NPR keeps a high, thick firewall between its successful development office and its superb news division. The “separation of church and state” – the classic division of editorial and finance – has been one of the glories of public radio as it has won a large and respectful audience as the place on the radio spectrum that is free of commercials and commercial values.

If you would like to see how this integrity is upheld, go to the NPR web site and pull up any of its reporting since 2009 on the Tea Party movement. Read the transcripts or listen to its coverage – you will find it impartial and professional, a full representation of various points of view, pro and con. Further, examine how, over the past few days, NPR has covered the O’Keefe/Schiller contretemps and made no attempt to cover up or ignore its own failings and responsibilities.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, writing for

Time was when radio was the country’s primary news source—a veritable Town Hall for the nation where, particularly in times of crisis, citizens came together to be informed, bolstered, and called to action.

It would be unnecessarily nostalgic to wish for a return to those “Radio Days,” but it would likewise be tragic if there weren’t voices we could all harken to as radio experiences we can have in common, regardless of our political views or personal fears.

Our National Public Radio system has been that since the first non-commercial stations grew up around colleges and universities in the 1920s. Throughout nearly 100 years of non-commercial broadcasting at the low end of the FM band, independence has been a hallmark of NPR’s member stations. Independence being perhaps the one of the few values that our nation’s many partisan factions agree is worth preserving.

The mission of NPR is simple, and stated on their website thus: to 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.

It seems as though the least we can do is inform ourselves about our National Public Radio system and its actual practices. Let’s all make a point of going to and seeing if the 27.2 million listeners it reaches each week deserve its continuing presence as a voice that they—and we—have in common. Let’s at a minimum know what we’re talking about when we enter the debate about what should be heard.

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  • dr pat allen March 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    This is a wonderful description of the development of National Public Radio and its importance in the lives of millions of listeners.
    It is time for us to provide support for this wonderful institution that has given us journalism with integrity and balance, a window into the lives of so many with fascinating interviews and exposure to the arts in ways that so many across our country may have limited access to otherwise.
    So, we do need to log onto the website, and let NPR know that we recognize its contribution to our lives.
    Then log in to the websites of your congressional representatives and let them know what you want them to do about support for NPR. Oh, and by the way, remind them that women over 40 really do vote.