Overview And History NPR is a mission-driven, multimedia news organization and radio program producer. Read about the NPR operations, and read a timeline of the history of the organization.
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Overview And History

NPR is a mission-driven, multimedia news organization and radio program producer. It is a network with a strong base of member stations and supporters nationwide. NPR employees are innovators and developers — exploring new ways to serve the public via digital platforms and improved technologies. NPR is also the leading membership and representation organization for public radio.

In a time of media fragmentation and sound bites, NPR has succeeded by focusing on its core: in-depth, quality news. NPR has evolved from a secondary to an essential news source, with dozens of bureaus around the world and the nation. Drawing on more than 340 news staff (reporters, correspondents, newscasters, editors, producers hosts and bloggers) in the United States and abroad — from Washington, D.C., and New York City, to Beijing and Dakar, we have the capacity to stay on top of breaking news, follow the most critical stories of the day and track complex issues over the long term.

On-air and online, NPR presents fact-based, independent journalism that examines and airs diverse perspectives. NPR's journalists strive for mastery of the narrative form, telling stories in ways that transport the audience to the places where news is happening and introducing the people affected.

Beat reporters, with expertise on everything from the Supreme Court to the media industry, originate stories and produce explanatory and investigative journalism. They ask tough questions and explore the most controversial and complex topics with fairness, context and editorial independence.

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Get the basic facts about our news and operations: our audience size, annual budget and domestic and international bureaus.

Since 1971, NPR and its journalists and programs have won hundreds of awards including some of the most prestigious honors in journalism.

NPR produces news, talk, music and entertainment programs, including the premier newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered. NPR also distributes programs produced by member stations and independent producers under the NPR brand. The network looks for high-quality programs that add unique value to its member stations' service. NPR-distributed programs are presented alongside NPR's own programs on our digital platforms, including NPR.org, podcasts and NPR Mobile.

NPR's full program roster includes award-winning programs and a widely carried newscast service.

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A Brief History Of NPR And Public Radio

Our roots go back to the earliest days of American broadcasting. In the 1920s, many of the country's first radio stations grew up at colleges and universities who wanted to experiment with this new medium to educate and entertain the public. In the late 1940s, the Federal Communications Commission allotted the lower end of the new FM band exclusively to noncommercial, educational stations, setting the stage for a major station expansion. This is where most public stations are still found today.

As commercial radio began its first decline with the advent of TV, public radio grew, along with public TV. The big breakthrough came in 1967, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act. This new law led to the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which Congress called upon to encourage "the growth and development of non-commercial radio" and to develop "programming that will be responsive to the interests of the people."

CPB introduced technical and professional standards to improve what were then mainly small stations. Soon, CPB and individual stations saw the need for a national radio service to bring Johnson's vision to life.

NPR was incorporated on Feb. 26, 1970, by 90 forward-thinking charter stations to provide national news programming. In April 1971, NPR hit the air with live coverage of the Senate hearings on the war in Vietnam. Just a month later, NPR debuted its first weekday newsmagazine, All Things Considered. In 1977, NPR assumed a new responsibility — to represent the interests of NPR member stations (who had grown from 90 to 190) — before Congress, the FCC and others. NPR's morning newsmagazine, Morning Edition, launched in 1979, signaling that the network was becoming an all-day news service.

This was a decade of transformational and tumultuous change. NPR launched the first ever nationwide, satellite-delivered radio distribution network to serve a growing network of about 250 stations, ushering in a decade that saw an explosion in new national programs for public radio. In 1983, NPR suffered a severe financial crisis; it emerged with stronger governance and management, and an improved business model that ultimately propelled growth for both NPR and stations.

A growing interest in news — local, national and international, led to expanded distribution of NPR programming and growth in audience. The Gulf War inspired the 1991 launch of NPR's first talk program, Talk of the Nation, and ultimately, the emergence of the public radio news-talk format. NPR launched NPR Worldwide in 1993, providing programming beyond the boundaries of the U.S., and throughout the decade NPR stations expanded their services — acquiring additional stations and growing their own programming and operations. The effort in 1994 to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting led to an unprecedented burst in contributions from listeners, and a groundswell of non-partisan political support from the public. Federal support for public broadcasting was maintained.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a turning point for NPR, a catalyst to shift our orientation even more fully to high-quality, contextual, timely news — both domestic and foreign. Over the past few years, NPR has extended its focus to build an equally compelling service on NPR.org, as well as mobile sites and apps. These digital platforms offer more ways to listen, learn and experience NPR and its member stations, and new people are discovering the network every day.

Today NPR is experiencing another era of innovation, not unlike the earliest days of radio — though much faster, and more chaotic and dynamic. The network's radio service offers a strong foundation, as NPR and its stations are actively embracing the power and potential of digital media to serve our mission.

Carl Kasell joined NPR in 1977 and for 30 years (1979-2009) was a newscaster on Morning Edition. NPR hide caption

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Carl Kasell joined NPR in 1977 and for 30 years (1979-2009) was a newscaster on Morning Edition.


The staff of All Things Considered celebrated the 10th anniversary of the program in 1981. NPR hide caption

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The staff of All Things Considered celebrated the 10th anniversary of the program in 1981.