While I and others have no doubt blown it out of proportion, NPR’s recent decision to not promote its podcasts in its radio newsmagazines has a lot of people talking about whether local stations are keeping NPR from embracing a digital-first future.
Certainly, I’ve voiced that concern myself, but I’ve come to the conclusion that a digital-first public audio system must perpetuate three elements of the old public radio system we have now:
- Production and reporting capacity is dispersed across the whole country
- Popular national programs effectively subsidize less-popular, local programs
- Organizations in large, wealthy communities effectively subsidize organizations in small, poor communities.
I can’t imagine a digital-first NPR doing any of that without its stations. So on this week’s episode of The Pub, I’m asking three of the smartest station leaders I know: How do you envision NPR and stations maintaining a mutually beneficial coexistence as the primacy of radio fades?
Do stations grant NPR more autonomy in exchange for lower programming fees? Do they allow aspects of fundraising to be nationally centralized? Do they relinquish their signals and reorganize themselves to be local content mills for NPR One?
We talk about all of that and more with West Virginia Public Broadcasting CEO Scott Finn, WAMU content chief Andi McDaniel and Southern California Public Radio CEO Bill Davis.
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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
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