National Public Radio

National Public Radio

Infobox Network
network_name = National Public Radio
network_type = Public radio network
airdate = April 1971
country = United States
available = Global
founded = 1970
key_people = Kevin Klose, President
Dennis L. Haarsager, Interim Chief Executive Officer
Howard Stevenson, Chair of the Board of Directors
foundation = NPR Foundation
owner = National Public Radio, Inc.
launch_date = April 1971
endowment = US$258 million
revenue = US$159 million
net_income = US$18.9 million
past_names = Association of Public Radio Stations
National Educational Radio Network
affiliations = World Radio Network
former_affiliations =
website = []

National Public Radio (NPR) is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to 797 public radio stations in the United States. [cite web | url= | title=How NPR Works: NPR's Mission Statement | publisher=NPR | accessdate=2007-06-12] NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and also led to the creation of the Public Broadcasting Service. The network was founded in 1970 with 30 employees and 90 public radio stations as charter members.

NPR produces and distributes news and cultural programming. Individual public radio stations are not required to broadcast all NPR programs that are produced. Most public radio stations broadcast a mixture of NPR programs, and content from rival providers, American Public Media and Public Radio International, as well as locally produced programs. NPR's flagships are two drive time news broadcasts, "Morning Edition" and the afternoon "All Things Considered"; both are carried by many NPR member stations and in 2002 were second and third-most popular radio programs in the country. In a Harris poll conducted in 2005, NPR was voted the most trusted news source in the US. [cite news | url=|title=Survey Says: Noncom News Most Trusted | work=Broadcasting & Cable | date=2005-11-10 | accessdate=2006-10-02 | last=Eggerton | first=John]

NPR manages the Public Radio Satellite System which distributes NPR programs and other programming from independent producers and networks such as American Public Media and Public Radio International.


National Public Radio was founded on February 24, 1970. [ [] ] It replaced the National Educational Radio Network.NPR aired its first broadcast in April 1971, covering of the United States Senate hearings on the Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, an afternoon drive-time newscast, "All Things Considered," began, on May 3, 1971, first hosted by Robert Conley. NPR was primarily a production and distribution organization until 1977, when it merged with the Association of Public Radio Stations. As a membership organization, NPR was now charged with providing stations with training, program promotion, and management; representing the interests of public radio before Congress; and providing content delivery mechanisms such as satellite transmission.

NPR suffered an almost fatal setback in 1983 when efforts to expand services created a deficit of nearly US$7 million. After a Congressional investigation and the resignation of NPR's president, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting agreed to lend the network money in order to stave off bankruptcy. [cite web | url= | title=GAO statement on NPR financial crisis, 1984 | publisher=Public Broadcasting PolicyBase | author= | year=1984 | accessdate=2007-06-12] In exchange, NPR agreed to a new arrangement whereby the annual CPB stipend it had previously received directly would be divided among local stations instead; in turn, those stations would support NPR productions on a subscription basis. NPR also agreed to turn its satellite service into a cooperative venture, making it possible for non-NPR shows to get national distribution. It took NPR another three years to pay off all its debt. [cite web | url= | title= History of public broadcasting in the United States | publisher=Current | accessdate=2007-06-12]


NPR is a membership corporation. Member stations are required to be noncommercial or educational radio stations, have at least five full-time professional employees, operate for at least 18 hours per day, and not be designed solely to further a religious philosophy or be used for classroom programming. Each member station receives one vote at the annual NPR board meetings—exercised by its designated Authorized Station Representative ("A-Rep").

To oversee the day to day operations and prepare its budget, members elect a Board of Directors. This board is composed of ten A-Reps, five members of the general public, and the chair of the NPR Foundation. Terms are for three years and rotate such that some stand for election every year.

The original purposes of NPR, as ratified by the Board of Directors, are the following:

*Provide an identifiable daily product which is consistent and reflects the highest standards of broadcast journalism.
*Provide extended coverage of public events, issues and ideas, and to acquire and produce special public affairs programs.
*Acquire and produce cultural programs which can be scheduled individually by stations.
*Provide access to the intellectual and cultural resources of cities, universities and rural districts through a system of cooperative program development with member public radio stations.
*Develop and distribute programs for specific groups (adult education, instruction, modular units for local productions) which may meet needs of individual regions or groups, but may not have general national relevance.
*Establish liaison with foreign broadcasters for a program exchange service.
*Produce materials specifically intended to develop the art and technical potential of radio. [cite web|url=|title=National Public Radio Purposes|work=Public Broadcasting PolicyBase|last=Siemering|first=William|date=1999-11-29|accessdate=2006-10-02]

As of May 2008, the Board of Directors of NPR included the following members:

;NPR Member Station Managers
*Tim Eby; Radio Manager, The WOSU Stations (WOSU, WOSU-FM)
*Dave Edwards; Vice-Chair of the Board, NPR; Director/General Manager, WUWM
*Rob Gordon; President & General Manager, WPLN
*Scott Hanley; Director/General Manager, WDUQ
*Ellen Rocco; Station Manager, North Country Public Radio
*John Stark; General Manager, KNAU
*JoAnn Urofsky; General Manager, WUSF Public Broadcasting
*Mark Vogelzang; President and General Manager, Vermont Public Radio

;President of NPR
*Kevin Klose; President

;Chair of the NPR Foundation
*Antoine W. van Agtmael; Chair, NPR Foundation; Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, Emerging Markets Management, LLP

;Public Members of the Board
*Carol A. Cartwright; President, Kent State University
*John A. Herrmann, Jr.; Vice Chairman, Lincoln International
*Howard H. Stevenson; Chair of the Board, NPR; Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University
*Lyle Logan; Senior Vice President, Personal Financial Services
*Eduardo A. Hauser; Chief Executive Officer, DailyMe, Inc. Daily Me

On March 6, 2008, Ken Stern left his position as CEO by mutual agreement, after having led NPR during its most lucrative decade. He was replaced on an interim basis by Dennis L. Haarsager. [ [ NPR Leader out After Board Clash] , Washington Post, 2008-03-06] .


According to the 2005 financial statement, NPR makes just over half of its money from the fees and dues it charges member stations to receive programming, although some of this money originated at the CPB itself, in the form of pass-through grants to member stations. [cite web | url= | title=Annual Reports, Audited Financial Statements, and Form 990s | publisher=NPR | accessdate=2007-06-12] About 2% of NPR's funding comes from bidding on government grants and programs, chiefly the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the remainder comes from member station dues, foundation grants, and corporate underwriting. Typically, NPR member stations raise about one-third of their budget through on-air pledge drives, one-third from corporate underwriting, and one-third from grants from state governments, university grants, and grants from the CPB itself.

Over the years, the portion of the total NPR budget that comes from government has been decreasing. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of NPR funding came from the federal government. Steps were being taken during the 1980s to completely wean NPR from government support, but the 1983 funding crisis forced the network to make immediate changes. More money to fund the NPR network was raised from listeners, charitable foundations and corporations, and less from the federal government.

Underwriting spots vs. commercials

In contrast to commercial radio, NPR does not carry traditional commercials, but has advertising in the form of brief statements from major donors, such as Allstate, Merck, and Archer Daniels Midland. These statements are called "underwriting spots", not commercials, and, unlike commercials, are governed by FCC restrictions; they cannot advocate a product or contain any "call to action". In 2005, corporate sponsorship made up 23% of the NPR budget. [cite paper | url= | title=Treasurer's Report | format=.PDF | publisher=National Public Radio, Inc| date=3 May 2005| accessdate= 2007-06-12] NPR is not as dependent on revenue from underwriting spots as commercial stations are on revenue from advertising.

Joan Kroc Grant

On November 6, 2003, NPR was given over US$225 million from the estate of the late Joan B. Kroc, the widow of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's Corporation. This was a record—the largest monetary gift ever to a cultural institution.cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Billions and Billions Served, Hundreds of Millions Donated |url= |quote= National Public Radio announced yesterday that it had received a bequest worth at least $200 million from the widow of the longtime chairman of the McDonald's restaurant chain. The gift is the largest in the 33-year history of NPR, the nonprofit broadcasting corporation -- and about twice the size of NPR's annual operating budget. It is believed to be among the largest ever pledged to an American cultural institution. |work=New York Times |date=November 7, 2003 |accessdate=2008-07-28 ] [cite press release | url= | title=NPR Receives a Record Bequest of More Than $200 Million | publisher=National Public Radio | date=2003-11-06 | accessdate=2006-10-02] For context, the 2003 annual budget of NPR was US$101 million. In 2004 that number increased by over 50% to US$153 million due to the Kroc gift. US$34 million of the money will be deposited in its endowment. [cite news | url= | title=Kroc gift lets NPR expand news, lower fees | date=2004-05-24 | accessdate=2006-10-02 | last=Janssen | first=Mike | work=Current] The endowment fund before the gift was $35 million.NPR will use the interest from the bequest to expand its news staff and reduce some member stations' fees. The 2005 budget was about US$120 million.

Production facilities and listenership

NPR's major production facilities have been based in Washington, D.C. since its creation. On November 2, 2002, a West Coast production facility, dubbed "NPR West", opened in Culver City, California. NPR opened NPR West to improve its coverage of the western United States, to expand its production capabilities (shows produced there include "News & Notes" and "Day to Day"), and to create a fully functional backup production facility capable of keeping NPR on the air in the event of a catastrophe in Washington.

According to a 2003 "Washington Monthly" story, about 20 million listeners tune into NPR each week. On average they are 50 years old and earn an annual income of US$78,000. Its audience is predominantly white; only about 10% are either African American or Hispanic. While Arbitron does track public radio listenership, they do not include public radio in their published rankings of radio stations.

NPR stations generally do not subscribe to the Arbitron rating service and are not included in published ratings and rankings like Radio & Records. This market data is provided by Radio Research Consortium, a non-profit corporation which subscribes to the Aribtron service and distributes the data to NPR and other non-commercial stations and on its website.cite news | first=Ben | last=Fong-Torres | coauthors= | title=RADIO WAVES | date=2006-03-12 | publisher= | url = | work =San Francisco Chronical | pages = | accessdate = 2008-04-26 | language = ]


Programs produced by NPR

News and public affairs programs

NPR produces a morning and an afternoon news program, both of which also have weekend editions with different hosts. It also produces hourly news briefs around the clock. NPR formerly distributed the World Radio Network, a daily compilation of news reports from international radio news, but no longer does so.

* "All Things Considered", hosted by Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block
** "Weekend All Things Considered", hosted by Andrea Seabrook
* "Day to Day", a collaboration with "Slate" news magazine; hosted by Alex Chadwick and Madeleine Brand originating from Los Angeles in mid-morning
* "Morning Edition", hosted by Steve Inskeep and Renée Montagne
** "Radio Expeditions" (with the National Geographic Society)
* "Weekend Edition Saturday", hosted by Scott Simon
* "Weekend Edition Sunday", hosted by Liane Hansen
* "Talk of the Nation": public affairs call-in (host Neal Conan)
** "Science Friday" science issues call-in (host Ira Flatow)
* "News and Notes": minority issues (host Farai Chideya)

Cultural programming

* "All Songs Considered", hosted by Bob Boilen
* In 2000, NPR co-produced and distributed "2000X", a Hollywood Theater of the Ear production of science fiction radio plays, presented as part of "NPR Playhouse"
* "Earplay": innovative radio drama anthology (1971–1981)
* "Jazz Profiles" (host Nancy Wilson, NPR Jazz)
* "NPR World of Opera": (host Lisa Simeone)
* "The Thistle & Shamrock": Celtic music (host Fiona Ritchie)
* "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!": the (humorous) NPR News quiz (with Chicago Public Radio)

Programs distributed by NPR

News and public affairs

* "On Point": public affairs call-in (host Tom Ashbrook, WBUR)
* "The Diane Rehm Show": public affairs call-in (host Diane Rehm, WAMU)
* "Fresh Air": interviews (host Terry Gross, WHYY-FM) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the show is known for interviews with guests from literature, politics, journalism, science, music, film, and more.
* "Latino USA": Latino issues (host Maria Hinojosa, KUT)
* "Justice Talking": legal issues (host Margot Adler, University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center)
* "On the Media": media issues (hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield, WNYC)
* "American RadioWorks": provider of documentaries on Morning Edition and All Things Considered (host Ray Suarez, American Public Media)
* "America Abroad": international affairs programming with host Ray Suarez (distributed in the U.S. by PRI and internationally by NPR Worldwide)

Cultural programs

* "Car Talk": (hosts Tom Magliozzi and Ray Magliozzi), humorous car advice (WBUR)
* "JazzSet" (host Dee Dee Bridgewater, (WBGO)
* "Only A Game": sports issues (host Bill Littlefield, WBUR)
* "Piano Jazz" (host Marian McPartland, South Carolina Educational Radio)
* "Says You!": word game show (WGBH)
* "Sunday Baroque": Baroque music (host Suzanne Bona (WSHU-FM)
* "The Business": film industry news (host Claude Brodesser, KCRW)
*"World Cafe": (host David Dye, WXPN)
*"Engines of Our Ingenuity": (Host John Leinhardt, KUHF)

Public radio programs not affiliated with NPR

Individual NPR stations can broadcast programming from sources that have no formal affiliation with NPR. If these programs are distributed by another distributor, a public radio station must also affiliate with that network to take that network's programming.

* "Earth & Sky": A clear voice for science, nature and people in a complex world, with hosts Deborah Byrd and Joel Block
* "The Sound of Young America": Interviews and comedy, host Jesse Thorn, Santa Cruz, CA, and distributed by Public Radio International.
* "Selected Shorts": dramatic readings (host Isaiah Sheffer, Symphony Space, WNYC) and distributed by Public Radio International
* "Music from the Hearts of Space": "New Age" (host Stephen Hill), Sausalito, CA.
* "Here and Now": news, current affairs and culture (host Robin Young, WBUR), distributed by Public Radio International
* "Jazz from Lincoln Center" (Wynton Marsalis, host Ed Bradley, Murray Street Productions)
* "The Merrow Report": education issues (host John Merrow, Learning Matters Inc.)
* "Forum": Call-in panel discussion show, wide-ranging national and local topics (host Michael Krasny), KQED-FM.
* "Planetary Radio": space exploration radio show (host Mat Kaplan, The Planetary Society, Pasadena, CA), KUCI, WMUH, WSDL, KAWC.
* "Ask Dr. Science": nonsequitur science humor
* "The Radio Reader": Long-running program featuring readings of recently released books
* "WireTap": Comedy radio program with host Jonathan Goldstein of CBC Radio One and distributed by Public Radio International in the United States.

Many shows produced or distributed by Public Radio International—such as "This American Life" , "Living on Earth" and "Whad'Ya Know?"—are broadcast on public radio stations, but are not affiliated with NPR. PRI and NPR are separate production and distribution organizations with distinct missions, and each competes with the other for programming slots on public radio stations.

Most public radio stations are NPR member stations and affiliate stations of PRI "at the same time". The two organizations have different governance structures and missions and relationships with stations. Other popular shows, like "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Marketplace", are produced by American Public Media, the national programming unit of Minnesota Public Radio. These programs were distributed by Public Radio International prior to APM's founding. The Pacifica Radio Network also provides some programming to some NPR stations, notably the news program "Democracy Now!".Additionally, NPR member stations distribute a series of podcast-only programs, such as "On Gambling with Mike Pesca, Groove Salad", and "Youthcast", which are designed for younger audiences.


Allegations of conservative bias

In a December 2005 column run by NPR ombudsman and former Vice President Jeffrey Dvorkin denied allegations that NPR relies heavily on conservative think-tanks. [cite web | author=Jeffrey A. Dvorkin | title=NPR: Mysteries of the Organization, Part I | url= | publisher=NPR | date=14 December 2005 | accessdate=2007-10-03] In his column, Dvorkin listed the number of times NPR had cited experts from conservative and liberal think tanks in the previous year. However, according to MediaMatters, the numbers he reported indicate an overwhelmingly conservative bias. His own tally showed that 63% of NPR experts from think tanks came from from right-leaning organizations while only 37% came from left-leaning organizations. [cite news | author=Paul Waldman | title=NPR ombudsman denied tilt toward conservative think tanks | url= | work=Media Matters | date=15 December 2005 | accessdate=2007-10-03]

In 2003, some critics accused NPR of being supportive of the invasion of Iraq. [cite web|url=|title=Pro-war Propaganda Machine| work=ZNet | last=Arnove | first=Anthony | date=2003-03-19 | accessdate=2006-10-02] [cite web|url= | title=On NPR, Please Follow the Script | work=Dissident Voice | last=Jensen | first=Robert | date=2003-03-24 | accessdate=2006-10-02]

Allegations of liberal bias

While members of NPR's audience are more likely to be college educated than those who listen to other radio outlets, [cite web | url= | title=Profile 2007: National Public Radio Station Audiences | publisher=Mediamark |month=July | year=2007] Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a progressive media watchdog group, [cite web | url= | title=What's FAIR? | publisher=FAIR | accessdate=2007-06-12] disputes the claim of a liberal bias.cite web | url= | title=How Public is Public Radio? | publisher=Extra! | author=Steve Rendall; Daniel Butterworth | month=June | year=2004 | accessdate=2007-06-12] A study conducted by researchers at UCLA and the University of Missouri found that while NPR is "often cited by conservatives as an egregious example of a liberal news outlet", " [b] y our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet. Its score is approximately equal to those of "Time", "Newsweek" and "U.S. News & World Report" and its score is slightly more conservative than "The Washington Post"'s." According to the study, NPR is more liberal than the average U.S. voter and more conservative than the average American Democrat. [cite web | url= | title=Media Bias Is Real, Find UCLA Political Scientist | publisher=UCLA | author=Tim Groseclose | date=14 December 2005 | accessdate=2007-06-12]

Allegations of bias against Israel

NPR has been criticised for perceived bias in its coverage of Israel. [ [,374064,374064,1.html/full village voice > news > David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' by David Mamet ] ] [ [ The Ombudsman at National Public Radio ] ] [ ] [ "Blaming the Messenger", Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe, Feb. 9, 2003] ]

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a pro-Israel American media monitoring organization based in Boston, has been particularly critical of NPR. CAMERA director Andrea Levin has said that "We consider NPR to be the most seriously biased mainstream media outlet," a statement that the Boston Globe describes as having “clearly gotten under her target's skin.” NPR's then-Ombudsman, Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, said in a 2002 interview that CAMERA used selective citations and subjective definitions of what it considers pro-Palestinian bias in formulating its findings, and that he felt CAMERA's campaign was "a kind of McCarthyism, frankly, that bashes us and causes people to question our commitment to doing this story fairly. And it exacerbates the legitimate anxieties of many in the Jewish community about the survival of Israel." [Camille T. Taiara. [ All bias considered: Bizarre attack on NPR as "anti-Israel" shows how fringe groups are pushing Mideast debate.] "San Francisco Bay Guardian". May 28, 2003. See also Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, [ "NPR's Middle East 'Problem,'"] , "NPR: Archive" of Ombudsman Columns February 22, 2002, accessed July 21, 2006. [In June 2006 Dvorkin left the position of NPR Ombudsman to become the executive director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ), an organization founded by Bill Kovach as part of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ), effective July 1, 2006; see Dvorkin's last column as NPR Ombudsman, [ "Dear Listeners: Thanks and Farewell,"] and [ CEJ/CCJ press release] , June 19, 2006.] ]

Other criticisms

A 2004 FAIR study concluded that "NPR’s guestlist shows the radio service relies on the same elite and influential sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, and falls short of reflecting the diversity of the American public." [Steve Rendall & Daniel Butterworth, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, [ "How Public is Public Radio?"] , June 2004. Retrieved 11/11/2007.]

Noam Chomsky has criticized NPR as being biased toward ideological power and the "status quo." He alleges that the parameters of debate on a given topic are very consciously curtailed. He says that since the network maintains studios in ideological centers of opinion such as Washington, the network feels the necessity to carefully consider what kinds of dissenting opinion are acceptable. Thus, political pragmatism, perhaps induced by fear of offending public officials who control some of the NPR's funding (via CPB), often determines what views are suitable for broadcast, meaning that opinions critical of the structures of national-interest-based foreign policy, capitalism, and government bureaucracies (entailed by so-called "radical" or "activist" politics) usually do not make it to air.

Defenders' rebuttals

Supporters contend that NPR does its job well. A study conducted in 2003 by the polling firm Knowledge Networks and the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes showed that those who get their news and information from public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) are better informed than those whose information comes from other media outlets, including cable and broadcast TV networks and the print media. In particular, 80% of Fox News viewers held at least one of three common misperceptions about the Iraq War; only 23% of NPR listeners and PBS viewers were similarly misinformed. [cite news|url=|title=Pubcasting helps audience sort fact, fiction|last=Janssen|first=Mike|work=Current|date=2003-10-20|accessdate=2006-10-02] [cite web|url=|| title=Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War|date=2003-10-02|accessdate=2006-10-02]

ee also

*American Public Media
*Australian Broadcasting Corporation
*BBC Radio
*Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
*List of NPR personnel
*List of NPR stations
*Pacifica Radio
*Public Broadcasting Service
*Public Radio International
*Radio Research Consortium non-profit corporation which provides listener data to NPR stations.


External links

* [ National Public Radio website]
* [ alt.NPR] - podcast-only content

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