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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Layoffs at an old friend

     NPR laid off 25% of its employees in February.  Once the largest group of radio stations it now seems that the explosion of other news sources may make it difficult for NPR to survive in its present form.  I remember a time traveling across the United States trying to find an NPR station on the radio dial.  You would lose one station as you moved across a state and would have to search for the channel from another city to continue listing.  Those days are over as you can now stream NPR and Bluetooth it from your phone to your car radio.  Ahh technology!

     It now seems that the Baby Boomer generation who grew up listening to NPR and watching PBS is dying off and creating uncertainty in the survival of both public information sources.  Nowhere is this reality for NPR and PBS showed than watching the programming PBS does during their pledge weeks.  Every popular music group from the 50s and 60s is shown during this time because the membership group for both is the Baby Boomers. They may have to recreate themselves into a new more relevant information source----- if that is possible.  

     The rapid change in the digital world we now live in has made it very challenging for many institutions to survive.  Adapt to the changing world quickly or go out of business.  Don't get too fixed in one form of operating when a new form replaces you.  Blockbuster being replaced by Netflix is one good example of this.  I will give another example that is happening right now--pickleball replacing tennis as the most popular racquet sport.  Tennis advocates are being lulled by the reality that they have been the premier racquet sport for hundreds of years and can't imagine that they are now being replaced quickly.

     We have seen both institutions try to adapt to a loss of revenue from memberships by adding commercial sponsors for many of their shows.  They try to minimize the impact of commercials by only having them briefly at the beginning of shows but it has grown to the point that I now skip the first couple of minutes of recorded shows as it now takes that long to get past the commercials.  Sadly the time for a publically funded source of news and educational information has maybe passed.  Blogs, podcasts, multiple educational channels, and other forms of media now give us the information that both of these sources used to have exclusively.   While I enjoy the new digital world giving me so many new forms to get information I will miss both if they go out of existance.


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