Sunday, December 26, 2004

Confessions of an N.P.R Addict

Recently, I was forced to confront an addiction that has been plaguing my life for years but has only now begun to become recognized by those around me and perhaps even to myself as something that is infringing on my lifestyle.

It is not drugs.

It is not alcohol.

It is N.P.R.

When I began listening to National Public Radio in high school I had no idea that it would so ingratiate its way into my life that I would find myself, one recent Saturday, at a crossroads, balancing whether to join dear friends at a festive get-together or stay home, plopped in a living room chair, an ear bent towards the glowing radio dial. But there I was.

There is no better medium for intelligent reporting, hard-hitting analysis or astute discourse than N.P.R. (sorry my beloved but deluded FOXNEWS-philes). The public radio network renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information, and cultural programming is the standard by which I judge all other news sources, radio or otherwise.

But N.P.R. is so much more than its daily news juggernauts, Morning Edition or All Things Considered, phenomenal as they are.

Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me: NPR's weekly news quiz program is one of the best hours you will spend in your week. Host Peter Sagal tests your knowledge against some of the best, brightest, and utterly funniest personalities in the entertainment world. Think you're up on your current events? We'll see!

This American Life (produced in affiliation with P.R.I.): Each week This American Life chooses a theme and invites different writers and performers, from David Sedaris to Sarah Vowell, to contribute items on that theme. The show, hosted by Ira Glass is, quite simply, just a show of stories. And it is, quite simply, mesmerizing.

Car Talk: Don't think a show about automobiles can hold your interest for an hour? Think again. Host brothers, Tom and Ray (Click and Clack) Magliozzi take calls on cars, car repair or any sort of vehicular nonsense with the minds of the M.I.T.-trained veterans they are and the funny-bones of the Italian comedians they must have been in a past life.

A Prairie Home Companion: Three decades ago this year, Garrison Keillor started a small show in Minnesota that is now heard by over 4 million people each week across the globe. A live variety show best known for whimsical stories from Lake Wobegon, A.P.H.C. is a delicious cornucopia of stories, music, comedy, and conversation. N.P.R.'s most beloved darling.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour: Teasing out the truth according to the founding father and visionary third president of the fledgling United States, Humanities scholar and author, Clay Jenkinson, adopts the persona of Jefferson each week to comment on current events and answer questions the public may have about Jefferson.

Weekend Edition Saturday: Scott Simon is simply brilliant. The Peabody Award-winning correspondent spends his program effortlessly blending insightful news coverage, thoughtful commentary, and hilarious observations into a pair of hours that leave the listener both well informed and smiling from ear to ear.

Other honorable mentions include: Whad'ya Know?, The World, Fresh Air, The Infinite Mind, and The Thistle and Shamrock.

And that is only scratching the surface of N.P.R.'s vast stockpile. Check out these fine programs and others you have just discovered you cannot live without. To find your local N.P.R. station, please visit

And so there I was, torn in two directions, balancing time spent with friends and time spent with inanimate electromagnetic radiation transmissions.

Which did I choose?

I'll have to tell you later. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me is about to begin...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brandon,

I also listen to NPR on a daily basis, and have listened since about 1987. I enjoy the variety and depth of reporting on All Things Considered.

However, I don't want to bust your bubble, but NPR has a distinct leftist slant. As soon as Daniel Schorr gets on the air, I know I am going to hear some serious propaganda. The problem with NPR is there is no "fair and balanced". They obviously don't like President Bush. When Terri Gross invited Bill O'Reilly on, she dripped with was hilarious. At least Fox News has Maura Liasson and Juan Williams on the Brit Hume show...and they get to say their peace!

I live in the Springs as well. I wish you and your family health and happiness. Listen to NPR, but remember to walk all the way around an issue before you make your final decision.


P.S. check out my blog at

2:44 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Agreed. But Maura Liasson and Juan Williams do not a "fair and balanced" network make. FOX calling itself fair and balanced is like Micheal Moore calling himself objective and unbiased. At least when NPR lets Schoor loose they have the dignity to refer to it as "editorial commentary--not news.

Happy Holidays to you too my fellow Springer (what do we call ourselves anyway!?)

10:32 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

NPR addict myself.
It does however contain a slightly left SLANT, particularly on my much beloved Fresh Air. I stress "slant" because it is nowhere near the left-field-bullpen-past-the-foul-line as something like Farenheit 9/11, obviously, but it is also not the liberal equivalent of something like FOX News (screeching, metallic graphic!).
What does happen on, say, Terri's show is that she takes a completely different conversational tone with guests depending on how she feels about their particular cause. If you are a pro-life activist, expect to be interrupted, frequently, with curt, faux-politeness, ("I-I-I-I'm sorry...did you just bring the Holocaust into this?"), but if you are the government whistle blower of the moment with a new book on the market decrying our policy in the Middle East, you will be asked leading questions that guide you towards your thesis, and you will be given ample time to expound as much as you'd like, and Terri will sound pained and understanding the whole way.
Garrison Keillor regularly makes jokes about Republicans and their policies to an appreciative audience. And his voice makes me sleepy.
I love Terri, though, and she has never yelled at anyone to shut up, or cut their mike, a la O'Reilly.

Loving the blog Brandon. Now get out of my head.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

I miss "This American Life"; we don't get it here in Springfield.
I think they don't have to pay for the endless hours of classical music.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Even though this is a year late, I must post.

NPR is good but not great because of the leftist slant it purports and strives to not have.

The worst in my opinion is Garrison Keillor shamelessly putting his agenda on the forefront of the favorite of so many: A Prairie Home Companion. I know of several people who no longer listen because it is no longer entertainment, but propaganda. I support Garrison in saying whatever he wants in the appropriate situation, such as his book, but taking over a show, that really is no longer his once he goes with it, is not fair to listeners who once loved the humor and variety it afforded them.

I know I no longer listen, not because I can't hear things that don't support my own views, but I don't appreciate the intentional misappropriation of a show.


1:05 PM  

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