My friends at Radio Open Source are doing an online fund drive to keep their brilliant radio show on the air. The show marries Chris Lydon’s conversational genius – he’s one of very best interviewers in the business – with the power of the web to open discussions. Days before a show does on the air, the show’s staff post the idea and solicit ideas for guests, questions and discussion topics. The conversation continues after the show as well, and the most interesting shows generate vast and fascinating comment threads.
The show has had a rocky road, especially in its relationship with NPR – it’s not syndicated as widely as one would hope, and it’s been hard for the show to fundraise, due to NPR politics. (NPR asks shows to ask their listeners to support their local stations. But little of that money gets back to Radio Open Source.) The show was launched with expectation that it would receive core funding from UMass Lowell – that funding evaporated when the school changed chancellors.
Radio Open Source is what I’d like radio to be – it listens to its listeners, engages them, involves them with building shows, not just reacting to them. They’ve been great about giving voice to many Global Voices contributors and covering subjects many radio shows won’t touch. If you haven’t listened yet, please check them out. And if you feel as warmly about the show as I do, and you’re able to, please write them a check – I just did.
Radio Open Source is exceptionally good – however, it’s not an NPR show. It’s distributed by PRI – Public Radio International. So if the relationship is rocky, it’s a problem involving the show and PRI.
It is a PRI show, Todd, but the problems actually have to do with policies of the larger network of NPR stations, which encourage shows to ask for support of their stations, not direct support for production of the shows…