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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Even with the advent of FM, radio remained a secondary choice for entertainment as it lost its live shows and settled into recorded programming. Today, radio is almost equal parts programming and commercials whether it be AM or FM. I don’t claim to be an expert on the business end of broadcasting, but I wonder if radio is shooting itself in the foot with all their commercials. It appears that they are when I see the appearance of satellite radio and its lack of commercials available for a small monthly fee. It is like listeners are crying, "Enough is enough!"
Fortunately, there is an alternative to heavily commercialized and "pay to listen" radio. That alternative is National Public Radio (NPR). NPR has been around since 1970 and like most enterprises, it started small with a staff of only 30 and a group of 90 stations. Today they have 700 employees and over 780 stations. Their listeners have doubled in the last ten years to 30 million as compared to 2 million in the early 1980's. The reason for this success is obvious to anyone who enjoys high class, intelligent radio: NPR’s goal is to provide commercial free news, talk, and entertainment to their listeners through private support. As part of their mission statement they proclaim that they "work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public; one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures." "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" are the two most popular programs on NPR and various published reports list "Morning Edition" as the number one listened to morning news program in the United States. Overall, these two programs are the second and third most listened to programs in America. Newer programs like "The Motley Fool Radio Show", a show of financial advice, and "Day to Day", a weekly newsmagazine, are continually being added.

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