Who public radio broadcasters are: members of a congregation, with our listeners

This is the view from Martin Goldsmith, then host of NPR’s daily classical music program Performance Today, who served as announcer, producer and program director at Washington’s WETA-FM between 1974 and 1986. From the same thinking that has offered “seamlessness,” “affinity,” “modes” and “appeal-driven programming” as ways of capturing the public radio audience now comes “customer service.” At first glance, this concept seems perfectly reasonable, even admirable. It conjures up images of the radio programmer as shopkeeper, hustling to fill his customers’ orders, keeping them satisfied so that they’ll continue to place their orders at that familiar stand on the dial. With customer satisfaction, so the theory goes, comes customer loyalty …