Dear NPR

“Anyone who thinks they’re important is usually just a pompous moron who can’t deal with his or her own pathetic insignificance and the fact that what they do is meaningless and inconsequential…” -William Thomas

I am a self-confessed National Public Radio (NPR) junkie. Even living abroad, I stream my “home” station of WAMU constantly. When I’m not streaming it, I listen to podcasts of my favorite shows. I’m in the process of listening to every Planet Money podcast ever produced. Then I’m working on all of the This American Life shows that include the Planet Money team. Then the new Freakonomics show. I listen to the Marketplace morning report every morning and crush on Kai Ryssdal every afternoon. I’ve made dozens of recipes from The Splendid Table. I try to beat Mo Rocca or Paula Poundstone on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me every week. And I love the old radio shows; I’ll often make popcorn and settle in to listen to both The Big Broadcast and WRVO’s Tuned To Yesterday.

Of course, there’s stuff I don’t like about NPR. While I love Diane Rehm’s Friday News Roundup, I find her hour-long author interviews to be tedious and boring. I tend to find the topics on Fresh Air uninteresting. I used to refer to the show Tell Me More as “tell me less” and switch to WAMU’s HD Channel 3 for Talk Of The Nation. I roll my eyes through every Fred Fiske commentary (Dude, we get it. You’re REALLY old and hate everything). I don’t understand why WAMU dedicates an entire HD channel to bluegrass (people listen to that stuff?).

Yet, in my entire NPR listening career, I think I’ve written maybe three or four e-mails to complain about content. I wrote one in the past year to The Big Broadcast, calling the host out on some misogynist remarks he made. I wrote something to All Things Considered, complaining about a piece they did on bisexuality. Though there are plenty of things to complain about (Fire Fred Fiske!), I realize a lot of people enjoy book reviews or sports history. And I can easily just get up and make myself another cup of tea when Frank DeFord starts to talk about baseball.

Others, however, seem to not share my perspective. Farhad Manjoo writes in Slate about how up-in-arms the intellectuals get when, god-forbid, NPR mentions Justin Bieber or interviews Ke$ha. They send snippy e-mails to shows claiming NPR is turning into a tabloid or that they listen to NPR to avoid just this sort of “tripe”.

First of all, the afternoon news program (at which many of these complaints are directed) is called All Things Considered. Not “All Pretentious Things Considered”; not “All Important Things Considered.” I would think, by virtue of the name, people would refrain from complaining about the content. Secondly, since I’m so busy listening to NPR, I have very little time to watch MTV or read Perez Hilton. I need NPR to keep me updated on Bieber fever. Thirdly, if you ever get the inclination to write a pompous e-mail to NPR, perhaps you should go donate your time to the local homeless shelter.

Or write an angry blog post.

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