You may have noticed some new shows on NCPR lately. There’s the TED Radio Hour, Cabinet of Wonders, and Ask Me Another. They’re all pilots. And as today’s New York Times points out, they’re all trying to capture a younger audience.
I talked to Jackie Sauter, our programming director, on the phone today. She says that the station’s been receiving brisk feedback about the pilots. People like the TED Radio Hour. They’re a bit more on the fence about the other two. Of course, that’s no indication of these programs’ ultimate success: Jackie told me that when Car Talk first came on the air, people thought it was too silly for public radio. And they weren’t so fond of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me either.
Going forward, public radio faces the challenge of creating programming that both appeals to its core older audience and attracts a younger generation of listeners. As a young reporter and listener, I know that I prefer to listen to newer programming, like the Moth and Snap Judgment, along with news and culture shows. And to my young ear, some of the old public radio mainstays are starting to sound a little . . . dated.
Don’t get me wrong. I will of course be nostalgic for Car Talk and programs of yore. But I also look forward to public radio’s future, to its new voices and perspectives.What I’ve learned from all the old hats at NCPR is that a thriving public media system requires vision. And that gets me thinking. What do I want public radio to look and sound like in 10, 20, 30 years?
I’ll ask you the same thing. What do you want to hear on the radio? And how can we build strong programming for public media going forward?
Editor note: you can find out more about NCPR’s three new program tryouts, weigh in on your experience, and provide feedback to NCPR and to NPR on the New Program Showcase page. –Ed.