One argument for government funding for NPR runs that its news coverage is comprehensive in a way that other radio news programming isn’t. Aside from the fact that that’s irrelevant — the federal government still has no business funding it — it’s not true. There is a viable and growing commercial alternative. And it’s not sucking up a dime of federal funding.
Along comes “America’s Radio News Network”
The whole NPR fiasco seems to fit in perfectly for America’s Radio News Network, the only marketplace long-form radio news alternative to NPR. John McCaslin, EVP of America’s Radio News Network, tells RBR-TVBR that ARNN’s stated position actually meets most every criteria of what the Obama FCC might want–which is balanced, accurate reporting without a political (or any other) agenda, combined with an ability to do differing degrees of localism – heavy to light — within the three-hour syndicated news programming blocks. By design, it might be the only programming that oddly enough, the Obama administration, Libertarians and Conservatives alike, could unanimously support as a free-market solution to what ails NPR.”
“Prior to all of this we did analytics and we had every expectation that NPR will be around forever,” says Mark Masters, CEO of ARNN. “All we are trying to do is serve the listeners that felt underserved by the often overt bias of NPR. Never in our wildest imaginations would we have thought that this sad event would have occurred at NPR. We have the greatest respect for all the wonderful broadcasters there. All in all, I think NPR and all of its affiliate stations get up every day to provide a great public service and our hats are off to them. My heart goes out to them for having to suffer the repercussions of bad judgment at a high level.”
Nevertheless, ARNN, as a long-form news option, may take a lot of listeners from NPR for the above reasons. We even wonder if some public radio stations actually take ARNN and its sister, America’s Morning News (AMN—6AM-9AM), as well, if NPR is de-funded this week by Congress.
Full disclosure: I know many of the folks involved with ARNN, both on air and behind the scenes. It exists on the same network as my former show, and I’ve appeared as a guest on both of ARNN’s programs, the morning edition and the afternoon edition. One of our bloggers, Amy Holmes, hosts ARNN’s morning show.
But all of that said, ARNN is a great radio product, and it’s growing strong on a national basis. It’s currently in roughly 135 markets and growing. It takes no federal funding and doesn’t have to beg from dubious sources like George Soros and fake Muslim Brotherhood front groups to keep it going. It will fly or not based on how it performs in the marketplace, which is exactly how it ought to be. And so far, it’s flying just fine.