Thursday, January 22, 2009


We’ve been in DC for about five days now, and the time has flown by. We had four meetings today and they were all really interesting. I think my favorite part of the day was the tour of National Public Radio. I have hosted a radio show on Whitworth’s student radio, KWRS, so it was cool to see radio production on such a large scale like that. Some of their developments are unbelievable. They have created captioned radio for deaf passengers in cars, which is something I had never even thought about. Personally, I don’t listen to public radio that often, and our tour guide told us the average age of NPR’s listener is 53. They use music to go after the younger audience, which is the one part of it that I would actually listen to. Unfortunately, I rarely listen to broadcast radio any more at all, let alone public radio. I don’t even have a radio in my dorm room. Most of the time I listen to music on my ipod through a speaker, through my itunes library on my computer, or I’ll find music to stream online. There’s also a really cool website called Pandora, where you can create playlists and listen to them online. It’s interesting how, at least for me, radio has become mostly an afterthought. It is rare that I don’t have a CD to put on in my car while I’m driving, but on the rare occasion that I don’t have one and decide to succumb to listening to the radio, I usually just get frustrated. There are so many commercials and interruptions, when all I care about is hearing the music. Why would I waste my time listening to all that, when I have a CD of music with no interruptions?

Our tour guide didn’t give the impression that public radio has been losing popularity with all of the technological advancements. Though, I suppose that their average listener, age 53, probably isn’t as technologically savvy as the younger generations. They have been listening to the radio for a long time, and are generally less accepting of new gadgets like ipods.

We also had a lunch meeting with Seth Morrison of CTAM, the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing. He mostly discussed the transition to digital television. Most of what he said coincided with the other people we’ve met with, though one thing stood out in my mind. There is all of this information out there saying that if you use rabbit ears to watch TV, you will have to get a digital converter box in order to see anything. Seth told us about a sample city where the transition has already been made to digital TV. Some people who were using antennas to get channels and bought the converter box were not able to get a signal after the transition, even with the converter. It upsets me that they’re trying to make this huge change in the television industry, and they’re not even making sure that everyone will be able to adapt to the change. It seems like a money-making move – trying to get more people to buy cable. I guess that’s the American way.

Maddie Hayes


  1. I agree with your sentiments about radio. Other than flipping through stations in my car (including NPR, especially in the mornings), I never listen to the radio. With Web sites offering music content for free online and people able to carry their music with them everywhere, I worry about radio's survival as a medium and how it will continue to compete and remain relevant as a medium. I have been impressed with the way NPR News has sought to adapt online with comprehensive coverage including audio reports, text, video, photos and documents for most stories. If places like NPR are to thrive, they'll need to find a way to attract and keep younger, more tech savvy audiences who also have more fragmented attention spans. Like most people we've spoken with on this trip, I don't know what that will look like.

    - Jasmine Linabary

  2. Something I feel frustrated about is the profit side of media. It is what brings the problems that deteriorate the quality of journalism and news. But at the same time, a news organization needs enough finances to do what it does successfully and with a large enough audience share. It's the catch 22 – you need the money to create and support quality news and money affects the type and scope of information allowed to be accessed. If a news company is cutting costs, it cuts reporters and stories that take too long or that are too costly. And based on the media experts we've met so far, there is a consensus that non-profit news has its limitations. I'm curious and excited as to what kind of business model will be created to sustain the needs of an efficient and quality news organization.
    – Yong Kim

  3. Although I was a little disappointed with our meeting with NPR today, I was also thrilled because I volunteer for Spokane Public Radio (KPBX) and it was interesting to actually see where a majority of their programming comes from.
    Unfortunately I'm not a huge fan of radio. I don't listen to it that much in my car because I have an iPod connection and therefore can get commercial free music... and it's all the songs I like.
    I agree with Jasmine in saying that NPR is working to adapt to this new era of media. It seems like it might be difficult when you look at all the free music people are downloading online. Also consider services such as Sirius satelite radio... it may not be free but I think people are willing to pay for it because they can choose what they want to listen to and can do so without the commercials and commentary.
    NPR has a large enough audience that they don't necessarily need younger people like us. But, it would be nice if they could provide more programming other than music to draw us in. I rarely ever listen to NPR because there's nothing I care to listen to.

    -Erica Schrader


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