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A CPB organizing committee under John Witherspoon first created a Board of Directors chaired by Bernard Mayes.

The board then hired Donald Quayle to be the first president of NPR with 30 employees and 90 charter member local stations, and studios in Washington, D. NPR aired its first broadcast in April 20, 1971, covering United States Senate hearings on the ongoing Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.

In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from federal, state and local government funding, 10% of their revenue from CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities.

While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce.

Steps were taken during the 1980s to completely wean NPR from government support, but the 1983 funding crisis forced the network to make immediate changes.

According to CPB, in 2009 11.3% of the aggregate revenues of all public radio broadcasting stations were funded from federal sources, principally through CPB; In 2011, NPR announced the roll-out of their own online advertising network, which allows member stations to run geographically targeted advertisement spots from national sponsors that may otherwise be unavailable to their local area, opening additional revenue streams to the broadcaster.

The organisation's flagship shows are two drive-time news broadcasts, Morning Edition and the afternoon All Things Considered; both are carried by most NPR member stations, and are among the most popular radio programs in the country.This act was signed into law by 36th President Lyndon B.Johnson, and established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which also created the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for television in addition to NPR.NPR suffered an almost fatal setback in 1983 when efforts to expand services created a deficit of nearly US million.After a Congressional investigation and the resignation of NPR's then president, Frank Mankiewicz, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting agreed to lend the network money in order to stave off bankruptcy.

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