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Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio Hardcover – March 30, 2005

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0275983529 ISBN-10: 0275983528 Edition: 1st

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Frequently Bought Together

Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio + NPR: The Trials and Triumphs of National Public Radio + This Is NPR: The First Forty Years
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having enjoyed a long career in public radio, starting out at a university station and going on to be NPR's first employee and later the chairman of its board of directors, Mitchell chronicles the field's evolution from a privileged standpoint: he knows all the major players and is well-versed in both the guiding philosophy and the inescapable politics that have shaped it. His book acknowledges the importance of university and local stations, but its primary focus is NPR. Mitchell tells the stories behind NPR's major shows, such as All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, using the process that shaped them to explore the network's purpose. He's a fervent believer in NPR's mission to inform, stimulate and challenge, but one gets the sense that he would have conveyed this better with either a more personal approach or, paradoxically, one that steps back further. Despite Mitchell's firsthand role in NPR's history, this is not a memoir, so he generally avoids talking about his own experience and often presents other people as little more than unmemorable sketches. However, his insider's point of view also has hazards, as he writes largely about internal conversations and political machinations, neglecting to examine either the wider context of media and history or the audience that NPR tries to reach, except as subjects of statistics and surveys. The end product is a somewhat rarefied view of developments that may interest radio buffs but will have a harder time engaging those who simply love public radio and want a more expansive perspective on its background.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Mitchell, the first producer of the National Public Radio program All Things Considered, offers a behind-the-scenes look at how public radio evolved from being funded by the government to being supported by listeners. Chronicling the infancy of radio and its ties to the progressive movement, Mitchell details the early days, when pioneers were able to sneak into pubic broadcast legislation provisions to promote public radio. Strong personalities and fierce rivalries marked the early years as NPR and strong affiliates, notably in Minnesota and Wisconsin, debated a format that would provide brand identity and maintain the alternative nature of public radio. As NPR produced strong programs, bringing in more professional journalists (Nina Totenberg, Cokie Roberts, and Linda Wertheimer), debate focused on how public radio would continue to distinguish itself from commercial radio. Budget crises and threatened cutbacks during the Nixon and Reagan administrations forced the move to listener support, a move later embraced as the path to independence. A revealing look at a respected national institution. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1st edition (March 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275983528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275983529
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,175,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By LA Pete on April 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you're a public radio fan wanting to know what Garrison Keillor is really like, or how angry Bob Edwards actually got when he exited Morning Edition unwillingly after almost 25 years as host, this is not the book for you. It is a highly readable, highly personal perspective on the philosophies and politics that shaped NPR and made public radio a force in American media. Those most apt to appreciate it are among the thousands of people who have been employed in public radio over the last 30 years -- including career veterans who will recognize the names and remember the events that Mitchell recalls.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Busalacchi on August 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jack Mitchell paints a vivid picture of public radio and its evolution. As a former Wisconsin Public Radio reporter who worked under Mitchell, it was an enlightening book, indeed. He accurately describes the news philosophy of public radio and deftly addresses the ridiculous bias claims constantly leveled against public radio. More importantly, though, Listener Supported explains how this rare medium ever developed in the first place. This is an especially important book because commercial talk radio, where loud opinion with no credentials reigns, is having a negative effect on reasoning ability. As we lose newspapers, there will be fewer and fewer outlets for news produced by journalists who seek out facts. Mitchell's book makes the case for why public radio is an essential ingredient in our democracy, and more important than ever.
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By Sarah on November 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good Book. Easy reading. I learned thinkg I never knew about the public broadcasting industry that I needed to learn for a paper I was writing. interesting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fred G. Sanford on November 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jack Mitchell's book fails to uncover anything that couldn't have been found reading the wikipedia entry for NPR. The book documents albeit in a dry manner the history of public radio in a chronologically linear manner. The author's vantage point in the uncovering of these events have not been reflected in the narration of the events.

I am still waiting for the book that will open the hood on the operations of the NPR.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By charles falk VINE VOICE on September 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
LISTENER SUPPORTED provides a useful(if somewhat dry)account of National Public Radio's development from its difficult birth in 1967 to the end of the 20th century. Mitchell has impeccable insider credentials for the task: he was NPR's first employee, the first producer of All Things Considered, and three-time chairman of NPR's board of directors.

In keeping with his current job as a journalism professor, Mitchell takes a detached, academic approach to the problems and controversies that have beset NPR over the years. The book would be more engaging if Mitchell displayed more personal passion and would have attracted a larger audience if he had chosen to dish behind-the-scenes gossip about NPR's on-air personalities.

LISTENER SUPPORTED is worth reading just for the story of the machinations of Bill Kling, President of Minnesota Public Radio (a.k.a. Public Radio International). He used Prairie Home Companion as a vehicle to become a competitor to, as well as a customer of NPR. Kling is proof that entrepreneurial spirit exists even in the ivory towers of public radio.

The least interesting part of the book, for this reader, was the final section dealing with critics of the "Right" and of the "Left". Mitchell categorizes critics of the left as "Frustrated Progressives", "Frustrated Pacifists", "Frustrated Curators", "Frustrated Mass Educators", "Frustrated Populists", or "Frustrated Community Builders". He offers no neat pigeon holes for the rightest critics.
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