Why NPR is more fun than you think

Alexandra Stettner

In high school, I had a few friends who would listen to National Public Radio, and I always thought it was the epitome of pretentiousness. You felt the need to listen to news constantly rather than taking some time out of your day to listen to music or the radio as some background noise? We’re surrounded by negativity all day and you want to voluntarily subject yourself to more? I just never understood it.

Once I got to Colorado, I met my boyfriend and he turned out to exclusively listen to NPR in the car. It drove me nuts, but I suffered through it. Eventually, I gave it more attention. I heard there was a lot more on NPR than just news. There are programs like TED Talks, cooking advice, they play reruns of the very funny Car Talk program, the pop culture Bullseye program, and my personal favorite, The Moth Radio Hour. 

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The Moth is all stories – true stories – told in front of a live audience. On the first listen, it sounds like a TED Talk, but these are everyday people. Some of them authors, some of them are people who just have incredible stories to tell. Some of the stories reflect a bigger issue in society, but most stories are just about normal people who went through unbelievable events and learned something about themselves.

To listen to, it’s pretty great. The stories are so relatable, especially since they sound just like somebody who you would know – like a friend telling you what happened a few nights ago when you ask how they are. What’s interesting is that your life isn’t changed by the stories, but they definitely make you feel something. They give you a different perspective on certain situations, like falling in love, death, friendship, addiction or growing up. 

One I heard last weekend was the story of Andrew Soloman. He described the crazy lengths he went to in an attempt to finally have the family and the children his mother wanted him to have so desperately, despite the fact he was gay. This particular story didn’t have any personal connection to me, but nonetheless I found myself tearing up in the car. 

Beyond just stories and commentary, NPR is a fantastic way to keep in touch with the news going on locally and nationally. Despite the reputation, a good portion of their news content is local. Local news is so important to know since it’s usually the things that we can be actively involved with and engaged with. KUNC, our local NPR station, always goes in-depth into local stories, both from Northern Colorado and other parts of the state. The stories are always relevant and interesting, too, rather than just a million trivial things around town. 

By no means do I listen exclusively to NPR, but it certainly gives variety to my car rides. It’s a great way to keep a fresh perspective or to be entertained when you just can’t handle one more commercial on the radio or Pandora and Spotify. If you have one reason to listen to NPR, it should be that there are no commercials. 

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.