Dear NPR Executives…

To Whomever Was The Decision-Maker Behind The Cancellation Of The BPP,

You are an idiot.

Granted, that may not be the most productive way to start off this letter. But I’ve gotta tell you, you really are an idiot. Please allow me to explain why.

I’ll first go back to what I wrote when I discovered the Bryant Park Project, some seven short months ago, when I first started listening:

Others have written about the potential here, as old media (no offense, NPR radio people…) mixes with new. What’s most interesting to me is to see how it’s actually playing out, how both the folks at BPP and the fans are all trying to get a sense of this interesting community of real-time, 140-characters-or-less virtual beings in cyberspace. The somewhat inevitable cocktail party metaphor has been used, and as well the somewhat more intriguing “coffee at the local diner.”

…And it’s this acoustic space that’s created with Twitter, as conversations happen in real-time (perhaps the cocktail party metaphor is entirely appropriate?), that makes this particular space “oral,” just as much as it is written. And this orality, in turn, brings people together, and creates exactly the kind of community that BPP’s twitter-lutionary experiment is creating within their audience.

See, I’m not sure if anyone at NPR has picked up a newspaper or anything, but the Really Big Thing these days is building community around your brand. And, through the use of new media — Twitter in particular — you did just that.

You created a community of listeners; partners in the show, really. It even feels wrong to call them (us!) an “audience,” because it was something more. We got involved. We had a stake.

We felt connected.

Through our tweets, we got to interact with both the hosts and those behind the scenes. We got to follow what happened after the program ended. We got to know them; not fully, but enough to share a laugh in the morning and keep coming back for more.

What really makes you an idiot is this thing called The Long Tail. The idea is pretty simple. It’s that new media technologies — things like your web site and your twitter account — can create niche businesses that thrive online. And what can power those niches is something like the community of listeners you’ve developed all these months around the BPP.

Trust me — new media people would have killed for what you old media people had with Bryant Park.

So, look. Maybe I’ve offended you. Maybe “idiot” was harsh. Maybe you’re not an idiot.

Prove me wrong.

PS — You probably don’t know this, but those underlined words in my post are called “links” and you “click” on them with your “mouse.”

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8 responses

  1. […] Carlo Scannella posted an open letter to NPR Executives. […]

  2. Carlo Scannella | Reply

    Great! Thank you!

  3. Great post. You’re so right about new media people wanting what the NPR built, a loyal, growing, involved fan base that interacted with the content more than simply consuming it.

    Is it sad, or short sided that despite themselves, NPR execs put in place the recipe for success in today’s economy (one of the only segments of the economy doing well) and then canceled it without realizing what they had.

    It’ like a small child finding both a quarter and a dollar bill on the ground, and thinking the quarter is more valuable because it’s shinier. If you don’t know what you have you might throw away something valuable.

  4. Beautiful Carlo, couldn’t have said it better! Hell, I owe BPP for helping me get to know you, G, Spacebase, Summr etc… They brighten my day. NPR set ’em up but then did not give them a chance (or us an easy method to show support financially).

    G, great points! Sad day, but as the responses POUR in and the blogs shout out, I feel a glimmer of hope!

  5. Carlo Scannella | Reply

    Thanks for both your comments!

    It’s a new day, and it’s still a big letdown…

  6. […] first is “Fair,” by Ben Folds Five. I think it expresses the absurdity of it all (see here for more on the absurdity). Well, he shouted out his last word and he stumbled through the yard and […]

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