Radio makes me smarter

ifionlyhadabrian_375On Q last night, a tech journalist and a computer science professor debated the question: “Is the Internet making us smarter or stupider?” I missed out on listening to it on air, what with Twittering and Facebooking, and keeping track of all that email, but you can listen to it now (on the Internet) on the Q program page. Just off the top of my head, I would say the answer is “yes.” Both smarter and stupider.

The radio, on the other hand, always seems to make me smarter. Maybe that’s because I mostly listen to public radio.

I can’t count the number of “driveway moments” public radio has brought my way–experiences so intense that everything else had to be excluded until the experience was over. A riveting story–being there with Anne Garrels in the midst of war-torn Baghdad, or totally absorbed in an excruciating conversation in a StoryCorps booth, or transfixed by a new musician pushing the boundaries of what a genre can be.

Having a good liberal arts education, my understanding of things is broad, but a little–shall we say–thin. Fortunately, public radio has made a specialty of deepening the listener’s understanding of complex news, politics, science, arts, economics. And it works. My library is filled with authors I discovered on air, my iPod is full of performances I first experienced on the radio, and my understanding of issues and events is informed by intelligent reporting and analysis. So I listen pretty much every day, and pretty much every day, I hear something that makes me smarter, or wiser, or saner, or more joyful.

I value public radio more than any of the many other media sources that crowd into my life. That’s why I’ve given a chunk of change every fall since the late 1970s to keep this rich, deep, fresh source of “smarts” going in my life. I hope you will join me in making a gift to North Country Public Radio now. As of this writing, we still have nearly $100,000 to raise before the drive ends on Saturday.


5 Comments on “Radio makes me smarter”

  1. Juanita McPherson says:

    I can relate to the driveway experience. I have often parked in my driveway to hear the end of a discussion. I often wish I could DVR public radio and listen to it at my leisure and have the ability to rewind it and listen again to a point being made. I often hear points of view that I wouldn’t hear anywhere else. I really enjoy the thoughtful, informed voices I hear on Public Radio. Thank you.

  2. Dennis Pucci says:

    VERY true… left to our own devices (pun ALWAYS intended), we follow a new “Peter Principle” of rising to our own PERSONAL level of stupidity–and seeking confirmation of what we already think we know instead of exploring the great unknown that may question our prejudices.

    Thanks for your insight!

  3. Phil says:

    Dale, I appreciate your column and I have already contributed to NCPR as I do every year. But to say NPR makes me smarter is a major overstatement. NPR’s reporting is limited and often delivered with a strong liberal bias. For example, the current ongoing SNAFU with Healthcare Websites is repeatedly reported as a computer problem. WE all know that the old excuse, “Teacher, my dog ate my homework!” has been replaced with, “Teacher, my computer [choose one: ate, lost, destroyed, etc.] my homework.” The Affordable Care Act (obamacare), passed 3 1/2 years ago, is a law consisting of thousands of pages. It is complex, confusing, and poorly understood. Recently PBS ran a weeklong series trying to explain it and if you listened carefully to the experts, you heard they didn’t agree on what its provisions are. Furthermore, it is always changing as per the administration bureaucrat’s massaging it. You tell me how this a computer problem that programmers can fix?

  4. Belle says:

    Well Dale, you’re preaching to the choir, but that’s OK; you’ve gotta be SPENT by now (this fund-raising week.)

    And Phil, I believe that nobody, but NOBODY understands the Affordable Care Act, but if you listen closely, NPR digs deeper into the subject than any other news organization.

    I prefer to hear all sides of the issue and try to sort it out – even if it’s WAY confusing.

  5. Martha Lumley says:

    Hi Dale…
    I KNOW that NCPR makes me smarter,goodness knows I’d hate to be without it. I also know that my “smart”
    phone doesn’t make me smarter, the internet doesn’t make me smarter, my kids don’t make me smarter, and my grandkids just make me feel flat out stupid. Thank you so much, NCPR for just being you. I might add, if every one who already gave could cough up another $5-$10 we’d be over the top
    Martha Lumley

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