7.14.2008

How Could It End Like This? NPR Cancels The BPP

Photo: by Miss Loisy, CC License

Sadly it's true. NPR gave my favorite show The Bryant Park Project the boot! News leaked yesterday in the NYT and was "officially" broken to the fourteen staffers of BPP this morning.

The BPP's Producer Tricia McKinney left this message on their website today:

We are still absorbing the news of our untimely demise. We will still produce new shows for the next two weeks, and we'll keep on blogging and twittering. We may also dip into the Best of the BPP, stuff we're really proud of.

Though the number of listeners were small, especially compared to the traditional NPR standbys, the BPP website did accrue millions of page views monthly. Anemic station carriage and a flagging economy likely conspired to doom the show and it's not surprising that NPR claims they spent $2 million over nine months with nothing to show for it. But was nine months really long enough? Given another year, I suspect that the BPP would have brought more non-NPR listeners into the fold; it’s too bad we won’t get to see that happen.

Various postmortems in the blogosphere also cite internal politics, staff turnover and flawed execution. I enjoyed the show. I loved their goofs. Such as the time they tried to cue a soundbite and ended up playing their entire library of Sound FX. It was endearing. They blogged, they twittered, they broadcast themselves just being goofy. It was different. It was fun, It was interesting and I became "friends" with the people on the show and even behind the scenes. Those who listened generally felt the same, judging from the comment thread.

As of this afternoon, there were 343 comments posted, 99% are positive and sharing their shock and disbelief with the cancellation of the BPP. Here is my comment on the thread:

I don't have much I can add that the others have not already said. Sad. Silly. Awful. Regretful.

What can I say? It's a mistake. NPR's wonderful, I've listened daily since the day of the Stock Market Crash in 1987 and The BPP was the future.

Radio as we know it is dying. You can stream stations on your iPhone!! With the BPP's informal (though substantive style) use of micro-blogging (twitter), blogging and ear to the NET Generation, it could have been the launch pad for NPR's revival.

I'm afraid that this "expensive experiment" canceled before it was given a chance, is the radio version of NPR's jumping the shark. Not the BPP itself, but the act of canceling it and not allowing it to grow or gain an audience and mature.

Sorry BPP gang, you were all great! I'll especially miss Laura's Tweets.

Sent by David M. | 12:41 PM ET | 07-14-2008

  • If you want to leave a comment here's the thread.
  • Contact NPR's Customer Service here.
  • If you want to contact the NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard and her staff to leave your two cents, the address is here.
  • Listen to host Mike Pesca verbally flipping off NPR in the opening of today's first hour. (Click 'Listen Now' and it will open in a Media Player pop-up window) Food Grain Collection & Monitoring Committees FTW!
  • Read my past post (say that fast!) about my love of this show here.

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