Thursday, December 17, 2009

ira glass cares about you

sometimes, when i am going on long-ish drives, i like to listen to podcasts of 'this american life.' so yesterday, as i was getting ready to take off for a couple of hours on the road, i made sure to have a new one on my phone. i was thirty seconds into it when i was hit with a question that i never expected to encounter as a result of radio fundraising:

"Who do you want to be?"

And Ira, in all his Ira-ness, said this a couple of times. He probably said something like this: "Really. Who do you want to be? I mean, think about it. You could be the person who just listens to this podcast every week, who never contributes to their local radio station, who assumes other people will just step in and cover for them. And you know what? You're right. We'll never start charging for this podcast. Your neighbor or teacher or colleague will pay, and you'll get to keep on listening. But again, let me ask: Is that who you want to be?"

I want to hear from Anna again about this one, since she can analyze media content and culture with the best of them. But I really want to hear from everyone, and to express my surprise. How should I feel about this? Should I be glad that this radio program has decided to integrate fundraising and integrity? Or is it scraping the barrel, guilt-inducing stuff? I can't decide. Ira sounded so earnest. Then again, when does he not . . . I just don't know.


Anna Jordan said...

Ok - here it is. My response: I kind of agree with Ira which is why I do give to my local radio station (KCLU). However, I do think that he's doing the typical NPR, twice yearly schtick of guilting people into giving. This particular "what kind of person do you want to be" schtick annoys me because it is fraught with judgement. He's clearly saying that not giving makes you a bad type of person.

Personally, I appreciate it when they ask you to give because you're thankful for the program. That's typically the schtick they do on Sunday mornings with Garrison Keillor, the "If you LOVE spending your Sunday mornings listening to A Prairie Home Companion, phone in and share your support!". It's so much better than a statement that makes you feel as though the next time you listen to the podcast you're going to hear the tag line "This week on This American Life: People who take advantage of the generosity of others!" or something like that.
My personal policy: Give to the things you support. By listening to NPR on a regular basis, I'm saying that I support it. However, this does not give Ira Glass license to make any kind of judgments about me.

Laura Ortberg Turner said...

this is a belated thank-you. you are kind of my guru on all things media-related (my sister would kill me if she read that), and i tend to agree with you. but i haven't actually given yet! does that make me a freeloader?

okay, yes, by definition it does. are freeloaders bad people? ugh.