NPR’s Day to Day airs its final broadcast today. The program has been an NPR staple for the last 6 years, and while it was never carried by as many member stations as flagship programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered, the program was always one of my favorite NPR shows.
Day to Day was a bit lighter, more conversational, and quirkier than its elder siblings. They were willing to experiment with new ideas and take a few more risks, and they were an amazing outlet for freelance radio journalists. Many of the stories I’ve filed for NR over the last 6 years have run on Day to Day.
This is actually the third radio program I’ve worked for that’s gone off the air in the last year or so. NPR’s Justice Talking and APM’s Weekend America also had their funding pulled. The recession is taking its toll on everyone, and public radio programs like these rely on a combination of member donations, underwiting, charitable contributions, and endowment money to keep broadcasting. And a lot of those things are hard to come by these days. NPR is also eliminating News & Notes tonight, and last year pulled the plug on the moderately successful Bryant Park Project which was aimed at younger listeners.
It’s likely that many of the people who have been associated with these programs will find their way into other radio, podcasting, or audio production jobs. But as a freelancer it always hurts a bit when one of these outlets for journalism goes off the air – both because it deprives the public of some excellent reporting and because it makes it a bit harder for people like me to make a living by selling stories.
Fortunately, I’ve been making a decent living by blogging for a number of technology web sites including Download Squad and Liliputing, and by filing stories for radio programs as well as helping out at WHYY in Philadelphia when necessary. So I’ll be fine. But I’m still sad to see Day to Day go, and I certainly hope that by the time we come out of this recession there’s still a place for innovative radio programming. If not, I suppose there’ll always be podcasts, internet radio, and other online multimedia journalism. If radio doesn’t survive (and I certainly hope it does, because there’s something so engaging about turning on a box and having voices come into your home, car, or workplace to tell you a story), I’m sure there’ll still be work for audio journalists.