chapter  19
6 Pages

Public Radio—Americans Want More

WithAnna Kosof

Public radio had been around since 1949, when the Pacifica Foundation started KPFA in Berkeley, California—this country's first station run by a nonprofit community group. In many ways, public broadcasting is an oddity in America. Besides nurturing creative talent, Pacifica also created the means for independent producers to experiment and learn their craft—it was a training ground to press the limits of public radio. The creation of National Public Radio in 1970 established an unprecedented national identity, sound and mission for public broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting legislation intended that public radio serve an audience that commercial radio saw as unviable or otherwise undesirable. Public radio's most important asset is its localism and the special relationship listeners develop with programs and those on the air. In the times of economic recession and corporate, academic and governmental downsizing, public stations must frantically seek a higher percentage of revenues from membership.