Media World: PBS, NPR face tough times


During a recent pledge drive, Terry Gross, host of NPR's Fresh Air, urged listeners who couldn't afford to donate to Philadelphia's NPR affiliate to hold onto their money. Looks like people heeded the public radio star's advice since WHYY failed to meet its fund-raising goals.

The problems at the Philadelphia station underscore the problems facing public broadcasters during the period of economic turmoil. Listeners to WHYY, which also runs Philadelphia's PBS station, also may have withheld money to protest the pay of CEO William Marrazzo, who is the country's highest paid public broadcasting executive. Most of its programming is considered mediocre. A WHYY official did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Public broadcasting, like its commercial media counterpart, is struggling with how to retain audiences who are bombarded with endless media choices, much of it available for free. That makes asking people for money to support their local public radio and TV stations especially challenging.