Why Would NPR Do This?


National Public Radio may be the most successful organization at creating content for Podcasts. It certainly was one of the early leaders in Podcasting. However, the organization has decided it doesn’t really want to promote its own Podcasts on the air. And, although no explanation as to why was given, that may be to avoid pushing listeners away from the radio. Here’s what NPR’s V.P. for news programming and operations Chris Turpin wrote in a note to the NPR staff about the Podcasts.

“As podcasts grow in number and popularity we are talking about them more often in our news programs. We are also fielding more and more questions from news staff and Member stations about our policies for referring to podcasts on air. To that end, we want to establish some common standards, especially for language in back announces. Our hope is to establish basic principles that are easy to understand and allow plenty of flexibility for creativity. These guidelines apply to all podcasts, whether produced by NPR or by other entities. We won’t tell people to actively download a podcast or where to find them. No mentions of npr.org, iTunes, Stitcher, NPR One, etc.”

Here is what the NPR announcers are allowed to say: “That’s Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and our blogger on the same subject and Bob Mondello, NPR’s film critic. Thanks so much.” Here is what they are not allowed to say: “OK, everyone. You can download Alt.Latino from iTunes and, of course, via the NPR One app.

Turpin says that when NPR announcers talk about Podcasts, they can mention the name of the podcast but not in a way that explicitly endorses it. “References should not specifically promote the content of the podcast (e.g., “This week, the Politics Podcast team digs into delegate math.”) If you feel a podcast title needs explaining (e.g. Hidden Brain), some additional language can be added (e.g., “That’s Shankar Vedantam, he hosts a podcast that explores the unseen patterns of human behavior. It’s called, Hidden Brain” ). Just to repeat: Be creative in how you back announce podcasts, but please avoid outright promotion.”


  1. Makes sense. You’re dealing with an older demo. They don’t want to hear about “downloading” anything, nor hear about iTunes, Stitcher, etc… Saying the talent or show has a “podcast” is enough for those who are already familiar with podcasts.

    • Oh c’mon, don’t be ridiculous. I’m sick to death of anyone assuming that because I have grey hair I’m computer illiterate and intimidated by all things internet. I download and listen to podcasts regularly, stream video and make regular use of all my connected devices. Perhaps young Mr. Murray needs to stop trying so hard to be hipster and expand his circle a bit beyond the “younger demo” he hangs with. NPR’s policy was a business decision (misguided perhaps) and has nothing to do with confusing the more “senior” side of their listening base.

    • Gregg – I call you out on that arrogant statement which is the second time I have heard from a younger person in a month. And that person realized their mistake not because my telling them that , but events and circumstances as I predicted came true. And it just cost them millions in lost revenue and serious damage to an up and coming brand owned by a Billionaire that I hope will recover.

      First, that is not that smart to say publicly. You should challenge your your paradigm (you can go look that word up if you don’t know it). I download and stream all the time and I’m 56. And I’m not the exception.

      Second, when I was your age, i may have thought things you just said but often realized my older or more experienced peers were right about things as time progressed and I became more experienced/seasoned.

      It’s not an older demo thing in my opinion, as I and many older folks do stream and podcast. NPR is looking out for the money demo as it goes through a transition to appeal to wider demo including younger folks. Easy to say, not easy to do. So NPR is understandably slowly covering their flank in older established media as they establish themselves in new media. I have been through media changes a few times and I get it.

      Now, I use all products you mentioned including Sticher, Soundcloud, Tunein and many others. I’m preparing my own podcast to carve out a niche no one is exploring yet and have a few ideas on the streaming side as well. So creativity is ageless despite your comments. I know I can learn from you and you can certainly learn from other older folk like me.

      But will you or are you just going to arrogantly laugh and scoff at the older demo? Learning a lesson is hard and changing your behavior is even harder. Try or fail. It’s up to you. If you don’t, you will not last in the media business or any other.

    • Part of the courtesy of having a guest on is to let listeners know where can find out more about that guest, it the guest is an author, they are introduced as “joe blow who has a new book called they have a new book titled my book and its available at my book.com. Recording artists are introduced as “Danny Jackson, whose new cd is available at so and so dot com…” Content creators whose primary medium are blogs, podcasts or websites should be allowed to let people know where their online content can be accessed, be it blogs, websites, sound cloud and other places where online content is stored. These days download entails little more than clicking a few links

  2. In business we call it channel conflict. NPR is a B2B business: they wholesale their programs to stations. By “going direct,” and promoting it, they cause a conflict. They’re not going to stop going direct (and frankly there is too much demand for it, which will eventually be a crisis for the stations), but at least they can stop (or limit) promoting the goods.

  3. Fairly simple answer. NPR does not allow promotional messaging for advertisers. No call to action is allowed. An advertiser cannot say go to abc.com to download something. I would imagine they are only clarifying those rules in an effort to avoid a legal snafu. NPR afterall does not own all of these podcasts….many are only created by NPR correspondents…who would stand To benefit greatly from free, on air promotion.


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