· David Isay’s acceptance of the Murrow Award was a true celebration of what public radio does best. Instead of giving a speech, he delivered a driveway moment. Listen to the audio on the PRPD web site when it becomes available.
· Public Insight Journalism (PIJ), in my opinion, is by far the best use of new technology in public radio. While everyone else is talking about delivery platforms or fundraising, PIJ is creating new content that embodies public radio’s Core Values. It’s like adding thousands of people, their knowledge, and their ideas to the daily editorial meeting.
· The vast majority of people who make public radio are white and getting older. This is especially true of public radio’s leadership. When was the last time NPR, PRI, APM, or CPB hired an African American or Hispanic in a senior executive position that directly touches programming?
· George Bailey of Walrus Research showed some interesting graphs where listener response to public radio programming turns sharply negative when underwriting credits come on the air. It seems to verify NPR’s underwriting research that the “halo effect” for underwriters is eroding, at least a little.
· NPR’s research consultant Paul Jacobs was truly surprised that listeners offered unsolicited and strong negative reaction to pledge drives during the underwriting research. As I told him, I don’t see anything new here. Listeners have been doing that in focus groups for decades. But it’s a good thing if NPR responds by increasing its efforts to help stations raise more money off air and improve the efficiency and sound of on-air drives.
· There is one catch. NPR shouldn’t let its renewed interest in pledge drive annoyance distract it from fixing its own underwriting problems.
There’s more to say about the negative effects of on-air fundraising and underwriting in a future blog. But as I write this I hear NPR’s Frank Tavares reminding me that I could have had a V-8… and it’s making me thirsty.
Before I go, I will echo a comment by Paul Jacobs, who said public radio is well positioned to grow and provide even greater public service in the future. I would add that all you have to do is listen to David Isay to know it is true.