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NPR Swings Ax at Jazz?

Up against popular news and entertainment programs, jazz programs at National Public Radio just aren’t cutting the mustard. NPR attracts an audience of over 15 million each week via 620 public stations, the Internet, NPR Worldwide and the American Forces Network. In a recent survey for station managers, NPR jazz programs, like Billy Taylor’s Jazz at Kennedy Center and Jazz from Lincoln Center received “the lowest value.” Conversely, NPR’s news programs, such as All Things Considered and Morning Edition, and entertainment programs, such as Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion, received the highest marks. Because of the poor reception jazz and classical shows have received, considerations are being made to overhaul or eliminate some of them.

NPR’s Senior Vice President of Programming Jay Kernis (pictured left) revealed the results of this survey in an internal paper circulated at NPR and published by the Washington Post. One of the problems, and a source of internal frustration at NPR, writes Kernis, is that “Many [public] stations, including major markets, use NPR [jazz] programming to fill holes in their program schedules, not as featured shows.”

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