Race at NPR and the End of ‘Tell Me More’

Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR, June 28, 2014

Hundreds of listeners have written passionately to protest NPR’s decision to shut down its talk show dedicated to themes of diversity, Tell Me More, come August 1.


I agree that cancellation of the journalistically excellent seven-year old show is sorrowful, and I don’t think I am talking out of school when I say that this seems to be a feeling shared up and down the NPR hierarchy. The reasons for the closure, as Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson has made clear in a number of public statements, are that the show had a relatively small audience, lost money and is a victim of shifting strategies to keep up with changing times. One change is the growth of excellent local talk shows by member stations; many don’t need or want to run the national show. See the chart at the bottom. The other reason is that while NPR’s on-air audience has been stagnating, its online audience has been growing dynamically; more internal resources are being freed to meet the digital demand.

But what of diversity?

Diversity, of course, means many things, among them region, ideology and gender, but let’s focus on the central concern surrounding the shut-down of Tell Me More, which is race and ethnicity, even though the show covered much more than that.

Wilson insists that emphasis on diversity will be re-doubled in NPR’s remaining flagship shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as their weekend counterparts. {snip}

Each of these is a journalistically admirable effort. You will decide for yourself whether they are enough. What might help you judge, especially with the demise of Tell Me More, is to look at NPR’s audience and staffing. The table below updates the core numbers from a large study and its follow-up that I did two years ago.


You will see that the audience last year for member stations that run NPR’s news programs—the closest proxy publicly available for the shows themselves—was 5 percent African-American, 6 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian-American. For blacks and Latinos, this is less than half their proportion in the nation’s adult population. Not so good, seen that way.

But it looks very different seen through the lens of a breakdown of college-educated Americans. For better or worse, the public affairs programming of NPR appeals mostly to Americans with a college degree, regardless of race or ethnicity. By this measure, black listeners index exactly the same as their proportion of college graduates in the wider society. College-educated Latino listeners are lower but within shouting distance.

Asians present the opposite picture. Twice as many Asian-American adults listen to NPR news stations as their weight in the population. Among college graduates, however, the proportions converge.


The end of Tell Me More is unlikely to greatly affect these figures. This is due to the peculiarities of the show’s audience. It is small, and while it has a higher proportion of blacks than other shows, according to Nielsen Audio data, its listenership is still overwhelmingly white. Listener Padgett, the “white suburban mom,” is in fact a typical Tell Me More listener.

NPR has undertaken a concerted effort to “sound like America.” So, if NPR’s shows are expected to reflect the interests and voices of all the nation’s races and ethnic groups, then clearly it helps to have those groups represented in the newsroom. The chart also shows staff breakdowns, including from my 2012 study and what they were following layoffs announced May 20, including from Tell Me More. The numbers are of reporters, editors, producers, designers and other full time newsroom professionals, and not administrative support. NPR had 365 such professionals after the layoffs.

You will see that Hispanics in particular are under-index in the newsroom compared to the population. In the last census in 2010, Latinos made up 14 percent of the adult population and growing, but they make up only 5 percent of today’s NPR newsroom. This, roughly a third of their adult population weight. The proportion of blacks in the newsroom has actually dropped over the last two years. It dropped to 10 percent from 12 percent, which had been equal to the adult population weight. Asians significantly over-index in the newsroom, though their absolute numbers are small. {snip}


African-Americans make up 5 percent of the college graduate pool but 10 percent of the NPR newsroom, or twice their weight in the pool. Latinos slightly under-index: 6 percent of college graduates versus 5 percent in the newsroom. Asians over-index at NPR once more: 7 percent of the newsroom versus 5 percent of the pool.

There is a limit to the value of these numbers. But I believe that race still matters in America, and just as the framers of the Constitution gave disproportional representation to small states in the Senate because states mattered more then, minority racial groups arguably should have disproportional representation in the newsroom, or in stories. Their concerns, like those of small states, may get lost in the majority white culture. {snip}


Here, meanwhile, is the chart that shows the audience for all of NPR’s shows and part of the reason for the sad demise of Tell Me More.


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  • M.Magog

    The boring old white elitists just can’t handle the fact that blacks don’t like them. They try so so hard to be liked, …. but… “They be white”. Blacks want violence, they want to witness the degradation and destruction of another. They want a Jerry Springer type of show. They want to be able to sit there and do their head bob and take delight in the destruction of another. That is so….NOT WHITE!!!! When the people at NPR start talking, blacks start sleeping.

    • APaige

      In one sentence the article states:” What might help you judge, especially with the demise of Tell Me More, is to look at NPR’s audience and staffing.” The graph numbers show the percentage of NPR listeners as Whites-as to imply the reason for the show being canceled. Then the article states that the “white suburban mom,” is in fact a typical Tell Me More listener.

      • me

        That’s why I firmly believe that we need to recall the 19th Amendment. If we recalled the Volstead Act, we can recall the 19th Amendment.

    • CallahanAuto

      It’s so true. What a blind spot they have. Depending on what mood I’m in, I can find it amusing.

    • r j p

      They want to be able to sit there and do their head bob and take delight in the destruction of another.


    • Erasmus

      Repeat after me: “Our diversity is our greatest weakness.”

  • Hundreds of listeners have written passionately to protest NPR’s decision to shut down its talk show dedicated to themes of diversity, Tell Me More, come August 1.

    The Astros beat the Angels last night in front of a crowd of hundreds.

    NPR has undertaken a concerted effort to “sound like America.”

    Does “sounding like America” mean sounding like GuatemalaVietnamBeninPakistan, or the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

    • JackKrak

      Exactly. “Hundreds” of people here is meant to indicate a huge wave of support and indicates the true will of the public but these same people will tell you that millions watching, say, Fox News just shows you how stupid people are.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Heck, I didn’t even know it was a specifically “diversity” program. Just figgered ol’ NPR had totally replaced all Whites with cool, hip, diversites.

      Only thing I really like on that network now is the Car Talk thing but that’s not long for this world apparently.

      • NPR getting rid of Car Talk? Why? Did someone at NPR finally figure out that most cars use that evil brown goop out of the ground?

  • MekongDelta69


    Ok – I think I’ve got NPR covered…

    • Ever notice how the “no such thing as race” slash “race is just a social construct” crowd is obsessed with race and racial head counting?

      • MekongDelta69

        ‘Race’ is only a ‘social construct’ to leftists and race hustlers, until they want to try to beat you over the head with it, or try to extort money from you, or try to have you thrown in jail for “hate crimes/speech/thought.”

        Just like everything else in this insane world, ‘race’ is only ‘real’ when leftists say it (or anything else) is ‘real.’

        • Einsatzgrenadier

          The purpose of race denial is white genocide. It makes white people defenseless in the face of large-scale third world invasion. After all, if we’re all the same, it doesn’t matter who colonizes our neighborhoods and communities.

  • Publius Pompilius Quitus

    Even liberals can’t avoid racial differences in their day-to-day lives. Furthermore, they often implicitly accept these differences. It is Whites (Jews included) who are concerned with things like ideology, aesthetics, and philosophy–ironically, that is also what they’ll have destroyed when they’ve destroyed their people; case in point: it is Whites who populate the cultural left. That is, White people always seem to be the ones who are professional atheists, homosexuals, and feminists.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    “minority racial groups arguably should have disproportional representation in the newsroom, or in stories. Their concerns, like those of small states, may get lost in the majority white culture.”

    But I thought that according to Liberals we’re all the same with the same concerns?

    But I thought that according to Liberals that whites don’t have a culture?

    Given Liberals’ lies and inconsistencies it’s shocking that any whites take them seriously, but white guilt overrides logic in far too many Useful Idiots.

  • Jimbo Jones

    You will never, ever hear a discussion about or a segment on the concerns and problems of common whites. NPR is anti-white.

    • Rhialto

      NPR is anti-White, except when they are in donation mode. Then NPR has programming that will appeal to (mainly old) Whites.

    • r j p

      Last time I heard NPR some black woman was spouting off about being a victim of racism. She went on and on about being either spit on or having a cigarette thrown at her in a Vermont store. That’s when I questioned its reliability.

    • TruthBeTold

      What else do blacks have to talk about? Victims of racism or they try to convince us how vibrant and important black culture is.

  • r j p

    NPR looks to be doing better than CNN.
    Maybe the government should sell it.

  • TruthBeTold

    Blacks do it all the time. They complain they aren’t given media access to tell their story.

    They get THEIR programs and because they have nothing new or interesting to say other than to regurgitate their same old stories of how they be victimized, no one listens or cares.

    I don’t know how Jet or Ebony stay in business but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are heavily subsided to keep them alive.

    • Dave West

      Although they won’t admit it, i’d imagine even libtards get tired of blacks constantly complaining about “shopping while black” and “institutional racism.” Everything possible has been done to stomp this out, even though it wasn’t much of a problem to begin with.

    • r j p

      Jet is done, gone. Ebony might be close to.

  • dd121

    We can have a very nice conversation with the left about race until the truth starts to come out. Then, not so much.

  • MBlanc46

    I turned off NPR more years ago, and although I did miss Car Talk, I’ve never looked back.

    • BackPorchGeezer

      I liked NPR when I was young, but I turned it off when Bob Edwards left Morning Edition. He was replaced by a sneering know-it-all whom I can’t stand.
      Bob has his own show now on XM.

  • To better target ‘liberal’ listeners, the program should have been entitled ‘Tell Me Even More I Agree With!’

  • De Doc

    When NPR and similar organizations realize their ‘brave new world’ of true diversity, they’ll be the first victims. Who among the non-White communities will want to listen to old/effeminate white men and whiney white women all day?

  • r j p

    Sorry it was New Hampshire:


  • me

    Of course you do!

  • withcaution

    I’ll wager that even the small black audience that did tune into the show never supported financially. I see hundreds of cars repossessed from blacks every year and the floorboards are covered with CDs of pirated black music. It’s always the dumb white kids that pay for the official CD that supports the black musician.

  • MBlanc46

    I turned them off after one of their “experts” proclaimed without qualification that Kuwait had never been ruled from Baghdad. That kind of “information” I can do without. I also had gotten tired of them claiming to be commercial free and hearing the GE jingle ever night on their evening news program. I’ve never been back and never missed them.

  • HamletsGhost

    Blacks are just like Jews. They need to feel persecuted as part of their identity, and are not above manufacturing incidents out of whole cloth to validate their beliefs.

  • HamletsGhost

    That explains a lot.

  • Best_Reviews

    Blacks don’t want diversity. My neighbor next door on my floor is black, and he honestly tells me that he dreams of the day when he can go a full 24 hours without seeing or interacting with even a single person who is not black. Diversity is the last thing on their limited capacity minds.

    • PesachPatriot

      Tell your neighbor that he can do that right now, without even leaving the USA…..just move to any MLK boulevard in Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Philly or Baltimore…..the only non-black faces he’d see on a monthly basis would be the arab or indian hood convenience store owner and the occasional white police officer or social worker….

  • Mike

    From what I’ve seen the Holocaust revision information seems to be accurate. That it wasn’t 6 million but much less and no gas chambers.

  • PesachPatriot

    The world is and always has been a dangerous place….thats why I’m very pro-2nd myself…..telling people about the late unpleasantness is a waste of time, just look at all the atrocities committed by everyone, israel included since that time,….those with the intellectual curiosity will find out what happened and draw their own conclusions, most of the rest of the world will remain blissfully ignorant until the hard times are at their particular door….