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At I’m at a meeting with NPR, along with Zadi Diaz, Jeff Jarvis, Rob Paterson, Doc Searls, and Euan Semple. Jay Rosen is on his way. We’ve been hearing about NPR’s structure and business. Fascinating. And check Jeff’s fabulous pre-post.

Just a few notes from the opening background discussion:

NPR’s structure is complex. It produces some shows, but NPR member stations run lots of stuff produced by others. So, when your local station runs “A Prairie Home Companion,” NPR doesn’t get a nickel. About ten percent of the country listens to NPR stations, but the average age is in the 50s. (The average age of PBS viewers is 60.) It has an operating budget of $140M and 750 employees, which makes it smaller than some of its stations, particularly stations with radio and tv branches.

After a while, we come to what seems to me to be the essential conflict: NPR wants to tell more stories, allow listeners to tell stories, and make those stories available to anyone at any time. But, NPR is also a creation of the member stations. If we can find and listen to those stories when and where we want, we won’t tune in to the stations. In short, podcasts peel listeners from stations.

We talked for a few hours after that about what this means for NPR going forward, and then had a group dinner. Then Doc, Jay, Jeff and I had a beer in the hotel bar, where we each declared our unending love for the Internet and threw our glasses into the fireplace.

So, I learned a lot, spent time with people I admire, and maybe get to help in some tiny way an institution I care about. Sort of a great day.

BTW, Euan has flickred a photo here. [Tags: ]

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