NPR President Kevin Klose (9/9/08)
On Tuesday, September 9, the President of NPR Kevin Klose visited PBA to speak to Cornerstone members and their guests over breakfast. Before coming to NPR a decade ago Kevin served as director of US international broadcasting, overseeing the United States’ global radio and television news services from 1997 to 1998. Before that he was an editor, and national and foreign correspondent with The Washington Post.
NPR has 300 member stations, from the very smallest on a Native American reservation in the west, to the largest in New York City with one million listeners weekly. It is a complicated, fascinating system that Kevin believes actually stands as the most authentic reflection of our communities
He believes radio is an extraordinary medium. Radio comes to you not to transact but to invite you into a consideration. Music especially is important and essential because it helps us reset our compasses. People come to radio because it’s not an intruder. You can be doing anything and still be listening to the radio.
For example, you might be in your car or taking a walk, and here comes a story from a Zimbabwe. You weren’t thinking about Zimbabwe, but now you are intrigued and transported because of human narrative. We’ve all been hearing narratives — with a beginning, middle, and end — since we were small. From far away or from around the corner, through public radio there comes, in a form we understand, the news of the day. NPR believes powerfully in contextual journalism — not just the what, but the context around it so we can understand the why. Public radio has instincts to serve the community and create a national reality that is authentic.
NPR is also dealing with the digital reality. We don’t know where the digital road is leading. The road is experimental. It’s a revolutionary time in the way people are using media.
Because of increased support NPR has gone from 8 foreign bureaus to 18. They are in many tough places, specifically Baghdad and Kabul. NPR’s audience has also grown from 13 million listeners per week a decade ago to now approaching 27 million listeners.
Kevin invited everyone to visit NPR West in Culver City, CA and NPR in Washington DC. If you’re in those parts of the country, be sure to stop by!