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NPR and I are now divorced

By Jan Ireland
web posted July 7, 2003

I used to be a member of NPR. I collected a whole lot of NPR premiums over the years. As soon as I got my renewal notice, I sent it back the next day. I knew NPR needed my dollars, because they constantly told me they were a member-supported organization. I didn't even always accept the premium that came with membership, because that made more dollars go right to programming. But of the premiums I did accept? Not one of those items is still in my house now.

I delighted in the classical music. It made many a mile enjoyable as I drove my children from event to event. It saved my sanity as I sat in my car, inevitably having to while away five minutes here, ten minutes there, waiting for my daughter's or son's activity to start or end. It was the station every mechanic heard when he took my car back for maintenance. It was the station my husband and I desperately clicked back to when we could no longer stand our teenagers' choices. Our relationship was seated, secure. Something I expected to last a lifetime. An adjunct to our life. Almost like a marriage.

But things change, and things become clearer. And NPR and I are now divorced.

Oh, I still listen. Like the wife who got the house and furniture, I still have the familiar sounds in my home and car. I still tune every Saturday morning to Car Talk. I still try to catch The Jazz Hour. And I delight if I happen to hear a Guy Noir episode.

But like the divorced wife, trying to share the children while avoiding the ex, I sneak around the dial. I quickly turn to AM after Car Talk, because the blatantly biased shows are coming right after that. That audience quiz guy? Always a blatantly Bush joke, with liberal dabs of anti-conservativism. That wait wait program? They don't even pretend to pull their punches. They just get right down to presenting the liberal agenda. Names mentioned, parties partisaned – yep, they do it all. To get to Guy Noir? I have to listen to Garrison spout some gibberish.

You know, I wouldn't mind hearing the liberal point of view, if I could be sure my conservative view got equal time. I might even still subscribe if they presented both sides and you still knew they were liberal themselves - but at least they presented my side with some accuracy. But it's as if the conservative side is unworthy. NPR is apt to give Monkeypox a better representation.

I think they must have trial lawyers writing copy. Class action trial lawyers. Because look at the similarities. They've searched the world for just the kinds of facts they want. They've cherry picked the venue to present them. And they've steamrolled over any possible representation of the opposing view. Yep, lawyers write the copy.

They must be running low on office supplies, though. They have no post-it notes to remind them to be fair and balanced.

They've been sending me renewal notices for over two years now. They even found my new address when I moved to a different state. I thought I should let them know that, barring their complete transformation to fair and balanced programming, they'll never get another renewal from me. Then I figured, nahhh. At this point I like them wasting their stamp and publishing costs. Those cents they spend on every envelope they send are cents they can't put toward biased programming. And every time they check my name and find I again have not contributed – well, we are divorced now. It's a little bit of fun.

Jan Ireland is a masters level counselor/teacher, who has turned to writing. She says that obfuscation in the media prompts her to search for the hidden. This is her first contribution to Enter Stage Right.

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