|I think the success of a show like Moonshiners|
is in part down to the interesting
regional accents on display
National Public Radio is often presented to me as a beacon of progressive thought in an American media world dominated by vast corporations who have evil hidden agendas. It's a fair point. ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS are all part of massive corporations whose primary and only duty is to their shareholders. (When Diane Sawyer is reading the news you know that she'll never report anything bad about the Walt Disney Corporation.) And the American talk radio landscape is worse by far: a fetid sink of articulate paranoid, quasi fascist, God bothering hackery. So yes NPR is a lone voice of calm in a swirling tempest of shouting nutjobs...but and it's a big but (insert Kardashian joke here) NPR is actually kinda crap. NPR is the way Radio 4 used to be twenty five years ago. Its a network for older white college educated suburbanites and its oh so patronising and complacent and dreary. And the thing that really drives me up the wall is the voice. That awful NPR voice! Bland and slow and so deadly dull. All hint of emotion or regionalism or humanity has deliberately been removed from the presenters and announcers on NPR for fear of offending someone or being misunderstood, but this policy is completely misguided. American regional accents are fantastic and beautiful and need to be cherished and loved, not crushed under by the bland sameness being pumped out by national networks in DC or New York or LA. American regional accents are dying as people move around more or feel it necessary to hide their roots in order to move up the corporate ladder. NPR is in part responsible for this with the subconscious message of conformity they pump out every morning. I lived in accentless Denver for 8 years and now I live in accentless Seattle and I can see how much richer the culture is in Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Memphis...places with a regional identity and a regional voice.
NPR needs to do what the BBC did in the 1980's and embrace regionalism, not suppress it and if it does I'll bet the quality of its programming rises too. The BBC is still dominated by a privately educated clique who look out for one another (hence the Jimmy Saville scandal) but it is changing - slowly - and NPR can change to. America is 3000 miles wide with dozens (maybe hundreds) of unique subcultures, let's hear some of them on National Public Radio and we'll all be better for it.