Here's why NPR really matters

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[Commentary] National Public Radio comes from modest beginnings. It began as an afterthought, a postscript in the bill that created public broadcasting.

Today, as we reach our 40th anniversary, nearly 38 million people listen to public radio each week. NPR has a larger audience than most commercial news shows and all of the cable news channels on which people froth and fulminate. NPR is no longer alternative therapy. It has become The News for millions of Americans. NPR revived radio. It harnessed radio's special immediacy, mobility and personality to tell stories from around the world. Broadcasters, not marketers, created NPR. They believed that if they did interesting, reliable and enjoyable shows, people would find them and value them. That's kind of touching in these days when market research practically tracks your cholesterol count. When hurricanes strike, conflicts erupt and markets plunge, people find NPR. As other news operations have gotten more parochial, pompous and thin, NPR has done messy, expensive things that are supposed to be audience downers, like expanding foreign coverage and deepening reporting on the economy. And we've seen our audience grow.


Here's why NPR really matters