NPR’s long-awaited mobile app NPR One launched yesterday, allowing iPhone and Android users to tune into a stream of curated and algorithm-powered newscasts, segments, podcasts and local content. After a brief introduction from NPR host Guy Raz, NPR One prompts users to log in using Google, Facebook or NPR accounts. The app allows users to choose a local station, search for stories and programs and donate via voice-activated prompts. NPR is delaying a marketing push for the app until the fall, after station pledge drives, but eager users are already downloading NPR One and giving it a test run. At Nieman Lab, news analyst Ken Doctor discussed NPR’s aim to appeal to younger audiences and the risk NPR One might pose to stations.
Margot Adler, a longtime NPR correspondent and former contributor to Pacifica Radio, died July 28 after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 68. The granddaughter of renowned Viennese psychotherapist Alfred Adler, she began her radio career in the mid-1960s as a volunteer reporter for Pacifica’s KPFA in Berkeley, Calif. Adler then moved to New York and joined Pacifica’s WBAI in 1972, launching and appearing on local talk shows. In 1978 she joined NPR as a freelance reporter covering New York and became full-time the following year.
Madison Hodges, a longtime manager of public radio stations and advocate for the system who worked to increase the community impact of pubcasters nationwide, died July 18 in Tallahassee, Fla., from cardiac arrest following treatment of a rare bone cancer. He was 66. Hodges ran several university-licensed public radio stations over the course of his career and served as executive director of the University Station Alliance. He also oversaw station services at NPR and spearheaded initiatives with the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program to increase community involvement, help licensees secure CPB funding, identify gaps in public radio’s coverage and quantify stations’ community impact for license-holders. He began his broadcasting career as a reporter for a commercial radio station in Little Rock, Ark., before joining the city’s public radio station, KUAR.
New digital offerings from NPR and PBS aim to give public media additional platforms for building online audiences while gaining insights into how listeners and viewers interact with digital content. These digital initiatives — PBS’s Membership Video on Demand service and NPR’s long-awaited NPR One app — were demonstrated and discussed during the Public Media Development & Marketing Conference in Denver July 9-12. The frequent name-changes for NPR’s mobile app during its development — it has been variously referred to as “Project Carbon,” “Infinite Player” and “MPX” — prompted laughter among PMDMC attendees when recounted by Zach Brand, NPR’s v.p. of digital media. But the roulette wheel has stopped, and the name NPR One is now locked in. The app, which will be released in a soft launch later this month, uses an algorithm and user feedback to create an audio stream fusing NPR content with newscasts and segments provided by stations.
NPR has stepped back from plans to curtail its ombudsman's duties after receiving criticism from journalists and leaders of its member stations. The blowback began with a blog post by New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who pointed out Monday that a job posting for NPR's next ombudsman specified that the in-house watchdog should refrain from "commentary" and "judgment." Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR's current ombudsman, will end his three-year term in September. Rosen saw the change in language as an effort to defang the ombudsman, which he argued would remove a valuable check on NPR's reporting. Some station leaders noted Rosen's post and shared his concerns.
Margaret Low Smith, NPR's senior vice president for news, is leaving the network to take a position with The Atlantic as president of its live-event division, AtlanticLIVE. Smith has worked for NPR for 32 years, heading the news division since 2011. Before holding that job, she worked as v.p. of programming. She started at NPR in 1982 as an overnight production assistant for Morning Edition. "Her departure will be felt as profoundly as any in recent memory," NPR Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson wrote in an email to station executives.