Conservatives have been fairly consistent in the last few decades, railing — as it were — against public radio and light-rail.
Who knew that one could be used to get rid of the other?
Jeffrey Dvorkin, who once was the National Public Radio ombudsman, writes on his blog today that the radio folks are worried that mass transportation will lead to a decline in radio, especially public radio.
But there is one aspect that deserves a little mulling – the complex relationship of Americans and their automobiles. People who were stuck in their cars during their long commutes to and from work were captives of NPR programs. After all, there is only so much of Blue Oyster Cult that can be endured.
During my stint as NPR’s Ombudsman (2000-2006), I noticed that a lot of email came in around 9 am local time. I concluded that listeners who heard the program in their cars would arrive at the office, steamed about something they had heard. They turned on their computers and fired off an email usually to express some level of exasperation about NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
Dvorkin points to an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail. In it, Richard Florida declares the era of urban sprawl over.
While we are in the early development of this new economic geography, one trend is clear: The history of economic development and of capitalism revolves around the more intensive use of urban space. The coming decades will thus probably see greater concentrations of people, increasing densities, and further clustering of industry, work and innovation in a smaller number of humongous cities and mega-regions globally. Alongside that will come ever more concentrated economic opportunity and deepening social and economic divides between people and places.
Florida doesn’t exactly say that this new economic age will eliminate the long commute and then — as Dvorkin theorizes — public radio.
I always got a cheap laugh when I said that NPR’s success was based partly on the listeners’ addiction to their cars and that there would be trouble if people decided to start taking the bus. Hence “public radio hates public transportation.”