I used to listen to a lot of public radio — mostly NPR affiliates — over the FM airwaves. For the past year or two though, I’ve been listening to as much if not more public and community radio, except rather than tuning in on my radio and listening to whatever is being broadcast at that time, I’m downloading the shows I want to hear and listening to them whenever and pretty much wherever I want.
At work I’m in front of a computer all day, so that make’s listening to podcasts easy. Around the house I have two radios I can hook my iPod up to and listen to podcasts I’ve already downloaded or stream shows over wifi. I have a cable to hook my iPod or smartphone up to the stereo in my car and can use either when out (at the gym, walking the dog, etc). In fact, it’s often easier and more convenient for me to listen to podcasts than radio broadcasts.
Here in Durango we have two public/community radio stations, KSUT and KDUR. KSUT is an NPR affiliate and plays most of what I consider the “standard” public radio shows, NPR news shows, Fresh Air, This American Life, Prarie Home Companion, etc. On weekdays, after Morning Edition and before All Things Considered, they mostly play music though. KDUR is also very much music based, they have a few talk shows, but most of the time I turn it on music is playing.
With the exception of Cycle Squawk, a local bike related show on KDUR, I never tune into either station to specifically listen to a certain show (but you should be turning into KDUR Sunday’s from 12:30-3pm for This Small Town Life!), but I recognize the benefit and am a member of both. There are times I just want to hear something, to not have to pick what I’m going to listen to, but those are few and far between. I don’t pay anything to download podcasts, but by being a member of other public radio stations that support NPR, APM, PRI, etc I’m indirectly supporting those shows.
One reason I don’t tune in for specific shows too often is that many of my favorites aren’t played here. None of the following shows are played here: Marketplace (or Marketplace Morning report), On the Media, Radiolab, Studio 360 or The Sound of Young America. In addition to those shows there are others that are regional that I have to listen to online also, I still listen to These Days on KPBS sometimes (oh how I miss Tom Fudge) and listen to a show out of Denver that covers stories all over Colorado (but as far as I can tell doesn’t get played on KSUT).
This leads me to wonder what public radio station I should support monetarily and become a member of. I understand the idea of supporting the local station, but the amount of content I listen to that isn’t available on those stations probably outnumbers the amount of content that is, and I definitely listen to more online than from the local stations. I can’t support all of the shows or stations that I listen to content from, so who do I support?
One part of me thinks I should continue supporting the locals, even though I have some problems with the KSUT. One part of me thinks I should support one of the stations that produces the majority of the content I listen to (or value most). That would probably be WNYC. Another part of me thinks I should support KPBS, I think they’re doing great things online, still listen to them every once in a while, and I have a few friends/acquaintances that work at the station.
I’m sure I’ll continue giving up some money to KDUR as long as I’m in Durango, Cycle Squawk alone is worth the $30/year membership fee. But the decision is harder when it comes to KSUT/NPR.
What do you other Pod-People do when it comes time to write your check to your public radio station do?