NPR tested its audience last week when the beloved, intellectually minded broadcasting network invited reality star Kim Kardashian to be a guest on its popular quiz show, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” which frequently features celebrity interviews, but a number of their fans seem to be very upset about the idea, CNN reports.
Aware that the Keeping up with Kardashians star’s appearance had upset fans, the radio network’s website published an article from its official ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen, on Wednesday, June 17, highlighting its listeners’ widely negative responses.
One listener from Burlington, Vermont, wrote:
“I recently gave a small gift to my local NPR station. Had I heard your Saturday show before I made my gift, I wouldn’t have donated. The Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today — and I listen to NPR to get AWAY from Kardashian-like garbage.”
NPR’s ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen wrote that several listeners complained that they were “disgusted” and “disappointed” after the reality star’s recent appearance on the popular radio program.
Kardashian was there to promote her published book of selfies as part of the show’s “Not My Job” segment. She answered questions and played along with the fact that some find her book, “Selfish,” to be pretty ridiculous.
“It’s riveting, I know,” she said of the 445-page book of selfies.
But at least one listener complained that Mrs. Kanye West “has no business in any civilized forum,” and Jensen said, “The listeners are self-aware and unapologetic about their outrage.”
“I have enjoyed your show for years, but I found the inclusion of Kim Kardashian so misguided and offensive, I fear I will never be able to listen again (hyperbolic, yes, but vapid, talentless, and shallow individuals who have not earned fame or fortune through an ounce of hard work have no place on a show of such caliber),” Jensen said she was told in an email from Brianna Frazier of Laguna Beach, California.
Slate’s Mike Pesca was the guest host of that edition of “Wait, Wait” and interviewed Kardashian. In a story he wrote headlined “I Interviewed Kim Kardashian for NPR, and Listeners Revolted. Here’s Why They’re Wrong,” Pesca said he “thought it was a good booking.”
“When I heard about it I said ‘great,’ because she has a persona that’s well-known, she’s ripe fodder for good comedy, and she issued a book of selfies, which is fun to talk about, and as a guest she didn’t seem particularly shy or retiring,” he wrote. “But really, how do you ever retire when your job is just being alive?”
The issue, as he saw it, is that “There is a type of NPR listener — and it’s a type of media consumer, it goes way beyond NPR — that defines themselves by what they are not.”
“To some extent, we all do this,” Pesca wrote. “The bands we like, the foods we don’t eat. But with them, it’s a much huger deal. They’re closed-minded, they use affiliation with NPR or Fox or Christian Broadcasting not to experience a larger outside world but to congratulate themselves on the purity of their own world.”
Pesca however offered a bit of a tongue-in-cheek apology to those listeners who were offended and said, “I’m sure that the show will return to its normal high standards.”