An Aussie’s pledge for American Public Radio

When I spend a few moments thinking about our imminent American departure and the things I’ll miss, one thing often boils to the top, National Public Radio.  This may seem like a strange choice to many, but for those that are regular listeners I know that you are nodding you heads right now and saying to yourselves “hell yes,” or in Aussie parlance, “bloody oath.”  Add to this the irony that the United States government has been considering de-funding Public Radio in order to reduce the budget deficit and my sense of loss is even more profound.   Public Television and Radio’s portion of the US federal budget amounts to .00014 percent compared to the 20 percent that is spent on the military.  I’m not suggesting that there are not important military matters that need addressing… I’m just sayin!

We love almost everything that is broadcast on our local NPR radio station-  Morning Edition over breakfast and then BBC News Hour and the Diane Rehm Show while catching up on emails at my desk in the morning.  Fresh Air with Terri Gross at lunch is always good for the digestion, and then it’s on to Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered throughout the afternoon.  And, of course, that is only on weekdays.  As I have spoken about in a previous post, the real good stuff comes on the weekends.  Sundays we listen to NPR almost all day, either in the living room or in the car.  Ashley loves Will Shortz’s morning puzzler on Weekend Edition.  I love “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and we both worship the guys on “Car Talk”.  Best of all the weekend brings “This American Life” and a unique take on American culture, featuring fascinating stories about people that cause the listener to stop, think and reflect on their own life.  We listen to more radio than we watch TV, and we watch plenty of TV!

NPR is our primary source for both domestic and international news and, in our humble opinion, is more reliable than any news network for a fair and unbiased take on current events.  And Story Corps… this small section on Friday mornings almost always results in me arriving at work red eyed and flushed (soppy old bastard that I am) from a compelling story I just heard.  And from ordinary people no less.  Who needs celebrities and their stories about addiction, betrayal and hardship.  Try being committed to an insane asylum for 10 years with Schizophrenia, recovering, then marrying and raising a family while getting your Masters in Social Work.  As if this wasn’t enough, then trying  going back to the asylum to assist others struggling with mental illness, as had the interviewee last Friday.  When people out in the world are so interesting who needs a move star?  These stories are logged at the Library of Congress as well, thank God.  At least the only records left for posterity won’t be the collected documents of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.   It reassures me that the whole of the western world has not gone to shit, and we won’t have to be embarrassed when the little green men land in downtown Washington D.C. and say, “so… what have you guys been up to these last couple of centuries?”

Of course, that is only the radio portion of what could be lost if the budget fiends get what they want. Public television has had plenty of national icons that would be lost without a commitment to funding.  Could any American imagine raising their children without some assistance from Sesame Street? I’m from Australia and I grew up on Sesame Street for Christ’s sake.  We don’t live in the Stone Age over there you know!  Isn’t it just staggering that a publicly funded production like this has maintained the status it has in the social zeitgeist for over 30 years?  Don’t forget about News Hour, Frontline, Nova and numerous shows that celebrate the fine arts (Live at the Met Opera, Live at the Lincoln Center).  Surely an organization that is dedicated to popularizing the opera and jazz music is worth supporting with your tax dollars!  It’s either that or all that would be on the telly are things like “Jersey Shore”, and we all know how that one goes.

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