The Philosopher King and the Creation of NPR

The Philosopher King comes to visit

While the vast majority of posts from development organizations rightfully highlight a particular issue or draw attention to areas of critical concern, I’m happy to be sharing a story about one of the true pleasures of doing this work – the opportunity to meet passionate, smart people who choose to pursue their vision for improving life on the planet, in spite of the many challenges they encounter.  Of the many people I’ve met who fit this description over the past several years, one in particular stands head and shoulders above the rest (see photo for proof) – Bill Simering.  Although he will tell you otherwise, more than any other person involved, Bill was responsible for the invention of National Public Radio (NPR).

An upcoming book by author Steve Oney about the creation of National Public Radio offers details of Bill’s vision for an institution that has become recognized as a national treasure, at a time when the medium was struggling to redefine itself even as many predicted its eventual demise due to the rising popularity of television.

If you believe that communication and lively debate are the cornerstones of democracy, or find yourselves overwhelmed by the challenges inherent in the creative process or perhaps just love reading a really good story, I would encourage you to pour yourself a generous glass of your favorite beverage and spend about 30 minutes reading this chapter from Mr Oney’s book:

The Philosopher King and the Creation of NPR — Medium

For those of you who may require further incentive to spend a half hour of your time reading the excerpt, here is Bill’s original Mission Statement for NPR:

“National Public Radio will serve the individual.  It will promote personal growth.  It will regard the individual differences among men with respect and joy rather than derision and hate. It will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied rather than vacuous and banal.  It will encourage a sense of active constructive participation rather than apathetic helplessness.

“In its cultural mode, National Public Radio will preserve and transmit the past, will encourage and broadcast the work of contemporary artists and provide listeners with an aural experience which enriches and gives meaning to the human spirit.

“In its journalistic mode, National Public Radio will actively explore, investigate and interpret issues of national and international import. The programs will enable the individual to better understand himself, his government, his institutions and his natural and social environment so he can intelligently participate in effecting the process of change…

“National Public Radio will not regard its audience as a market or in terms of its disposable income, but as curious, complex individuals who are looking for some understanding, meaning, and joy.

“National Public Radio should not only improve the quality of public radio but should lead in revitalizing the medium of radio so that it may become a first class citizen in the media community.”