Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

17 comments:

bluetaco said...

Thanks for the alternatives-to-NPR suggestions. As it happens, there are quite a few public stations in the Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle area that either carry a few Pacifica or PRI programs (along with a whole lotta NPR sludge) or that are 100% NPR-free-such as KBCS-- the station of Bellevue Community College, or KAOS from Evergreen State. BTW, my real objections are with ME and ATC. Some other NPR programs--such as Diane Rehm's--are worthwhile. So until KPLU cuts back from its current godawful 9 HOURS of NPR news per day (and brings its jazz offerings into the 21st century, but that's another issue), I'm going with KBCS. For those outside the Pacific Northwest, sorry about all this local detail.

BIG!PINK!FUZZY!BUNNY! said...

That's cool with me. I've gravitated to WRTI Philadelphia - part of Temple U's organizational structure. Just the NPR headlines (with no bubbleheaded fluff), classical in the daytime, jazz in the night.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

PS: I am left to wonder if any representatives of "the object of our affections" ever drop in to see what is commented about them, transparent and unexpurgated...

If so, allow me to put on my sunniest-in-the-whole-wide-world big-pink-fuzzy-bunny-sing-songy voice and say "hiiiiiiiiiiiii, folks! Milllllllllions of dolllllllars!"

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

PPS: Does anyone else find their entertainment segments just as banal as their news reporting? It was extremely rare, but on one rare, glorious occasion they aired a review of a Ryuichi Sakamoto album - I practically fell out of my chair!

And all their movie critic Turan (sp?) always seems to review is the current flav-o-de-month blockbuster dreck; y'know there IS a wonderful substratum of independent cinema goin' on....

bluetaco said...

You said it, big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! I know in this blog we tend to focus on the bush-league political coverage on NPR, but the blight is not confined to that. The "cultural" stories are just as snooze-inducing or corny. When was the last time you really learned anything new about what's happening in the arts?

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone gets a chance to listen to Tuesday morning's report on the House passage of the SCHIP bill (expansion of a program for children's healthcare) by Julie Rovner. The thrust of the piece is that the Democrats are now behaving exactly like the Republicans did with their healthcare bills when they held the majority (ie, with the corrupt passage of their PHARMA-penned Medicare prescription bill). It was the most devious, duplicitous reporting since the last time I'd listened to NPR... a fluffy bed of sleepy stupities, pleasantly fact-free on any true reporting on the contents of the bill itself. Julie just shoehorned any convenient "facts" into the story to fit her SO IRONIC "thesis". Gosh, it's just a mirror image! Republicans and Democrats are JUST THE SAME! (an observation buttressed with lots of he-said-she-said quotes) Even though the slightest investigation would have shown how phony and false this simpleton idea was.

Julie Rovner: you are pathetic. Your piece captured so much of what sucks about NPR's reporting. Go home and write children's books, where you don't have to actually, you know, inform people.

I hope some NPR reporters actually read this blog from time to time.

Steve Byan said...

Anonymous said:
"I hope some NPR reporters actually read this blog from time to time."

Didn't NPR have an ombudsman back in the 80's? I can't seem to find a way to contact one on the npr.org web-site.

I guess it's time for me to write some "what Mytwords said" emails to NPR.

Kevan Smith said...

NPR had an ombudsman until very recently. I don't know why the position has gone unfilled. Supposedly the assistant ombudsman is filling in, but we're not getting any ombudsman's reports.

Anonymous said...

er... I really regret that childish "pathetic" comment, even though it was an anonymous post. (would that i could edit it out)

Certain NPR stories get me so frustrated, so angry (I think of Chomsky's comment that he's afraid he'll get in a car accident after some NPR programs). So, [Don't post mad... don't post mad...don't ...]apologies to Julie Rovner, wherever you are.

Porter Melmoth said...

While I certainly admire civility in communication, I don't think it's too great a sin to be somewhat cutting when it comes to NPR's performance. After all, they are in the broadcasting business (more business-like than ever), and the P in NPR still stands, perhaps ostensibly, for 'public'. Anyone in public life or business has to be prepared for criticism. To my mind, that's the chief reason for this blog. I criticize NPR out of frustration, disappointment, and sometimes anger. Not because I want everything my way, but because all indications show that NPR isn't doing what they're supposed to be doing, and much evidence shows that they're cooperative with certain agendas in play in this country right now. That and other reasons make them worthy of criticism. I say, let it fly.

That said, responding to an earlier comment, I do indeed think NPR News' attempts in cultural matters are at times worse than their political coverage. Too many examples to note here, but to cite only one, I heard the gooey Liane Hansen and the occasional NPR film music 'maven' Andy Trudeau suavely yakking about the score to 'High Noon' on a recent Sunday morning. I don't want to bore anyone with my take on their mediocre ramblings, though Trudeau is no idiot when he's talking strictly about film scoring, but he plainly dumbs everything down for Liane and her listeners. The thing is, these NPR lifers usually muck up a potentially interesting segment by inflicting their unappealing personalities into every aspect of the subject at hand. This process is sometimes overt, and sometimes passive-aggressive. Liane had to put in her tiresome baby-boomer two cents, especially when she responded with disdain to Ray Conniff's quite sophisticated version of the theme song. Scarcely anything was said about the composer himself, Dimitri Tiomkin, one of cinema's more fascinating characters, or the evolution of 'High Noon' in the midst of McCarthyism. I'm dissecting this to such an extent because, while I applaud anyone who takes on interesting and esoteric subjects, I'm just amazed how the NPR treatment tends to end up with such a low common denominator. But of course that's expecting too much. Well, you can't please every listener, that's for sure, but the poor quality of many of their cultural probings is only indicative of the limitations of the personnel involved. That's only one reason why I don't treat NPR News as a finger-on-the-pulse cultural source. As we know, good and valuable cultural coverage certainly exists elsewhere on public radio, depending on the station. That’s why I’m referring specifically to NPR News here.

Style note: as I write this, I have ATC on in the background. Missy Melissa (Block) is interviewing the Gov. of Minnesota about the recent and awful bridge collapse. She is talking in a fairly normal, non-cutesy manner (mainly because she isn't smirk-smiling as usual while she's talking). Now this is a serious subject, so she's not acting overtly cute, which means, she can talk without affectation if she wants to. That's what I mean by NPR persons inflicting their personalities on listeners. It's not responsible broadcasting!!

Sorry for the length. I'll try to confine running on to my blog . . . !

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Oh my, I'm overwhelmed by "anon"'s cordiality - heavens, "pathetic" isn't such as bad a vernacular as one encounters on some of the more common mainstream political "rant" sites (of either end of the 'symmetry'). While I did not catch the report as described, I've no doubt that your adjective was apropo).

But yes, I did manage to hear Missy Block(head)'s segment on the MN bridge - I maintain she still seems to become intoxicated by her so-very-dulcet intonations.

Re: cultural programming- what's even worse to it all is that they have to act all hep to the jive! I'll not presume to proclaim that my finger's on the pulse of the known universe, but I'd have plenty of humble (and perhaps well-deserved) suggestions for features.

This blog is such a godsend after all my years of suppressed NPR rage from ever since the day I resigned myself to be a freeloader/detractor. Grazi!

Kevan Smith said...

Frankly, if you hear "culture" profiled on NPR, you can be assured they are about two years behind the times. NPR is where rock bands go to die.

Liberality said...

I have tagged you with a thinking blog award!

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this (http://www.thethinkingblog.com/2007/02/thinking-blogger-awards_11.html)
post so that people can find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the Thinking Blogger Award on your site with a link to the post that you wrote.

larry, dfh said...

FYI big!pink!fuzzy!bunny!, WRTI used to be so much more than it is. It used to be 24/7 jazz, with the associated late night social commentary. Then they started with the 9:00 AM 'Democracy Now' feed, which had a 'Live from Death Row' segment. Well that was too much for WHYY (the Philly NPR station-Mumia is from Philly, and the killed police officer, Daniel Faulkner is from Philly) who leaned hard on WRTI, who dropped D.N. When a local all-classical station left the scene, WRTI, probably under pressure from WHYY, filled in with classical during the day. What was a really great radio station in the true community radio vein, became a 'hip' version of the NPR product, and suffered immeasurably. IMHO, even their jazz programming has become more of the 'easy listening' style.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Hey Larry - thanks for the little bit o' history on RTI. I first came across them back in the early 00's and gee, it sure was a welcome break from what I was accustomed to (I don't mind the classics either). But then... everything gets diluted in the end I suppose. Oh, and I can just imagine HYY getting all in a tizzy - I mean with their resident radio-star "el Gross-o" and all... - seems she and the venerable Ms. Goodman don't play too well.

(just so you all know the origin of my moniker, can't ya jus' picture Melissa Block locuting it with her patent over-enthusiasm? - preferably immediately following some blood-boiling, teeth-nashing report)

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