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NPR & The Modern Media Distribution 272

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the best-content-isn't-always-the-most-expensive dept.
Isao writes "The U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) network is feeling the pinch between giving their content away for free on the radio and on the internet as podcasts. The dilemma is that some of their audience is turning from the radio to podcasts, not for flexibility, but to either access locally unavailable content or avoid fundraising marathons (NPR is partially funded by listener donations). This has begun to skew their financial model. What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever."
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NPR & The Modern Media Distribution

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:53AM (#15065395) Journal
    I grew up in Minnesota where the land is flat and it would take me three and half hours to drive between my parent's house and the University of Minnesota. My car was a complete junker and therefore wasn't worth the two hundred or so dollars it would take to equip it with a CD player. So instead, I listened to the many programs that NPR and MPR had to offer.

    Two of my absolute favorites were This American Life [thislife.org] and Car Talk [cartalk.com]. Oftentimes, I would find myself in a parking lot listening to Ira Glass [wikipedia.org] as the episode he was doing had me hooked and I couldn't even get out of my car to buy groceries.

    My senior year of college found me looking up TAL episodes online and using Total Recorder [highcriteria.com] to compress the Real Audio feeds directly to MP3. Was I stealing from TAL? I didn't really feel like it, I was a poor college student and I had heard the program on the radio--I just wanted it on my computer to listen to it time after time.

    I'll never forget the time I heard the two part series of Come Back to Afghanistan [thislife.org] and it's sequel [thislife.org]. What really happened and is happening in Afghanistan never hit home until I heard it through the voice of a young teenager named Hyder Akbar.

    I have made a few contributions to NPR since I've graduated but I can see where they'd be strapped financially. I think NPR could take advantage of the modern media formats that all of us seek. I have purchased Car Talk CDs and I'd purchase TAL CDs too. Even more importantly, I'd be more than willing to pay a dollar through iTunes or Napster or whatever service you choose to have a random episode of TAL or Car Talk on my MP3 player. They seem to have the audio book version of Poultry Slam but not every episode, correct me if I'm wrong but I don't have any kind of service to check on hand.
    • "Was I stealing from TAL? I didn't really feel like it, I was a poor college student and I had heard the program on the radio -- I just wanted it on my computer to listen to it time after time. "

      Why is it that some people feel that considering themselves to be a "poor college student" is a justification to violate copyrights? "Being poor" is not a justification for violating copyrights. The copyright holder SELLS CDs so that you can "listen to it time after time".
    • Audible.com allows users to purchase much of the NPR content. TAL in particular is available for purchase. iTunes also has lots of NPR stuff avaialable for purchase. Those models help to fund NPR more than listening to the stream online does. The online stream, aside from a single promo at the beginning (usually for Acura in my exerience) is nothing more than a financial drain because it consume bandwidth on a per user basis. Broadcasts cost the same amount if they have 1 listener or 10,000 listeners.
    • Was I stealing from TAL?

      Do you pay taxes?

      Then you've already paid for it.

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:53AM (#15065402) Homepage
    Couldn't one simply add the marathon-style begging for financial assistance to the start of each podcast? Many people listen to podcasts on the go (jogging, for example) where they aren't about to manually fast-forward. Some simply won't fast-forward out of laziness. Surely that sort of advertising, as long as it is short and to the point, could be effective.
    • Someone will simply offer funding-free versions of the podcasts on the internet and poeple will flock to these versions. For these people, ANY advertising is far too much.
      • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:19AM (#15065577) Homepage

        Someone will simply offer funding-free versions of the podcasts on the internet and poeple will flock to these versions. For these people, ANY advertising is far too much.

        But are there enough freeloaders out there to threaten profitability? I'm not sure. If you have Firefox, you can block pretty much all advertising with a combination of Flashblock [mozdev.org], Adblock [mozdev.org], and Adblock Filterset.G [mozilla.org]. Firefox is a cinch to download, and these extensions take little effort to find and install (I've just linked to them). Yet, very few people run these. I think that the average man puts up with advertising because he doesn't bother to seek alternatives.

        • But are there enough freeloaders out there to threaten profitability?

          I think that there clearly are, especially when you read the article. They talk about how on average only 8% of listeners are members of their local NPR stations. I mean think about that, that is huge.

          Here in Austin, the local station touts around 200,000 listeners. They also talk about how they need around $800,000 semi-annually to maintain operating costs. That would come up to $4 a listener. Clearly they don't get that, because t

    • by massysett (910130) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:17AM (#15065556) Homepage
      They already have commercials before the podcasts. "Support for NPR podcasts comes from Acura." Adding a short plug for money isn't much of a stretch.

      The beg-a-thons are so irritating that I don't listen to public radio while they're going on. I once emailed my local station and suggested that they have a separate Internet feed for people who have given money. That would be the reward for donating: a beg-a-thon free version.

      • I will admit that pledge drives are annoying and I would prefer not to listen to them (and I am a member). However I do have to point out that in most radio markets they only happen 3-4 times per year (at fairly predictable times) and last no more than a week.

        I personally find it isn't that hard to listen to other things for those 3 weeks and then enjoy 49 weeks of pledge drive free content the rest of the year.
      • by mutterc (828335)
        Our local station [wunc.org] seems to realize the annoyance factor of the pledge drives, and found a way to make it work for them:

        Occasionally, they let listeners know that, for every $75K raised before the spring pledge drive, they'll shorten the spring pledge drive by a day.

    • The problem with this idea is that the fundraising marathons are conducted by member stations. The member stations pay NPR for the rights to air their shows. Shows like Morning Edition are broadcast on hundreds of stations. NPR couldn't be reasonably expected to create hundreds of different podcast downloads, each with a donation plea for a different station.

      NPR does accept donations directly, but as far as I know a large chunk of their revenue comes from member stations who pay for access to the shows.
    • It may be necessary to also set some sort of mechanism to funnel at least part of the money gotten from poscast begging to the local NPR stations to make up for lost local station revenue. This mechanism could become a point of contention between the stations and between the stations and NPR; the contention could become a story that would be covered very well on NPR News.
  • Science Teacher (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deltaspectre (796409) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:54AM (#15065407)
    To be honest, my sciences teacher (Yes, that's right, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Principles of Tech teacher :P ) is an absolute NPR junkie. I would say the reason he uses the podcasts and other materials available on the website is that it's easier to present to the students than telling them to listen to something in advance on a Friday of all days! (I've recently started listening to NPR on the radio on the way to and from school and I can see why people like it, but it's too bad its only a 10 minute drive.)
    • I started listening to NPR because my business law professor was so into it that every week our quiz had a bonus question from whatever was being broadcast on NPR during her drive to campus. The questions were not related to the topics of the class, she just really wanted us to listen to NPR. It worked too, I kept listening to it even after the semester ended.
  • business models (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dubloe7 (966214)
    at least they're admitting that their business model is having issues transferring into the "podcast age" of media distribution. most businesses operate along the lines of "its only a fad", or "we have to load our media up with so much drm it will turn an ipod into a bomb".
  • Putting a very short advertisement at the beginning of the Podcast is an obvious solution to this problem. NPR already as 'brought to you by' segments between their shows anyway, so what is the difference? This would help pay for their costs and 5 seconds is not so long that it would be annoying, so everybody wins.

    P.S. Frank DeFord had a great segment about A-Rod today. [npr.org]
    • Why is this scored as redundant? I think this person's on to something. The key is to have advertising personalized to the person downloading the podcast. If you know their geographic location, you can identify an NPR affiliate and give specific ads.

      True, everyone hates advertising, but you can always skip over it in a podcast.
      • Why is this scored as redundant? I think this person's on to something.

        I think it was marked redundant because I didnt read CRCulver's post above mine, which said put the marathon at the beginning of each podcast. I think that a shorter commercial would be better, we'll just have to wait and see what NPR decides to do.
        Thanks for your support though. I will happily take any donations you would like to make, and will send you a mug and a t-shirt if you give me at least $120 (which you can easily spread
    • NPR's podcasts are underwritten. Listen to one.
    • Putting a very short advertisement at the beginning of the Podcast is an obvious solution to this problem.

      Additional points on this:

      1. These ads would not have to pretend not to be ads, because they would not be airing on NCE-licenced stations

      2. There would be a positive, specific number of listeners that NPR would be able to report back to the advertisers.... no guessing, estimating or extrapolating involved.

  • by Peter_Pork (627313) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:01AM (#15065453)
    The old business model is also far worse, so radios should really welcome the new era. Adding coverage used to require a huge investment in equipment. Content can now be distributed to the entire world in the form of podcasts and streams, which are much easier to scale, making the number of potential listeners and therefore revenue sources much much larger. Good content can now pay off far more handsomely. For example, my favorite station [classicalstation.org] is outside my state, and it would have gone through very hard times without out-of-state contributions.
  • by rakkasan (444517)
    NPR and its local station here in MN MPR do advertise in a fashion. They never fail to announce who's supporting the broadcast. Its usually quick, non abnoxious, and lets the the listener know who's paying the bill. I always try to buy products from these companies. To me, that's the best way to support public radio.
    • They never fail to announce who's supporting the broadcast. Its usually quick, non abnoxious, and lets the the listener know who's paying the bill.

      Mentioning corporate sponsors is like the old story about letting a camel sticking his nose into your tent. The mentions get bigger and bigger until the public television channel or radio station you're watching makes a slow metamorphosis into just another channel. It's already happened with PBS. The older posters here can remember a time when a company mentio

  • charge for it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonathanduty (541508) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:08AM (#15065504) Homepage
    I've really enjoyed NPR for a long time on the radio and I've really started to use their podcasting feature. I can't speak for others but I would be willing to pay a flat yearly rate, around the amount of a minimum donation, to have access to that feature. I wouldn't blame them for charging for that service. The only issue I could see arising is that the podcasts are hosted by the national NPR, but people usually donate to their local NPR stations. I would think they would have to figure out how to trickle the money made from podcasting to the local stations.
    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TBone (5692) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:42AM (#15066378) Homepage

      (Why is it I never have mod points when I need them :) )

      This is the obvious answer. In the old distribution model, local stations held membership drives to raise funds, which were used to "purchase" distribution rights to the national shows, and pay the staff for the local shows. In the new distribution model, the national "station" would collect subscription fees, which are used to pay for distribution rights of the national shows, and a portion would/could (maybe opt-in your local PubRadio station) be diverted to the local station to pay the staff for local shows.

      Most PBS stations are already set up to do 12-part (monthly) draft payments for donations, as well as one-time collections, so set the membership fee to, I dunno, $5 per month or $50 for the year. Change the Podcast availability to such that you need to have an account to be able to download. Free/non-donating accounts can only download 2 'casts a week, donating accounts get unlimited access.

      I think that most people who listen to NPR feel that they get more than $5 worth of information out of it a month, especially if they listen to more than one show...hell, I'd probably pay $5 a month just for "Prairie Home Companion", let alone "Car Talk", "Marketplace", "All Things Considered", and "Talk of the Nation", just to name a few off the top of my head that I listen to regularly on the radio.

  • by flipper65 (794710) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:09AM (#15065511) Homepage
    Yes, it is a new era, yes we need to face these challenges. Since NPR is our radio station, they owe more to the people than they do to their affiliates. If you look at their 2003 Annual Report [npr.org] you can see that they derive less than 3% of their annual revenue from members and that their internet initiatives account for 5% of their annual expenses. I say it's time for a paradigm shift in radio and let's see public radio lead that charge. Is there a chance that the affiliates will go under? Absolutely. Are we required to support those affiliates even as the world changes around them? No. Sure, my grandmother may not be able to listen to Prairie Home Companion until I come over and set her up with the podcast, but she is in the minority at this point in my opinion and that minority is getting smaller by attrition every year.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with that logic is that, with the exception of Morning Edition and ATC, it's the affiliates that produce the shows. If the affiliates go under, it's goodbye This American Life, goodbye Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and goodbye all the other great shows that are produced by affiliate stations and distributed through NPR/PRI/APM. If the St. Paul affiliate goes under, your grandmother won't be able to listen to Prairie Home Companion in any medium.
      • I would agree with you if you were unable to decouple content production from distribution.

        NPR will continue to purchase this excellent content from it's producers and affiliates that can offer this type of local programming will still be able to attract listeners whether it be via airwaves, podcast or technology X. It's the affiliates that do nothing but redistribute the content created by others that would be doomed.

    • I say it's time for a paradigm shift in radio and let's see public radio lead that charge.

      I think a dynamic new synergy will need to be developed by thinking outside the box in order to take a proactive approach to redefining the core competencies of the company's mission in order to accomplish this "paradigm shift" and leverage these "internet initiatives" in this "new era".

      I'll have those TPS reports for you in a minute, Mr. PHB.
  • by dheltzel (558802) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:12AM (#15065533)
    I watch public television and listen to NPR, but I turn it off whenever they start with their "Beg-athons". I know they get government funding, plus at least the television broadcasts are now rife with commercials. The commercials are not as bad as the commercial media yet, but then the commercial media need to turn a profit and don't get government money (in fact they pay taxes, which I doubt the public versions do).

    The Beg-athons must be terribly ineffective or else the organization is very inefficent with their funding. Either way, I'll never contribute money directly (I already do though, via taxes and watching the commercials).

    • Just watching the commercials doesn't contribute anything, it's patronising the advertised sponsors which give them a return on their ad investment and make it profitable for them to pay NPR for ad time.
    • I already do though, via taxes and watching the commercials

      As has been pointed out here [slashdot.org] already NPR receives very little gov't funding. And what they do receive is through competitive grants that they must work for, competing with other orginizations going after the same funding.

      And watching the commercials doesn't exactly qualify as support. How many do you skip while you make a sandwich or use the bathroom? How many do you react to and buy products based on seeing them? Do you tell the vendor that you bou
  • by SWroclawski (95770) <serge&wroclawski,org> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:17AM (#15065562) Homepage
    I'd happily pay $1 or $2 per show for some NPR shows. This American Life is certainly worth that and more...

    I just can't use Audible's DRM nonesense. iTunes aparently has the same issue (I've never used it).

    The big difference with the podcasts for me is they're in a format I can use.

    • I'd say it IS the cost - Audible is expensive. It's hard to justify paying so much in advance for a show that you could hear for free. At least Car Talk [cartalk.com] is available for free for the first week via their website, then by Audible [audible.com] from there.

      Which brings up an interesting point - there is no standard model for NPR shows. Some of the local stations just publish directly in mp3 (kuow.org [kuow.org]), other NPR shows are just on their website [npr.org], and others (like previously mentioned) show up on Audible.

      I would like
      • I would like to see them offer all shows for free in mp3 off their website for a limited time period, then as a paid download after a week or two.

        I dislike the "lock up the archives" business model. It encourages people to download and horde stuff before it disappears, makes links to the content in question disappear, or at least blocked behind a coin-lock, and generally breaks the web.

        I much prefer the "archives over X weeks old are free, but you have to pay for current content" system, where impatien

  • Actually... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:19AM (#15065580) Homepage
    What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever

    What's different is they're not suing their competition for patent infringement or their listeners for downloading content.

    That makes them smarter than Netflix and RIAA. Admittedly a pretty low standard to meet on the later.

    • What's different is they're not suing their competition for patent infringement or their listeners for downloading content.

      No, rather they spend all their time going to Congress for more funding.

  • What is this? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lbmouse (473316)
    "What's different about NPR's response is that they're not pretending that their old business model will work forever."

    A content provider in this day & age not trying to screw their end customer? That's inconceivable!

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:23AM (#15065602)
    There was a time when the physical infrastructure (i.e. local radio transmitters) of affiliates was a NECESSITY. Today, with satellite and the internet, they are more of a luxury. All they have to offer is local content, and many of them have gotten so lazy and lax over the years that they don't offer much, if any, of that.

    The best NPR (and TV network, for that matter) affiliates offer great local content. They will survive and deserve donations from everyone who downloads their show (why should a person give to their local affiliate when they show they're listening to is produced by another affiliate?).

    The worst NPR and local TV affiliates have sat on their asses for years, resting on their local transmitters, and produced nothing original of their own. They will die. And they deserve to.

    -Eric

    • (why should a person give to their local affiliate when they show they're listening to is produced by another affiliate?).

      Because your affilate pays the producing affilate hundreds of dollars per episode for the right to air that show! Morning Edition, according to the pledge-a-thons costs my local npr station $600/hr to broadcast.. On top of thoose costs, radio towers don't power themselves, microphones aren't free and you gotta heat the place...

      Quality radio costs money and its worth every penny.

    • Traditional radio is needed.

      I can't get an internet feed in my car. I have a radio. I'm not paying $XX/month for a satellite.

      I like my local station, http://www.wumb.org./ [www.wumb.org] I listen mostly in my car but occasionally on the internet feed at work or the Tivo at home via Shoutcast (the air signal doesn't work in the house too well).

      Yes, I am a member. If you like folk music, it's the only station in the country doing folk 24hrs a day.
  • Here in Pittsburgh, we only get NPR for six hours a day -- 6:AM-9:AM, and then again from 4:PM-7:PM. At all other times, the station plays moldy vibrating-old-man jazz (no, not even some good stuff). I like to listen to Marketplace, on at 6:30 PM. There's lots of other programs I wouldn't have heard, unless they were available from the web -- 'cause our NPR station is only NPR for a quarter of the day. I find myself listening to WRCT from CMU more often, in spite of the constant noise that is their programm
  • Unnecessary Locals? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mjh (57755) <mark@ho r n clan.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:43AM (#15065768) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    Marszalek says the NPR ad-sharing arrangement described by Thomas largely benefits stations that produce content of interest to folks beyond their localities, and only a few of the largest stations do that.

    "It is the local affiliates who popularize these programs at their expense, and then the producers are going to reap the benefit on podcasts," he says. "All of the new delivery systems are great for the stations that produce the content. It's not good for the local affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They're really, really reliant on programs from elsewhere to draw listeners and members."

    This suggests to me that the local stations are no longer adding any value to the situation. If they can't generate enough listeners for their local content, then their primary purpose is as a distribution mechanism for the national content. But the podcasts are turning out to be a more efficient mechanism for that distribution. Which means that the local stations aren't necessary.

    I see a couple of options for the local stations all based on this assumption: if an entity is adding cost to the supply chain without adding value, that entity can and should be removed. In this case, the local station is no longer providing a valuable delivery of national content, so here are the options that I think the locals have:

    1. Shut down altogether.
    2. Stop broadcasting the national content and broadcast only local content.
    3. Stop broadcasting all content, but podcast local content.

    Is this wrong? If so, wouldn't it invalidate the oft use argument around here that the RIAA [riaa.com] should be removed because they're also no longer providing value?

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:48AM (#15065835) Homepage
    I gave regularly to my local NPR/PBS stations for over fifteen years. They were listener-supported then and I was happy to support them. Then someone, named Ives IIRC, announced that they were "considering" running short commercials, which some other stations were "experimenting" with. I wrote to him and said that if they did, I would stop donating. They did. So I did.

    I'll pay for commercial-free programming. I'll tolerate commercials on free programming. But I am damned if I'll voluntarily pay for programming with commercials in it.

    Although NPR believes that there is some meaningful distinction between their sponsorship announcements and just-plain-old advertising, it still makes them beholden to their corporate sponsors. And the effects have been noticeable. (On TV, first they had brief little announcements. Then the announcements started to twinkle and sparkle and dance. Then they started to include corporate slogans. Then suddenly a lot of homeowner and "how-to" shows started to spring up, and the camera suddenly and for no apparent reason started zooming in on cans of paint and other products that just happened to have their labels turned toward us--that just happened to be manufactured by the companies named as having so generously given their support).

    Other weird stuff started to happen, too, like one FM station dropping all their classical music programs in favor of news and talk--and the other FM station dropping their drive-time classical music programming in order to broadcast the identical news programming at the same time as the other station.

    I am sure I am not the only listener who feels that "public" broadcasters cannot serve two masters. If they are going to serve the public, well and good, and I'll be glad to pay my share. On the other hand, if they are going to take money from Babson Executive Education, Top-Ranked by the Financial Times, Enrolling Now for its Executive Managing Knowledge Program, on the web at Babson Dot Eee Dee You, and Archer Daniels Midland, Supermarket-of-the-World--and Keane, Outsourcing Your Job to India, We Get IT Done--and broadcast their slogans--that is all well and good, but that is a different choice and they do not need my money.
    • I'll pay for commercial-free programming. I'll tolerate commercials on free programming. But I am damned if I'll voluntarily pay for programming with commercials in it.

      If you also refuse to pay for cable/dish television, then I applaud you, sir, for sticking by your principles. Most NPR stations use the advertising euphemism of "underwriting". At least in WI, the underwriting spots consist of brief 5-second bits like, "Support for this program has been provided by Foo Corporation, [slogan]Foo for you,

      • For what it's worth, I don't subscribe to cable or dish television.

        And that is partly because having to pay for content with commercials did tick me off when when I had cable. But don't take your hat off to me, because I'd be lying if I said that's the only reason, or even the main reason.

        And, yeah, I do go to movie theatres. I get hot under the collar when they run commercials, but I still go. To tell the truth I only object to the motion-picture or video commercials that have sound. The silent slide-shows
    • I used to support NPR quite a bit. We set up our bill-pay to donate something every month. I no longer do, and I've never listened to a PodCast. NPR is acting just like the RIAA, blaming free downloads for their lack of sales. The problem is the content, not the free downloads.

      Yes, some NPR content is still great, but they've succumbed to two deadly temptations:
      • easy money from corporations in exchange for less agressive reporting
      • inside-the-beltway cozying-up-to-those-in-power thinking for their Washington
  • I like NPR, but for every worthwhile segment there are ten segments on things like the Wisconsin Cheese industry, or the effect of jazz music on the modern housewife, or some truly terrible music that's only included because it's "interesting."

    Listening to NPR on the radio is like browsing slashdot on 0. Sure some of the things are very insightful, but the vast majority are not. It's a very basic signal-to-noise issue. Fortunately, with podcasting, you can skip through the riff-raff, with the added bene

  • sponsorships (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deanj (519759) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:57AM (#15065914)
    From the article:

    "She says she's seen few new donations from out-of-market listeners but that the expanded audience helps her sell larger underwriter sponsorships."

    Selling larger underwriter sponsorships is the key here. If people are switching off during pledge drives, or fast-forwarding through them on MP3 players, they'll end up dying a slow death. I don't know about your local NPR station, but ours always seems to be on the ragged edge of dropping a lot of programming, at least to hear them tell the story. They might be able to keep up with a few CD sales here and there, and perhaps people will pay a buck or two to listen via legal dowloads, at least for a short time.

    But as we've already seen, if people can download it for free, they'll do it instead of buying those CDs. People might not like the idea of sponsorships, but it's what is going to keep them on the air.
  • by mstansberry (872862) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:01AM (#15065952)
    I didn't notice it in the main posts, but McDonald's Corp.'s founder's wife Joan Kroc left NPR $200 million back in 2003. AND NPR has practically shifted to an all-sponsorship model. You can't hear more than 10 minutes of radio during drive-time without hearing a thinly veiled ad. But it's the best thing going. Here's a NYTIMES article that explains what NPR's management is going through right now http://www.freepress.net/news/14516/ [freepress.net] From this article, it looks like NPR is doing pretty well for itself.
  • I really should make a pledge to support NPR because of shows like "This American Life".

    Every once in a while I scan over some AM radio stations and come across Limbaugh or some other wack-job... All I can say is that I am very very glad to be able to listen to Ira Glass rather than some ham-fisted fathead like Limbaugh.

  • The should just charge for the online downloads. That should make up the difference. They already basically sell CD's to raise funds (free with a donation), what's the difference?
  • Many shows on NPR are for sale on Audible.com at $3.00. It is hard to imagine they are going to start giving away for free something they sell.

    "Fresh Air" is a popular NPR show that is now for sale on iTunes for $2.95 each. These prices are quite high in my opinion, considering that they can be recorded off the radio for free with a program like Audio Hijack.

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