BROOKE GLADSTONE: Our mailbag was overflowing with reaction to our interview with NPR programming chief Jay Kernis about changes in the network's cultural programming. Susanna Bock of Newberg, Oregon writes: "If Fred Child (of Performance Today) is exiled to the radio-Siberia of 2 a.m., what is the possibility that so many of us who have begun to love classical music under his tutelage will be able to nurse that growing appreciation of what otherwise would be foreign and strange to us? This is what we need to hear! Just so you know, I am an NPR junkie among a cohort of NPR junkies and I have been for years. I'm currently 25 years old."
BOB GARFIELD:But Michael Roalkvam of Kenosha, Wisconsin yelled at his radio, so angered was he by what he heard as my implication that if NPR moves to cover more popular culture it would duplicate what is available elsewhere on such shows as Entertainment Tonight. "Give me a break!" he writes. "Does All Things Considered worry that they're covering the same material handled by the commercial television networks? No! Because they know they will cover the issues with more insight and from different perspectives that the major networks miss."
BROOKE GLADSTONE:And this from Steve Rathe of New York City, the producer of NPR's Jazz from Lincoln Center. "Though I've been critical of NPR's programming shift, I appreciate the difficulty of the job Jay is doing. He is also one of broadcasting's most creative and bravest producers. But the issue is not what Jay is doing, but the direction public radio is going." Rathe adds: "For the shrinking base of classical and jazz stations, NPR is now proposing to consider streams of recorded music. Classic and jazz listeners are predictably attracted by a thin play list of recorded music. It's much harder and less predictable to make music choices by instinct and aesthetics. Harder still to attract consistent audiences to live performances and new music. But isn't that why public radio was created -- to go beyond the formats of commercial radio -- to make deeper and broader connections" Isn't that why so many listeners have contributed?"
BOB GARFIELD:We want your contributions, your insight, your perspectives -- so do write us at email@example.com, and please don't forget to tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Coming up, public radio and alternative music -- with influence comes the potential for payola. And what Spider-Man learned from Ayn Rand.
BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media from National Public Radio.