Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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February 2007
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Why XMPR drives me bonkers…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 7:34 am

Ok, kids, before getting into today’s rant, let’s recap a bit. I’ve been a public radio listener for my entire adult life, although once pubrad stations started streaming, I stopped supporting my geographically-closest pubrad station (they do classical, I want news) and started listening to stations all across the country, particularly west-coast stations every morning to hear Morning Edition repeated until noon eastern. Especially when Annie was sick and Katie was little, I needed those multiple repeats to actually hear the entire thing. Then certain NPR pinstripes ticked me off by canning Bob Edwards from Morning Edition and went out of their way to infuriate me by telling me they knew what I wanted to hear in the morning more than I did, and oh yeah, “shut up and pay us to do your thinking for you since you’re clearly too stupid to do anything other than write a check,” that I vowed never again to support National Public Radio - there are plenty of other ways to support public radio without giving those weasels a nickel. So far, I have been able to support public radio and not support NPR, unless you count the small percentage NPR managed to cut itself in for when it convinced WBUR in Boston to drop The Connection, bring the shrill On Point to daytime, and take over co-production credits - say what you will, these guys are shrewd at consolidating power if uncaring about the listener. (How have I kept my money out of the hands of NPR? If you’re interested, ask in the comments and I’ll tell you.)

Any-who-how, XM Satellite Radio’s XMPR (Channel 133) has become “my” public radio station - I have often said in this space that I believe a commercial public radio station, one that profits from quality programming, was not only possible but a necessary competition to the staid terrestrial public radio system, which has for too long allowed the NPR tail to wag it. And just like any other public radio listener, I feel an investment in “my” station and desperately want it to succeed and thrive, as if I “own” part of it. (Hey, I pay better than $20/month for XM, and listen mostly to XMPR, so I “support” the station to the same level most folks support a terrestrial public radio station.) So when they continually shoot themselves in the foot (or even higher) I can’t just sit back and say nothing, hence this open letter to them, and you dear reader.

One thing I have griped about in this space repeatedly is the lack of promotion. The previous program director of XMPR had some interesting ideas, many of which were kinda cool, and always hidden under a bushel, and it seems the new PD is heading in the same direction. I keep hearing Arthur Dent sarcastically say, “Ever thought of going into advertising?”

Case in point: The Kalb Report, an occasional series from The George Washington University, Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, and The National Press Club. Famed journalist Marvin Kalb moderates discussions about some of the most interesting media-centric topics, and I quickly learned to love the things back in 2004-2005 when they were broadcast live on XMPR…of course, they were almost never promoted ahead of time, so it was something of a hit-or-miss thing to actually hear them - more than once, I found out after-the-fact they had been on, and had to scramble to find repeat slots.

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