Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio

Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio

Synopsis

"National Public Radio's first employee, Jack W. Mitchell, examines the dreams that inspired those who created it, the all-too-human realities that grew out of those dreams, and the criticism public radio has incurred from both sides of the political spectrum. The first producer of NPR's legendary "All Things Considered," Mitchell tells the story of public radio from the point of view of an insider, a participant, and a thoughtful observer. He traces its origins in the progressive movement of the 20th century, and analyzes the people, institutions, ideas, political forces, and economic realities that helped it evolve into what we know as public radio today. NPR and its local affiliates have earned their reputation for thoughtful commentary and excellent journalism, and their work is especially notable in light of the unique struggles they have faced over the decades." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

A couple of years ago, the editor of Current, the newspaper of public radio and television, called to ask if I had a copy of National Public Radio’s founding document, National Public Radio Purposes. He was working with the National Public Broadcasting Archives to post key historical documents on a web site, and the archivists could not find a copy. I replied that I had a copy, but asked why he had not just asked npr. He said he had asked, but they could not seem to find one!

Npr without a copy of its Purposes struck me as incredible as a preacher without a Bible or the U.S. Supreme Court justices without a copy of the Constitution. the Purposes document officially defined NPR’s mission and unofficially summarized the mission of all public radio. It reflected lengthy and spirited discussions by NPR’s founding board of directors and the particular views of the document’s principal author, William Siemering, who became NPR’s first program director. This document attempted to define how “public” radio would differ from its parent, “educational” radio. While some dismissed them as pie in the sky, the Purposes generated a sense of renewal among those who had labored in the often frustrating field of educational radio and attracted a new generation of idealistic practitioners in the early 1970s. the Purposes were the subject of formal discussions and heated bull sessions. Loved by some, hated by others, they provided the starting point in public radio’s evolution. They were powerful enough to dominate the debate over their implementation during public radio’s early years that culminated in a schism in 1976 that literally tore npr asunder.

Amazingly, a quarter century later, npr could not find a copy of this . . .

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