For the love of public radio

old-radio-1425753I’m a news junkie. There’s no denying it. I read news online nearly constantly. Anytime a newspaper is available, I consume its contents. My favorite television stations are 24-hour news channels, and I spend a majority of my day listening to National Public Radio in my vehicle or streaming online.

My NPR station of choice is 89.1 KMUW out of Wichita. I love the national programming the station carries, and the local news coverage is stellar, which is why the station has been receiving many awards of late.

The past few days, KMUW has been hosting its pledge drive. Normally I don’t enjoy hearing the on-air personalities urging listeners  to make a donation, but for whatever reason, this time was different.

It didn’t bother me. Instead, the story and reasons given for contributing to public radio spoke to me. They inspired me.

I have been listening to KMUW for several years, but it wasn’t until this year that I experienced a moment of profound awareness.

KMUW was a service I used on a daily basis, and it was something I valued greatly. So, why was I willing to let others carry the weight of assisting the station in staying alive? Shouldn’t I do my part to ensure it continues to exist?

As I thought about it, I realized I couldn’t remember when I had last changed the radio station in my pickup. I realized I listen almost exclusively to NPR. I realized it was my first choice in listening, even when other options existed. Furthermore, I realized on the rare occasion a program I don’t enjoy comes on, I listen to NPR program podcasts.

It was a sign. I needed to contribute, so today I made my first-ever public radio pledge.

So when did I become an NPR listener?

When I was younger, driving to school, the radio was always cranked up as I jammed to my favorite music. However, from the time I road on the school bus, I enjoyed the occasional break in the music for when the disk jockey would talk or, if you were riding on the bus with me, when Paul Harvey took over the airwaves and read the news.

As I moved into college and began studying journalism, I still listened to music in mornings, but I tended to gravitate to morning talk shows. These generally consisted of entertainment news and lively banter between hosts.

Then, as I got older and continued my study of the media, my tastes began to change. I fell deeply in love with the news. I started to seek out news programing, and that’s when I found National Public Radio.

I started off listening to NPR while living in western Kansas. I drove a morning bus route, and I always had the radio tuned to the local NPR station. The students I drove never complained, and one day forever stuck in my mind was the day one of my students, he was a young grade school student, got onto the bus and asked me if anything new had been said about a news story we had heard the previous day. Then he proceeded to tell me about a news story he saw on the television prior to me picking him up.

It was awesome! I felt like my listening to NPR in the mornings had instilled within him an interest in the news, and knowing what is going on in the world by consuming news is a key component to living in a democracy.

Public radio is important to a community, and because it is a public enterprise, it takes people who care to help keep it on the air. If you value local news and want to keep your community healthy, I urge you to donate to KMUW as well.

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About toddvogts 843 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at