Driveway MomentsThe annual rite of passage has adorned my radio because our local NPR affiliate, is performing another “Radio Held Hostage” week, (loosely translated … pledge drive).

NPR is great for telling you how “free” radio isn’t free.  Various stories of wealth and grandeur pull at listener pursestrings, hoping some listener will call and pledge. One frequent tactic is the overly used “Driveway Moment.”  If you’re unfamiliar with the pitch, here’s what a “Driveway Moment” is about. Quoting NPR:

Maybe it’s happened to you as it has to countless others. . . . You’re driving home, listening to a story on NPR. Suddenly, you find yourself in your driveway (or parking space or parking garage). Rather than turn the radio off, you stay in your car to hear the piece to the end. It’s a Driveway Moment.”

I’ll admit, I am an NPR contributor. Somehow, year after year, after year, after year, they manage to secure some form of contribution from my pocket book.

Still outside of the Diane Rehm Show, call-in radio programming seem deceased and the remaining NPR programming is stale. Click and Clack retired long ago, yet NPR continues to cycle out-of-date material as “entertainment.” Talk of The Nation died a horrible death and was replaced by a boring, less than stellar “Here & Now” and This American Life has been known to recycle material as well.

In truth, almost all NPR programming changes were specifically targeted to reduce programming costs. Facing continued year-to-year multimillion dollar deficits, management has shed direction, cut personnel and offered buyouts. Yet, NPR has retained some of the most overly priced talent possibly.  At last report, Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” still rakes in more than $334,560 yearly. Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” swallows $321,919 while Robert Siegel, cohost of “All Things Considered,” clears $321,860. You get the idea … the list goes on and on.

This leads me to my own personal NPR “Driveway Moment.” One day prior to the latest pledge drive, I learned Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep has begun a journey along the U.S.-Mexico border — from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Ah … Why? What the hell for? To the casual listener, Inskeep is taking is a vacation. Hell, I could pay my Uncle Guido some gas money and hotel and he’d be in heaven.

To counterpoint, NPR will claim that as part of some project, a team of NPR correspondents is pursuing stories about people, goods and culture crossing that border. Still as a man who has to clutch every buck owned, my “Driveway Moment” was understanding that NPR, who pays the likes of Inskeep and others, salaries in excess of $300,000, to do what my old man did for years: pack the kids in station wagon and drive.

What’s interesting about my “Driveway Moment” is that all of us deal with money everyday. Even as a Buddhist, there’s not a day where we don’t actually have contact with money. So you would think that money would be a really important for NPR and for us. Yet, like many, NPR seems to separate themselves from the ethics and consciousness.

In truth, Buddha didn’t have a credit card. But that doesn’t mean we can live without credit either. If you think you can, try traveling 50% of the time for business without a credit card. However, like a good steward of faith, we must be vigilant and actually be careful about that which has been entrusted.

If Inskeep had come to my father and asked to pursue a US – Mexico border trip, my father would have said, “Have a hell of a vacation. Oh … send some pictures.”