I’m sometimes put in the position of being asked by those in traditional media institutions what they can do to defend against the incursions of the internet. It’s rarely put exactly like that, but something similar. I try not to get too excited, because where they (rightly) see a potential threat, I see a lot of opportunities. And, to avoid sounding like a complete nut job, it’s always nice when you can point at institutions doing it right. The New York Times and the BBC, for example, have continually attempted to innovate their way into networked media. Some of these attempts have failed, naturally, but they have managed to demonstrate that they are not just relevant, but essential to the media ecosystem.
I think it would be fair to say that I was a skeptic of the Bryant Park Project when it started up. Inherent to any project that tries to make the image of an organization more hip, it smacked of trying too hard. After all, NPR has a market psychographic, and they should stick to it. Despite this skepticism, I found myself listening to the show on my commutes up to Connecticut, and found it engaging, amusing, and enlightening. As a radio show, it succeeded brilliantly, I think, at reaching a demographic that was on the edge of NPR already–a group of educated GenXers who won’t be dead (mostly) in the next decade. That they jumped into social media with both feet, allowing it to pervade their program without the programming being necessarily about social media, made it a great example to bring up when people asked the “what to do?” question: go see what BPP is doing.
Unfortunately, it looks like BPP won’t be doing much of anything as of next month, which is really a shame. As the 200+ comments on this posting suggest, BPP had assembled a loyal and interested following. They also suggest that the following was deeper than it might have been wide, but there is no way to know this. Given another year, I suspect that BPP would have brought more non-NPR listeners into the fold; it’s too bad we won’t get to see that happen.
On a personal note, I feel guilty now for not listening. Now that it’s summer, I’m not making the commute up to school, and I generally don’t listen to talk radio while I’m working (too distracting). But I’ll make an exception for the rest of the month, listening to the last of their shows.