So, if you pumped $225 million into the public radio system — the Kroc endowment spins off about $10 million a year — listenership would go up, right? Um, no. At a big NPR confab in Philadelphia last week, programmers learned that “the public radio audience is starting to decline after long, steady growth,” according to Lydon’s blog…What was once an insurgent radio movement now sounds like Chet Huntley reading the evening news. Call it NPR Classic. But NPR management won’t put the old warhorses like Cokie and Linda out to pasture for fear of alienating the loyal listeners who answer the bell during pledge drives.
The solution? NPR Remix. Chicago Public Radio is setting up an alternative public radio station, which NPR itself once was, to rope in younger, hipper listeners. “It’s going to be focused heavily on the region, with plenty of user-generated content,” a spokeswoman explains. Plus they have a sense of humor; check out their website, www.secretradioproject.com . It won’t be a secret for long.