260,000 or so words

Next week’s Listening Post will begin the fourteenth year of its publication. With only a couple misses each year, I will have gone on at length about something or other about 650 times and sent it out to you in email every week. At roughly 400 words a crack, that makes about 260,000 words. And with the median length of a novel in English being 64,351 words (the exact length of “Brave New World,” coincidentally), I have sent you four novel’s worth of prose, spiced with the occasional poem. Makes me sleepy to think about it.

The format has not changed much over the years: column from me, best stuff of the previous week, station news, featured events, and let’s not forget the ritual solicitation of funds. So why, you might ask (if you are one of the couple thousand people who also started receiving the NCPR Daily this week), have we messed with a good thing?

Mail sorting, San Francisco, 1951. Photo: USMC Archives, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Mail sorting, San Francisco, 1951. Photo: USMC Archives, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

When we started the Listening Post in 2002, it was NCPR’s only email newsletter. And you became subscribed to it by doing it yourself on our website, or by donating to the station and leaving the permission to email box checked on the donation form. We began a week-daily news email a few years later that was totally automated, but we did not automatically subscribe anyone to that list.

Then a couple years ago we (me mostly) began posting a daily news email that was written and curated by hand, showcasing the best of everything we produced, published or otherwise ran across that day, and we began subscribing willing donors to both the NCPR Daily and The Listening Post.

The assumption was that after a couple of membership drive cycles, the lists would become basically identical, which was our intention—that core supporters of the station and the portion of the audience most engaged with what we do would be able to receive our best stuff each day whether they happened to wander over to ncpr.org or not that day.

So on Monday, along with the launch of Natasha Haverty’s great Tug Hill series, I set the remaining part of the Listening Post subscriber list to also get the NCPR Daily email, if they were not already receiving it.

This may have been rude of me—you may well be already receiving more email than you want. If so, I apologize. The two subscriber lists do still operate independently, so if you emphatically do not want to receive the NCPR Daily, you can click the subscription management link at the bottom of any newsletter message from NCPR and uncheck the box next to NCPR Daily.

I hope though, that you will give the NCPR Daily some time. Look at a few of them first. The Listening Post section “Best Stuff This Week,” which has proven a popular addition to the newsletter, is all drawn from features in NCPR Daily editions of the preceding week.

You may notice that that section of the Listening Post is missing this week. We don’t want to send you stuff on Saturday that we already sent to you earlier in the week. Instead of the best Photo of the Day of the preceding week, what you will see is the new Photo of the Day published that day. And instead of a “greatest hits” selection from the NCPR Daily below that, we will try to draw you in conversation about what we are doing at NCPR, or to engage you in some other way.

I’m approaching 600 words now, about 50% over my usual, so I’ll give it a rest now. I just felt I owed an explanation to those who heard from NCPR more than they expected (or asked for) this week.


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