Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: May 9, 2011

It was 40 years last week that NPR’s All Things Considered premiered on educational radio stations across the country, including WOSU AM 820.

National Public Radio came from incredibly modest beginnings. As Scott Simon said in an editorial in the Chicago Tribune last week:
“We had a joke at NPR’s Chicago bureau…ready for people who called to ask, ‘What time is All Things Considered on? We’d say, ‘what time would you like to hear it?’ ”

A writer, Steve Oney, working on a book about the history of NPR recalled the first broadcast of ATC:

“The opening broadcast…got off to a rocky start. The lead story wasn’t ready. For the first six minutes, (NPR Anchor) Robert Conley ad-libbed. But once the tape made it to the control room and began rolling, listeners heard something they could not have imagined on a commercial network — a 24-minute audio documentary about a country that seemed to be coming apart.”

Thousands of anti-Vietnam War protesters had descended on Washington that day (May 3, 1971) hoping to close down the government.

From that broadcast, jump to today as nearly 38 million people listen to public radio each week. To put that number in perspective, it more people than all the cable TV channels and most commercial news programs. NPR is the jewel of radio listening for anyone interested in understanding our world. It deserves so much more support than it receives, and what a loss should it be minimized and deconstructed by governmental cuts to NPR stations across the country.