NPR’s “The Takeaway” Revisited

Earlier in the year, April 28th, to be precise, EA posted the debut of a new radio program that promised to be revolutionary in recreating a whole new format.

Radio is breaking new ground in the culture EA 03.28.08 with John Hockenberry at the forefront of efforts to reinvigorate National Public Radio. His new show, The Takeaway, starts today.

Interesting that such a brief post could elicit so many responses. Thank you all for your very vocal and impassioned comments. So many referrals have been coming in, I wanted to draw reader’s attention to the wikipedia entry on NPR’s Takeaway, which can be found here.

The last paragraph was particularly telling in describing the degree of negative responses the show has elicited:

In an exchange about the program, hosts described it similar to Howard Stern‘s radio show in a the New York Magazine interview [9](published April 27, 2008). Hockenberry said: “I really think that, you know, Howard Stern is a model here.” Hockenberry and Udoji go on to say “We gotta find a Baba Booey.” The program website talks about marrying solid journalism with a more conversational tone — a first for public radio mornings. The clash between the expectations of public radio listeners and the tone of the program has led to a negative response from some listeners who have responded on the show’s response page for show feedback[10], to carrying stations, [11] and on independent online blogs [12][13][14][15]. This phenomenon of initial negative response by some listeners to programming and schedule changes on stations is not new. According to quoted industry sources, many changes in schedules elicit less than positive responses in the early/initial phases by some listeners for a variety of reasons, including not liking a change in their schedules or preferring previous programming due to host, tone or style.[16] .


~ by eaesthete on 12/01/08.

30 Responses to “NPR’s “The Takeaway” Revisited”

  1. “The Takeaway” is actually produced by my local public radio station WNYC, with input from the BBC & NYT.

  2. “The Takeaway” is disappointing and depressing. It’s exactly like every other morning FM show — same generic hosts, same aggressive and stident tone, same modest intelligence. It seems like NPR is trying to compete by dumbing down and copying. I’ll be tuning out, for sure.

  3. Sophomoronic. Sycophantic tendencies to any “hip” “now” trend Hockenberry can dredge up to prove how with it he is. As grating as a taxi horn, blaring at us for no reason. The Takeaway … take it away.

  4. For the last 10 yrs, I have listened to in the morning while getting dressed – counting on it as a source of news before I get to the office, to hone my knowledge so that when I have brief time to search the print news sources at the office, I know just for what I am looking.

    That all changed a couple of months ago when a completely frenetic, unintelligible program – “The Takeaway” – began its broadcasts. I cannot understand a thing these two hosts – Adaora and John –are even saying to each other. They seem to be discussing a series of insider jokes more than anything I can “takeaway” with me to the office. They talk over one another – or one guffaws loudly over the top of what the other is saying – and I cannot even glean any sort of “story” that they might be trying to deliver.

    If I wanted to listen to two people guffaw at each other nonsensically, I could turn on any other number of radio stations in the NYC area. I count on WNYC for news. What has happened to that delivery? I cannot imagine that this is considered “progress.” Lately, between the “GPS alarm” bleeps interrupting the segments, unintelligible discussion, and a focus on anything but news delivery, I have been led to just power off the radio and flip on – God forbid – CNN. But seriously, I can count on CNN to give me a much better brief on the day than The Takeaway.

    Please, I beg of you, find another $2MM to replace the grant that funded that program. I can feel myself slowly becoming a John Roberts and Kiran Chetry junkie. At least the commercials there are more entertaining (and less time consuming) than the non-news-oriented insider jokes on the Takeaway.

  5. I looked forward to The Takeaway with much excitement and anticipation. However, now I seek refuge from the relentlessly silly banter and insider jokes that seems to form the backbone of this disappointing a.m. program by returning to Morning Edition. Perhaps this marketing move was calculated to attract a youthful demographic. But regardless of age I think NPR listeners deserve better.

  6. I agree completely with what is being said about the Takeaway. I read an article in the Times that said the goal was a less clubby tone and as a result I think they have gone overboard and sound unprofessional. The tone of the news should be serious, no? Leave irony to Jon Stewart. Where do we find real news any more? Please advise.

  7. As a loyal NPR listener and contributor, I am surprised that I continue to find almost every aspect of “The Takeaway” irritating. The format, sound effects, banter, etc. are all grating – particularly at 6 am. All the comments above are spot on.

    Perhaps its most perplexing feature of The Takeaway format is simply that the tone or demeanor seems to change every 30 seconds. At least Radio 1010 Wins (AM) is consistent! The Takeaway weaves from hip to traditional, somber to chirpy, sound-bite to in-depth in a way that leaves you nauseated (again, particularly at 6 am).

    My suggestion for The Takeaway: test formats on focus groups of current and perspective listeners.

  8. hi, i see this is an old posting, but i was baffled by what had happened to WNYC this spring – kind of figured they were trying something new and immediately hated it. but this week, being jet-lagged and waking up at six, i found myself listening to it for lack of anything else to listen at this hour and realized how truly mindless and ridiculous it really is. Their report on how the Miami herald is out-sourcing its copy-editing to India was so chillingly stupid this morning — the way they treated the reporter they’d invited to be their guest was so demeaning, i thought i was listening to a rightwing radio show.

    my question is – how do we get this drek off the air and get the regular news program back?

    Wonderful commentary! From everything I’ve read, the feelings of banality and mindlessness attributed to this program are overwhelming, which leaves one to question why this continues to be on the air. Your remark on it sounding similar to a “right wing” radio show may provide a clue.

  9. I find Aedora abrasive and irritating and Femmie unintelligible.How disappointing!

  10. I find the Takeaway’s use of “your favorite torture song” feature to be incredibly insenstive and offensive. It makes light of a practice that has been opposed by Congress, the majority of American people and the world community as illegal and in violation of inernational law. It emboldens the Bush Adminstration’s continued flaunting of our constitutional democracy. I expect better from NPR.

  11. I must agree, what are they thinking? Anything?
    The torture song foolishness sounded like preteens trying out dirty words out behind the barn.

  12. Egad! This awful show is still on the air! I can’t believe they expanded it to *two hours*! How could they bump BBC news for this drek? Take it away… far, far away. Please! And quickly!

  13. Frankly, I think it’s alright. A little faster pace I need in the morning to wake up. NPR usual droning tones induces slumber.

  14. I hate it. Everything, about it depresses the hell out of me. Everything. Please, please, please bring back Morning Edition.

  15. I can’t believe this program has survived this long. It is truely dreadful. Any other station thinking about putting this program on the air should really think long and hard about it. I have told WNYC that I will no longer contribute to the station until this program is either upgraded substantially or taken off the air.

  16. I’m so glad I discovered this site. I agree with every one of the negative comments. I thought I was alone in my dislike for The Takeaway. Or that anyone beyond the age of fifty (which I passed a couple of decades ago) wasn’t equipped to appreciate it. Now I see that it is just (as one comment above said) drek. After a lifetime as a New Yorker, I’m now living in Providence, and I miss New York more than I can say. BUT — here I have my choice of THREE public radio stations and two of them still play Morning Edition, not The Takeaway. Now I feel lucky.

  17. I have started a petition to improve or remove this show. Send your friends.

  18. Why do I hate The Takeaway:

    1) Infantile theme music pounding bass distorting my speakers and rattling my teeth. I don’t need that at 6AM.
    2) Incessant self-promotion.
    3) Retarded hosts asking complex questions of intelligent guests, then rudely interrupting after 10 seconds to make more room for 1) and 2) above.

    Please bring back Morning Edition!

  19. I completely agree! I tune in from India to keep in touch with wonderful wnyc and this show is still impossible to listen too. John Hockenberry walks all over Adaora. He is full of himself.

  20. I encourage everyone to write to WNYC and let them know that you will stop contributing. I hate to do that myself but The Takeaway is that bad and not getting any better.

  21. TAKE IT AWAY!!!! I cannot agree more with the preceeding commentary on the Takeaway show. If I wanted to listen to the inane banter offered up in a sloppy format, I would put on a commercial station morning show. It’s difficult to comprehend why it has not been removed in light of the onslaught of negative reactions. Makes me wonder if I should maintain my membership and contribution.

  22. Wait, how do we get it off the air? I DO NOT what to improve this show. Pigs really can not fly.

  23. Sign the petition: – I think we all dislike the show quite a bit.

  24. A woman used the term “takeaway” last week in a class I attend and it prompted a discussion of how much we dislike the radio program (not to mention the buzzword.) And that prompted me to check the internet to see how many others hate this show. It’s gratifying to know I’m not alone – but we’re all crying in the wilderness, I’m afraid. WNYC seems obstinately unwilling to back down on its bid to increase listenership (they say they’re flat at 12.9 million – haven’t we learned that some things just can’t continue to grow?) I wrote to Laura Walker last summer after cutting my “membership” contribution by 2/3’s – saying I’d happily remit the rest of the money as soon as they pulled that show or changed its time slot. I got the predictable response “thank you for your heartfelt feelings” and “we will continue to evaluate this program and make adjustments as necessary.” It felt like the White House responses to letters to Nixon! I don’t like to do it, but I’m withholding all my dollars this year and I’ll write a more pointed letter. Too bad there aren’t sponsors! I like Wesley’s comment – and will quote it to Ms. Walker – “Pigs really can not fly.”

    • Sharry,

      Wonderful post. We need to ratchet up the “cries in the wilderness” to a “deafening roar.”
      Lead the way.

  25. I thought the inane name of this program enough to qualify it for extinction, but now, seeing how it tortures all of you condescending snobs — it’s redeemed itself.

  26. The Takeaway is NOT produced by NPR. Take the time to do a few seconds of research.

    And yes, The Takeaway is awful and belongs with “morning zoo” or other commercial morning chitchat inanity.

    Thanks Stephan for pointing that out since it could be misconstrued. Production credits, multiple as it turns out are as follows:

    The Takeaway is a morning [radio]] news program co-created and co-produced by PRI- Public Radio International and WNYC-New York Public Radio with editorial partners the BBC World Service of the United Kingdom, The New York Times and WGBH Radio Boston of the United States. In addition to co-producing/co-creating the program, PRI also distributes the program nationwide to its affiliate stations.

  27. As I read this article over two years after it was published, I am appalled that this humdrum program remains on the air. The Takeaway is not unlike the commercial talk radio shows that public radio listeners attempt to escape from.

  28. when will this show be gone – it is making me sick.

  29. For me this show has never caught on. Hockenberry is fine and apparently making a name for himself, but the everyone-an-expert or analyst format is annoying. If I want to hear what regular joe’s such as myself think about what are billed as complex, substantial political, social, cultural issues there is a decent bar around the corner from where I live. And the delivery – so much drama, my goodness.

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