Should NPR Start an Online Dating Site?

nprvdayPublic radio listeners: make babies together!

That was the slogan from Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ during a recent pledge drive. When I posted this plea to my Facebook page, multiple friends responded with this:

Tell NPR to start an online dating site!

Hmm, okay. I decided to play business consultant and find out if this was an idea whose time has come. So I began my investigation by going directly to a man who knows all about the biz: Sam Yagan. He’s the founder of OKCupid and the CEO of Match.com, two of the most popular online dating websites in the world.

Yagan says lots of companies are trying to get in on his action, but that shouldn’t discourage public radio. “The U.S. market was $2 billion,” he says. “Think about it. It’s the most important search of your life.”

Some of the more successful niche sites are J-date for Jews and Shaadi.com for Indians. How would an NPR dating site for … uh … NPRites … stack up?

Yagan, who happens to be a self-identified NPR junkie, says the organization has the advantage of  having a dedicated following. But so do other news companies, and they aren’t hosting online dating sites.  I asked him if it made sense to mix news and love. “I think the NPR brand goes beyond that,” Yagan says. “It’s much more a lifestyle brand than a pure news brand.”

So a global leader in online dating thinks it could work. But what about listeners?

KQED’s Forum radio program did a show last week on online dating, and a guy named Johnny called in.

“I’m polyamorous, and being in an open marriage, it can sometimes be really difficult to meet somebody out in the wild,” he said. “So online dating has made it really easy to kind of cut through to the people who really think that’s okay.”

Disclaimer: Polyamorous Johnny may not be representative of all public radio listeners. So we put a call out through social media and asked listeners to describe the person they were looking for.

Some of the results:

  • “Seek female enchantress for potential long-term relationship.” Jeffrey Rutzky ,
  • “A geek, that would be really great. I’m rather a geek myself.” Catherine Lee
  • “I’m an urban explorer, technologist, artist and scientist. I’m looking for a co-host for my dinner parties.” Joe Edelman
  • “Perhaps this will allow for the creation of an uber-race of uber-nerdy Americans who will transform this country into a bastion of sanity.” Alex Soros

Yep, lots of people out there are into the idea of mixing love and public radio. And as it turns out, thousands of New Yorkers are too.

Brenda Williams-Butts, senior director of community engagement for WNYC, says her station has been hosting singles events for years. On-air personalities like RadioLab’s Jad Abumrad give sold-out lectures to 20 and 30-somethings. And then there’s speed-dating in high-end hotels.

 

 

 

“Speed dating was becoming a big hit in New York City,” says Williams-Butts. “So we said let’s do speed-dating, that would be kind of fun. So we partnered with New York’s Easy Dates.”

Okay, time to run this idea up the old flagpole with NPR CEO Gary Knell. I recap the interviews and put the question to him: should NPR start an online dating site for its listeners?

Turns out he likes the idea.

“I think that this is something that has fantastic potential,” Knell says. “It’s a pretty big group and there’s got to be several million who are single. They’re hungry for a connection and a community of people who, like them, want to engage in and are curious about the world, which is really complicated, and can be really lonely … I think it’s a very cool idea and we should be talking to Match.com. I’m going to hang up the phone and call them now.”

Stay tuned!

Oh … and happy Valentine’s Day!

Related

  • bobrnb

    where do I sign up? it’s a brilliant idea! I’m an artist in my fifties and don’t get out much
    – long time listener

    • Frank James Huayra Quispe.

      Great Idea. The sooner the better, Kj…

  • Scott

    why not allow singles to offer a date with themselves as a pledge premium, it would make testimonials on pledge breaks more interesting.

  • KQED_SWF

    I’d try it, and I like the pledge idea Scott mentioned below.

  • Guest

    I want an NPR dating site. I’d join. I always seem to get along so well with other NPR junkies…and I won’t have to shy away from having the radio on all the time when we hang out!

  • L

    Where is the question. Sign me up. But please… Do not limit to 20 & 30 somethings!

  • B

    The last time I filled out a dating profile I listed my religion as NPR… An NPR dating site is a great idea.

  • Yve

    Yes! Great idea. But don’t forget us seniors. (Who probably don’t want babies)

  • helenamft

    yes yes yes!!! please include 40 and 50 somethings too!!

    • pgm554

      The demo is pretty skewed in that direction already,so no special niche board is needed.

  • CJ

    Yes, yes, yes! But don’t forget those of us over fifty!

  • Lynne

    Where do I sign up?

  • andyd

    Definitely. Im having a hard time meeting worldly, intelligent, positive, vibrant singles. Its just the kind of person I would expect to meet through an npr dating service. Please do it!

  • Guest

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I am happily married but if I were single, a NPR dating site would likely be the first place I would visit to meet a potential partner.

  • Amy

    SIGN ME UP!!!

  • Tmaji

    Let’s just start it right here on this blog: single female, SF Bay Area….

  • Jen

    Yes! I’ve used match.com and the most frustrating part was filtering through the thousands of personalities on there, most of who couldn’t hold a decent conversation. I think an NPR dating site would help singles find matches that share common interests and can carry an intellectual conversation.

  • Flitzy

    Honestly, I would join. It would be nice to find similar people who are more into discussion than partying. :)

  • disqus_3mYC7SHNMQ

    it’s so hard to find people who are well versed in even a quarter of what NPR discusses! It was be fabulous to have a place to go where you know you can have intelligent conversation. But make sure to not limit age all that much– NPR, I think you have a wider audience than eve you sometimes realize

  • http://twitter.com/nycdesigner nycdesigner

    ELECTRIC, ECLECTIC—Modern SWM, 47, sensitive to the needs of a woman in the new millennium, seeks female enchantress for potential long term relationship. I’m rational, reflective, and wide awake…details are too lengthy for this space; let’s meet for spirited, inspiring, assuasive times to learn about each other.

  • CupidBeD__ed

    Also, please don’t duplicate the stupid stuff on other such sites. Example: I posted a couple of photos on 1 of the sites mentioned in the story. 1 of them was a pic of me as a 4 yr old having the time of my life on a carnival ride. The photo was rejected because and I quote: “…photo is not sufficiently current…” Also, on the other popular site mentioned, I quoted ee Cummings in part of my essay. It was rejected because it was and again I quote: “…not written in complete sentences…” Your dating site should reflect the level of intelligence, savvy, education, and certainly sense of humor and irony typical of your listener.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.liu.503 Tom Liu

    Please make this reality. I would be one of the first to sign up, even if there’s a fee!

  • burro

    This is a good idea. The concept has crossed my mind more than a few times, especially during the last couple of pledge periods when members both new and renewing offer their thoughts as to why they appreciate KQED and NPR. There are many lovely lady voices among them, offering observations that are intelligent, (a given), thoughtful, (once again), and often witty, funny, disarmingly honest, cute, sweet and sincere… as well as being occasionally chagrined with guilt for being a long time donation scofflaw, (Cynthia Marcucci forgives you, but now it’s time to pony up), but now reformed.

    There’s a lot of interesting energy in those voices, as there is in the many intriguing voices of the women reporters, news readers and commenters on KQED and NPR.

    And there are many like minded individuals sharing the KQED/NPR experience at the same time already. It would seem to have potential to give those individuals the opportunity to connect and find out what else they have in common.

  • http://twitter.com/BalletStarla Rachel Danay

    I like it…any interest in basing matches on Myers-Briggs types or VIA strengths? http://www.viacharacter.org?

  • Dr.Deepthought

    Is it possible that proceeds from the site could be used to help support NPR? Or is it in the best interests of NPR, being “National Public Radio” and all, to keep funding to donations? An interesting question in a time where money is a particular issue of great concern for so many individuals and institutions. If the funding came with no strings attached, and what was put on the air was not affected by this funding, I would be all for it. Imagine if this could allow NPR to grow and reach more listeners! In turn growing this suggested online community, an online community geared towards building real relationships and real community! Among informed responsible and active citizens! …Damn, now that I think about it… Sounds a hell of a lot like the America many of us have given up on! What do you say guys? NPR dating site.. FOR AMERICA!!

  • Mary Rubio

    up to I looked at the paycheck which said $8585, I didn’t believe that my cousin could trully bringing in money parttime at there computar.. there neighbor haz done this for under fifteen months and just now repayed the morgage on their villa and bought a gorgeous Honda. read more at, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Samara soleil

    In a book of small quotes written about life lessons learned, an 85 yo male wrote that what he had learned in life was that “you should marry someone you enjoy

    I hope to meet a curious, intelligent, reflective and conciencious partner who is also an open and relaxed, good natured person. I imagine the odds of meeting someone like that would be higher in a dating site for NPR listeners. If it’s created, I would join!

    Intelligent, down to earth, attractive, fun and honest 46 yo single female;

  • pgm554

    Interesting concept,but in terms of procreation,I would think that most folks that listen to NPR prefer reproduce via mitosis.

Author

Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a reporter at KQED, focusing on business and technology. She came to San Francisco as a Kroc Fellow with NPR. She was part of the ProPublica team awarded an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award for Post Mortem – a series examining the unregulated coroner and medical examiner industry. Shahani got her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, supported by the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship and a Public Service Fellowship. She studied globalization as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. She was raised in Flushing, Queens – in the nation’s most diverse zip code.

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