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April 12, 2009



How about the way they use "conversation" as if they and thier entire listening audience is in a sitting room having tea and discussing world issues in depth? - as opposed to npr being mere background noise for a shallow lifestyle that only appears deep because they now know how to correctly pronounce laTHino. npr makes me want to puke!


Mike's post nailed NPR perfectly.

I will add two things:

1) How did anyone with Ira Glass' voice get a job in RADIO?! It's like the Elephant Man getting a modeling contract.

2) In the period '96-'98 I was a DJ on a community pirate radio station. My motivation was mainly how awful the tiny sliver of the public radio spectrum was/is. We have these 50,000 watt behemoths broadcasting into far suburbs for upper class whites when we should have a ton of smaller stations serving more focused community needs, and letting the darn public broadcast.

Excellent post and comments!

Norman P. Reiner

I have complaints about nearly everything I encounter daily but NPR is so incredibly superior to just about anything I can find on a radio aside from touring southern states with my band and tuning in am stations that seem to be broadcasting from some lost era of classic country that Garth Brooks didn't know existed otherwise he might have a better idea before writing a tune. Wow that was one sentence! NPR is the only thing my radio experiences anymore. Thank you NPR!


You did mention Liane Hansen - she's the giggler with Will Shortz.


After three plus years livin overseas, another x-pat mentioned we could hear NPR here in Berlin "Isn't that Great?" ...I thought about it a minute.... and thought "wait.. I hate NPR!". Though I could never properly articulate why...

DJ Tesla Dvah

I probably shouldn't bite the hand that feeds me too much - since I actually freelance in public radio. And like you Mr Krinkle, I am a regular listener to both national and local content with a long-running love / hate relationship going. But I have to say, you nailed it on point #7 - Hockenberry really is the best interviewer you never want to listen to! In journalistic terms he is a good interviewer with an understanding of the medium - not always the case on public radio especially for people coming from print - but he drives a lot of listeners away with his personality. (For the record I find the most listenable Takeaway co-host to be periodic fill-in Catherine Lampert who I think is out of the loop these days.) And the Web 2.0 thing... actually similar to the problems with hip-hop and other contemporary music segments (though again I actually DO music segments once in a while)... but whenever public radio makes a conscious effort to go contemporary or "younger", things can get very cringey. As for #8 - one of the funniest things I ever heard on public radio was a WNYC announcer carefully enunciating the band name "Yo La Tengo" with perfect Caribbean Spanish intonation.

Bob DuCharme

There are two more really annoying things about NPR that I'd like to kill with one stone by either doing a "This I Believe" about how much I hate "Story Corps" or a "Story Corps" about how much I hate "This I Believe."


Re: #10

You DID mention Liane Hansen. She's the host of Weekend Edition Sunday. The one who talks with Will Shortz every week. The one who giggles.


Why is it the presenters of NPR, which is supposed to be for serious news junkies, make sure that they don't raise the blood pressure of anyone they interview or anyone who listens to the show. It's like radio for the embalmed.


I disagree with just about everything on your list except for one glaring exception: The Diane Rheim Show. I can't even make it past the promos for her show, her voice is so horrible! Luckily, I'm not the only one who feels that way, for they moved her show to 9pm in my neck of the woods soon after debuting it.

I also can't stand Car Talk. I'm obviously in the minority on that one, but those guys just irritate the crap out of me.


My personal dislikes are the interviews with obscure black jazz musicians who sound like they have about 10% of their liver capacity left.

To counter all the negative comments, I will also list my favorite NPR moment. Terri Gross was interviewing some Vietnam SOG member when she asked, "So, you must have seen a lot of violence while you were in Vietnam." His response, "Well, yeah Terri, it was a war." The tone in his voice was priceless.


Ah, but you DID mention Liane Hansen (albeit obliquely) when you called out the "woman announcer who giggles like an idiot at everything" Will Shortz says. And don't get me started about Dan Schorr; the man has not a single consonant in his mouth.Has he had a stroke? It's high time they hire someone else to read his essays, including the ones into which he injects his role in the news stories he covered in the '60s.


the sound of people chewing and moaning and then talking with their mouths full during the food segments makes me want to die. Or possibly kill.


I dunno. Sounds like all the comments on here have been induced by an extra large swig of Hatorade. I sure don't think NPR is 'balanced' in the most pure sense of the word, but I see public radio as a 'taking the good with the bad' proposition. I think public radio is generally good for America and I still like 'Prairie Home Companion.' Fuck, it's an alternative to your prime time CSI or whatever the shit tabloid reality show entertainment. Then again, maybe the pompous attitude is really turning off most of America from seeking out substantive entertainment. I'm conflicted.


re: The Takeaway. And another thing ... there's that little conundrum with the whole NYT/Amazon linking.


You should have mentioned Danial Schorr.

Terry Gross and her leading, excessively complex questions should have been in there too.

And aside from the perception that most of their announcers are on Prozac or something stronger to keep them calm and monotonous, NPR is great.


I recently divorced NPR for good - WBEZ in Chicago stinks so bad I can't tolerate it at all anymore. They kicked Dick Buckley off the air - poor old Dick Buckley, living jazz encyclopedia, wife has late stage Alzheimer's, his show loved by every single person in Chicago because myopic cocksucker station manager Torey Malatea wants to make every show exactly like "This American Life"

I don't know why I hung on for so long - I admit I was a little hooked on "This American Life" - though I hated that smarmy jerkoff who hosts the show and their stupid cutesie cult-of-personality gimmicks that would go part and parcel with each hour, I kind of liked the stories sometimes. The contributors were really mostly okay. But finally the show producers got on my last nerve, and I wrote an extended rant about it. I'm never tuning in again. Chicago is lucky in that it has two very good college stations affiliated with Northwestern University and Loyola College of Chicago (WLUW and WNUR).

Ken, NEVER let Malatea within 500 feet of your transmitter. That guy's like a walking electromagnetic pulse. Get a restraining order if you have to.

Azrael Brown

You say you didn't mention Liane Hansen -- but I think she's the one who giggles at Will Shortz. Anyhow, I was a contestant on "Wait Wait", and I *do* have Carl Kassel's voice on my answering machine. 'nuff said. There's a new NPR show on now called "The Story", which is like Fresh Air but with a far less charismatic host and less ability to tell a story than TAL; it's almost painful to listen to most times.


Everything the Will Shortz segment sucks but now they have a new tired joke about having celebrity readers to read out the list of 'prizes' they send out.
I do listen to the NPR news generally, what do we have that's any better?


"Politically Correct Pronunciation" Yes, exactly! Yet they freely jump between "Washington" and "Washington D.C." during the same commentary. Those of us in Seattle get really confused!

You would think NPR with it's desire to be correct on everything wouldn't freely mesh up the two geographically opposite places, but oh well.


Folks, there are people who don't watch TV. There are even more people who don't listen to NPR. I, for example read foreign language newspapers for the lowdown on Ross and Rachel.

Mark Sutton

If you think NPR is liberal, you are nuts. They gave the entire Bush administration a free pass, and because they are now funded by right wing corporations, there are certain people they cannot offend.

Want liberal talk radio? Check out Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller, and any vestiges of Air America you can find. They have been running stories 2 to 3 months ahead of the mainstream media and NPR for years.

Have you heard anything about Don Seigelman? Former democratic governor, thrown in jail by Republicans, election stolen from him. Put in solitary confinement for absolutely nothing. Liberal radio, like Thom Hartmann, harps on this. NPR? Hardly a peep. Big difference.

Mike in MO

Two words: Diane Rheim. How did her voice ever enable her to be a radio commentator??? I listen to NPR in St. Louis a couple times a week - unless its her show. Just hearing her voice makes me want to drag my fingernails down a chalkboard - or drive off a cliff.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;... U.S. Constitution

The broadcast media, when defending its 1st Amendment rights, likes to stile itself "the electronic press." If that's what they are - and, mind you, I agree with that - then what is the friggin' government doing involved with it?! Like WFMU, not all "public" radio or TV outlets are government-owned, but many of the licensees are state universities, state broadcasting boards, municipalities and even government school districts. The Corporation For Public Broadcasting is the gubmint, and both PBS and NPR are arguably so entangled with CPB that they are, essentially, state actors, too.

The Founders wouldn't have put up with as many government-owned newspapers as we have government-owned broadcasting outlets, I'm thinking.

If you're an ACLU-type 1st Amendment absolutist, whadya think about Garrison Keillor singing hymns over state-owned and/or state-subsidized frequencies?


David Taylor

For some reason, NPR seems to have a deep and unquenchable thirst for anything/anyone dealing with "The Wire". I've never seen such fawning over a TV show in my life. I swear, they still manage to find someway to bring it up even though the show is finally off the air. (I never watched the show but heard so much about it that it had the opposite effect on me- I will avoid it.

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