Thanks for listening

CN&R’s editor on her awkward take plugging NPR

Last Wednesday, after my colleagues and I put the paper to bed (that’s reporter speak for sending the issue to the printer), I headed down the block to Northstate Public Radio’s headquarters at the corner of First and Main streets. I was there by invitation. Broadcast Associate Matt Shilts was brave enough to put me on the air during the station’s pledge drive. I was there to pitch, which is new for me.

I wasn’t very good at it. Not because I don’t believe in National Public Radio—I listen to KCHO every morning on my drive into work. It’s a short commute, just a couple minutes, but I’ve always appreciated listening to Morning Edition. And if I happen to be heading in at about 8:30 a.m., I catch the station’s local reporters giving their takes on community news.

I’ve always been interested in the way radio reporters are able to cram a lot of info into such a short segment. I know how tough it is to fit everything I want to say about a subject into the stories I write, so it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to cover a difficult topic in, say, one or two minutes. It’s an art form, really. And I commend the station for reporting on local issues over the years. I haven’t heard much in the way of Chico news lately, however, so I’m hoping the station will jump back in the game.

But back to my pitching. Wednesday evening, I shut down my computer here at the CN&R and five minutes later I was sitting in front of a mic with Shilts by my side. Off and on for about three hours, he prompted me with questions about journalism and I read the names of listeners who called in with pledges.

I was pretty exhausted, so things are kind of fuzzy. I remember saying something about how important the news media are to society. Obviously, I’m partial to community journalism. I also reflected on the state of the industry: It’s a time of transition, I said, and many papers have made the mistake of putting all of their efforts into their Web offerings. Newsrooms around the country are gutting their reporting stables. They’re outsourcing design and editing. In the process, good reportage and editing have been sacrificed. I mentioned how the CN&R puts scant resources into the Web, but has bucked a trend by increasing circulation this year. We’re one of the anomalies in the newspaper business in that regard, and I have our dedicated readers to thank for it.

So, thank you. And thank you to everyone who called in last week and supported NPR’s stellar programming. There was a matching pledge of $500 on the line when I was on the air, and somehow the needed 25 pledges came in. Whew. I also want to offer one last thank you to admitted mic-hog Shilts, a masterful pitchman, for filling in the awkward pauses.