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July 15, 2011

Biophilia, Homophily, Essential WDUQ and WYEP

I was listening to NPR/WDUQ the other day and I was amused to hear one person mention "E.O. Wilson's theory of biophilia", which prompted me to suspend my listening and think, That's what I love about NPR - one person mentions Wilson, the other person is confident that the audience knows who Wilson is. As opposed to, for instance, ABC who recent felt the need to generate a graphic explanation when Christiane Amanpour used a big word.

In fact, I was listening to NPR while I was out riding my bike on a trail, indulging my own biophilia - the need to be out in the weather with plants and animals.

Since we're discussing "philia's", I should also mention homophily, or the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. I know we have a tendency to draw information from sources we like, and to me one of the values of NPR radio is that it broadens my spectrum and introduces sources that I otherwise wouldn't encounter. For me, NPR is a force for heterophily.

Locally, National Public Radio (NPR) has changed to Essential Public Radio (EPR), and the talk show I was listening to was a new feature introduced as part of that change. The changes at WDUQ are an issue for me because while I'm a public radio kind-of-guy, I'm also as change-averse as the next Pittsburgher.

The new format includes "NPR talk radio" in place of a lot of jazz, and NPR's version of talk radio must be heard to be appreciated. The show that mentioned Wilson's biophilia was a panel discussion on, "Why aren't there more people of color in the national parks?", and I'm pretty sure that topic's not going to come up on Rush or (Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes') Fox.

If conservative AM talk radio is "Hate Radio", then NPR FM talk radio is "Care Radio", and my initial response to the new WDUQ format is that I'm not sure that I want to be involved in so much enlightened caring. There's a level of empathy and concern that represents my upper threshold, I reach it pretty quickly, and I like to save my empathetic capacity for my key issues, thank you very much.

So the new WDUQ talk format drives me to listen to more WYEP music. That's OK with me, I like WYEP a lot, and in recent years I've been a member of YEP and not DUQ, because I'm more inclined to support the underdog. It's curious that YEP ended up buying and changing DUQ.

WYEP informed me yesterday that Biophilia is also the name of Bjork's next album. Interestingly, Bjork's "album" is being released as a series of interactive Apps rather than unimedia song releases. Where did I learn that? Why, on NPR, of course.


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