National Public Radio goes KFC route: Just call it 'NPR'

Michael Calderone

National Public Radio believes it has moved beyond just radio.

So the nonprofit network’s dropping the “radio” designation in its company name — so 20th century, right? It has now rechristened itself to fit the aspirations of  a 21st-century multi-platform media company. In other words, no "radio," please — it's just "NPR."

NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller told the Washington Post that “NPR is more modern, streamlined.”

Several companies have rebranded themselves with an abbreviated name, such as the Cable News Network (CNN), Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and British Petroleum (BP).

What's in a name, you say?

A lot. Recently, some British commentators took offense at reports on the Gulf oil spill that continued to cite the full former name of BP. They complained that "British Petroleum" was a xenophobic ploy of American media outlets seeking to blame the spill on the British.

The Post reports that NPR hasn’t announced its formal abbreviation of a name that it’s had for nearly three decades, but that it has already made the full shift internally. The move has created tension in the radio industry, which continues to kick in much of the network's revenues, the Post notes: “NPR's affiliates, which contribute about 40 percent of NPR's $154 million operating budget, are still primarily in the radio business.”

NPR’s cutbacks in recent years raised eyebrows on the radio side because the digital departments were largely spared. Media watchers took such moves as a sign that the nonprofit network sees its future online.