As NPR’s semiannual fund drive — during which the organization pleaded ardently for its listeners to “give generously to keep us on the air” – came to an end this week, the public radio network was also losing its seventh CEO in seven years (who left his $700,000 a year NPR gig for one paying over $2 million) laying off 10 percent of its 900-person staff, and announcing a record deficit projection.
This article, by veteran reporter Sylvia Kronstadt, is a colorful tale of the NPR style, its culture of celebrity and entitlement, and – most of all – its fiscal betrayal of the public trust. http://kronstantinople.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-beggar-wears-prada-or-why-i-stopped.html.
The probe echoes Newsbusters writer Tim Graham’s comment earlier this year: “The next time a public-radio station goes into pledge-drive mode and begs listeners for their money, it would be wonderful if, in the spirit of balance and fairness, they would read off some salary numbers for NPR stars. Do people on modest incomes really want to chip in $25 to make sure an anchor can take home $375,000?” (and executives can make double that much, plus multimillion-dollar benefit and pension plans).
It seems appropriate to wonder: Whatever happened to the $235 million gift from McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, which TheSan Francisco Chronicle assertedwould “ensure financial stability for NPR for a generation”?
It didn’t ensure financial stability for five minutes. NPR has been amassing deficits ever since. Even so, it spent millions on two new headquarters buildings. NPR’s new, LEED-certified, $210 million D.C. headquarters building, which opened in April of this year, might be a bit too “luxe” for a tax-supported nonprofit, the Washington Post noted.
The article poses the question: What is so “noncommercial” about a network that has sponsors such as Subaru, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Medtronic, American Express, WalMart, Lockheed Martin, GM, State Farm, Caterpillar, Intel, and Citibank, among many others?
The expose provides insider detail about the personalities, controversies and questionable priorities of the “venerable” institution, including salaries paid to the most prominent staffers and an assortment of photos that depict the luxurious NPR ambiance.
Blogger and investigative reporter Sylvia Kronstadt has been a journalist and editor for 45 years. She has written for Harper’s, Nation, Village Voice, Washington Monthly, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Motley Fool, to name a few.