Too Beautiful to Live

NPR CEO Responds To The 'BPP' Crowd

NPR's interim CEO, Dennis Haarsager, sent this post for our blog. He writes:

Thanks to everyone who has voiced support for the Bryant Park Project on this blog and elsewhere. We have read almost all of these letters and postings (I've personally read about a third of the blog comments). I have asked the BPP staff to permit me to use this space to respond to many of your questions and concerns, and offer more insight into our decision and where we are headed.

First, let me wholeheartedly agree with your high praise for the BPP staff. They are a team of smart, creative journalists who have delivered compelling programming every day. I want to specifically mention Alison Stewart, one of the finest hosts in broadcasting today; executive producer Sharon Hoffman; and senior supervising producer Matt Martinez. They are some of the most talented people I have ever encountered in broadcasting and they have done a great job of presenting news in a different way and in building loyalty among all of you in a short period of time. They have my gratitude and the respect of this entire organization.

It's ironic that as one of public broadcasting's earliest and most persistent proponents of digital media, and someone now deeply involved in shaping NPR's digital future, I find myself on this side of the decision to end this great project. One of the joys — and frustrations — of launching new concepts in digital media is the tiny base of experience upon which we make decisions. As you might know, BPP was created as a two-hour program primarily for satellite radio and the Web, with additional audience coming from a few radio stations.

BPP was designed to help us explore the complex, undefined digital media environment and, we hoped, to establish new ways of providing content on unfamiliar platforms. We've/I've learned — or relearned — a lot in this process. For non-commercial media such as NPR, sustaining a new program of this financial magnitude requires attracting users from each of the platforms we can access. Ultimately, we recognized that wasn't happening with BPP. Radio carriage didn't materialize to any degree: right now, BPP airs on only five analog radio stations and 19 HD Radio digital channels. Web/podcasting usage was also hampered — here's the relearning part — since we were offering an "appointment program" in a medium that doesn't excel in that kind of usage. Web radio is growing very rapidly (much faster than FM did), but it's almost all to music and, increasingly, to attention-tracking music (e.g., Pandora). While there might be a viable audience for a day/time specific program on the Web at some point in the future, it is not on the horizon.

A number of you have expressed concern that with this cancellation, NPR has forsaken its commitment to reaching younger audiences. That isn't true. We're doing it at npr.org/music and on many of our major news magazines, on the radio, online and via podcasting. While our reach crosses several demographics, younger audiences are well-represented.

Many offered to contribute directly to BPP. It's unclear (that's the word people use when they don't know the answer) that this would work. At the average donation level to public radio stations, it would take more than 25,000 people to cover BPP's costs. Public radio programs with much larger audiences that are doing direct fundraising are, I'm told, bringing in much smaller amounts. We are exploring new ways to pay for public media programming, but this one won't be solved in time to be applied to BPP.

Finally, some of you have raised the possibility of continuing BPP solely as a website. This suggestion is a good place for future consideration but, for a variety of reasons, not something we're able to undertake today with our existing resources. I am encouraging NPR news and digital media colleagues to think about how we can do good journalism at the caliber of what BPP delivered via the Web using techniques beyond just throwing up another portal-type site and expecting people to come to it. Our new Open API release is a great tool for that. The realities of how people use the Web, how Web audiences grow through search and technologies for tracking attention and tailoring content delivery to match how people spend their attention all need to be considered. Portals still have a place, just as their close cousins radio transmitters do, but we can no longer put all our eggs in any of those baskets.

NPR will, I hope, be a leader in a new generation of news delivery over multiple platforms, including ones we've never conceived. But we can't make those second-generation investments if we continue first-generation efforts that aren't consistent with what we know about how media usage is maturing.

Comments

 

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Please disregard my last blog comment. When I posted that, I didn't get to see Mr. Haarsager's full comment.

This full comment is more more objective and I understand much more clearly why the BPP is being canceled. I am still very sad about it, but understand that doing this type of radio/ web show may not work right now.

My apologies,

Sent by Julia from Denver | 3:49 PM | 7-22-2008

The problem with Haarsager's claim that "BPP was created as a two-hour program primarily for satellite radio and the Web, with additional audience coming from a few radio stations" is that he then laments that "a few radio stations" wasn't enough.

It's been said already on Twitter today, but the thing about BPP that Haarsager misses is that it never served as a "portal," but as an organic center for community involvement.

Moreover, saying they won't try direct funding because they don't know if it would work (or just help) is short-sighted and (all apologies to Mr. Haarsager), flagrantly stupid.

It should be patently obvious that you don't know until you try.

Sent by Matthew Trisler, Radio-Sweethearts.com | 3:54 PM | 7-22-2008

Mr. Haarsager, I appreciate that you're responding to us directly. I'm sure it's a lot like wading into a mob of angry people even if it is only internet people.

With regard to the monetary situation, if individuals pledged $10 a month for a whole year, it would take under 17,000 people to cover the year's costs for the BPP. To solve the problem of pledging directly to a show and then, in the end, not having enough money, it is feasable to have a pre-pledge drive. Individuals would pledge to give a certain amount but would not give any credit card or banking information. That way NPR's financial office could evaluate the pre-pledge dollars to see if it would cover the operating expenses. If the viewer response is great enough, those who pre-pledged would be held to their pledge just as a regular pledge would. At this point NPR would collect the proper information to aquire the pledge dollars. If that model were successful, it would be a small step to add a "Donate to This Show" button on the show's website. That way new and old viewers would be able to donate any time.

I'm sad at the loss of a community of people who somehow were so like me while being different. I realize that at this late date it's probably too late to save the BPP but at least keep that pledge plan in mind for the future since the trend in listenership is moving online. It wouldn't be too difficult to give a show a 6-9 month trial period to get listenership up (this does have to include proper advertisement) and then announce the desire to do a pledge drive just for that one show. It's also a good gague of how well the show is received.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 4:05 PM | 7-22-2008

Dennis,

Thanks for reading the comments and writing this, but I'm afraid it isn't going to satisfy me or many others who support BPP.

First, while I realize that you weren't head of NPR when the show started, could they have realistically expected there to be much analog carriage of another two hour morning news program?

Even shorter programs not tied to a particular time period take years to build up carriage.

I also think you are too tied into old models on online fundraising and a mostly web focused program.

Groups like moveon and the Dean campaign (and now Obama) have shown that money can be raised online if they set a goal and tell their supporters what the money will be used for.

You do have to set realistic goals (so the first time it should be a modest number which can grow as more people become supporters).

The current public radio pledge drive model is broken (not as badly as on public television, but it is still incredibly annoying for regular listeners), and you should be experimenting with new models.

And here you have people willing to give you money without even being asked.

I'm also surprised you didn't at least keep the show going at least through the election. You're reachign an audience that may vote in greater numbers than in a long time. And they need information.

While some of them will listen to other NPR news programs, it is clear from the comments people who don't are listening, and more importantly, interacting with BPP.

I really hope you'll reconsider (and soon).

Sent by Steve Rhodes | 4:06 PM | 7-22-2008

I was entering into the "acceptance" phase of grief until I read this post. Now all I want to do is rage and scream, "What a Corporate Tool!!"

God, I want to go bite someone.

Sent by Susie | 4:07 PM | 7-22-2008

I still don't get it. O well back to npr stations that play classical music 90% of the time.

Sent by Brandon | 4:08 PM | 7-22-2008

As eloquent and flattering as that message was, it still didn't fully address the two major mistakes that NPR made that led to the BPP cancellation.

The first was funding. Mr. Haarsager himself says, 'We are exploring new ways to pay for public media programming, but this one won't be solved in time to be applied to BPP.' Shouldn't this have been something you should explore before launching a new show? I still don't understand why they thought hew show style (mixed media) and old funding strategies would work.

The second is the length of time they gave the show to succeed. 9 months isn't nearly enough time, and they shouldn't have begun the show if they couldn't have made a significant commitment to its success.

Sent by G | 4:18 PM | 7-22-2008

I agree with Matthew in that you can have no idea the power of direct funding unless you try. The connection that many of us have with the show through the internet creates a stronger, more committed listener. Given the chance I know I would give as much as I possibly could to keep the BPP in my day.

Sent by Drew | 4:21 PM | 7-22-2008

Shorter Haarsager: We've replaced you all with an API.

Snarky, but only slightly, I think.

People don't want an API. They don't want "tailored content delivery" or their "attention tracked."

Those are buzz words.

It seems to me, somehow, your outlook on the BPP was more about the neat, shiny technology than anything else.

More focused on the "networks" than the "social."

And that's too bad.

Sent by Carlo | 4:49 PM | 7-22-2008

Thanks to Mr. Haarsager for giving us more insight into the decision making process. It is reasonable to assume, however, that this is but the tip of the reasoning iceberg. We won't be given insights into the metrics that were established to evaluate the BPP nor the politics between NPR and its member stations that would weigh on the direct funding approach. These would have been interesting.

NPR should have availed itself of this opportunity to try direct funding because the current NPR funding model in unsustainable. I still support my local NPR station, but more out of a sense of duty than anything else. I have no love for them, their constant interruptions of national program with local crud, and their closed-door decision making (which rather reminds me a lot of the decision to cancel the BPP). Except for my dead of night BBC fix all of my listening is either streaming or podcast and I avail myself of every opportunity to support the shows I like directly. I'm about one recession away from dropping my support for my local station all together. NPR needs to allow me to contribute more directly to the things I like or risk losing my support entirely.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 5:03 PM | 7-22-2008

Ditto Carlo's comments below ...

Sent by LB Nelson | 5:03 PM | 7-22-2008

In appreciation for Mr. Haarsager's carefully considered and totally original post, I will now post the exact comment I made elsewhere, with a couple of minor changes so it looks original.

You said this: "But we can't make those second-generation investments if we continue first-generation efforts that aren't consistent with what we know about how media usage is maturing."

The new face of media is not about sitting around and reading studies and reports before you make a move. You do something first, see if it works, and make adjustments. eBay wasn't an instant hit. Neither was MySpace, or BoinBoing, or any of a hundred examples. But the secret is making a move, not sitting around waiting for an idea. The secret is trying a good idea, and then adjusting it to make it better. Not shutting the whole damn thing down and starting again from square one.

You can't make those second-generation efforts succeed if you kill off the attempts to create "new media" before giving them a chance to succeed. I can't believe that you would cancel the BPP - a slap in the face to all associated with the project - and then ask its braintrust to come up with ideas on creating online content. They had a brilliant idea, and you've euthanized it.

You suggest that the BPP was an example of "putting all your eggs in one basket". But later in your piece, you demonstrate that you haven't put all of your eggs in one basket: you're podcasting, you've got the new NPR Music website, you've got the whatever-the-hell API (that I don't even understand and I may never use), and you've got the BPP. It seemed to me that the BPP was part of a strategy - not the be-all/end-all of your new media strategy. There must be a way to keep the BPP going in some lower-cost format, since is it your most adventurous and most successful venture in 21st generation media to date.

The comparison to Morning Edition and ATC's audience - even in terms of podcasts - is unfair. Those programs have a thirty-year record, and they are essentially "destination programs." When people are trying to find NPR programs, they look for Morning Edition and All Things Considered. They don't look for News and Notes. They don't look for Tell Me More. They don't look for the BPP. This is a problem of branding and marketing, not of the BPP's quality or content. This is an external problem, not an internal one.

Despite that, the BPP built a passionate audience of a million people - on air, online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on the blog - in less than ten months. Morning Edition has an audience of thirteen million, after thirty years.

T. Weiss has it exactly right: BPP is part of the long list of programs on the NPR website, but without some strategic cross-marketing, of course it's not going to succeed. Morning Edition and All Things Considered should be promoting the BPP regularly, in the way that they regularly use stories from programs like Youth Radio and other outside projects. (All Things Considered has never replayed a BPP story - never.) There needs to be a strategic effort to build cross-brand interest. You don't just send a new project out there to sink or swim - it has to be nurtured and supported, or else it will inevitably fail.

Sent by Sky Bluesky | 5:07 PM | 7-22-2008

@Dennis Haarsager, while yours may be a thankless job, especially when it comes to decisions over what show to cancel, your message rings hollow for one important reason: timing.

This message would have been greeted as a call to action from the BPP community to kick in financial support for the show had it been sent to the BPP Blog before July 11, the last workday before the cancellation notice came. Instead, it comes on July 22, a full 8 days after the cancellation notice.

As a reverted NPR listener, a listener who came back to NPR because of the BPP, I understand that the average NPR listener treats their show as a member of the family. Believe or not, the BPP community has an even greater attachment than that, not just to the show but to each other. This isn't simply a show; it's a community. Staff and listeners exchange with one another, sometimes on news items and sometimes on more personal stuff. There are many examples of personal and intelligent exchanges between staff and listeners, examples that, if you take some time to look at on the blog, you will find have a depth of affection not found in anything else NPR produces on-line. This is not to disparage those other shows but to show how special the BPP is as a community.

I wish you could reconsider this move, but I'm a realist. I hope NPR will learn what a treasure it's lost before the network becomes irrelevant.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon @mattsteady | 5:11 PM | 7-22-2008

Love to Daniel Holloway. Thanks Sandy Minot for finding and posting that.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 5:26 PM | 7-22-2008

I can't pretend to understand alot of the internet jargon - downloading podcasts is about the extent of my internet savvy. However, I have found BPP to be the best original programming to come out of NPR in years. Its a shame to see it go. I wonder why more wasn't done to interest local stations in picking up BPP? I have been an avid NPR listener for 20 years, and show my support by writing that check once a year. Admittedly, it will be harder for me to write that check this year.

Sent by E | 5:41 PM | 7-22-2008

I am 74 and live alone. Local NPR stations are mostly music. I get on the net and listen to NPR talk. I just found BPP and enjoyed it very much, intelagent but not stiff. It gave me many smiles and was topical. I wish I could have been saved. The idea of internet show funding should be explored. The net lets me listen any time I wish. The way of the future.

Sent by John Riley | 5:48 PM | 7-22-2008

"NPR will, I hope, be a leader in a new generation of news delivery over multiple platforms, including ones we've never conceived. But we can't make those second-generation investments if we continue first-generation efforts that aren't consistent with what we know about how media usage is maturing"
Mr. Harrsager your message rings false. In life there is no hope, there is only do and don't do. Either you will do what is necessary to move toward those second generation investments, or you will cower and fall back on stale programming that has served for twenty plus years. The BPP is a bold experiment in knitting together a community through all the available media of our day, and one that would continue to expand as the media does. Giving it less than one year to succeed would have been the equivalent of President Kennedy asking NASA to put us on the moon, and then canceling the funding a year later for lack of success. You and your cadre who sit in your offices are obviously out of touch with what is happening in the world around you.
And by the way, I could really care less about your new API....

Sent by Greg Gioe | 6:27 PM | 7-22-2008

Any CEO that gives a show nine months to succeed will not be a CEO much longer I predict. Too bad BPP had to pay the price for this ineptitude. I believe I was one of the listeners NPR was seeking, 40 something male. I'm switching back to my local AM news and I won't be pledging my support to NPR anymore. I don't understand why NPR insists on going back to a conservative, boring "muzak" programming approach - its had limited success in the past; as podcasting and other forms of digital media expand NPR must change or face failure.

Sent by Mike | 6:29 PM | 7-22-2008

"We're doing it at npr.org/music and ..." um, ok. I want talk that isn't directed to people much older and more conservative than me. Music isn't why I care, I can get that anywhere. (by the way, I'm a 20-something woman)

Sent by AmandaJ | 7:09 PM | 7-22-2008

As I read your response to the BPP supporters I found many points made by you that need to mention for our consideration.
1. The HD creation is a growth from computers and the interment; allowing many different platforms to be broadcasted to a special HD radio. As of February 2009 anyone that does own a HDTV will not be able to receive television signals through the air. Everyone would need to purchase a HDTV, Purchase a HD converter box for an analog TV, subscription to a cable or satellite system.
2. At this time there is no time for radio stations to convert their signal to HD; there is no date from the FCC to cause this to occur. The small amount of NPR has only 19 signals at this time.
3. As a volunteer in the 60's pioneering a community radio station in St. Louis, Missouri and a listener to another one here on Columbia, Missouri many programs that on KWMU and KBIA are on both community radio stations. These stations are operating from the listener's donations and available grants and funding sources. As previously mentioned Pre designated donations to NPR stations for BPP any other NPR programs will certainly support each program. Listeners and supporters of NPR will know that money is going to a known and revered NPR product.
4. The idea of HD radio is a jump in to the future. Web-based and satellite radio has been up and running for some time. Why try to create another wheel when there are options for NPR to investigate further.

Sent by Steven J. Oberman, MSW | 7:11 PM | 7-22-2008

I've enjoyed and looked forward to coming home and listening to the BPP online in the evening while I cook dinner. I'm very disappointed the show is about to end. I would happily contribute $100/yr to the show.

Sent by Michael | 7:16 PM | 7-22-2008

The sad reality is that the best entertainment often fails to attract an audience.

At least the BPP can claim the company of infrequently consumed gems like "Andy Barker: Private Investigator," "Arrested Development," "Firefly," and "Wallace and Gromit and Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Personally, I'm still holding out hope that they will turn the show into a movie at some point... they did it with "Prairie Home Companion" after all, why not the BPP!

Sent by Will G | 7:29 PM | 7-22-2008

That's the sorriest dose of pablum I've ever had the misfortune of reading. If you say the audience isn't there for an "appointment program" on the web, then why not focus on formats that allow listeners to time shift the content? Most days I listened to BPP via the podcast around noon Eastern time.

Good riddance, NPR. You guys have screwed the pooch, and you've lost me as a listener and a contributer, and more importantly as a supporter via my blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed.

Sent by ronbailey | 8:48 PM | 7-22-2008

I'm dumbfounded. A few reactions--

"Web/podcasting usage was also hampered -- here's the relearning part -- since we were offering an 'appointment program' in a medium that doesn't excel in that kind of usage."

But the "appointment" was one of the things I loved about the BPP. Before leaving for work every morning, I'd sync the podcast to my iPod and listen to it on the subway, in my breaks, and on the way home again. Being two hours a day, the BPP pushed out nearly every other podcast I listened to during the week. And guess what? That was just fine! NPR had taken over my iPod, thanks to the BPP (and I've been listening to podcasts since before the word was coined). I really don't know what I'm going to be listening to come next week. Maybe the medium doesn't "excel" in that kind of usage, but so what? The web doesn't excel in delivering physical things to people either, but lots of companies (e.g. Amazon, Netflix) make a huge business out of it.

"A number of you have expressed concern that with this cancellation, NPR has forsaken its commitment to reaching younger audiences. That isn't true. We're doing it at npr.org/music and on many of our major news magazines, on the radio, online and via podcasting. While our reach crosses several demographics, younger audiences are well-represented."

I just checked npr.org/music again. I think Mr. Haarsager is either confusing style with substance ("look, we have a pretty website, you younger people like pretty websites, don't you?") or he doesn't know enough about new music (or the npr.org/music site) to realize that most of the npr.org/music pieces for this demographic came from the BPP.

As for the rest of the comment--if this were true, then you'd be telling us which other "major news magazines, or the radio, online and via podcasting" that "the Ramble" and "the Most" will be moving to, where we'll be hearing Matt and Ian and Dan and Tricia and Laura (or any voices similar to theirs) talk seriously but in a live and unscripted way about the day's stories. But no, you canned them.

I'm not touching the "portal" comments except to say I have no clue what the heck Mr. Haarsager is talking about. I work in technology and spent 10 years of my career on the web, and I still don't know what a "portal" is. These comments just further confuse me.

And the API thing is again confusing format (or in this case, protocol) with content. Great, now I can get stuff from NPR on-demand in a new way besides finding a particular page on npr.org and clicking play. But if I don't care about that content, it doesn't matter. We loved the BPP's content, not just how it was delivered.

Completely confused.

Sent by Trey (@treyethan) | 9:07 PM | 7-22-2008

That API thing is scary looking and requires a lot of weeding through junk... I am going to miss the BPP. Lots.

Sent by Teresa | 9:08 PM | 7-22-2008

What a cold, sterile, and rather corporate response. And where were you last week? Where were you when we all first heard about this? It took you over a week for that response? Why would you only give this program 9 months to pilot instead of 12? Pathetic.

At this rate, NPR will never be a leader of this platform. You stifle new talent and keep the dry voices of Morning Edition on the air. Just because we're young and can't open our wallets as frequently as the older generation, we don't get programming geared towards us?

At this rate, maybe you'll be an interim CEO as long as the BPP was on the air.

Sent by Sarah | 9:23 PM | 7-22-2008

The fact that you would steer us to NPR's music site as a replacement for a news and information show proves only that you haven't the slightest idea what the Bryant Park Project was, or what it meant to its audience.

Tell me, when you were Peter-Principled into your current position, were you even aware that a show called The Bryant Park Project even existed?

Sent by Stewart | 9:40 PM | 7-22-2008

Yet they're still all now unemployed.

Sent by Michael | 9:41 PM | 7-22-2008

Hey Dennis-

I'm a Fund Development professional...no lie....I raise money for a living and have worked for nonprofits all my career. Hire me, I'll raise enough money for the BPP. I have a broad range of development experience including corporate, foundations, major gifts and special events. I just know I could have adequate revenue to cover their expenses in no time!

Give me a call....I'd love to work for NPR. :)

Sent by Julie in North Carolina | 9:43 PM | 7-22-2008

Starting w/a Web-only version that is a free feed, you would quickly have enough interest to offer a member level that provides more content and opportunities for interactivity. This is what BPPers crave. I know this because it works at http://gspn.tv/. Check out the amazing success of the model Ravenscraft used. And new media is not his professional background! If he can do it (and he's done it very well), then a team of NPR brains can surely figure it out if they care about the concerns of their listeners. If not, then donations to local stations will continue to drop as the demographics of those funding Morning Edition and All Things Considered continue to get older and not connected to the vibrancy of the connected community composed of ALL ages within the BPP community.

Sent by T. Weiss | 9:47 PM | 7-22-2008

Great feedback, thanks for posting. If BPP is left on the alter of improved digital programming; then so it is. It's effort and experience to be proud of. Keep up the courage for trying new projects.

Sent by Jared | 9:57 PM | 7-22-2008

I want to agree with AmandaJ. I can get music anywhere. I want NPR to bring me relevant, real news content that I won't find anywhere else. BBP did that (and threw in music too).

I thought NPR was here to fill in the gaps that commercial radio leaves. This move says to me that NPR thinks commercial radio is going in the right direction and wants to be more like it. The more I read and hear about this decision, the more disappointed I am by the short-sighted views of the management.

Sent by Chris Etheridge | 10:04 PM | 7-22-2008

I wholeheartedly second what Matthew C. Scallon (@mattsteady) said. While I appreciate Dennis Haarsager's post, I do wonder why it happened that we couldn't have heard BPP was not sustainable quite a while ago and then been given the opportunity to support it ourselves? I also would be happy to contribute to keep it going. I am so going to miss hearing it in the morning while getting ready for work and, amazingly, having the chance to interact with these folks in real time via Twitter as I hear their live broadcast. Nothing like it elsewhere and it's such a shame that it's gone. If it's unsustainable then that I can accept, but it's harder to accept given the fact we weren't given a chance to help...

Sent by eladyland | 10:15 PM | 7-22-2008

I agree with all of the above.

I've wondered if perhaps the producers of the show could shop BPP, as it is, to Sirius and XM directly. More people would have to sign up to satellite, but it wouldn't be any more expensive than paying for the show outright. Thus, the show could be perserved; perhaps on Sirius "Left". I listen to BPP on Sirius and would love to have it stay there, in whatever form it might need to take.

NPR may well die slowly as its typical demographics die. Satellite seems here to stay (for a given value of 'stay'). Viva la BBP!

Sent by Kelley R. | 10:28 PM | 7-22-2008

@Will G
I was thinking the same thing about the BPP movie :D The reason I started listening to NPR in the first place was I watched Prairie Home Companion because it looked interesting. I watched and said "they still make radio like this?!" and my husband says it's on NPR. I've been listener since then though I rarely listen to PHC. My only two (down to one now) shows that I religiously listen to are the BPP and Wait Wait.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 10:58 PM | 7-22-2008

I do not think NPR completely understands what BPP offers. David states "A number of you have expressed concern that with this cancellation, NPR has forsaken its commitment to reaching younger audiences. That isn't true. We're doing it at npr.org/music and on many of our major news magazines, on the radio, online and via podcasting."
Simply offering something in a new media does not mean that it is geared towards a younger audience. The younger audience you are reaching is not the skateboarding, granola eating jobless hippie. We are exactly like your older audience but with younger souls and different taste. We are the Daily Show generation. We vote. We work. We want our BPP. NPR is making a big mistake by cutting this experiment off so soon. A big mistake.

Sent by Eight | 11:42 PM | 7-22-2008

Good bye BPP and good luck in finding you somewhere on the net soon. I 'm sorry the nimrod CEO didn't get it. Here's to hoping he only has 9 months of tenure left. I am not sure I want to support NPR after this.

Sent by Lorraine | 11:49 PM | 7-22-2008

I feel a little bad for Haarsager, as there is simply nothing he's going to be able to say to make people happy. The decision to cut the BPP has probably been brewing in the main office since day 1. No reason to shoot the messenger for that alone.

On the other hand, how could NPR not have been aware that the BPP had a big community of fans who would pitch some money their way? How did they not see a great opportunity to actually experiment with online fundraising and see how it goes? And why is it that nobody at NPR seems to be able to talk about new technology without sounding like my grandma trying to figure out her cell phone?

Thank you, Dennis Haarsager, for having enough respect for your staff and their fans to address our concerns directly. I have no issues with your comments themselves, but what it says about NPR's ability to adapt to a changing marketplace really worries me...

Also, while I have your ear, is there any way you can convince the WOSU affiliate to play something other then The NPR Vaguely Ethnic Music Program on loop for hours at a time?

Sent by disgruntled in OH | 11:55 PM | 7-22-2008

I am totally un-pacificatied. There are no programs that take the place of the BPP and I will no longer donate to NPR.

Sent by Alan | 12:04 AM | 7-23-2008

I guess this comment from the "CEO" of NPR is supposed to put us all in our places.

I have given to NPR in the past because I have felt included. I can't always donate to NPR but I have always given what I could because I see NPR as a real source of unbiased news. I will never give to public radio again because I feel it is not worthwhile to donate to a cause that sees my voice as unworthwhile. The BPP was the probably the best news radio program since "Day to Day" and the only one this 24-year-old has cared to sponsor.

Congratulations on losing a life-long NPR listener.

Alan Crocker
Rome, Georgia

Sent by Alan Crocker | 12:53 AM | 7-23-2008

What about once a week? that should be about 20 percent of the cost, right?

Anyway, what happened with the podcasts? Since June 15th, you have only released one hour a day of the BPP. I would like to hear the second hour.

Sent by Erik in New Jersey | 1:21 AM | 7-23-2008

I hate NPR for this. No more money from me until you bring back the BPP.

Boooo NPR, booooooooooooo.

By NPR's own measure of success, the BPP is (or should I say "was") a huge success. I just don't get it.

By the way. www.npr.org/music sucks! And how long until you scrap that too?

I don't follow your explanation at all. Frankly, no one here does.

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 3:34 AM | 7-23-2008

Mr. Haarsager underestimates, I think, the level of loyalty among BPP listeners and their likely willingness to support a dynamic, vital program. I also sense no love (respect, yes, but no passion) in his comments for such a vibrant, hip show, so it's no surprise that NPR was able to so easily pull the plug on it. Shame on you, NPR, for not trying harder to keep the BPP flame alive. Cut back here or there, try to direct fundraise, try anything, but don't just walk away from radio magic.

Sent by A. Magni | 4:03 AM | 7-23-2008

For all those saying NPR should have raised money directly for BPP, there's a political mess you're not aware of here.

If NPR openly attempted to raise money for any program, with large or small station carriage, the nationwide collection of stations would revolt. And please note the Board of NPR is majority-controlled by stations.

In short, it would never be attempted and would certainly be killed if it were.

There are indeed structural and cultural problems within NPR that make a project like BPP fail and put all forms of new media engagements at risk. But never forget that many of NPR's most anti-new media anti-innovation qualities are inherited from the codependent relationship with the stations. In a sense, it's no one's fault, yet it's everyone's fault. And that's the center of the problem.

The entire system is trapped by its own success in the radio medium -- not the web. Asking it to change in fundamental ways (e.g. embracing direct funding, using the web innovatively and as a medium of first resort, building real community) is asking for a revolution in which heads would most certainly roll.

But public radio has not historically been a head-rolling collection of institutions.

If you want to change public media for the better, focus on your local station -- volunteer, get on the Board, ask tough questions, demand new services, and prove to your station there's money to be saved and made in engaging the community in new ways, especially online. And tell your station to let NPR grow and mature -- even if that means audiences want direct relationships with the network rather than the station. Local stations need a reason to exist beyond rebroadcasting NPR anyway. It's time they learned how to be local (again).

Or, failing all that, strike out on your own and create a new media entity with the soul of a public radio station but the structural DNA of a Google.

There's a future for public media, to be sure. But only time will tell whether NPR will participate in it fully and faithfully.

Sent by John Proffitt | 4:42 AM | 7-23-2008

Dear Mr.Haarsager,

Maybe you and your staff just didn't try hard enough or market strong enough to NPR stations to carry the BPP.

You didn't do your job, so you should be fired, not them.

Great work and a job poorly done!

Sent by Jenn | 7:11 AM | 7-23-2008

Here's the thing about "new media" i.e. the interwebs: it knows no geographical boundaries, to say nothing of timezones.

I've contacted NPR and essentially pledged a monthly donation in support of the BPP if they would just provide a mechanism for me to do it over the web. (They referred me to Mr. Haarsager's blog post...not especially helpful.)

The overriding message seems to be that local affiliates would have a conniption fit if NPR donors were allowed to directly support specific programs, ostensibly because it will cut into the funding of their local operations. I'm an American ex-pat living in Sweden. There is NO LOCAL NPR affiliate to which I can write out a monthly check. In other words, nobody is going to lose a peice of the pie if I (and the thousands of others who can't listen to NPR on a local radio station) were permitted to provide financial support directly to the BPP.

And as for the BPP being an "appointment program"...I listen to it on my iPod hours and sometimes even DAYS after the original broadcast. Granted, the hourly news update is a little stale by then, but the rest of it works.

I have to agree with those who have said that NPR management "just doesn't get it", to the detriment of us all.

Sent by Sharon Bowker | 7:14 AM | 7-23-2008

It appears to me that Dennis Haarsager did not get the message that I as a young BPP audience member was attempting to get across. I came to the BPP because I didn't want another young baseless attention tracked music station. I wanted quality news radio that wasn't so downbeat that young audience fall asleep to it. We grew up in an Era of commercials which move at such a high speed between frames/music changes that it is difficult to listen to traditional NPR news radio. The BPP was unique in that it offered similar content to the traditional NPR news radio at the pace of today's young people. Haarsager, I can almost thank you for dismissing the younger audience appeals with a two sentence paragraph, accept you missed the most important part. We want our information jam-packed, up to date, veritable, and fast. Only the BPP can provide this type of show.

Sent by Courtney Bonney | 7:32 AM | 7-23-2008

Also, let me know where I can find info on the election and what's going on in the world on npr.org/music. Or any news cast that's aimed at a 24 year old.

I'm apparantly a day behind because I just keep getting angrier and angrier about this today.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 8:03 AM | 7-23-2008

This is outrageous! The BPP is an outstanding and much enjoyed program. And to further some of the other comments, this is undoubtedly a way for NPR to switch its audience base for morning programming. There are no other shows like the BPP that provide a comical and entertaining aspect to the issues we care most about! We must stand up in protest. We want and demand more BPP!

Sent by Ryan Berti | 8:05 AM | 7-23-2008

Assuming NPR can't or won't rescue the BPP, the next-best solution would be to go independent. A conversion to web-only (most listeners are listening on the web anyway), ad-and-donation-based format is not out of the realm of possibility. The only questions would be: a) whether the new incarnation would be allowed to keep the name "Bryant Park Project" and b) whether the revenue would be enough to support the entire cast and crew.

Sent by Steve | 8:26 AM | 7-23-2008

Methinks the bloggers doth protest too much! BPP seems to have been an attempt at a radio blog. It evolved to exhibit the worst, and unfortunately, the predominant characteristic of most blogs: NARCISSISM.

Sent by John A. | 8:31 AM | 7-23-2008

One problem I have is the comparison to ME and ATC. It seems to me that we are talking apples and oranges here. Those are some of the most hyped shows on NPR and they are long-established. So, of course, they get better number across the board. I literally stumbled upon the BPP after I got satellite radio. I have never once heard a single promo for hte show (though I obviously can;t be listening all the time to every program, but you get the point). I don't see BPP "gear" in the NPR shop (but you sure as heck can get a ME or ATC coffee mug!). And what, if any, incentive did you give local affils to pick up the show. Why WOULD they risk losing ME and ATC with a new start-up? The bottom line for me is that thsi is just one more example of a "network" creating somethign good and then letting it die on the vine.

Sent by Jonathan Nichols-Pethick | 8:33 AM | 7-23-2008

BPP Bargaining:

I know you wanna leave me; I refuse to let you go
If I have to beg, plead for sympathy
I don't mind, 'cause it means that much to me
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet BPP
Please don't leave me, don't you go
Ain't too proud to plead, BPP, baby
Please don't leave me, don't you go

Well I heard a quiet man, half a man, with no sense of pride
If I have to cry to keep ya I don't mind weepin'
If weepin' gonna keep ya by my side
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet BPP
Please don't leave me, don't you go
Ain't too proud to plead, baby, BPP
Please don't leave me, don't you go

If I have to sleep on your door step all night and day
Just to keep you from walkin' away
Let my friends laugh, for this I can stand
Just so long as I keep ya, yeah, yeah, I can
Ain't too proud to beg, sweet BPP'
Please don't leave me, don't you go
Ain't too proud to plead, baby, baby
Please don't leave me, don't you go

Ain't too proud to beg, sweet darlin'
Please don't leave me, don't you go
Ain't too proud to plead, BPP, baby
Please don't leave me, don't you go

Sent by Mary Moore | 9:12 AM | 7-23-2008

Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm going to put it out there anyway. I only listen to the BPP on Sirius Satellite Radio, which I pay for. Where does that money go?

Sent by K Rice | 9:13 AM | 7-23-2008

I am not pacified by the management blog. I live on NPR - on WNYC, on Sirius, and on the Internet. Although I'm a 57 year old out of demographic, I found the BPP a perfect companion. I listen at different times of the day and the program accompanied me through many multi tasking time periods. If NPR was really interested in its consumers it would have openned up this dialog a couple of months ago and been willing to consider listener ideas. I'll miss the program, but more than that, I'll miss the idea that I mattered to NPR.

Sent by Larry E | 9:14 AM | 7-23-2008

I would challenge you to set up a website where listeners can make a pledge to "Save the BPP". I guarantee you could raise enough money to save the show.

Sent by Adam Berger | 9:18 AM | 7-23-2008

What about the satellite radio audience? That is the largest by far, I am sure, and that is not even mentioned!

Sent by Adam Berger | 9:20 AM | 7-23-2008

I would happily give $10 or more each month to be able to listen to the BPP.

Matthew Trisler, Sarah Lee, Steve Rhodes, Sky Bluesky and many more above have made excellent points that I don't need to repeat.

Mr. Haarsager, your reasoning is short-sighted and NPR will never go anywhere with that kind of thinking.

Sent by Steve C. | 9:23 AM | 7-23-2008

While I do appreciate Mr. Haarsager's comments to the BPP community it's not enough.
Instead of saying, "Wow, a lot of people love this show we should try something different to save it." we get "We can't do anything, don't get mad and stop listening to NPR. Try our other products that you aren't that excited about."
Set a subscription # or $ goal and the blog will make it happen. Make the show an hour long to cut costs. Don't take away a show that covers the most coveted marketing demographic. Males 18-39. Eventually we will be Males 28-49 and will have even more disposable income that we will want to share with our friends from our morning commute.

Sent by Mark Guyer | 9:44 AM | 7-23-2008

I think that the BPP attracts a demographic that is atypical for NPR, and that in canceling, the NPR brand will take a major hit. I'm sure if they knew they were burning a bridge between previously untapped demographics and the NPR brand, they would reconsider.

Sent by Zac | 9:54 AM | 7-23-2008

I won't comment on the CEO's post directly, other than if the same approach were taken with ATC when it first started, we would not have it here to day. 9 months? Even PRI gave Fair Game a longer attempt!
As for once a week and web only, Bob Boylan's All Songs Considered was a web only offering, now a weekly public radio offering. Could not BPP morph into a once a week show, at least? That would at least allow more stations to clear the show and build support for an expanded and re-introduced version, M-F.

Sent by Michael Black | 9:57 AM | 7-23-2008

I can see why you're only an interim, as you would be a failure of a full-time CEO. And I wish me calling you a failure has the sting that I want it to have, because your cold and distanced response to this cancellation stings me.

BPP, I think like every break up in the world, you will be much better off without jerks like these people.

Sent by Sarah | 10:10 AM | 7-23-2008

I read this over and over again, looking for another way to interpret it. Instead what I keep seeing is this:

"We're cutting Bryant Park Project because we don't actually need that new content to reach younger audiences, just new delivery mechanisms."

And yet, if you did read half the comments here as you claimed to, you would understand that's 100% not the case. The compelling programming drew people to the show, not the delivery method, or at least in addition to the delivery method, and in some cases DESPITE the delivery method (as in no easy radio access). Offering up npr.org/music is patently ridiculous. This gives me news? I don't even have to look there to see the answer.

Commitment to younger audiences doesn't just mean podcasting and blogging the same old content. That's where the Bryant Park Project comes in. It's an offering that has, as far as I've been able to find, no equal anywhere. Sure, I suppose I could get my news on Morning Edition, with its numerous bits that I increasingly tune out, but I go out of my way to hear the BPP because it's more enjoyable.

I don't see any indication in this post that NPR understands what it has here. Instead there's still the old-way stumbling block:

"BPP was created as a two-hour program primarily for satellite radio and the Web"

BUT

"Radio carriage didn't materialize to any degree".

Hm, way to set yourself up to fail, yes? Where did you expect the radio carriage to come from? Apparently "materialize" is the perfect word there.

In the end, it's difficult to see what useful is learned at all if the show is canceled. It isn't the delivery mechanism that's the key here. It's the content. And if canceled, the content development goes away, leaving a void that is not filled by additional delivery processes. The final insult isn't even that it is canceled, though, it's the ridiculously short amount of time given to allow BPP to hit its groove and find its audience.

Everything I've read suggests a show on the upswing. But in this shortsighted move, you will simply cut this growing audience loose. No amount of spin changes the fact that you have no replacement for what drew people to the BPP.

Sent by Greg | 10:27 AM | 7-23-2008

Say it ain't so... BBP has been the best thing from NPR in years as good as weekend edition but 5 days a week...Don't fail us.

Sent by Rick Bennett | 10:29 AM | 7-23-2008

To Mr. Haarsager and NPR Executive Staff: Cop-outs, sellouts, and cowards. That's all I have to say.

Sent by Cathy | 10:30 AM | 7-23-2008

Hey, I'm an NPR Listener on Sirius satellite. I got the satellite receiver because I drive a LOT and I like the real news that NPR delivers, and I wanted to receive it more reliably.

I've listened to BPP, off and on, since it's inception. I think I understand why it is not succeeding, although I have to say that Mr. Haarsager's post was rather written rather poorly, for a journalist.

I believe that the program failed because most public radio stations didn't want to carry it. I believe that most stations wouldn't carry it, because it is just not up to normal public radio standards. True, the staff is very talented and there has been some journalism of NPR caliber. However, the overall level of the program is quite juvenile. All the noise and the blather is aimed at the attention deficit disorder generation.

Public radio generally attracts an audience that is sick and tired of the noise and shallowness that permeates most of broadcasting. The public radio audience doesn't look for noise and giggles. We are looking for in-depth reporting of major and minor issues. We expect depth and breadth. We don't want noise.

BPP tried to blend NPR talent with a marketing appeal to teenagers. Frankly, that makes no more sense than MTV trying to provide Shakesperian drama. It's the wrong program for the network.

The reality is: When you hear a disco beat sample looped inanely behind the news reporting, you've got to wonder who let the kids into the studio.

As final proof that this group is too immature for NPR, listen to this week's BPP programming. It is laced with features that try to make the network the blame for this failure. Mature talent would be exploring the failures that the producers and staff made at BPP, rather than throwing a temper tantrum at the big bad corporate meanie.

Sent by Chris G | 10:43 AM | 7-23-2008

I am angry. I am angry that NPR flippantly canceled the NPR. I am angry that BPP staff members found out about the cancelation from the New York Times. I am angry that this Interim CEO didn't respond to concerned BPP listeners for a week and a half. I am angry that this CEO offers npr.or/music as an example of NPR having not "forsaken its commitment to reaching younger audiences." I am angry about using the passive voice right there. I love Bob Boilen, I do, but he comes on once a week for a half hour on Thursdays. I love the concerts npr.org/music offers and Carrie Brownstein's blog, but is it in-depth election coverage? Do they offer a weekly run-down of what is happening in Iraq?

I am angry that instead of giving us a chance to save the BPP, this CEO says, "It's unclear (that's the word people use when they don't know the answer) that this would work." If you don't know if it will work, why don't you try it? I learned from the BPP that Jill Soluble financed her last album solely on donations from her fans. If a small artist like Soluble can garner that kind of financial support, what can a popular program with a large, dedicated community like the BPP do with a similar effort?

I am not pacified, NPR. Not at all. And yes, I am a member of my local station, but after this, I'm not sure I want to contribute to this dinosaur anymore.

Sent by Andrea Byrne | 10:51 AM | 7-23-2008

Top five NPR new media experiments certain to fare better than The BPP:

* Nina Totenberg live-blogs all Supreme Court hearings
* Lake Wobegon Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
* Lakshmi Ringh-tones
* Web site dedicated to "unboxing" pics of pledge drive gifts
* Daniel Schorr Lifestreaming

Sent by Brian DeHamer | 10:56 AM | 7-23-2008

"BPP tried to blend NPR talent with a marketing appeal to teenagers. Frankly, that makes no more sense than MTV trying to provide Shakesperian drama."

;) is anyone else as excited to see Hamlet 2 as I am?

And now time to use my new favorite BPP inspired catch phrase that I hope to pass on to my friends:

NPR, get off my lawn.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 10:59 AM | 7-23-2008

Matthew, Sarah, Steve, Daniel Holloway and all of the rest make excellent points that I just want to "ditto".

Mr. Haarsager, I feel like you are reliving Hillary's experience in a Howard Dean/Barack Obama world. Have you been to Barack Obama's website? It has a community of people who feel involved in an experience of making him president of the United States. Have you been to the BPP's website? They too have a community of people who feel involved in an experience of making a wonderful radio/satellite/internet broadcast. In both places, we feel like our ideas matter and are heard.

When Barack Obama asks for more money, that community of people reaches out and gives $52 million with an average donation of $68 each. When BPP asks for money... Oh, I'm sorry, you hadn't tried that out.

I'm a 35 year old web programmer from Philadelphia who found the BPP through your Election 2008 link on NPR. There was an election story that made me laugh and I started tuning into the BPP every day for the last 3 months.

Prior to this, I was a long-time listener and supporter of NPR until I was overly harassed by callers during one of the fund drives. I wrote in a letter of complaint and vowed never to give money again. Until the BPP. Maybe the old way of raising money just drives me nuts. But, if you popped a donate now button on the website and had the hosts give a quick plug for it every now and again, I bet you'd see the money pouring in.

I'm not going to go so far as say that I will stop listening to NPR, because there is an election that I'm interested in. But after that is over, there is no other reason for me to tune in every day. And without something that I'm very passionate about, I'm not going to give money to NPR.

I feel that it was a shortsighted decision. I agree with the other posters that you should have tried fund raising a month before you decided to cancel the show. What if you tried some sort of advertising? Try to get an interview of the BPP staff on the Daily Show - both shows are in NY - how convenient for travel! I'd bet you'd increase your listeners dramatically and thus your opportunities to fund this program.

BPP staff, I'm so sorry to see you go. I wish only the best for you and hope to find you broadcasting elsewhere soon. I'll keep Googling you and will tune in where you land.

NPR management, America needs public radio, but you may look back on this decision as the reason that a future NPP (National Public Podcasting) takes over your business and leaves you behind.

Sent by Kathy Fisher | 11:00 AM | 7-23-2008

One of the reasons I listen to programs like ATC and ME through my local station's audio stream is because they include local news and weather during the short breaks. My local station adds value and that is why I support NPR through my local station. If the BPP were streamed or podcast through my local station, I would increase my support because I love BPP and the local station would not be cut out. I would gladly donate online directly too, but that sounds like it won't work with NPR's business model. I agree wholeheartedly that NPR didn't even try to integrate BPP into their business model (I think a lot of Wait Wait listeners would love BPP, but there was never a mention of the BPP there or anywhere else on NPR except the web). The comments posted by Mr. Haarsager, while they sound polite and carefully worded, just demonstrate very clearly that he doesn't understand what he has here. I am very likely to withdraw my financial support from NPR because the BPP is gone.

Sent by JillH | 11:01 AM | 7-23-2008

@Andrea Byrne, I'm so glad you brought up that NPR didn't even have the common courtesy to tell them in person. THEY FOUND OUT VIA A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE. That is horrible. So horrible.

Sent by Sarah | 11:02 AM | 7-23-2008

Thank you for your detailed explaination, but it still doesn't satisfy me...I think NPR needs to realize they have made a mistake and take a second chance on BPP. Remember "Rome wasn't built in a day" and by NPR cancelling a show that is geared to a different listening audience, you are doing nothing but shooting yourself in the foot. I am a 52 year old white female and while in the past I have tuned into NPR infrequently, since discovering BPP I have made a point of listening on a daily basis. Shame on NPR for not giving this new format a chance.

Sent by Lee Ann Carter | 11:15 AM | 7-23-2008

"All the noise and the blather is aimed at the attention deficit disorder generation...The reality is: When you hear a disco beat sample looped inanely behind the news reporting, you've got to wonder who let the kids into the studio."

Yes, how silly for a show that was created to appeal to the younger audience that NPR keeps missing the boat on to resort to nasty tricks like "humor" and "music". Why, you'd think that they wanted to get that ADD generation listening to and participating in public media! Oh, wait...

The ACTUAL reality of it is: if you don't invite kids into the studio, they'll take their games (and their money) elsewhere. Thank you for your brave quest to keep NPR safe for the town from Footloose, but the rest of us are hoping for a change.

Also, I am totally down for a Lake Wobegone RPG. I have a Level 60 Nostalgia spell. Don't make me use it on Chris here.

Sent by still disgruntled in OH | 11:24 AM | 7-23-2008

I disagree that younger audiences are "well represented" by NPR. Has the CEO ever listened to NPR programs? Does he not realize that most of the NPR stations play predominantly classical music? It sounds like there is still a HUGE disconnect between NPR management and their audience. Not surprising that they don't get it.

Sent by Liz | 11:44 AM | 7-23-2008

Brian DeHamer-

At least the character sheet for the Lake Woebegone RPG would be easy: everyone's a bard. And henceforth, the GM (game master) will now be referred to as GK (Garrison Keillor).

Sent by Sarah Lee | 11:46 AM | 7-23-2008

I am so disappointed and this letter just made it worse.
How does music for young people make up for quality news and talk?
NPR has really missed the boat on this one. Grrr.
Boo NPR.

Sent by Michelle | 11:55 AM | 7-23-2008

I listen to BBP on HD radio in Lexington, KY. I love the program, although I am not the demographic you envisioned for the program as I am 66 years old.

BBP is witty and refreshing. I also like the fact that they deal with real content. I often discuss the segments with others -- both peers and my children and their friends -- and even attempt to retell some of the jokes.

While it is hard to get around the it-costs-too-much argument, I suggest you reassess priorities. BBP was designed to appeal to thoughtful young people, who are interested in world affairs. It plays on the strengths of NPR.

I seriously doubt that another music program will draw in younger generations to NPR. As a contributer to two NPR stations, you need to attract individuals to the NPR fold that are similar to what I was -- concerned and involved.

Please reconsider your decision.........Philis

Sent by Philis Alvic | 11:59 AM | 7-23-2008

I cannot believe that BPP was only given 9 months. Every argument about NOT getting rid of BPP is true. We liked the format, the ease and the accessibility of the show. In my eyes it's a success. I've been listening to NPR since I was a baby, but more and more (I'm in my late 30's) I'm sick of having no content be about younger generations. If NPR wants to be around for a second generation, third generation, then providing material that is relevant to those age groups is a necessity. I love NPR, but I'm sick of having to deal with crap programming from my local NPR stations and BPP was a bright spot. I think the producers of BPP should try to shop the show elsewhere. I'd gladly pay money to be able to still have this community.

Sent by jen | 12:11 PM | 7-23-2008

Echoing everyone else:

Huge, huge, huge mistake, Dennis. As exactly the person you're trying reach, engage and get to stand by NPR; this cancellation and subsequent explanation is a metaphorical baseball bat to the knees of NPR. This was your success, not the other scapegoats you mentioned.

Good luck and good day, sir.

Sent by John Ratcliffe-Lee | 12:15 PM | 7-23-2008

I'm just really sad the BPP will be taken off the air. I sent an email to NPR and was given this link as a response. It wasn't much of a response and it's become more obvious that nothing we say will make them change their decision. What's funny about that is that in the response email from NPR it was suggested I join it's "audience advisory panel, NPR Listens", what a joke, well I guess listening doesn't necessarily mean acting on to NPR. I will no longer support NPR as that is the only thing that will make them "listen" to its audience.

Sent by Janet | 12:18 PM | 7-23-2008

Give me a break! I'm actually offended that Mr Haarsager offers a "music" show as an attraction for younger audiences. As if people under fifty only care about music. I couldn't care less about another music program, especially from NPR. The BPP has been a fantastic addition to my morning. I'm very sorry to see it go. I only wish NPR was sorry to see my husband and I leave with it.

Sent by Heather | 12:40 PM | 7-23-2008

But where will I get my NPR News in the mornings on satellite radio?!

Sent by Andrew | 1:07 PM | 7-23-2008

It isn't about the money, is it Mr. Haarsager? How sad. The BPP could raise the money. I'm calling NPR out that it isn't about the funding. I challenge Mr. Haarsager to write another letter explaining in detail why the decision to cancel the BPP was precipitated, without just blaming the costs. I would say you all sat around some conference room "blamestorming" getting paid with my donations and tax dollars and then fed us a line. I think the manor and timeline this show was cancelled has led to my suspicions. Again, I repeat, how sad.

Sent by Emily | 1:20 PM | 7-23-2008

NPR should have let the show and listeners know ahead of time the financial position. We all could have tried to raise the money. It MIGHT have worked. Even if it didn't and the show was canceled anyway, I don't think we would have been as angry at NPR as we are now.

I will miss the BPP.

Sent by Amy Farris | 1:24 PM | 7-23-2008

This is NPR's Balk of the Nation. It is sad abandonment of investing for the future. When Haarsager mentions carriage, I can't help of thinking about buggy whips. It is clear to me that this is a short sighted fiscal decision meant to shore up the status quo. In my opinion NPR should be considering the medium rather than the media. Then again, perhaps NPR is sending us young folk a message by shutting down BPP.

Sent by John | 1:52 PM | 7-23-2008

I cannot believe that no one thought of simply asking for contributions. I am a member of two public radio stations (in different states) because I listen to them online and analog. They ask for money, I contribute a reasonable amount, and everyone seems happy. I would have happily contributed to the BPP if that had been an option. You want something, you have to pay for it. But NPR can't have it both ways--if they're going to experiment with programming, they have to experiment with funding and pledges. What an asinine statement from the CEO, a day late and a dollar short. Put me in the anger stage of grief.

Sent by Stacy | 2:23 PM | 7-23-2008

What about the listeners like me who are so bitter about the cancellation of the BPP that I'll never giver NPR/PBS another dime? How does that figure into the future
Dennis Haarsager? You don't get it and you blew it big time.

Sent by Alan | 2:52 PM | 7-23-2008

This only makes me angrier. NPR, thanks to the cancellation of the BPP and the poor customer relations by Dennis Haarsager, you have lost me forever. You just made the list NPR. I hope you get a real CEO soon to take over for this interim CEO, because he is costing you listeners and contributors.

Sent by Jeremy | 2:57 PM | 7-23-2008

Wait, so you're telling me you expect me, a young professional, to come to NPR.org to listen to music?? Give me a break. That is a joke, right? You expect to pull in a younger generation by giving us some baby boomer's music selections of what's 'hip' for my generation?

Sent by Jeremy | 3:00 PM | 7-23-2008

In a nutshell: If NPR can't listen, and my local NPR station keeps cutting its local programming, then I cut NPR. That's it. No financial support. Also, no free word-of-mouth advertising. They don't seem to care about input when the boards are jam packed w/posts even offering financial support and alternatives.

Also, I WOULD subscribe to Sirius if I could get AT LEAST two hours a day of BPP.

So, sorry WYSO, my local station. I'm standing up for forward-thinking community members of all ages. NOT just the "younger demographic." Bet I'm not in that. I'm 40, I've educated myself about all this new media, and almost none of my friends or coworkers are into it. So it's not about age, it's about a type of person. And guess what? We have cash to spend. Just not on NPR anymore.

Sent by T. Weiss | 3:30 PM | 7-23-2008

I have this little fantasy that one morning BPP will be nationally syndicated all over commercial radio...that everyone from the show has already accepted and we are just waiting for the announcement...that the ratings and revenues will be through the roof...and that will NPR mourn their loss and sit in time out while the program they let slip away, changes broadcast news forever.

Sent by beth | 3:33 PM | 7-23-2008

dude let's face facts. $ do not = popularity. just 'cause "old timey" radio affiliates don't like it doesn't mean the rest of the world doesn't. -so says an old timer himself

Sent by marcopaul | 4:17 PM | 7-23-2008

It's not on the horizon?
How dissapointingly short-sighted. That's all I listen to on NPR.org. Day and time specific programming.
NPR Music has good features occasionally, but as mentioned in the letter, there are many other competitors for music content (Pandora) that I prefer. Attracting younger listeners from such tough competition seems unlikely. If the future of NPR isn't in music and isn't in day and time specific programming, then where is it?

Sent by Confused Jessica | 4:29 PM | 7-23-2008

Just weighing in one more time. Feeling mostly angry - also frustrated - at this corporate "response". Past feeing the energy to negotiate.
Yet, I don't understand:
@"BPP was designed to help us explore the complex, undefined digital media environment and, we hoped, to establish new ways of providing content on unfamiliar platforms...."
And in the same paragraph:
"Ultimately, we recognized that wasn't happening with BPP. Radio carriage didn't materialize to any degree: right now, BPP airs on only five analog radio stations and 19 HD Radio digital channels."
Am I confused, or is that a contradiction? "We want to target non-radio platforms, but didn't get into enough radio stations..."
Huh?

Sent by Glenn Wonacott | 5:07 PM | 7-23-2008

I'm heartbroken, I never listened to NPR regularly before tuning into my live stream a few months ago and discovering this great show. It not only appealed to a younger audience's need for hard news, it was mixed with witty commentary, smart stories, AND new music! It was diverse, smart, and fun. It was a dream come true for my morning routine and I honestly don't know what I am going to do on Monday without it...but I don't think I'll be tuning into NPR. I understand the business side, but I'd like to be pointed to any other show you have (not a just one area where I can find music) that compares, and delivers it all to your younger audience, because I wanted more than one element and I got it with BPP. So often the younger generation is categorized into just wanting music, or entertainment news, or the like but there are many of us who crave for the executives to realize we're multitaskers craving for the spectrum of what the BPP delivered.

Sincerely.

Sent by Laura Milner | 5:34 PM | 7-23-2008

@Amy you are so right! Had I been given the chance to help the BPP to survive I might not have been so angry. It is making me crazy right now and this letter is such a bunch of bull. Seriously, music? I have listened to NPR since I was 20, I am now 39 and I have always been drawn to the stations that had news all the time, not music!! Oh, I wish I could come up with something eloquent to say that would put to words how much this stinks. Thanks goodness I have this blog to read and think to myself. Yes, yes, that is it, that is how I feel. What a loss.

Sent by robin | 6:41 PM | 7-23-2008

Dear Mr. Haarsager,

Thank you for responding to us directly. Like the others who've posted, I appreciate the difficulty of your position, but I am not satisfied with your choice. Why not take an informal poll to gather numbers for possible donors? I would gladly contribute the monthly $10 that others have mentioned before.

I am 30 years old, and I have listened to NPR religiously since I started college. BPP has become my favorite program because it offers a refreshing look at the news with NPR's dedication to quality reporting rather than sensationalized hype. In these ominous times I still want to hear the news, I just want to hear it with some humor, wit, and satire. This is something that BPP does particularly well. Your conclusion that music programs will satisfy younger listeners doesn't ring true for me. I didn't listen to the BPP for music, I listened for news.

Thank you.
Julie

Sent by Julie Morton | 6:41 PM | 7-23-2008

Oh well.... it looks like I have to get my news from the Daily Show and Colbert Report again... I don't think NPR will be getting anymore money from me.

Sent by jud eden | 7:20 PM | 7-23-2008

I can only echo what many others have said. The BPP is something unique, unusual, insanely entertaining, and suprisingly, insanely informative.

The sad thing for me is I just discovered it a scant month ago. I've listened to NPR for decades, but for the last few years it's been web only. (Mainly because I've relocated to Germany, but I would probably do the same in the U.S: timeshifting is too convenient). And I only discovered it by clicking serendipitously on some "related stories" links from the NPR audio player... because they looked so bloody interesting.

At first, the show was a bit of a shock. Extremely casual in voice style compared to the typical, elegant but cool NPR newscaster. And my first impression was that BPP was a "fun", and less serious, NPR experiment. Which I turned out to be right and wrong about. Not only is the show fun and funny, but the news reporting is just top-notch. When it's not enlightening, it's at least fascinating. Especially Mike Pesca's interviews. Never liked him when I heard the random sports broadcast on NPR. But the more I listened to BPP, the more I realised what a razor-sharp and helium-filled sense of humor he has. Really sucks that he'll be going back to sports.

Anyway, like other listeners, in short order I just started listening to BPP as my main NPR news source, linking in random stories from ATC. It was that good. It was that conceptually successful. And now it's going away.

Idiots, that's all I can say. The explanations make zero sense: "experiments", "audience", etc etc, but nothing that actually explains why it's a good idea to kill something brilliant and successful. Thanks for sucking, NPR. I don't really have the heart to go back to the nutritious but sawdusty tasting standard news shows.

Sent by J Scott Peter | 8:45 PM | 7-23-2008

I have been listening to Minnesota Public Radio now since I can actually get it in at my new job--- and boy it made me miss you guys already! I save your show until the end of the day as something that I can truly look forward to and I will miss it! It was so fun getting to know your voices and personalities on the radio. I will never, ever forget getting to talk to Neil Gaiman, either. All my friends in Fargo were beyond jealous!

I have learned so much from this show and I will truly miss you guys! I hope in some way that you all will make a Facebook group or something to let us know where you end up so we can rally behind you in your future endeavors. Best of luck to you all and I will always have a piece of you on my computer--- I am totally saving a few episodes and the Neil Gaiman interview!

Sent by Natasha | 9:58 PM | 7-23-2008

I've felt ill ever since I heard the news. I came to the BPP for Luke Burbank but stayed for everyone and everything else. I'm a late thirty-something working mom. The highlight of my morning these past months has been sitting down at my desk each morning to download the entire show, pretty much as soon as Laura would get it posted.

I am an avid NPR listener of all sorts, when I can manage to tune in. But the BPP offered me something different--intelligent news and analysis, with a bit of edge, and a dash of the outer boundaries of pop culture. I have loved how the off-air personalities (editors, producers) became such wonderful on-air presences. And I have often sat at my desk with serious workplace envy. The fact that you all not only enjoy what you are doing but enjoy each other so much has brought so much to the BPP and has made losing it so much harder.

I never had any illusions about my local NPR affiliate picking up the BPP. I live in Cincinnati where our main station is still re-running Fibber McGee and Molly, for crying out loud. But NPR's bizzare explanation for the cancellation will never make sense to me. The undercurrent seems to be about money. Like many others, I would be happy to pay some sort of special subscription fee for my downloads. But I do think that someone needs to at least mention the $200 million dollar elephant in the room. I realize that the Kroc Foundation money is being invested and doled out in bits and pieces, but it certainly seems to me that an investment in the continued new-media/new-audience offering that has been the BPP is more than worth it.

Hoping so much for an 11th hour reprieve,

Blair

Sent by Blair | 10:36 PM | 7-23-2008

While I applaud the fact that Mr. Haarsager took the time - or had one of his PR flacks take the time - to draft a letter, I find the "NPR CEO Responds To The 'BPP' Crowd" to be a wholly inadequate effort. Pointing to npr/music? You just have to be kidding, right? BPP was a refreshingly different news program in the NPR universe that was not given a fair chance to succeed. Where was the tasteful cross-promotion on other NPR shows? In the Detroit/Toledo metro area, I live within broadcast range of four NPR stations; I'm guessing that many other large cities have a similar embarrassment of riches. Are you telling me that given such situations, not one of those stations could be persuaded to broadcast the BPP if it were given some promotion on the mainstay programs? I understand why the direct funding model would not work for an NPR show - the local stations would throw a fit. And, for the most part, rightly so - critical pledges to the stations would most certainly be reduced if listeners could pick and choose the program that they wanted to fund. My hope is that the BPP can transfer en mass to APM, PRI, WNYC, or some other network where direct funding can and does work. Heck, I would pay for a Sirius subscription, if that's what it would take to hear the BPP again after Friday. Hoever, given my disillusionment, I will not rant and rave and claim to never pledge to NPR again. 'Cause really, where else can I turn? Commercial radio with blaring advertisements every 30 seconds? Ah, no. And I guess that is the root of the problem: a lack of competition. "And so it goes." -- Kurt Vonnegut.

Sent by Allen Obehauser | 11:49 PM | 7-23-2008

I've already sent my pointed and sarcastic letter to NPR, and like others I got a form response with a link to this blog entry. I shouldn't be surprised, really, but there was a little part of me that thought my impassioned prose would wake someone up in NPR headquarters. Naive, I know, but it's a common progressive weakness.

There are dozens of well-reasoned and logical arguments above mine here, but the entry that frightens me the most is one by John Proffitt above. Here's an excerpt:

"For all those saying NPR should have raised money directly for BPP, there's a political mess you're not aware of here.

If NPR openly attempted to raise money for any program, with large or small station carriage, the nationwide collection of stations would revolt. And please note the Board of NPR is majority-controlled by stations.

In short, it would never be attempted and would certainly be killed if it were."

That scares me because it has the ring of truth. It definitely rings more true than the officespeak mess in the original blog post. The timing of this whole cancellation suggests to me that the BPP was never supposed to succeed; in fact, any success by the BPP (which would be independent of local affiliates) would only bring hostile attention from those same local affiliates and board members who would see this young whippersnapper of a program/community as a threat.

If this is true, then NPR is truly doomed. It makes me sad, but only a little. I have loved NPR for years (Wait Wait makes me laugh - of course I get it via podcast), but honestly I expect to find the BPP crew somewhere else soon. The great thing about the New Media is that access can't ultimately be restricted by people like Mr. Haarsager anymore.

Sent by Dave Bagnall | 4:05 AM | 7-24-2008

BTW, I DO NOT want MUSIC, I want News... RIP BPP.

Sent by MG | 10:05 AM | 7-24-2008

I have posted several comments on various boards regarding the decision to cancel the BPP. However, I do not think that anything I could say is any better than Matthew Trisler's comments (from Radio-Sweethearts.com). That said, it is my personal opinion that the BPP did not fail NPR but that NPR failed the BPP. When Mr. Haarsager states shows such as Morning Edition have larger young audiences I wonder if he is looking purely at the numbers or the percentages of listeners. Obviously an NPR-wide morning drive-time show is going to have a MUCH larger audience than an obscure Sirius/Internet show does. The unfortunate thing is that had NPR attracted more radio stations to carry the show by making the BPP extremely affordable (i.e., subsidizing it for the first year or two) I am certain the show would have significantly grown in audience size. However, NPR is now set to follow the actions of its for profit television brethren: cancelling a high quality show prior to giving it the needed support to allow the show to flourish. In our current age of "if it cannot turn an immediate profit we cut it" mentality of network TV management, I always made the assumption that not-for-profit public radio and TV were different, but Mr. Haarsager has proven me wrong.

Looking back to the 80s and 90s it is clear that many of TVs best and most profitable shows would have never made it past the 1st or 2nd year had the networks not supported them -- a few examples that come immediately to mind are Hill Street Blues and current network stars ER and Law and Order. But now the networks look for an immediate return in lieu of searching for excellence (ergo some of the best programming is now on cable and the networks are filled with low cost no quality reality programming).

I guess shame on me for assuming that public media was different, and shame on Mr. Haarsager for making a quick decision without at least first trying other options to support the BPP. In the future I may have to rethink my continued support of public radio before I respond to the next fund drive.

Sent by Scott Mandeville | 10:11 AM | 7-24-2008

I heard a quick snippet on my local NPR station this morning. You should know that I only listen to it incidentally, because it happens to live on the frequency my Sirius receiver is tuned to. I don't have anything against my local, but never once has what I hear there "grabbed me". In fact, listening to my local station is a hazard, because I tend to get dozy when it is on. Dozy is dangerous at 70mph on the 99.

The few seconds I heard this morning were an announcement of their upcoming pledge drive. They were excited because they have cut 2 days off the usual week of fundraising. Gee, that fills me with excitement too. It's always energizing to hear the hosts droning on with embarrassment because the phones aren't ringing, their impossible goals are never met, and their "thank you gifts" are the same tired tote bags and clearance table books as last year.

Meanwhile, here is a show with thousands of loyal listeners begging for a chance to give money.

Sent by Dave Bagnall | 11:55 AM | 7-24-2008

I don't want more music programming!! I want Mike Peska's interviews, Allison's webblog with real life inquiries on how to deal with life as a parent, Pashman's crazy stories, and Rachel Martin's love of Madonna and musicals. I can get "music programming" anywhere!!!

Sent by Juli | 7:09 PM | 7-24-2008

Please reconsider.

Sent by Buster | 1:15 PM | 7-25-2008

What a mindless response, Dennis. npr.org/music is a joke, and frankly, it's insulting that you think a two-bit "music" program is what the youth wants on their radio. We want news, information, the BPP.

Sent by William | 3:06 PM | 7-25-2008

The BPP was never advertised on NPR because I listen to it everyday. I only found out about BPP recently when I joined Sirus and began to here in that format. Maybe if you had tried to increase the awareness of this great show through npr's other resources then we wouldn't be here today and you would be praised as an innovative leader who brought in new audiences, not a bumbling idiot in a job that is way over your head. I could see this show being marketed to college stations and other youth oriented radio stations. If it was a one hour show it would be easier to find a market for it. I am ashamed you are from the Great Northwest. Please do not return.

Sent by Jaybird in Oregon | 6:19 PM | 7-25-2008

Sirius/XM please pick-up the BPP! It was the best radio program that I've ever heard! For those of us who commute long hours, we don't give a ______ about websites, just smart, entertaining radio- please!!!!!! For everyone involved- thanks and fantastic job- I hope that I hear you on some program soon!!!

Sent by MGB | 7:23 PM | 7-26-2008

I listened to the BPP every morning on Sirius on my way to UF. I'm not a morning person (I dislike everyone and everything before 10 AM) and the BPP helped me smile and cheer up in the morning. I would have been more than happy to give money to help the show. Wouldn't the logical thing have been to ask for financial support if the show was struggling? I guess it's back to being Oscar the Grouch in the mornings. Boo.

Sent by Kate in Gainesville | 12:06 AM | 7-27-2008

I will pay for what I listen to- BPP, Wait Wait, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition. My contribution just decreased by 25%. What are you giving us in the place of BPP? I have zero interest in NPR's music site. Ditch that and bring back the BPP. You understood what was broken because you so thoroughly outlined it. You could have made it work. Instead you didn't even shut them down in a professional manner. Disgraceful.

Sent by Michelle in Tempe | 12:20 PM | 7-28-2008

Lamest explanation ever. You have lost my wife and I as listeners.

Sent by Joe Cilla | 9:24 PM | 7-28-2008

npr chooses to support lame shows like prairie home and forum but closes a great show like the bpp
i am a sirius listener and always contribute to my local npr station (even though i don't really listen to it) because i love npr. but this decision is disappointing to say the least. so i will never fund npr again!!!! npr must wake up the geriatrics that listen to dianne rhem are dying off wake up and embrace change and new media or you will die like the record companies !!!!

Sent by raul orchilles | 8:48 AM | 7-30-2008