Thursday, May 07, 2009

NPR Jumps Shark

As possible evidence of my mixed up political perspectives, I'm a long-time National Public Radio member. I listen to All Things Considered and A Prairie Home Companion on the way home from hunting and catch the business news on my bike commute to work. Is that weird? I'm still waiting for word on the development of my Liberal Carnivore Secessionist Party...

Part of the NPR appeal is it's occasional coverage of food, gardening, and organic or small scale farming; it's the one national news medium that might mention Wendell Berry (and did recently via an interview with Micheal Pollan).

It is also "non-commercial" radio, which is a rare and wonderful thing, although this distinction has been slip-sliding away at some speed over the past few years. Corporate sponsorships and statements of full-disclosure about coverage of them are more frequent at NPR than any time in my memory.

This morning, however, we have reached something of a NPR sponsorship nadir: Between the local and national news segments I learned that Monsanto, the global agribusiness giant largely responsible for the so-called Western Diet (and regularly vilified in NGO street theater productions) is "committed to sustainable agriculture."

I nearly fell off my bike.

That's like hearing that Chrysler is committed to sustainable transportation. Or government is committed to balancing its budget.

Oh, NPR, we the members have failed you.


Anonymous said...

CBC Radio in Canada is going down the same tube.


dr. hypercube said...

NPR jumped the shark for me some time ago. Cokie Roberts? "Interesting?" Not so much! (sorry, Matt, I know she's from your neck of the woods)). Scott Simon annoys me so much with his self-satisfaction that I can't listen on Saturdays. My local public radio station is doing good work (I like this a lot), but the national stuff has turned into standard Villager cocktail-weenie-crowd drivel.

Matt Mullenix said...

Steve Inskeep gets my vote for Most Self-Satisfied at NPR. He literally chuckles at his own questions during interviews.

Click and Clack are allowed to chuckle; news anchors less so.

But I still listen, often between the lines, for snippets of the absurd and the existential poetry of politicians. :-)

This Monsanto thing has me worried though. If they can pay NPR enough to say that, you might hear anything at all.

prairie mary said...

Same commodification rot has set in on Montana stations. However, there is one gleam of light: I was interviewed recently on Yellowstone Public Radio. You can get to the archive by going to, then to RealTime and then to archive. Or this link might work:

Prairie Mary
AKA Mary Scriver

Brenda L. said...

Isn't Monsanto responsible for patenting genetic material in grains? And bullying independent farmers into destroying their own seeds by claiming if Monsanto seed somehow ends up in their crop, that it belongs to Monsanto?

If I'm wrong I'd appreciate some clarification!

Steve Bodio said...

All of the above, Brenda.

Anonymous said...

Wyoming Public Radio has not had any connection to reality for as long as I can remember. The Reservation station, KWRR, 89.5, Ethete Wyoming, plays great old time western music during the middle of the day.