NPR CEO Jarl Mohn Touts 'Golden Age Of Spoken Word,' Digital In Current.org Interview
February 10, 2015 at 4:26 AM (PT)
CURRENT.ORG is featuring an interview with NPR CEO JARL MOHN that covers a wide range of issues for the public radio network, from the growth of digital to reaching diverse audiences and more.
On the network's digital initiatives, MOHN noted, "digital is not the future; it’s the present and the future," touting NOVEMBER's 31.5 unique visitors to NPR.ORG and the success of "INVISIBILIA" and "SERIAL" ("We now know that podcasting is going to be huge. We are in the golden age of the spoken word, whether it’s about news, culture or science. Some of it’s going to be on broadcast, and some will be digital. It’s not an either-or. The radio listeners and digital users aren’t making either-or choices. For them, it’s an à la carte world, selected from radio, mobile phones and laptops. It really just boils down to resource allocation, but we have to play all those games").
Over-the-air commercial radio is not as good as it can be. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons why Iâ€™m wildly optimistic about public radio....
Asked if NPR had been neglecting broadcasting at the expense of digital, MOHN admitted that "maybe to an extent" it had, but that despite being in digital for the last 16 years, his "heritage is broadcasting" and that "broadcast radio is the cockroach of media. You can’t kill it. You can’t make it go away, it just gets stronger and more resilient" although he added that digital radio is "for real."
MOHN said that commercial radio is "suffering right now, in part because of the incredible consolidation and cost-cutting that has occurred in the business. There’s less room for creativity, innovation and local relevance. Most often, it’s not live. People have become less interested in it. Over-the-air commercial radio is not as good as it can be. That’s one of the reasons why I’m wildly optimistic about public radio -- because public radio is committing money to being local and live. And many stations are investing in journalism."
On the cancellation of minority-targeted "TELL ME MORE" and asked if NPR needs to come up with another minority-targeted show, MOHN said that such targeting doesn't work but that using diverse hosts, such as his previous station KPCC/LOS ANGELES' "TAKE TWO" with A MARTINEZ and ALEX COHEN, "works," bringing in "a whole new audience, turning new listeners on to public radio and bringing them to shows in other dayparts. That approach is a bigger win for everybody. All of our programs should be infused with different voices, and that’s not just about race. It has to do with age, geography and politics. We have to have a patchwork of all these things. When we separate different voices and viewpoints out into individual shows, they don’t do well."
MOHN also discussed the search for a new SVP/News, the future of NPR MUSIC ("I see a lot of opportunities there ... I believe that very strongly we have to be a leader in a specific genre, whether it’s Adult Alternative, alt-Latino, classical or jazz"), the network's problems with live events (some "haven't gone well," he admitted), the "Spark initiative" to promote "MORNING EDITION," the budget ("Our goal for the year that ends in SEPTEMBER is to get to a break-even budget. We’ve made our first-quarter projections. Second quarter is on fire...."),. and the launch of NPR ONE ("There’s no question about mobile’s importance to our future ... There are some enhanced features we want to add. They [the NPR ONE team[ want to make sure it’s bulletproof before we turn the fire hose on with full launch").
Read the interview by clicking here.