Bryant Park Project
The Bryant Park Project was a short-lived morning radio newsmagazine from National Public Radio. The show's name was derived from Bryant Park in New York City, which NPR's New York studios overlook. While the Bryant Park Project (a.k.a. "the BPP") was originally a working title, the show debuted with the name intact on October 1, 2007. The show was broadcast live from 7 to 9 a.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday and, at its height, was carried by 13 NPR member stations, mostly in small markets. The Sirius Satellite Radio station NPR Now repeated the show (on tape unless breaking news necessitated live updates) from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern, 7 to 9 a.m. Pacific.
The show's host was Alison Stewart, previously of ABC News and MSNBC, although Stewart went on maternity leave in April 2008. In her absence, the show was co-hosted by Rachel Martin, formerly the show's newscaster, and Mike Pesca, until Martin left the show on June 27, 2008 to take a position as White House correspondent for ABC News. The show's regular newscaster was Mark Garrison, although Korva Coleman often substituted from NPR's Washington bureau. The show's Executive Producer was Sharon Hoffman and the Supervising Senior Producer was Matt Martinez.
On July 14, 2008, the New York Times reported that NPR would be cancelling the Bryant Park Project as of July 25, 2008. Host Alison Stewart, who was absent on maternity leave, returned to host the final week of broadcasts.
The show was meant to appeal to a younger, less-traditional NPR audience. Recurring segments include a Monday morning sports wrap-up featuring Bill Wolff (Stewart's husband and a former producer at ESPN), political news discussions with Jim VandeHei from the blog The Politico, a Tuesday section on new music releases, and frequent interviews with various musicians and performers including Tegan and Sara, Peter Bjorn and John, Jill Sobule, and The Pipettes. Daily segments included "The Most" (a segment Stewart brought from her MSNBC show of the same name, presenting and discussing the most-read, -shared and -emailed stories from various online news sources) and "The Ramble" (a brief rundown of quirky news stories, read over a music loop taken from the song "In One Ear and Out the Other" by dance music trio Fujiya and Miyagi). News headlines were read at approximately ten and forty minutes past the hour, ten minutes later than the traditional top and bottom of the hour updates. The show also had an occasional segment called "Make Me Care" in which guests had 60 seconds to argue why a subject should matter to listeners. The tone was often informal compared to the more conventional content found in other NPR newsmagazines. It was distributed online via podcast and streaming audio, and also could be heard on Sirius Satellite Radio and on select NPR stations. The show also had a frequently updated blog.
On July 14, 2008 NPR announced via The New York Times that "their experimental weekday morning program, designed to draw a younger audience to public radio and capture listeners who had moved online, is being canceled." The last broadcast of the program was on July 25, 2008. The Times called the show "an expensive failure — the first-year budget was more than $2 million — and [cancellation] comes at a time when NPR is facing the same financial constraints as other news media thanks to higher costs and a downturn in underwriting."
Luke Burbank originally co-hosted the program with Alison Stewart. On the November 13, 2007 broadcast, Burbank announced that he was planning on leaving the show in mid-December to be closer to his daughter in Seattle. Since January 2008, Burbank has hosted the nightly talk show "Too Beautiful to Live" on KIRO, an AM news and talk station in Seattle. On his current show, Burbank has alluded to being unhappy with the early-morning hours necessary to produce a morning news show and has hinted at personality conflicts with NPR producers and executives. On the May 8, 2008 episode of the show, which featured pre-recorded birthday wishes for Burbank from various friends and family members, Burbank, in speaking about his time at the BPP, said, "My name is mud at NPR New York."
The Bryant Park Project was carried on the following stations:
- KBIA 91.3 HD 3 - Columbia, Missouri
- KCPW-FM 88.3 FM - Salt Lake City, Utah
- KXOT 91.7 FM - Seattle/Tacoma, Washington
- WITF-FM 89.5 HD 2 - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- WLRN-FM 91.3 HD - Miami, Florida
- WPSU 91.5 HD 2 - State College, Pennsylvania
- WVTF * HD 3 - Virginia: Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, and Charlottesville
- WFFC 89.9 HD 2 - Roanoke, Virginia
- WUKY 91.3 HD 3 - Lexington, Kentucky
- WWPV 88.7 FM - Burlington, Vermont (VPR World Channel)
- WXXI-FM 91.5 HD 3 - Rochester, New York
- Sirius Satellite Radio
Note: * = more than one frequency
- Jensen, Elizabeth (2007-09-27). "An NPR Program Aims to Awaken a Younger Crowd". The New York Times.
- "Two-guy staff starts building NPR morning show on the Web". The Current. 2007-04-09.
- Everhart, Karen (2007-09-24). "NPR’s Bryant Park Project: Levity with alternative takes on the news". Current.
- Jensen, Elizabeth (2008-07-14). "Public Radio to Cancel a Morning Experiment". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
- "'Bryant Park Project' To End". Radio & Records. 2008-07-14.
- Davila, Florangela (2007-11-14). "Homegrown NPR host quits radio gig". The Seattle Times.
- Burbank, Luke (2008-11-25). "Too Beautiful to Live". KIRO AM.
- "Affiliate stations". NPR.org.