“There are media companies with greater reach than NPR—and with larger profits, since NPR is a nonprofit. But the Huffington Post and Fox News, to take two examples, are in growing mediums: the web and cable news. NPR, by contrast, has thrived on FM radio during the era in which FM radio has lost audience, not to mention cachet. For the most part, terrestrial radio has become a dreary wasteland, littered with the tumbleweeds of safe, adult-contempo and pop-country playlists, with few local DJs, even fewer local-news operations, and most programming done off-site by consultants and by schmaltzy evening hosts like John Tesh and Delilah. During precisely the years that FM radio has lost the diversity and the free-form progressivism of its 1970s heyday, NPR, which debuted in 1971 with live coverage of Senate hearings on Vietnam, has steadily gotten more adventurous, more popular, better.
Here, it is instructive to compare NPR’s history with that of its hideous, ugly televised brother, PBS.”