Tag Archives: public radio

NPR: masters of audio editing

My career in print journalism enabled me to do some very cool things, see some fabulous places, cover compelling stories — and it exposed me to the magic of other media.

I want to offer a good word or three to National Public Radio.

I was given an opportunity, as the editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, on three occasions to take part in NPR interviews. Two of them involved the 2008 presidential election. NPR wanted to chronicle the outlook on the election as it appeared to us in the Texas Panhandle; the other party in the interviews was Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. NPR sought the views of editors from disparate regions of the country: heavily Republican Texas and “swing-state” southern Ohio.

The other interview involved President Obama’s economic stimulus package and its impact on our respective regions.

Here is what I wrote in February 2010:

NPR reaches out to the heartland

What I want to recall briefly here is how deftly NPR edited my comments to make them suitable for airing on the public airwaves.

High Plains Public Radio — an NPR affiliate — had a recording studio in downtown Amarillo. I was able to go to the studio and take part in the interview with the Washington, D.C.-based “Morning Edition” program.

What astounded me at the time — and still boggles my mind to this day — is how well NPR edited my comments. They eliminated the occasional stammer and extraneous verbiage without changing the context of my statements to the NPR interviewer. Kevin Riley, the other person being interviewed, sounded much more comfortable with radio. As for myself, it’s not my thing and I was nervous as the dickens every time I took part in this process.

It’s a remarkable skill that continues to amaze me.

NPR receives criticism from time to time, mostly from conservatives who allege the network has a “liberal bias.” My own experience with NPR did not reveal any such bias. I found NPR to be professional to the “nth” degree.

Moreover, the editors at NPR exhibited a magician’s skill at making a nervous newspaper editor sound like an experienced hand at radio.

HPPR quenches news junkies’ thirst

I am a happy radio listener.

High Plains residents — those of us who like news, information and well-reasoned analysis of current events — are getting an additional treat on our radio dial.

It’s called 9.49 Connect. It’s an expanded news offering provided by High Plains Public Radio. When HPPR’s morning news shows go off the air — while being broadcast simultaneously on 94.9 and 105.7 FM — 94.9 Connect stays on the air with more news and commentary.

HPPR rolled out its expanded news offering this past week. In doing so, it has decided to quench the thirst for news junkies such as yours truly.

National Public Radio for too long has gotten a bad rap by those who suggest it is some sort of “liberal organ” that only squishy lefties would appreciate.

Wrong, man! Double wrong! Triple wrong!

If you’ll pardon my lifting a common mantra from the 2016 presidential election, NPR “tells it like it is.” So does its affiliate station, HPPR, which is headquartered in Garden City, Kan.

I am happy to sing the praises of a non-commercial radio station, given that public radio relies on listener support and corporate “underwriters.”

And make no mistake, its news presentation strides down the straight and narrow. It doesn’t pepper its coverage with buzz words and partisan rhetoric, which I suppose is what its critics — mainly those on the far right — wish it would do.

Only they want the news slanted in their direction.

High Plains Public Radio has just enhanced the quality of life for public radio listeners — and news junkies — across our vast region.

Thank you, HPPR.

NPR far from being a ‘propaganda’ vehicle

I hate disagreeing with one of the great editorialists of our time, but I feel the need to make a point or two about a news medium that is about to expand its presence in the Texas Panhandle.

Paul Greenberg, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a man I consider to be a friend, has referred to National Public Radio as “National Propaganda Radio.”

Ouch, man!

Greenberg is a noted conservative columnist who works these days for the (Little Rock) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. So, his view of NPR perhaps is tainted a bit by his own political leaning.

The Panhandle version of NPR, High Plains Public Radio headquartered in Garden City, Kan., is set to launch an expanded news/information service that will be located at 94.9 FM on the radio dial. It will broadcast news 24/7. HPPR is having a ceremony on Monday at its downtown Amarillo office to mark the occasion.

This is a big deal on a number of levels.

Understand that the Texas Panhandle is as right wing in its outlook as any region in the country. It once was known to be fertile ground for isolationist groups such as the John Birch Society, the folks who disdain the United Nations, fearing it’s a cover for a worldwide takeover of every nation’s sovereignty.

But HPPR sought contributions from listeners in the region to launch the all-news system. It received them.

Public radio long has been the bogeyman of right wingers, who insist that it’s nothing but a liberal mouthpiece, that is spouts lies, tilts the news toward the left, that it serves as a propaganda organ for squishy liberal thinkers.

As Col. Sherman T. Potter would say: buffalo bagels!

A friend and former colleague of mine who used to work at HPPR in Amarillo once told me that NPR’s gurus made sure that on-air news presenters and reporters avoided using the term “reform” to describe the Affordable Care Act. “Reform,” my friend said, implies an improvement over existing policy and NPR wanted to be sure to avoid the appearance of bias in its reporting of this highly controversial public policy. NPR’s preferred term was “overhaul,” he said. Fair enough.

I learned long ago when I started my career in print journalism that bias — without exception — is a product of one’s own world view. If you disagree with someone else’s view, then that person is “biased.” One rarely sees or hears of people acknowledging their own bias. I received a good bit of that sort of criticism during nearly four decades in journalism, most of which I spent writing opinions for newspapers.

Do I have my own bias? Sure I do. Do I gravitate toward certain news media over others because I perceive some media taint their news with “bias”? Yes again.

Public radio, though, is a different animal altogether. Its presentation of news is as fair as fair gets. It even has fans and followers who often don’t want to acknowledge it.

I recall a conversation I had with a key aide to U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon Republican who has represented the 13th Congressional District since 1995. This source — who also happens to be a friend — actually whispered to me over the phone that many on Thornberry’s staff “listen to NPR.”

Why are you whispering? I asked. My friend said, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s just what we do around here.”

Fear not. NPR isn’t out to poison anyone’s mind. It’s here only to provide news we can use … in whatever way we choose.

And it damn sure isn’t propaganda.

HPPR set to deepen its news footprint

I came home this evening from work and found a nice surprise that had come in today’s mail.

It was an invitation to the launch of High Plains Public Radio’s brand new all-news programming that begins March 6.

This is a big deal, folks, one that makes me happy in the extreme about the quality of news that will be available to public radio listeners in Amarillo and much of the rest of the High Plains.

It will be at 94.9 FM on the radio dial.

Here’s what I understand about it.

HPPR, which broadcasts news from National Public Radio, will continue with its regular morning and early-evening news content, with features such as “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” being broadcast daily.

But when the HPPR broadcast at 105.7 FM turns to music in the morning at the end of “Morning Edition,” the 94.9 FM channel will continue to offer news, features, commentary and assorted items from throughout the region and, oh yes, the rest of the world.

I spoke with Wayne Hughes of Amarillo, the former head of the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association — and a longtime contributor to HPPR — about this several months ago. He told me of the fundraising effort that was underway in the region to pay for the new operation.

Given that public radio doesn’t broadcast “radio advertising” in the fashion that privately owned stations do, it must rely on listeners to donate; yes, public radio has its share of corporate sponsors, too.

Why am I so excited about this?

Well, I am not much of a classical music fan. My taste in music is limited basically to classic rock ‘n roll. Our classic rock offerings in Amarillo are a bit limited.

However, I am a news junkie. I like getting my news via public radio when I have the radio nearby — and have it turned on.

The all-news station is going to fulfill my craving for news.

I’ve written before about public radio and the value I believe it has brought to the region since it started in the 1980s. The late Levi Bivins, along with his brother Mark, and Jay O’Brien all were instrumental in launching HPPR in the first place.

I am indebted to all of them for the hard work they performed in assuring quality public radio listening to those of us who aren’t all that nuts about morning drive-time blather on many of the commercial stations.

HPPR is now set to take the next big step in its evolution.

I am one listener who is mighty excited to welcome it.

Yes, there's intelligent discussion out there

Public television, as well as public radio, get vilified by those who object to a so-called “liberal bias” in both media.

I don’t see it. Then again, perhaps my own bias clouds my vision.

A recent discussion by two noted pundits — one liberal and one conservative — points out, though, that common ground can exist and that two ideological foes can actually agree.

David Brooks, the conservative, writes a column for The New York Times; Mark Shields, the liberal, writes a syndicated column distributed by newspapers around the country.

They took up the issue of President Obama’s speech this past week at the National Prayer Breakfast. Speaking on the PBS NewsHour on Friday, I was struck by Brooks’s comments in particular.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/shields-brooks-politics-vaccination-using-religion-justify-evil-acts/

The president said Christians shouldn’t be too quick to cast stones at Islamic terrorists because Christianity has been used by radicals to do bad things “in the name of Christ.” Obama cited the Crusades and the Inquisition as examples.

Obama’s remarks have drawn considerable fire from the right. Brooks, however, takes a different view:

“I think, if the president had come as an atheist to attack religion and to attack Christianity, the Republicans would have a point. That’s not what a president should be doing.

“But that’s not how he came. He has used that prayer breakfast year after year to talk about his own faith, his own faith journey, his own struggles. He’s used it — he has come as a Christian. And the things he said were things — I have never met a Christian who disagreed with what he issued, that the religion has been perverted, that we have to walk humbly before the face of the lord, that God’s purposes are mysterious to us.

“This is not like some tangential, weird belief. This is at the core of every Christian’s faith and every Jew’s faith. And so what he said was utterly normal and admirable and a recognition of historical fact and an urge towards some humility. And so I thought the protests were manufactured and falsely manufactured.”

This kind of view illustrates, in my opinion, what makes public television so valuable. You do not hear the screamers — on the left or the right — trying to outshout the other side. Oh sure, you have the McLaughlin Group, but even those discussions are mild compared to what one hears on MSNBC or Fox.

As for Brooks and Shields, these two men are known for their agreeable disagreements.

I’ll take that level of civility over the scream fests any day of the week.