NPR and knitting

I hate NPR.

Let me say right off that I know this is a controversial statement and that many many many people love NPR. In fact, the hilarious site Stuff White People Like devoted an entire post to How Much White People Love NPR. My father, a non-white person, loves NPR, and I grew up in the heartland of public radio, San Francisco. Several of my high school friends went on to work for public radio, my high school math teacher’s wife actually was some sort of host on our local NPR affiliate, and it’s basically impossible to ride in anyone’s car in the Bay Area without having it tuned in to public radio. And last year, I accidentally offended a friend of Adam’s, who worked for the Kansas affiliate of NPR, by saying I hated NPR, and then I felt awful, because I think the most obnoxious thing to do is to insult someone else’s job. (I realize I am repeating this offense by blogging about it.) So let me say that I definitely respect anyone who works for NPR, and it does offer a ton of valuable information, including foreign news and in-depth reporting rarely found on the radio, and that I think all the people who work for public radio are doing a great job and offering a valuable resource to the country. And I say this sincerely.

On the other hand, have you actually ever listened to NPR’s non-news shows? They are unbearable. (I am making an exception for “Car Talk,” which I find interesting.) The Stuff White People Like post quotes Summer from The O.C. (a fine fine show) describing NPR super-accurately:  Summer: “Is that that show [“This American Life”] where those hipster know-it-alls talk about how fascinating ordinary people are? God.” I was joking with Adam that I just might hate NPR for all the same reasons that knee-jerk right-wing “real Americans” hate NPR–the smug elitism of the liberals, the affected way of talking (oh my god, the pauses), and the horribly un-funny things that NPR hosts and listeners find funny.

Since my father and Adam both love NPR, this means that I am constantly subjected to its terrible shows (I listen to WCBS at home, weather on the 8s, thank you very much) and ridiculous hosts, and the show that drives me particularly insane is “Wait, wait, don’t tell me!” Now if you have somehow lived your life without listening to this show, then you should consider yourself blessed. It’s basically a quiz show about events that happened in the news that week, presented in a multiple-choice format, with several jokey answers and one or two plausible answers. (You can go here to read some of the sample questions and answers.) Then (this is the part that is a little confusing to me) a celebrity panelist and a listener face off in answering the questions. (It airs on Sunday from 1:00 to 2:00 in New York, a time when Adam controls the radio dial, hence my unfortunate familiarity with the show.)

So, on to the knitting connection. Apparently, recently on “Wait, wait, don’t tell me!” Mo Rocca said that all handknit sweaters were “itchy,” or something, and knitters across the land rose up in revolt. I think this is especially hilarious because I am guessing that a huge percentage of “Wait, wait don’t tell me!” listeners are knitters (Norah Gaughan, for one). Some of the knitters banded together and knit Mo Rocca a sweater and then presented it to him. A blogger for the Chicago Public Radio blog wrote a funny recap of the whole thing, and what I find particularly funny is that I think the blogger just might have the same feelings about knitters that I have about NPR, particularly when he wrote:  “I’m pretty sure they were knitting throughout the whole show, like victims of OCD but with pointy needles.” Haha. Knitters and NPR, allies torn apart by Mo Rocca. But don’t worry, apparently Mo Rocca learned to knit, and then went on to a morning show and modeled his handiwork to Martha Stewart herself, so knitters, stay calm. Mo Rocca is now an NPR listener and a knitter. All is right with the world again.

Posted in Uncategorized at April 16th, 2009. Trackback URI: trackback

7 Responses to “NPR and knitting”

  1. April 16th, 2009 at 8:23 am #Ivete

    Great post! I don’t hate NPR, but I certainly don’t love it either. I think it’s an acquired taste . . . the first few times I listened to it I couldn’t get past the weird pauses and the soft-spoken voices, it sounded really creepy. Once I got past that I actually was able to listen to some of the shows and even liked them, but I don’t think I could listen to the “Wait Wait” show you’ve described, it sounds painful!

    I hadn’t heard about the knitters-vs-NPR scandal, off to read the pages you’ve linked to!

  2. April 16th, 2009 at 9:42 am #kate

    I love NPR, but I blame it on forced conditioning when I was a child akin to Pavlov’s dog — if I hear the “dung dong dong dong…” intro to “All Things Considered” my stomach starts to growl, even if I just ate. Every single day of my childhood my parent’s started to cook dinner when the show came on at 6 so now I can’t *not* listen.

    I hate “Whad’ya Know”, though….god, that show is annoying.

  3. April 16th, 2009 at 11:57 am #jenny

    so glad you said it in print. even if we hadn’t discovered our mutual hatred of a cappella, our hatred of NPR would have brought us together!

    i’ve always found it so funny that i hate it for so many of the same reasons other people love it—in particular, the many dinner-cooking and morning-commute hours i was forced to hear it as a kid. though robert siegel was my freshman RA’s dad, and i have to admit i was kind of moved when he came to talk to us and i got to hear his voice live…

  4. April 16th, 2009 at 7:33 pm #Knee-Jerk Right-Wing "Real American"

    Actually, the main thing I object to about NPR is the P. There are plenty of lame radio stations out there — why should NPR get a subsidy from the taxpayers? Oh, wait, I get it. If they needed to sell advertising, they would end up pandering to the tastes and preferences of educated, affluent upper-middle-class whites. Can’t have that.

  5. April 16th, 2009 at 11:52 pm #Adam

    When I lived in Lawrence, Kan., I listened to NPR as I cooked dinner. The local NPR affiliate also broadcast the CBC’s As It Happens, which came on right after All Things Considered. I’d cook to NPR and eat and clean up to the CBC. Well-rounded meals.

    I’m going to have to see if I can listen to Whad’ya Know? (to which the proper response is, “Not much! You?”) online. I used to listen to that on Saturday mornings in Lawrence. I stopped listening regularly once I moved to Oregon and had a job with weird hours (sleeping through the morning shows and working through the evening shows).

    I just took out a Zipcar today from a garage in Park Slope, and wouldn’t you know, the radio was tuned to NPR.

    I don’t like Ira Glass’s twee show. Andallhisannoyingfasttalk … followed by … a pause. Andthensomemorefasttalk. That show is just too precious. And all the hipsters of a certain age like it. A friend of mine worked at NPR for a while, and he said he had heard that Glass actually adds those pauses in with ProTools when he’s editing the show.

    I mostly listen to WNYC here in NYC because I want to hear news and it’s on FM. The AM news stations don’t come in very well on my radio. Also, they begin to repeat fairly quickly. I wish WNYC had more news/talk and less music. I hate Jonathan Schwartz’s show, but I still listen to it for the most part because sometimes he plays good standards.

    Oh, now I remembered what I was going to say…

    The humor on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me is the same kind of humor that Randy Cohen uses in his “Ethicist” column in the Times Magazine.

    I think I hate Randy Cohen’s column more than I do anything on NPR.

  6. April 17th, 2009 at 11:34 pm #Knee-Jerk Right-Wing "Real American"

    I also want to protest the line underneath this comment that says “Comment Left on April 18, 2009.” Left indeed–why not “Comment Right”? Liberal bias is everywhere!

  7. April 17th, 2009 at 11:37 pm #Knee-Jerk Right-Wing "Real American" Who Posts Too Many Comments

    On the other hand, I see you do ignore daylight savings time, so that’s a point in your favor. We crusty old reactionaries haven’t reconciled ourselves to such newfangled notions yet.