Saturday, March 30, 2013

Time for new blood for National Public Radio?

I heard an announcement on National Public Radio that "Talk of the Nation," a regular for 21 years, is going to be replaced by a program airing out of Boston, and my thought had already been that this form of American BBC was in dire need of some new blood.

After listening to "Fresh Air" recently, I was wondering if all Washington D.C., where that radio show broadcasts from, was under the rule of some somnambulist's spell. First, there was an incredibly dry report on the economies of the sugar industry. Then, some lady, who sounded like a little old lady Kebler elf, started warbling out recipes that became almost inaudible as the interview wore on.

Finally, there was the Terry Gross conversation with Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, two musical staples of their demographic, speaking in traditional, polite, overly sensitive, beneath-the-mic low register. At this point, I was thinking: "Poppies! Poppies!" Like radio ready Dorothies slumbering into a national nap.

My guess was perhaps the barometric pressure was dropping around the studio and the sound engineer had entered a state of moo-cow complacency. Who knows? I kept leaning closer to the radio thinking the volume dial needed adjustment or I was finally going deaf. Maybe the Kebler elf lady had brought in a big pan of sweet spinach pie and the entire crew had lapsed into sugar shock.

I imagined a whole slice of aging boomers yammering on for tips on those yucky bits while more important things, from crazed dictators to other global meltdowns meshing into freeze-in, took the back burner. Who said the world would end with a whimper and not a bang? Indeed. Indeed. Don't get me started on the morning's Diane Rehm Show, with its 76-year-old host, tremble-lating on the so-called "challenges" of the Central Intelligence Agency, or on how we should all weep for how Russian financiers  were suffering from broken tax shelters in Cypress.

The whole media paradigm at NPR is due for many rounds of electro-shock therapy as its lack of relevance seems to be drifting, sleepy, off-the-chart, into outer space. Should NPR start interviewing chimpanzees to up the amps? Oh, prodigy of Jane Goodall, where are you? Oh, you New York-centric authors, please take some speed before the interview.

The armies of the unenlightened could no doubt use the change of pace.