Saturday, April 02, 2011

In This, The First Day Of The Post-NPR Era...

Fig. 1 Ed, by Bouché

Sorry to ruin anyone’s post-Simonized glow of a Saturday, but here goes…

Yeah, I skimmed that limp ‘defense’ of NPR that Ms Shepherd made (even though she insists she doesn’t defend anyone but herself). Typical wimpy sullenness from a network that’s never been known for toughness or grit, except when self-promoted. (Aside: I find it curious that supposedly hip NPR retains the term ‘Ombudsman’ “with Alicia Shepherd”!!! - she does kind of talk like a guy - instead of the more PC ‘Ombudsperson’; their true conservatism is showing!) As usual (s)he sounds like a spoiled child whose ice cream cone has dropped in the dirt. Very NPR… The Om has spoken! Does anyone really care?

As usual, I’m left with the ‘how low broadcasting has sunk’ cliché. That’s why I’m not bothering with direct NPR contact anymore. It’s tedious and boring, and so predictable. OF COURSE NPR’s gonna be lousy. That’s what they ARE.

I have to keep reminding myself: irreplaceable time is better utilized elsewhere. I would brand their home station as WOT (Waste of Time, natch). Right now the only thing NPR has going for it is their stranglehold on accessibility – the quick turn-on of the radio. But so what? You can get the NYT in Tuttle, ND, but readership is still tanking. People are moving on to other stuff.

In NPR’s case it’s content: cheesy personalities who aren’t lovable in the least, who now face irrelevance and unnecessary presence. Why should anyone be loyal? For the longest time they enjoyed a comfy little niche, but then they made the bid for the fast lane, where there just isn’t room enough for a diversity of players. NPR never was up to the task of posing as one of the Big Boys. They don’t have the ‘stuff’, either journalistically or in the sleaze department. Indeed, they’re sleazy, but not ‘smart’ sleazy. They think they’re smart, but in fact they’re just tiresome products of privilege that feel entitled to be regarded with not only respect, but astounding success as well. They rely on a reputation for ‘excellence’ that’s based on very few examples of quality. Even more glaring is that their alleged success has actually ruined them. High salaries have ensured that mediocrity runs from management all the way down.

What’s more, NPR has become a very expensive operation to sustain. They used to be a good little earner of ‘alternative prestige’, with very low overhead. We know how readily this appealed to the Corporates as an avenue into ‘thinking people’s minds. However, it’s 2011 now. Cheney-ist no-sin deficit spending is vaporware, and Lloyd Blankfein & Co, still demand their bonuses. If the BBC has made massive cutbacks, and ABC hacked off a huge percentage of its news staff, why should NPR remain sacred? Time to dunk a tea bag in their Morning Edition mug and squeeze all the life out of it, as it were. Not even the Koch Brothers are gonna wanna fund some ramshackle outfit just for ‘prestige’ when they’ve got Fox News – or whatever OTHER, more odious mutation comes down the block - as more effective vehicles that reach far more people. That’s one of the very few good things about ruthless capitalism: sometimes the true rubbish withers and dies of its own accord.

NPR is fast becoming a mere annoyance that serious listeners won’t even bother with. With new apps appearing hourly via other devices (I’ve said it before), why would you even bother with NPR anymore? And with their supposed agent of rebirth and reinvention, Viv Shill-er now gone, who’s gonna be able to keep ‘em in the Promised Land high-rent district? Any upcoming clever media person with exciting ideas wouldn’t touch an NPR opportunity with an insulated hundred foot pole, except possibly as a Friedman Time Unit ‘learning experience’ before dumping it and moving on. What’s the alternative? Even MORE mediocre management, before it’s down-the-drain time, you can be sure.

(If I was an NPR exec, I’d at least have covert talks with Amy Goodman or equivalent, for ideas, if nothing else – and there WOULD be nothing else, I’m certain.)

Prediction for a future Wikipædia entry: ‘NPR was a mainstream media clip-joint that ran from c. 1970 to 2012…’ Or something like that. Of course the NPR superstar stalwarts will be bitter, and feel cheated, and wonder how it all happened. That’s the curse of NOT admitting that you’re in a competitive, commercial game: vanity, entitlement, and thinking you’re ‘special’ are all self-delusional. I almost feel sorry for them, but they as a unit – with very few exceptions – have failed. Time to get on with it.

So that’s my send-off to you, NPR. No bitter obscenities necessary. No Ed Murrow sign-offs with good wishes, either. Lots more could be said, but you already know it all.

And ye who peruse this wobbly blog, strength to all for the job ahead, and best of Murrow luck!