NPR tech reporter quits to build ‘a new kind of radio’

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Stephen Henn, a longtime public radio reporter who most recently covered technology for NPR and Planet Money, announced in a Medium post Monday that he has quit his job and plans to start a new radio venture.

“Public radio is in danger,” Henn wrote after pointing to a Current article about the decline in NPR’s younger audience.

“The biggest threat to NPR — and the 900+ member stations that are the life-blood of the public radio system — is that this big beautiful crazy system may not get its act together to make the jump into the digital age,” he wrote.

Henn says that the reason he quit was to build a “a new kind of radio” that would better reflect changes in audience listening habits.

“[S]o far no one has built the kick-ass digital radio that I want,” he wrote.

He shared few details about what he plans to launch but did give an idea of his vision for a digital radio service.

“The digital radio I want would make it easier to support great work,” he wrote. “It would help public radio break out of the white, upper-middle class ghetto it has created for itself. It would be personalized. It would be global. It would be social and ubiquitous. It would let the audience talk back. My ideal digital radio, it would listen to the audience.”

Before joining NPR in 2012, Henn had worked as a reporter since 2000 for American Public Media’s Marketplace as a technology and Washington bureau reporter.

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  • Rob Greenlee

    Stephen, The truth is the growth is not going to be in digital radio. It is going to be in on demand audio/podcasting using a public radio like sounding production. The things you want already exists in various levels of advancement. It is true we have a ways to go in making online audio easier to financially support and create interactivity with audiences.