There are certainly many good things about NPR (Radio Lab, On The Media) and our local NPR station here (WNYC) has all sorts of good offerings, and an outstanding web presence. But for Easter Sunday, I prefer to focus on the negative. Here then, ten things that drive me crazy about the network offerings from NPR/PRI.
1) Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Forget "liberal bias." Shortz's Sunday segments on Weekend Edition are the single worst thing on the radio today. If Republicans ever stumble onto these sonic abominations, they'll finally be able to overcome the powerful Big Bird Lobby and cut funding to CPB like they've been dreaming about.
2) Those irksome solo bassoon bumpers between segments on All Things Considered. Classical academic whimsy like this oughta be illegal.
3) Ordinary person commentaries. Unfogged's Timothy Burke put it best:
4) Any NPR story about hip hop. Maybe it's the perfectly enunciated rap terms, or maybe it's leads like this: "Hip-hop, maybe more than any other kind of music, is a melding of genres. Soul, funk, R&B, all laid over a hard beat and a rhyming verse."
5) Matching Gift Periods: A more dishonest (albeit legal) fundraising scam was never devised. How often does it happen that the needed total for a fundraising match period is not met, and the original match is then withdrawn? Try: never.
6) Recipe Segments. In all fairness, Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Recipe was really heartwarming the first 25 Thanksgivings I heard it.
7) The Takeaway. This is what happens when you take a great interviewer with an unappealing personality (John Hockenberry), team him up with a producer who can't rein him in, and give them both millions of dollars and instruct them to get all "Web 2.0."
8) Politically Correct Pronunciation. I'm still trying to get a handle on the rules here. Latin and Spanish words have to be pronounced with a Spanish accent. This is not necessary, however, for French or other European languages.
9) End of Module Musical Segments. Perhaps the only thing worse than NPR's stories about hip hop and rap are the musical stories that aren't about hip hop and rap, namely the majority of the end-of-30-minute module stories on ATC about up and coming folk rock and alt rock acts.
10) Notice how I didn't mention Ira Glass, Diane Rheim, Daniel Schorr or Liane Hansen?