Vivian Schiller: NPR's New Boss
NEAL CONAN, host:
This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. There's another new president in town. Vivian Schiller took over as president and CEO of National Public Radio in January, at a curious crossroads. NPR and its member stations enjoy bigger audiences than ever before and maybe the most challenging economic environment in the company's history. What we call underwriting and you might call advertising is down, so are contributions from foundations. And NPR's own endowment is not generating a lot of interest. Listener contributions are at record levels, but while NPR's audience is up, radio listening overall is dwindling.
Ms. Schiller comes to us most recently from a job as the head of TheNewYorkTimes.com. Before that, she ran the now defunct Discovery Times channel. And before that, she was a senior vice president at CNN, where she was in charge of long-form programming. Vivian Schiller's first day on the job was January 5th. Today, she's agreed to join us here in studio 3A to take your calls. 800-989-8255, if you'd like to join the conversation, the email address, email@example.com. And of course, you can post your comments and questions at our Web site, npr.org. Just click on Talk of the Nation. Later in the hour, do we still need Black History Month? Dawn Turner Trice will join us. But first - Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of NPR. Nice to have you on Talk of the Nation today.
Ms. VIVIAN SCHILLER (President, CEO, National Public Radio): Thank you. It's great to be here.
CONAN: And so, given all those things we hear about the media, why would anybody (Laughing) want to run a media organization right now?
Ms. SCHILLER: Oh, no, well, I - there's nothing else I want to do other than be in media. I've been in media, as you said - ran through my brief history - for over 20 years, and to me, this is really the pinnacle. Coming to NPR, being able to lead this organization - it is among very, very few - I can count them on one hand with digits left over - of really extraordinary worldwide news gathering and reporting organizations of any quality.
CONAN: Six weeks or so on the job - what have you learned?
Ms. SCHILLER: Oh, man. I've learned a lot actually. What I've learned is that NPR - I knew it was extraordinary organization coming in, because I've been a listener for many years. But it wasn't until I joined NPR and started really speaking to people across the country - I've traveled a lot in the last - even in the last five weeks - that I understood some of the really unique strengths that NPR has. It's funny, because when I tell people - people say, oh, what do you do? And I say, I'm with NPR. They say, ah, it's my favorite station, which is funny because NPR really isn't a station. Those of you listening are listening to NPR most likely through one of over 860 stations across the country. But the fact that they connote public radio with NPR is really a compliment.
And what's extraordinary about our audience, besides the fact that it's growing, which you mentioned, is the incredible passion that people have for NPR. It's a very intimate relationship. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that you're alone with NPR, often in your car. But it is both an intellectual and an emotional relationship, and I think that audience - 25 million plus of you that tune in to NPR programming each week - is really an extraordinary asset that I'm just thrilled to be associated with.
CONAN: We have an email question sent from Joe in Pierre, South Dakota. What about that pile of dough Joan Kroc left NPR? How does that figure in?
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, we are very, very grateful to Mrs. Kroc for becoming really the foundation of our endowment. And it's been extraordinary, and it's allowed us to expand our news gathering operation over the year, but - over the years. But it is an endowment, it is not an operating checkbook. It is there just like - for listeners, just like your 401k. It is there to protect you for the long term. Like a 401k, it is subject to the vagaries of the economy, which is part of the problem. But it's not there for us to draw down on every time we run into a financial shortfall. So, it's really our job to, you know, see where we can trim - and we did make some trims back in December - and also to figure out other ways that we can bring money into the organization but not to dip too deeply into Mrs. Kroc's really generous grant.
CONAN: You mentioned some trims - 7 percent of the workforce...
Ms. SCHILLER: Yes.
CONAN: Two programs, News & Notes and Day to Day, will shortly leave the airwaves. And as you look ahead at the financial situation, are you confident that those steps taken by your predecessors - that was the month before you got here - that those are enough? Is there another round of reductions coming?
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, I'm completely confident in our long-term health and growth. In fact, there are some extraordinary opportunities ahead that you'll see us begin to move on in the months and the year to come. We are right now in a terrible economy. This is no secret to any of our listeners. So, is it possible that we will have to find some more cuts to just get us through this difficult time? It's possible. Hopefully, they will not be in the form of layoffs, but there are - we are looking at ways to, you know, tighten our belt. We have to.
CONAN: Let's see if we can get some listeners in on the conversation. Our guest, of course, is Vivian Schiller, the new president and CEO of National Public Radio. Our phone number is 800-989-8255; email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And why don't we begin with Zack, Zack with us from Columbus, Ohio.
ZACK (Caller): Hi. Thank you for taking my call.
CONAN: Go ahead, please.
ZACK: I had a question regarding the Bryant Park Project. I know it was canceled before Vivan got to NPR, but because it was successful as an Internet show more than a radio show, I was wondering if NPR was going to pursue maybe bringing it back in some form just in the Internet content, or providing new, unique, only Internet content for NPR listeners?
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah.
ZACK: I'll take my answer off the air.
CONAN: OK, thanks, Zack. And just to inform people, this was a program done out of New York, thus the Bryant Park part of the name - out of our New York bureau. And this was aimed at a younger audience and as Zack suggested, largely broadcast on the Internet.
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah. Thanks for the question, Zack. I - obviously, as you know, I've only been here for five or six weeks. So, I was not involved with the decision either to launch or to cut Bryant Park. So, I'd rather jump ahead. We don't have any plans to bring Bryant Park as an Internet-only project at the moment. But I want to jump straight to the second part of your question, which is are there opportunities at NPR and in public radio for what we Internet people (Laughing) call Web-native content, which means content that is created specifically for the Internet?
And I think the answer is yes. First and foremost, we are a radio - an audio organization. I say audio because maybe you listen to us on the radio, maybe you listen to us on podcasts, maybe you listen to us through a stream on the Internet. But is there an opportunity for us to create content for the Web? Yes. In fact, we're doing it right now. There're several examples. If you go to npr.org or if you go to your - the Web site of your local station, you'll see a lot of content that supplements, that is brand new to the Internet. One example is our Planet Money Project, which is a really terrific daily podcast and weekly broadcast on NPR stations, but it's also a daily blog. And we plan to have a relationship with our audience no matter what platform they choose to consume us.
CONAN: Obviously, mentioning the Web site - your background, most recently as - coming from TheNewyorkTimes.com, the New York Times, every newspaper that's a big newspaper, every broadcast outlet, as they look at diminishing numbers of readers and viewers, have invested heavily in their Web operations, seeing - well, that's where the future is. Nevertheless, none of them, so far as I know, have managed to figure out a way to make those Web operations pay for themselves. Do you anticipate that npr.org is going to be able to contribute significantly to NPR's income soon?
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, no. I don't think it will contribute to NPR's income anytime soon. But you know, our mission in particular as a public service organization, even more so than commercial media, although I think they need to do it too, cannot simply bank on where the current revenue streams are. That would be foolhardy for us, and we need to continue - of course, you know, radio is our primary medium. And I think, frankly, radio's going to be around a lot longer than some of the other forms of legacy media, like print, for a variety of reasons, particularly the way that people use it. However, we must - irrespective of, you know, a lack of a business model - we must continue to forge ahead on all platforms. That's where the audience is. We can't expect them to come to us. We need to go them.
CONAN: Let's see if we get another caller in. And this is Scott, Scott with us from Auburn in Alabama. Is that right?
SCOTT (Caller): That is correct.
CONAN: Go ahead, please.
SCOTT: Yeah, thank you for listening. I love National Public Radio. I've listened for years. I must have been listening to Morning Edition in '79 or '80, I suppose. And I love the intelligence of it and the diversity of it and lots of aspects of it. But I find it to be politically significantly left-leaning - rather unapology - unapologetically politically left-leaning. And I wonder if that's by intent, by default or is it even - I believe it's rather obvious, but I - maybe you disagree.
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, you'll be either pleased or concerned to know that we get just as many calls and complaints that we're too right-leaning. In fact…
SCOTT: Yeah, but I don't think that it's an acceptable argument though, because people on the far left will think the middle is the right, and you certainly would have a majority of your listeners being of a leftward bent. In actuality, there are no Daniel Schorr counterparts. I've always heard that, when I'm talking to the Ombudsman - well, we have people complain about being too far to the right. I know that's true, but I know on an absolute scale, when Click and Clack make fun of themselves by talking about, for instance, "much to the chagrin of," and then they fill in a blank as to who would think they were on National Public Radio...
CONAN: It's - they sometimes refer to me. So, (Laughing) that's...
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah. Well, I think - you know what? Rather than - sometimes the - you know, the number of complaints on one side or the other is not the best measure. I totally agree with you that - I think perhaps a better measure of how people perceive us is who's listening to us. And in fact, survey after survey of our listeners shows that we're almost equantly balanced between people that self-identify as left of center and people that self-identify as right of center. I think if there truly was a misbalance, which I don't believe that there is, I - I've been listening to NPR for longer than I've been on this job - then that would be reflected in the audience.
SCOTT: So, Daniel Schorr, in your mind's a middle-of-the-road commentator?
Ms. SCHILLER: You know, you can't judge us by one piece. You have to judge us by the breadth of our coverage.
SCOTT: Who are your others? Who are the other ones who would perform the…
CONAN: Scott, we're going to encourage you to go npr.org and listen to every broadcast ever made and come up with your own survey.
SCOTT: Thank you for your time.
CONAN: Appreciate it, Scott. Thanks for your loyal listening all these years. As you - you're going to get a lot of calls like that and a lot of questions like that - I know you've been traveling around the country meeting member station managers and members of the audience. What's interested you the most as you've gone to these other facilities, you know, outside this (Laughing) gleaming headquarters here in Washington, D.C.?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SCHILLER: That's a joke, by the way, about the gleaming. We have - our carpets are a little bit worn, but that's OK. What's extraordinary is just (Laughing) - this is a public radio, not NPR per se, but public radio is everywhere. The influence is everywhere. I think that is one of the things that has really hit me and - the most since I've been in this position. And it's made me realize, you know, what great opportunities we have, as we were discussing earlier about how to extend our reach and bring more of our news and information and our musical and our cultural programming to more and more people.
CONAN: Vivian Schiller, new president and CEO of National Public Radio. More of your calls in just a moment on the future of NPR and NPR News. 800-989-8255; email us, email@example.com. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I just said that. I'm Neal Conan, and this is Talk of the Nation from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The NPR that Vivian Schiller now oversees is made up of many different divisions and moving parts. More than 800 people work here. The network is made up of more than 850 local partner stations. NPR produces or distributes more than 130 hours of programming a week. Vivian Schiller is the new president and CEO of National Public Radio. She's taken time out to get to know the company and to talk with us and with you. 800-989-8255, if you'd like to join us. Email is email@example.com. And you can join the conversation at our Web site. That's at npr.org, just click on Talk of the Nation.
Here's an email from Keith in Alameda, California. I'm very disappointed you cut News & Notes. I'm white but looked forward every day to the unique perspective that it offered. I don't understand - you have to fill the airtime regardless. How does it help to cut a quality program and replace it with another? Was News & Notes too expensive? Are you going to replace it with a cheaper one? Will we start to get quiz shows or reality shows now?
Ms. SCHILLER: You know, I'm very sorry that we cut News & Notes as well. I wasn't here when the decision was made, but in talking to the executive staff that did make the decision, they share the same regret. Nobody - those programs - that and Day to Day - the two programs that are going away at the end of March were canceled with a very heavy heart. We know they're excellent programs with excellent journalists, and they had a lot of loyal listeners. But the economic reality was such that we needed to find millions of dollars to take out of our budget. And what we did was looked at the shows that had the smaller audiences and that were not as widely distributed across the NPR stations. It's really, really regrettable, but the alternatives were no better.
CONAN: Let's go to Patrick, Patrick with us from Freeport, Illinois.
PATRICK (Caller): Hi. Thanks for taking my call. My question relates to NPR's relationship with Sirius Satellite Radio. I started listening a number of years ago in Philadelphia area, and I later moved back to my hometown of Freeport, Illinois. And I'm just barely outside of the reach of the WNIJ radio station, so I ended up buying a Sirius satellite radio. Now, during all the whole time, I have been making contributions to whatever the closest public radio station is. But now I find myself paying a subscription fee for my Sirius as well. So, it seems like I'm like paying twice for the same service. My question is, what is the relationship to that and what, if any, of the money that goes to Sirius goes to the syndicate station?
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah, that's a good question. (Laughing) First of all, Sirius needs all the money they can get right now, as you've probably read. They're having some problems.
CONAN: Report in the New York Times yesterday that they're considering filing for bankruptcy. Go ahead.
Ms. SCHILLER: Yes. Thank you very much, Neal. And in fact, they are one of our distribution channels. There is an NPR channel on Sirius XM that runs a lot of our programs. It is an independent relationship - relationship that is independent from the stations. It is a separate revenue stream for us, which is another reason why we hope that Sirius XM survives, because it both delivers us listeners like yourself that may be outside of signal range, but also gives us - brings us money to support our programming.
If you're worried about, you know, paying too much for you NPR programming, let me reassure you that there are multiple revenue streams that go towards supporting NPR. And in this difficult economic time, frankly, we're still not reaching our ultimate goals. So, whether you're supporting your local station, which I strongly suggest that you do because they have their own economies, in addition to the dues that they pay NPR, or whether you're paying XM, we appreciate it because it ultimately does help NPR stay on the air.
PATRICK: I see. You know, one of the things I'd like to close with - I think is really great about the satellite radio is I do a fair amount of traveling, and I care not to fly. So, it's very nice when you're driving across Pennsylvania at two o' clock in the morning and you cannot find anything to listen to, to be able to flip on the Sirius and hear a repeat of whatever programming you care to. So, thank you very much for your time.
Ms. SCHILLER: Sure. And you know, as a backup - listen, we always encourage you to listen to your local station. You can listen to XM Sirius, but you can also download NPR broadcasts onto your podcast and listen to them that way or listen to it streamed on the Internet through your local station.
CONAN: Mike in Cleveland, Ohio, emails us to suggest a merger with PRI and any other nonprofit entities. Then we'd be too big to fail, just like the banks and the car companies, and of course, eligible for government bailout. Tracy in Charlotte, North Carolina, emails - how do you see NPR's relationship with the member stations changing as NPR generates more and more original content that bypasses member stations?
Ms. SCHILLER: Ah, the old bypass question. That's been a word that I've heard many times in the last five weeks. Look, in this - the great thing (Laughing) about a bad economy, if I could say such an outlandish thing, is it really focuses the mind. And I think what you'll find as - is that NPR and the member the stations will come closer and closer together going forward, because our ultimate objectives are exactly the same, which is to bring our listeners quality programs.
You know, the question of bypass, which refers to the fact that npr.org streams some NPR programs, and it goes directly to listeners that might otherwise be listening to the radio - you know, what I've been telling folks as I travel around the country to visit stations and here at NPR is we're having the wrong conversation, because the opportunity is not npr.org versus the stations. The opportunity is that the stations - the summation of - whether it's the radio broadcast or the digital availability in local communities through station Web sites - that the sum of all those parts is what makes public radio and NPR so great, and that we've got to - what we will do is network all of those sites, network all of our efforts, to create one large number that represents the total listenership.
CONAN: One thing I think a lot of listeners don't necessarily understand about National Public Radio and its relationship with its member station is that, to the extent that NPR's owned by anybody, it's owned by the member stations. The majority of the seats on the board of directors are - their member station - radio station managers, and in a strange way, your customers - the radio stations - set your prices.
Ms. SCHILLER: That's exactly right. It is a membership organization. They are both our customers and, as you said, our owners. And our fates are inextricably intertwined, and the most important thing that could happen to NPR is the health and wellbeing and the growth of the stations. That's how most of you are listening to NPR today.
CONAN: Michael's with us on the line from Fayette, Alabama.
MICHAEL (Caller): Hello. I'll make these two questions really quick and really brief. First of all, I want to - as a born again saved Christian, let me apologize wholeheartedly for too many people down here in the Southeast and a few other states who accuse public radio journalism of having a liberal bias. If you were down here and heard much of what passes as Christian talk radio, you'd considered public radio a welcome, refreshing other side of the coin about - on various national and international issues.
My first - also, before my second question, let me say that I'm a member of the arts community myself, as a commercial artist and studio artist full time and part time art therapist volunteer. And I love public radio journalism. Before I get to…
Ms. SCHILLER: Thank you.
MICHAEL: What concerns me that I don't like so much, first of all, have you - why has NPR never considered a merger, not only with Public Radio International, but also PBS? I have these visions of two stars from you know which 1970s Sesame workshop TV show, Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno, leading a whole bunch…
(Soundbite of laughter)
MICHAEL: Of National Public Radio and PBS personalities, especially for children's TV, to Washington to plead on - financially on behalf of all public broadcasting. Believe me, with a merger it would seem to me that you'd have more clout in Washington.
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, you're raising a good point. A merger's not in the works, but we are great collaborators. In fact, in the last week alone I...
MICHAEL: Scott Simon has been on PBS. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah, I've spent time in the last week with the heads of PRI and the heads of PBS, and we do all kinds of things together, including asking for money and raising money. We have shared resources. There are many ways in which we're connected. You know, a merger isn't necessary as long as we're collaborating along the lines that you suggest, and I agree. That is - that's an essential thing for us to do.
CONAN: Let's see if we can get to Jerry's email. This from Phoenix, Arizona - with every step in growth you have become disassociated with your listeners. Instead of just asking us for money, ask us for ideas, criticism, story ideas, new shows. Your personalities air spots at fundraising time, but when was the last time NPR or any of its stations held feedback sessions for listeners with station chiefs or NPR heads or bureau chiefs? How many of your stations have community listening boards that work with your stations?
Ms. SCHILLER: Wow. Bring it on. We'd love to have your feedback. Absolutely. There are various ways that you can do it - if you go to npr.org, if you call us on the phone, if you write our ombudsman. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go through your local station. We absolutely count, rely and want to hear from our listeners. I can't tell you why there haven't been sort of town hall forums on the local level, but there are multiple ways to talk to us, and we encourage you to do so, please.
CONAN: Christine in Oakland, California - some of the NPR shows seem to have lowered their standards - lots of trivial chitchat, cult of personality, and less thoughtful discussion. I realize that NPR's trying to attract new, young listeners, but to do that it should not go for the lowest denominator. Audiences grow and mature into NPR. Children and teenagers grow up, in their 20s and 30s start to listen to programs their parents have listened to. But NPR will turn off all generations by the silly, shrill and loud performances that are becoming common today.
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. I actually don't feet that that is an accurate reflection of what NPR programming is. I've worked in a lot of media companies, and let me tell you, NPR is not shrill and not frivolous and not trivial by any standards of, you know, the mainstream media today. So, I disagree with that statement. I'm sorry that you feel that way, and I do agree that the road - the path to increasing our audience and serving our audience is not lowest common denominator, not to sort of attract younger programming by trying to do things that we think younger people will like, but rather to continue to do the great quality storytelling that we do. They will come to us.
CONAN: And this from Scott in Cincinnati - how will NPR programming be affected by economic woes? He may have joined us a little bit later than some of our earlier listeners. Will fewer NPR reporters mean less of what we've come to expect or a degradation in the quality of the reports we're used to hearing.
Ms. SCHILLER: We will not - absolutely, positively - do anything to degrade our news reports. That is the fundamental commitment. It's at the core and the heart of everything we do. You may have heard me say earlier in the broadcast that it's a difficult time for everyone in the media - for everyone in every business, and NPR is included in that. And there are ways that we may need to find some cuts. As you know, we just eliminated two programs from our schedule, but we are not touching the core of our news gathering and reporting organization.
CONAN: And this from Peggy in Overland, Kansas - I would have happily increased my current contributions to my local NPR station had I known it would make a difference in keeping current programming. I'm sure if every NPR listener had been asked, they would have increased their giving by just a few dollars.
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, Peggy, there's no time like the present. So, I would really encourage you to give to your local station, because that will really help us, not only maintain our level of quality, but to grow it.
CONAN: We're talking with Vivian Schiller, the new president and CEO of National Public Radio. She just came on board - joined us from TheNewYorkTimes.com in January. If you'd like to join the conversation, 800-989-8255; email us, email@example.com. And you're listening to Talk of the Nation coming to you from NPR News. And here's a good one. This from James in Rochester, New York - hopefully, I'm not in too late to throw in a question. I was wondering what challenges you see NPR facing today and in the long term, besides the obvious one of the current economy. I was wondering how you see NPR addressing those challenges.
Ms. SCHILLER: Well, I think the challenge is for us to be very flexible and nimble, in terms of reaching audiences wherever they may be consuming media. I think radio has a strong, healthy future ahead of it, I think more so than most other forms of so-called legacy media, such as television news and newspapers. However, James, you, like most other Americans, consume their media in a multiple of ways, and the challenge for us is to figure out how to translate that NPR experience, that quality of what we call internally "NPRness" that makes you recognize on the dial when you're on an NPR member station without even knowing the call letters. How do we translate that experience to other forms of media, to the Internet to our - to your mobile phone, to however you want to consume it? We feel like we have a mission to serve listeners, readers, users, audiences however they want to consume us, but we want to preserve that special quality and that value that we bring to our audience.
CONAN: And let's go to Sean, Sean with us from Salt Lake City.
SEAN (Caller): Hi. Thanks for taking my call. I have a quick comment and then a question. My comment is, although I disagree with many of the criticisms that I think have been, you know, tossed maybe onto your laps in the last 40 minutes or something, I do want to say thank you for taking them seriously. Taking criticism seriously is something that keeps NPR wonderful, and it's one of the reasons that I've been listening to it my entire life.
And then my question is is I was wondering if Vivian would talk about some of - the funding model for producing programming, for those of us who are not familiar. Many of us have been through many NPR fund drives, and we know that a lot of content is produced at local member stations, and we know that a lot of it is produced at, you know, HYY and in Washington. But I was wondering if she could talk about how the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets married together with local contributions to produce the content that we're all familiar with, so we can better understand how our funds go towards contributing and supporting the content that we like.
CONAN: Thanks, Sean. And isn't it wonderful how quickly you're on the first name basis with the audience?
Ms. SCHILLER: I love it. It's great. (Laughing) Thank you, Sean. I'll call you by your first name back. I think there's sort of two questions embedded in there. One is, you know, what is the NPR funding model? How are we funded? And then, how do individual programs emerge into the system? I'll try to answer them both quickly. The first one is NPR's funding breaks down roughly as follows: 60 percent of it - I'm using rough numbers, so don't hold me to the exact percentages - but around 60 percent is from member station dues. Another 20-some-odd percent comes from underwriting or sponsorship, sometimes known as advertising. Another chunk of it in the teens comes from institutional foundations - the Ford Foundations and Wallace Foundations and others that you hear on the air - and from individual major gifts from our - to the NPR Foundation from our trustees and others. Some of it comes from payouts from our investments, although that's not doing so well right now. And a very small percent - less than 1 percent - comes from government-funded institutions, like the CPB.
Now, you know, I sort of quickly went over the fact that 60 percent of our funding comes from stations, but don't forget that stations themselves are funded - some by CPB, some by, you know, some of the same ways that NPR is funded but also from the kind of pledge drives that you hear on the radio. And those are very, very important to their survival and to their growth. So, we encourage you to keep listening.
In terms of how individual programs are developed and distributed, sometimes they are developed here, incubated here at NPR. Sometimes there's just a wonderful idea that comes in over the transom that NPR funds and distributes - shows like Car Talk, shows like Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. And a lot of programs emerge out of the station system. And they're either distributed, such as The Diane Rehm Show at WAMU, such as...
CONAN: Fresh Air.
Ms. SCHILLER: Yeah, Fresh Air - thank you - with Terry Gross. And those are distributed by NPR or some of them are distributed by other networks, other distributors to the system, like PRI, et cetera.
CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Sean. Appreciate it. Vivian Schiller is the president and CEO of National Public Radio. She can now go back upstairs and get back to work. We appreciate her time joining us today on Talk of the Nation. Thanks very much for being with us.
Ms. SCHILLER: Thank you for having me.
CONAN: Up next - in an era of Tiger Woods and President Obama, do we still need Black History Month? Dawn Turner Trice will join us. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.