It was recently the semi-annual begging week for our local NPR news station. (Though, to be accurate, it's more of a talk-and-occasional-news station anymore.) I always hate these times of year--both because they mess up my schedule and interfere with my ability to get the news I'm interested in, and also because after you've heard three or four of these things, the schtick really gets monotonous.
Truth in advertising: I used to be an NPR subscriber. I woke up to "Morning Edition" every morning and listened to it, either at home, on the way to work, or at work, until it ended. Then I switched over to the classical music station until it was time for "All Things Considered" to come on in the afternoon, which took me home. Mornings on the weekends meant at least some of the morning news shows, plus "Car Talk" and "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me." At least in my younger days, Saturday afternoons meant the Metropolitan Opera, in season.
Now, however, I listen to roughly an hour of "Morning Edition" on weekdays, between the time my alarm goes off at 10 to 6 and the time I leave the house. I still catch "Car Talk" most weekends, and I listen to "Wait, Wait" pretty regularly. But that's about it. I stopped giving money to my local station probably about 10 years ago, when it became apparent that they were sliding more and more into the conservative, Fox News style of "journalism," and away from actual journalism of the kind that NPR had been justifiably proud of and for which it had been famous for years. At around the same time, the classical music station began cutting back on local programming--and has now gone completely to a satellite rebroadcast format. I've seen nothing in the intervening decade to induce me to go back to being a subscriber.
We can start with the local coverage. For all intents and purposes, there isn't any. And when there is, it's almost exclusively about Rockford. If this station wants to be "my" public radio station, then it needs to do a much better job of covering "my" neighborhood.
Then there's the trend toward less and less actual news. I'll grant you that it's difficult to do an all-news format on the radio, but even during the "news" time, I'm hearing more and more promos for other shows, more and more sponsorship spots, and far more fluffy-feel-good stories than I like. I don't listen to NPR for sports news: and that's a good thing, because if I did, I'd have a hell of a time keeping up. And when they are broadcasting actual sports news, I usually don't want to hear it, since it involves sporting events that are on satellite delay or which I've recorded on my TiVo to watch later, and consequently I don't actually want to know who won or how they turned out until I have a chance to watch for myself."