FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
By now, you've heard the news. NPR has decided to cancel News & Notes as part of a network-wide series of budget cuts. Our broadcast - final broadcast - is scheduled for 3-2-0, March 20th. Our web producer Geoffrey Bennett is here to share some of what you've been saying on online since last week's announcement.
GEOFFREY BENNETT: Hey, Farai. So we have received a couple hundred comments in our blog, our Facebook page and npr.org. The reaction ranges from shock to outrage, and there's some indifference mixed in there as well. There's even a special Facebook group called Save Farai Chideya, started by a listener in St. Louis named Rowena McGrecky(ph). The group now has about 400 members. And our bloggers and regular guests have taken to the web as well, especially Jasmine Cannick. She started an online petition, and then wrote an op-ed for today's New American Media, which can be found online.
CHIDEYA: Yeah, but I have to say the amount of - just the outpouring, it's sometimes hard to know how to respond, because you want to tell - you don't want people to be like, well, just think about yourselves. But it's like, you know, just do think about yourselves, think about what public medium means. You know, this is a public trust. And we are here because of you. We're here because everyone who is listening to this show is part of a public trust and American democracy. And so with that spirit, you know, I take the kudos personally, but I also take them as a sign of belief that this is something that we're invested in, you know.
BENNETT: Indeed. And on that note, let's get to some of what are listeners had to say, shall we? So Kyle Smith(ph) writes, "As a person of color and a news junkie, I've really come to depend on this show to offer more of a rounded view on current events. The show is truly a lifeline for me during a day that is color-deprived." And Sharon Oshalle(ph), just to give some indication of the kind of listeners we have, says, "I'm a white, 40-year-old woman, and News & Notes is the only window I have into the perspective that it offers. In my white suburban world, all I get of black perspective are MTV and the Philadelphia City News. It's refreshing to tune in to News & Notes and see other sides of the culture. Isn't that what public radio is all about? Giving voice to different types of people so we can all appreciate each other." And as you said, you know, some kudos for you, too. Aaron Coleman(ph)= says this, "I absolutely love me some Farai Chideya. Somebody find her a venue. Journalists of her caliber need voice because ears are starving."
CHIDEYA: That's beautiful.
BENNETT: Yeah. And we also have some response from listeners who want to know what they can do to help. Monica McClendon(ph) asks, "Can you guys move to a less costly area? The South has all kinds of options." So I don't know about starting the day with a biscuit and some sweet tea, but…
(Soundbite of laughter)
CHIDEYA: Mmm, not a bad option.
BENNETT: Not a bad option. But you know, the decision as it stands is final. And we also got this from a reader named Matthew Skalen(ph). He says, "I can't say this surprises me. Why should we expect anything else from NPR shows not produced in D.C. with the standard content and delivery we've come to expect? Of course, two other problems still remain. One is that the funding model for NPR doesn't allow online, podcast, satellite or overseas listeners to contribute. Second is a problem facing all of public radio. The audiences are getting older and their children haven't picked up the public radio, have it?"
And then Lindsay Saunders(ph) writes this. "I've been listening to News & Notes since middle school. Where will I get my black journalistic inspiration from now?"
(Soundbite of crickets chirping)
CHIDEYA: Well, yeah, we're working on it. We don't have an unlimited mandate here, but we're trying to figure out ways to extend that mandate. It will not happen as far as we know. Management has been very clear. This show will not continue past March 20th. But it ain't over, you know.
CHIDEYA: I believe that. All right. Thanks, Geoff.
BENNETT: Thank you, Farai.
CHIDEYA: Geoffrey Bennett is the web producer for News & Notes. He joined from the studios of NPR West.