Monday, July 14, 2008

Save the Bryant Park Project

NPR has cancelled the Bryant Park Project.

I fell in love with this show from the first time I heard it. It was brash, loud, taunting, occasionally obnoxious. The hosts were not afraid to be wrong. They talked about trivial subjects and made them seem enormous in their significance. They talked about obscure subjects - public art! astrophysics! Sigur Ros! - and made them accessible. Except, um, Sigur Ros. (If you haven't seen "the worst interview in the history of electronic media," you must see it now.)

It was everything that NPR was not. It was sharp, witty, engaging radio. The hosts loved their audience and spoke to them, not at them. They cared about the people on the other end of the speaker. I have never felt like I was part of Morning Edition's audience. On the other hand, I always felt like was part of the BPP's audience, and I always felt like I could make a suggestion and they would actually listen. And probably, they'd write back. This was a radio show made of people just like me.

This is a great show. It is great on a level with This American Life. Imagine if NPR had snuffed out that show in its first year. "Oh, gosh, it's not getting the audience we wanted." No, they allowed it to grow and to find its audience, and in the process, Ira Glass' little show changed the face of public radio.

The BPP was changing radio. It was exploding radio into the 21st century, blending a traditional radio format with a live website, an active blog, videos from the studio, a Facebook following, and tweets from Twitter. It was a 360ยบ radio program. After Radiolab, it was the second great radio show of the new century. Not good - great.

Don't let NPR kill this show. If you ever listened to this show, let NPR know they're making a mistake. The good people at Radio Sweethearts have the details on how to get in touch with NPR:

If you, too, dislike their cancellation, please call the people at these phone numbers, and let them know (politely) how you feel.

  • NPR media relations: 202-513-2300
  • NPR listener service: 202-513-3232

Laura Conaway, the BPP online editor, posted the following on the BPP blog:

A lot of you have asked where you can write to register your unhappiness with NPR’s decision. Here’s the answer: Go to Click on the “I want to contact a program” option and pick Bryant Park in the drop-down menu. I’ve been assured that NPR has set up a special folder for these so they’ll be separated quickly from the rest of the audience e-mail and directed to the right person. Don’t send it to “contact an NPR office/management,” since it will go into the general pool of incoming mail and will take longer to be forwarded.

You can also write to our Ombudsman, Alicia Shepard. She can be reached here.

There is now also a “Save BPP” Facebook Group.

Do it. Get up out of your easy chair and do it now. If you haven't heard this brilliant show yet, go to the website and check out a few stories. You don't know what you're missing. Check it out now before it's too late.

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