Tag Archives: npr

Where do America’s biggest banks make their money?

Most people know the traditional banking model, if only from George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

In simplified form: A bank takes deposits from savers, and pays them a low interest rate. Then it lends that money out to borrowers at a higher interest rate. The bank’s profits come from the difference between the rates.

 

Charming…but far from the truth for the modern bank. An article from NPR’s Planet Money looked into JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in America, and found they do much more than that.

The two most important ‘extra’ activities are charging fees and the outright investing of their own money. Here is how it breaks down:

  • $48 billion – interest from loans
  • $35 billion – fees
  • $11.5 billion – trading

A little less than half of the bank’s revenue comes from non-traditional banking activities (fees, trading). Not so bad, especially with trading accounting for so little. Remember, one of the root causes of the financial crisis was all the big banks exploding their trading. When the market collapsed so did they, but were “too big to fail” and we had to bail them out.

Suffice it to say that banking with deposits and loans is very hard (George Bailey nearly went under), add in too much trading and banks become very unstable.

 

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How the astronauts on the International Space Station get back to our planet

This Sunday (July 1, 2012), three members of the International Space Station crew will return to Earth on board a Kazakhstan-bound Soyuz craft, after over six months in orbit. Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers, two of the returning astronauts, and Joe Acaba, who arrived at the station in May, discuss life on board ISS, the visit of the Dragon capsule, and current activities in space.

FLORA LICHTMAN: Just another day at SCIENCE FRIDAY, calling space.

Station, this is National Public Radio. How do you hear me?

DON PETTIT: NPR, we hear you loud and clear.

***

LICHTMAN: Don Pettit, walk us through how you’ll get back to our planet this weekend.

PETTIT: We will get in our Soyuz spacecraft and under the command of Oleg Kononenko, and Andre Kuipers will be flight engineer one or board engineer one, and I’m board engineer two. And we work together to get this spacecraft back home, starting off with undocking.

We start off, we get inside, the close the hatch, we have to do a leak check, make sure the hatches don’t leak. And then we strap in and undock, and then we do a de-orbit burn. And then as we hit the atmosphere, the spacecraft separates so that only the descent module comes through the atmosphere in one piece.

And then our parachute comes out, and we go thump, roll, roll on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Read, or listen, to the full interviewAstronauts Prepare For Departure

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The Art of Fermentation in coffee, bread, beer, cheese, yogurt…

The list of fermented food in our lives is staggering: bread, coffee, pickles, beer, cheese, yogurt and soy sauce are all transformed at some point during their production process by microscopic organisms that extend their usefulness and enhance their flavors.

The process of fermenting our food isn’t a new one: Evidence indicates that early civilizations were making wine and beer between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago — and bread even before that.

But was exactly is fermentation? And how does it work? Those were the questions that fascinated Sandor Katz for years. Katz calls himself a “fermentation revivalist” and has spent the past decade teaching workshops around the country on the ancient practice of fermenting food.

“If you walk into a gourmet food store and start thinking about the nature of the foods that we elevate on the gourmet pedestal, almost all of them are the products of fermentation,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

 

Listen to the full interview on NPR’s Fresh Air‘Fermentation’: When Food Goes Bad But Stays Good

 

The book - The Art of Fermentation.

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Reading Rainbow turns into a startup, releases an iPad app

Back in 2009, NPR ran a story titled “‘Reading Rainbow’ Reaches Its Final Chapter.” At the time, that probably seemed like a reasonable headline — after all, after 26 years, the beloved TV show was going off the air, the victim of changing government funding priorities. But it looks like there’s actually a lot more to the Reading Rainbow story, and its next chapter is starting in earnest today, with the launch of a new iPad app.

The app was created by RRKidz, a startup co-founded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe, which licensed the Reading Rainbow name and content from public TV station WNED. (It also acquired the Reading Rainbow Twitter account earlier this year.)

“Television was an ’80s medium,” Burton said. So after the TV show ended, he and Wolfe asked themselves, “What would today’s technology be?” The obvious answer: The iPad.

 

More on the startupReading Rainbow returns as a startup and an iPad app

 

Reading Rainbow iPad app

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Listen online to Fiona Apple’s new album – The Idler Wheel…

Emotions are so darn beautiful — that’s the message of music, much of the time. The giggling lilt of a melody, the ennobling swell of a crescendo: Popular songs, especially, often enhance our moods to lift us up, unbreak our hearts, drive us toward liberating confessions and cathartic climaxes. Courting the sublime so aggressively that it often gets ridiculous, pop music encourages listeners to imagine feeling in ways that make us bigger, better.

Fiona Apple’s music does something different. A classically lovely woman whose gorgeous, sultry alto once led her toward alt-divadom, Apple has always dared herself to be and do something else: to say no to simple beauty and instead express the urges and insecurities that more accommodating artists tend to avoid.

This has never been truer than on Apple’s first album in seven years. The feelings Apple takes on in her deliberately maddening, eventually addictive new songs are those that inch us along, filling up most of our lives: icky little feelings like petty jealousy, self-doubt, bored loneliness and shamed regret. This is the stuff we’d rather tamp down. Apple wraps her fingers around it and makes it unavoidable.

Listen to the whole album, or individual songsNPR – First Listen

Click and Clack to retire – NPR’s Car Talk – final show this Fall

They were a couple of auto mechanics with a pronounced Boston brogue and, improbably, degrees from MIT. They hadn’t a clue how to perform on radio, much less public radio.

So Tom and Ray Magliozzi just decided to have a good time. The result was “Car Talk,” which shattered the perception that public radio is inaccessible to the masses and became National Public Radio’s top-rated weekend show.

After 35 years on the air, the brothers announced Friday that the run was ending. No longer would they be dishing on cars so old that their odometers switched to scientific notation or delivering gift advice to VW Bus lovers. The show informally known as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers” will tape its final original show this fall.

Declaring that “even one hour a week is too much” work, the comedian-mechanics said it was time to “stop and smell the cappuccino” instead of inhaling exhaust. The call-in show is syndicated on 660 radio stations and is heard by 3.3 million listeners weekly.

more on this storyHosts put the brakes on NPR’s ‘Car Talk’

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The most popular media outlets by state – where is Fox News/NPR popular?

Forbes and Bitly pulled together a data set highlighting the most read newspapers by state. In some places certain media is read more than others. Can you guess where NPR is the most popular, or where Fox News is read the most?

 

The Media Map: Who’s reading what and where

News sources read and shared at above-average levels by state: 

  • NPR – Oregon
  • Fox News – Montana, Texas, Mississippi
  • The Onion – New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin
  • MSNBC – Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Iowa
  • Huffington Post – KS, OK, LA, TN, WV, PA, DE
  • USA Today – NV, UT, AZ, CO, WY, MI, OH, MO, NC, SC, AL, GA, FL

 

I’ve always wondered why USA Today was so popular, well, 13 states have it as their favorite, above all other sources like N.Y. Times, NPR, & Fox.

After that, The Huffington Post is the second most loved.

 

Screenshot below, or view the interactive map on Forbes.

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Q&A with Gary Knell – the new CEO of NPR

An excerpt from the interview:

Q: You’re a self-professed “NPR groupie.” What do you listen to?

AMorning Edition is kind of on every day. I’m a big fan of Weekend Edition Saturday, as well as a lot of the music programs. I’m a follower of most all of the programs, so I didn’t walk into the job saying, “What’s that show? I never heard of that before.” What’s been fun is meeting all these personalities I’ve listened to over the years.

Q: From Big Bird to a big undertaking. What prompted you to take this job?

A: I felt like I had one more big thing left to do, and I only wanted to go to an organization that would have an even greater impact than the one I was in. NPR is one of those places. It’s a very powerful brand that has high emotional value—mostly positive, some a little negative—and a fan base that is very dedicated. I’ve done a lot of work running a global media company, taking them through this digital transition, which is affecting all media. So I just decided, let’s take a shot at this. I’m not naïve about it. But I’m excited about the challenge.

Rocked by controversy in 2011, including the resignation of its chief executive, NPR launched a search for a new president and CEO. They found public television veteran Gary Knell ’75, who was tapped to lead the venerable public radio operation in October. The former CEO of Sesame Workshop, Knell helped turn Sesame Street into a more global brand, ushering the iconic children’s TV program into the digital age. Similar change is in the air for NPR’s 26 million-plus listeners with Knell at the helm.

Read more of the interview – UCLA Magazine – New Head of NPR

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Dynamically priced seats – Baseball is using big data to improve ticket sales

“We work with half of baseball right now,” said Barry Kahn, CEO of Qcue, a company that helps teams sell dynamically priced tickets. That’s up from just four teams at the start of last season (2011). In all, 17 of 30 Major League teams will use dynamic pricing this season, according to Ticket News.

via NPR

What is “dynamic pricing”?

From the website of Qcue, an Austin, TX, based start-up:

“50% of tickets are never sold, while 10% are resold for twice the face value”

Dynamic pricing is smart pricing. It considers all the available data points to price tickets more accurately before they go on sale. Once tickets begin to move, dynamic pricing applies advanced analysis to adjust prices based on sales and other measures of shifting demand.

  • Determines what drives sales using variables such as start time, opponents, etc. to set more accurate prices from the onset and maximize demand across the house.
  • Captures opportunity for markups and encourages sales across every section of the stadium.
  • Recognizes shifting values even before fans do by constantly evaluating weather, players, playoffs, promotions, etc.
  • Improves business efficiency and optimizes revenue opportunities through automation of valuable business intelligence.

Sophisticated algorithms analyze real-time sales data and other external factors to generate forecasts based on various pricing strategies.

 

More from NPR

Baseball teams are finally doing what airlines have been doing for decades: changing ticket prices on the fly, based on demand.

At ballparks around the country this year, ticket prices will fall when rain is in the forecast and rise when a superstar comes to town.

From an economic standpoint, the only question is why they didn’t do it sooner. Why not sell seats on the cheap if they’d sit empty otherwise? Why not charge a premium for sellouts?

 

Personally, I’m happy that MLB owners are picking up on this technology, maximizing revenue, cutting into scalpers, even though it may end up in higher ticket prices for me:

They (Qcue) estimate that a team can generate an additional $900,000 in incremental revenue over the course of a season by making one additional change to each of its section prices.

  • Average price change per seat: $1.55 increase
  • Average percentage change per seat: 3% increase
  • Average price decrease: -$13.63
  • Average price increase: $3.27

via The Business of Sports

Are you biking more because of the high gas prices?

I love this story because it backs up my own behavior. With gas prices skyrocketing I find myself biking for local errands, and I’ve begun to love it!

Nearly 70 percent of Americans’ car trips are less than two miles long. It’s a no-brainer that biking instead of driving to take care of these trips is a great way to get exercise while cutting air pollution.

Last week, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published findings from a study by scientists at the University of Wisconsin on the economic and health benefits of switching from a car to a bike for trips shorter than five miles long in 11 metropolitan areas around the upper Midwest…they’d create a net societal health benefit of $3.5 billion per year from the increase in air quality and $3.8 billion in savings from smaller health care costs.

via Good - (thx to Amy Senger)

 

The full story via NPR’s Health Blog.