For many, radio is an entertainment relic, a medium gone by and lacking in significance in a visually-focused society such as ours. Society’s perception of radio is based upon the pre-conceived notion that there is little value in top 40 radio, but despite its ubiquity, 93 percent of all American consumers hear programming on AM/FM at least once every day. Radio often serves as little more than background noise, with little engagement on the part of the listener. Yet, there is more to it than morning shows and pop hits countdowns. National Public Radio, better known as NPR, serves as an excellent alternative to the tedium of top 40 programming.
NPR was conceived in 1970 as a means of replacing the National Educational Radio Network, a government program meant for the distribution of radio programs to stations in the United States. However, it soon evolved into a newsgroup, producing stories for syndication during critical periods of investigation into the Vietnam War. The afternoon news program “All Things Considered” was created in May 1971, providing the organization with its first major piece of programming. The creation of the famed newscast was the first step in NPR’s evolution into the amalgam of original and news-focused programming that it is today, with daily broadcasts to over 900 radio stations nationwide and several bureaus in Europe and Asia.
While “All Things Considered” serves as NPR’s flagship program, there is far more on tap than newscasts: trivia and quiz shows; a variety of music-focused programs; storytelling programming and talk shows are among the dozens of programs distributed by NPR on a regular basis. Music podcast “All Songs Considered,” hosted by NPR Music editor Bob Boilen, serves as a point of music discovery, while storytelling program “This American Life,” hosted by Ira Glass, describes true events experienced by regular Americans whether they are humorous or heart-breaking. Regardless of your taste, all of NPR’s programs are thought-provoking, creative and fully cater to the diverse interests of an equally diverse audience. NPR’s availability serves as an even greater advantage. With 18 stations stretching the length of Florida, including the Miami-based FM 91.3 WLRN, and a dedicated on-demand listening app (NPR One), programming is available at all times of day, wherever you are.
NPR was created for the people, by the people. Even if storytelling or talk shows or in-depth musical analysis would typically not appeal to you, I encourage you to take advantage of the thousands of hours of content the organization produces. There is something for everyone, even the type of listener who enjoys the new passive nature of radio. Radio may be an old medium, but it doesn’t have to feel old. With the continued existence of NPR, new life is breathed into airwaves every day, and we are truly lucky to have it.