WBUR/NPR is not “On point”


I listen to WBUR/NPR every day on my 50 min drive to/from work. I listen to the BBC World news (and it really is world news) at 9am and to OnPoint with Ashbrook at 7pm. At last, I had found one radio station that I looked forward to listening to and getting quality news in the current day and age where you get everything else from the Internet.

Everything was going so well until WBUR started its fall fund raiser. I am a big fundraising proponent for worthy causes and I consider WBUR to fall very much into such a category. The first time I heard about it, I immediately called them up and donated money. But I started finding out that as days went by, this fund raiser announcements were becoming a nuisance. They have been so frequent that I get to listen to these fund raising pitches more than I get to listen to what I tuned in for. For example, BBC world news used to start at 9am sharp. These days, at 9am, I get to hear the fund raising pitch that the BBC news is now getting delayed.

It has become so annoying that I now think twice before switching to WBUR and even when I do, I immediately switch to another station at the very sound of the fund raising pitch. So has WBUR/NPR overdone it – absolutely yes, if you ask me.  With such frequent fund raising requests interrupting the programs their audience want to listen to, WBUR/NPR has forgotten the needs of their audience and instead has become more tuned into their needs. Don’t get me wrong – they need the funds, but so do other radio stations.

What would I recommend WBUR do? – have a smaller pitch – a 20 sec slot every 30 min that points people to a website where they can donate. People like me who really like their service will take the time to contribute. Screaming loudly at your listeners and even to those who have already donated is not going to help. In fact, it may do just the opposite. You are likely to turn them away.

My impressions of wbur has soured a little because of this campaign and I strongly believe they could have executed this a whole lot better with a little more thought.

2 thoughts on “WBUR/NPR is not “On point”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. Another thing I noticed that has changed in their fundraisers is the “only $xxxx to go for this hour” messages. Seems too pushy to me.

    On a related note : you’ve hit upon a fundamental problem with the radio medium : it’s single-threaded. Other mediums (media?) can have various “levels” of information distribution. E.g. a small ticker tape on the TV screen, or an ad on a web page, etc. The pitch is not as annoying there. (Except on websites like forbes.com where they show a full screen ad before you can go to a link. Thankfully, you can skip the ad.)

    With radio – if someone figured out a way to disseminate two streams of information at the same time, this might get less intrusive…

  2. I received an email which noted two attacks by NPR on women in this political year..stated below..Would NPR care to comment on this?

    1. It was NPR’s National Political Editor Ken Rudin who compared Hillary Clinton to the murderous killer Glenn Close plays in ‘Fatal Attraction’. The reason? Her ‘crime’? She wouldn’t give up. She kept coming back.
    2. Last night—-last night—three NPR commentators introduced the VP debate by speculating how Sarah Palin might do so poorly that she would be kicked off the Republican ticket. [Just think about that for a moment. What national candidate EVER was dumped for a poor debate performance?]

    Wherever you stand politically this year, do you really want to give your money to support people who use the airwaves to evaluate women—-Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, younger/older, it seems not to matter—who are giving their lives to public service? I refuse, and I encourage you to do so as well

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