I assure you I’m neither the first nor the last keyboard jockey to ask this post’s titular question, but this article from Ken Doctor has me thinking again about it. (In fact, last time I was on this kick, I was writing about NPR and, a quick check reveals, I used an awfully similar headline.)
Public radio and its audience is growing like weeds — highly literate, well-informed weeds — and Minnesota’s public radio outlet is one of the true trailblazers. And let’s not put too much stock in that whole “radio” label. I listen to a ton of MPR on 91.1 FM, but that’s but a fraction of the content the organization called Minnesota Public Radio pumps out.
It’s hard to deny that, in this age of online journalism and audience engagement through social media, MPR is doing great work. And I’m sure that will continue. But will MPR continue on a path of impressive, intelligent growth?
I can’t help but wonder if much of the growth is simply a matter of MPR just catching up to where it should have been all along. Freed from its radio-only past, perhaps MPR’s new, larger audience is just a reflection of the potential it always had, rather than some “my ever-skinnier newspaper isn’t getting the job done” exodus to MPR. So now that they’re (potentially, theoretically) reaching that point of equilibrium, is there more growth to be had?
As the Star Tribune “bristles at MPR’s ambition,” I look forward to the fight. With any luck, it’ll make ’em all — the Strib, the PiPress, MinnPost, everyone — stronger.