National Public Radio is changing its name to NPR

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No need for formalities here: National Public Radio now says it wants to be known simply as NPR.

So the Washington-based organization has quietly changed its name to its familiar initials. Much like the corporate names KFC or AT&T, the initials now stand for the initials.

NPR says it's abbreviating the name it has used since its debut in 1971 because it's more than radio these days. Its news, music and informational programming is heard over a variety of digital devices that aren't radios; it also operates news and music Web sites.

Hence: "NPR is more modern, streamlined," says Vivian Schiller, NPR's chief executive. She points to other "re-brandings" by media organizations, such as Cable News Network, which has been plain old CNN for years.

NPR hasn't formally announced the change. But it has told its staff and some 900 affiliated stations in recent months to use only the initials on the air or online.

There's a little bit of tension in those three initials. NPR's affiliates, which contribute about 40 percent of NPR's $154 million operating budget, are still primarily in the radio business. Some station managers have grumbled that NPR has invested in digital operations at the expense of more and better radio programs.

The Public Broadcasting Service, NPR's public TV counterpart, still officially refers to itself by its full name, according to a PBS spokeswoman.

-- Paul Farhi

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