NPR is cutting funding by 60% for the immensely popular Science Friday starting in October, as part of budget problems. SF has 1.3 million listeners per week and 10 million podcast downloads plus science videos, blogs (it has the only full time science reporter based in Beijing), and more. It is one of the successes in engaging the public in science but also talking to scientists ourselves.
An email forwarded from former NSF director Rita Colwell, says the show is short about $500K of the annual $950K budget, which means Science Friday will either go off the air or stay on in a greatly diminished form until or unless new funds are found. What's most surprising to me is that NPR says it will no longer seek foundation underwriting for Science Friday: Rita says if Science Friday is to stay on the air, it is up to the scientific community to raise the money for it.
I can’t find any verifying information on this yet, but I find this to be very dangerous. At this point in time, this nation needs more, not less science coverage. NPR is the most reputable news sources out there, and this action is disheartening beyond words. Please spread the word, make ruckus and let’s make sure this doesn’t happen – the way I figure it, one less reporter in Iraq could cover the cost.