NPR receives $200 million

Even though National Public Radio (NPR) was bequeathed $200 million last week, Tim Emmons, director and general manager of Northern Public Radio, said the gift “won’t reduce fees and the need for pledge drives.”

The bequest, which was twice the national network’s annual budget, will create “new and important programming opportunities at the network level,” Emmons said.

Joan Kroc, the billionaire philanthropist and widow of McDonald’s restaurant founder Ray Kroc, made the donation as part of her will. Kroc died of cancer Oct. 12 and lived in Chicago from 1969 to 1976, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Kroc also gave $50 million each to two peace programs she started. The programs are at the University of Notre Dame and University of San Diego.

Northern Public Radio has two radio stations that can be heard locally, WNIJ 89.5 FM and WNIU 90.5/105.7 FM. Both stations operate on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

The stations raise approximately one-third of their annual operating budget from listener contributions. The contributions are primarily generated through biannual, on-air pledge drives.

Last month, listeners pledged about $130,000 to keep the station operating and continue serving several communities. The stations use the money for a variety of purposes, such as to pay fees for nationally

syndicated shows like Morning Edition, Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion.

Northern Public Radio has repeater stations that serve Freeport, LaSalle and Sterling. According to Northern’s Web site, “In 1998, a significant commitment was made to news and information, as WNIJ became a news-talk station.”

Editor’s note: The McDonald’s contribution is great news. How wonderful that our nation’s finest electronic medium finally gets a level of resources usually reserved for corporate media.

I am sure that NPR’s quality, balance and empathy provided the motivation for Mrs. Kroc’s magnificent gift.

I listen to NPR in the morning every day. The Diane Rhem Show stands at the very top of topical and fair journalism in the country. Everyone should listen to NPR’s features. My personal favorites are All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Le Show, Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, Whad’ya Know, Wait-Wait-Don’t Tell Me, and The World Café. These shows are beacons of fine journalism, humor and non-Clear Channel music and programing to the public amid the darkness of banal commercial brainwashing. Yes, NPR’s commitment to the arts shines.

In general, NPR’s programming puts the rest of the media to shame. No wonder Mrs. Kroc made her contribution. I wish I could give NPR more. I hope everyone gives NPR more, so we can hear more independent and critical thinking from talented people on the national and local level like Dan Klefstad, Susan Stephens and Tim Emmons. Hooray for WNIJ and WNIU! Write them your own supersized check today.

Also, go buy a cheeseburger at McDonald’s and tell them, “Thank You!” I’ll see you at the Golden Arches.

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