NPR - you are like a bad partner who keeps hurting me, but I just can't leave you, no matter how hard I try.
Your latest radio transgression, one I'm having a really hard time forgiving, is the March 20 annihilation of "Day to Day," your quirky, West-coasty, thought-provoking midday reminder to me of what's good and right and worthwhile about our lifelong relationship. I miss it everyday, just like I'm grieving the death of good journalism.
You had listeners, certainly. The anchors - Alex Chadwick and Madeline Brand, as well as the wide range of ultra-talented reporters (some from Salon.com, if I'm not mistaken!) - drew us in, day in and day out.
But you claimed you didn't have money. And to some extent, I believe that. I've been so mad at you in recent years, I haven't wanted to donate. Then there was the economic crash, which couldn't have helped. Certainly, my discretionary funds have been low - so I figured local fat cats could bear the burden while I pieced my life back together after a tough layoff.
But last Friday, on one of the first days of Philadelphia's spring fund drive for public radio, I heard either Terry Gross or Marty Moss-Coane (of "Radio Times") say on the air, just before they realized their mikes were hot, "We're in big trouble" before launching into their tag-team sales pitch for local donors. That blunt honesty, which wasn't meant to be heard, got me off my ass and made me contribute.
I don't want you to be in trouble, NPR. I LOVE you! I cannot live without you, truly. I would be lost without the excellent news and commentary you provide.
But listen here, and listen good.... I care so much about our relationship, you need to understand that I am loyal to the things I love. And missing "Day to Day" HURTS. I miss the people, I miss how the show FED MY BRAIN in a different way than anything else does.... I feel like you drew me in, and made me love that part of you, and you snatched it away because you're a bleeding cheapskate. You replaced it, at least here in Philly, with Michelle Martin of "Tell Me More." And while I respect Michelle, and I like the tone of her multicultural program, and I definitely love the "barbershop guys" she features on Fridays (where four male newshounds dish on the week's top stories in a way like no other), it falls flat in comparison. I find myself (pardon me, Michelle) resenting a great show like "Tell Me More" because it isn't D2D.
So I guess what I'm saying is, weren't there any options? You had to just kill D2D outright - knowing it can never be reinstated, and that voice is now lost to us forever? What's next if listeners don't start ponying up the cash? I shudder to think of it. Journalism is getting suckier all the time. Thank heavens there's still "Here and Now." But, get me - it's NOT D2D!
(Don't get me started about my love-hate feelings toward your affiliate in Philly, WHYY. Easier to forget my disappointment in learning the local CEO was making more than $700K annually, or that you let morning anchor Brenda Jorett go during the height of the economic meltdown, when we desperately needed a calming, familiar voice of reason.)
NPR - I have done what little I can this year to keep you going. I made my pledge. I genuinely wish it could be more.
Can you pledge to me that you're doing all you can to contain costs while keeping our beloved, respected, trusted voices on the air? Carl Kasell, Susan Stamberg, Ira Glass, Garrison Keillor, Daniel Shore, Neil Conan, Michele Norris, and too many more to name (let alone for me to have the time to look up their names so I spell them right)?
These people - the collective NPR team - represent to me the last bastion of true American journalism.
Don't kill the love I have for you, NPR. You've got to give a little to get a little.... And another Day to Day debacle would really kill me right now.