Where should I donate to NPR?
January 8, 2017 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I would like to set up a recurring donation to an NPR local station, but I do not have an NPR local station. Where would my (little) money make the 'most' difference?

I listen to a lot of NPR show podcasts and several have asked for support in the form of donations to local stations. I am happy with the idea of supporting local stations at the same time as putting in a good word for the work these podcasts do. I live in Canada and I'm not in any local station areas, though I've lived in the KEXP and WAMU listenersheds. Both those stations are in pretty big, active pro-npr markets, though, and the amount I'm talking about would be monthly but would not be anything huge.

Is there a local station somewhere that could use my money more than some of the 'big' stations, possibly just to keep a decent news source available? Or should I keep on giving to a big station, say where more content might be developed? Or is it a total tossup and it'll do enough good whereever I send it? Or is the real goal in npr donations to wait for a fund drive somewhere to determine how much I want the tote bag? I am looking for any particular advantage in any of these approaches.
posted by slanket wizard to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a particular show you like that may do its own annual appeal? I've donated in the past to (MeFi's own!) Mo Nickels' Way With Words program. You can read their blog post about how they pay for it. You might want to dig a little and see if any of the shows you particularly like accept specific funding that might let them do a little more of the things you like them doing. My local is VPR and I think they're exceptional, but most people probably feel that way about their local.
posted by jessamyn at 12:04 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to the relative efficiencies, but if you want to donate to a smaller market station, I know an enthusiastic supporter of Montana Public Radio.
posted by serelliya at 12:14 PM on January 8, 2017

Best answer: Just making sure that you're aware that it is possible to donate to NPR directly rather than to a local station.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Make sure whatever local station you choose broadcasts the programs you enjoy.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:25 PM on January 8, 2017

A small-ish station that does a good job with news is Vermont Public Radio.
posted by beagle at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2017

Best answer: St Louis Public Radio has been doing some great programming about race and poverty in the wake of events in Ferguson.
posted by matildaben at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Over the past couple of years KRTS Marfa Public Radio has been the most awarded small-market station in the nation at the Murrow Awards. Along with their sister station KXWT they broadcast over a huge area in a state where liberal voices and demographic shifts have the potential to make a big difference over the next decades. And they just lost their founder and hugely influential general manager to a move to another station. Your money would help a lot there.
posted by caek at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you go to Buffalo/the US side of Niagara Falls? Wned/wbfo has member benefits for the area....and a few for ON.
posted by brujita at 3:09 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I definitely want to endorse the smaller stations. (My being a volunteer at small public radio stations 20 years ago may be coloring my judgment, of course. That and the fact that I'm currently a small business owner that has to compete against gigantic chains.)

The big ones get all the attention and support, and also benefit by virtue of being located in cities with lots of people, and thus, lots more potential donors. And it's not as if there's magically 5x-10x more public radio stations to compete with in a market that has 5x-10x more people than a smaller market down the road, so large-market stations really DO have an unfair advantage. (Which I grant they often use for good things, like producing lots of great original programming, a la WNYC, WBUR, WBEZ, and so on.)

I would vouch for my local NPR affiliate, which is WYPR in Baltimore, but they're on the big side of "small," so maybe go smaller than that . . .

. . . actually, here's a great idea (if I may say so myself): Pick a station (or stations) in smaller markets in deep-red states that where local administrations aren't likely to be friendly to public radio, and where the dial to the left of 92.1* is otherwise chock-full of religious stations. Mississippi Public Radio comes to mind, as does, say, Tulsa's NPR station. They're the ones fighting the sort of uphill battles that the WNYCs and KQEDs of the world can't begin to imagine.

(* In the USA, the frequencies below 92.1 are generally reserved for noncommercial stations.)
posted by CommonSense at 4:17 PM on January 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

WMMT is not an NPR affiliate, but it is community radio, and it's a station I love. You might or might not like the music they play -- mostly old-school country and bluegrass, but they also do play hard rock and even hip-hop. Anyways, they do lots of good shows for the Appalachia area, and if you are interested in what those are, look here: https://www.wmmt.org/about-2/
posted by old_growler at 4:25 PM on January 8, 2017

WLRH is the NPR station in the part of North Alabama where I grew up, and while not an adventurous station in nearly any regard, the broader view of the world that it provided me while growing up was invaluable. I'm sure there are kids listening to WLRH now for whom it is similarly vital.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:03 PM on January 8, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you for the ideas! I haven't made up my mind yet but this has helped direct my research. I appreciate the suggestions for small-market stations too, it sounds like lots of places could use a donation. I'll let you know where I end up giving.
posted by slanket wizard at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2017

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