30 Apr 2008 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Media

A letter to NPR

Dear NPR,

I enjoy listing to NPR’s radio news programs. Unfortunately, I fear I am in the company of some royal nitwits. I’m talking about listeners who write letters to NPR. They seem the sort of bookish, pompous asses who you’d cross the room to avoid at a cocktail party.

Take, for example, this letter read last weekend on Weekend Edition Sunday, from a listener bothered by a new segment on blogging:

“Sorry to hear the new segment on NPR, and disappointed that NPR has lowered itself to the status of Fox, CNN and MSNBC by relaying opinions from individuals who have no clue. Blogging is gossip, and just like American Idol, another example of the slow decline of our once-educated society.”

This is no isolated example. NPR letter writers seem in a constant state of irritation, bothered by any and all references to pop culture, rock-and-roll music or contemporary slang. Society, they are convinced, reached its apex some years ago and is sinking fast. They see NPR as the last bastion of high culture, and they are constantly watchful for any sign it is slipping.

Mind you, I have my own criticisms of NPR. (No other mass media company so unabashedly begs for cash, like radio is charity.) But at its best, NPR is brilliantly informative, and at its worst, it’s soothing noise. On balance, NPR’s most serious problem is its audience of faux intellectuals.

In closing, I respectfully ask you to read no more letters from listeners. They make me feel like I’m in the company of losers.


Daryl Lang (standard pronounciation)