''Pop Vultures'' was a short-lived radio program hosted by Kate Sullivan, a Los Angeles-based journalist, and produced by Prairie Home Productions and American Public Media.
''A Prairie Home Companion'' auteur Garrison Keillor conceived of ''Pop Vultures'' as a way to educate public radio listeners about the world of pop music. The half-hour show featured rock journalist Kate Sullivan as host, chatting with a rotating cast of friends, musicians and critics about all genres and manifestations of pop, from glam to hip-hop to Christian rock.
Independent producer Jay Allison and ''This American Life'' host Ira Glass were among the show's champions. Glass said of Sullivan, "She is at the Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris level, in the way that she's utterly suited to radio. That's really, really hard to find."〔Janssen, Mike, "With Vultures, Keillor Hips His Peers to Pop," Current.org. Originally published in ''Current'', June 21, 2004〕 Allison said, "Kate Sullivan and the team at ''Pop Vultures'' certainly appeal to the fabled Younger Demographic, but we like them because they sound alive and knowledgeable and profoundly into what they're doing and they're funny. Those qualities seem good ones for public radio to take forward."〔Jay Allison, The Transom Review Volume 4/Issue 4〕
''Pop Vultures'' was in development for over two years; a pilot season of 22 episodes aired on public radio stations nationally, including KUOW-FM in Seattle, KNOW-FM in the Twin Cities, and WXPN-FM in Philadelphia. ''Pop Vultures'' was distributed through PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, winning its 2004 Zeitfunk Award for Most Licensed Series.
After the pilot season was completed, the show was cancelled due to limited station carriage. Its cancellation was viewed by many as a sign that public radio program directors were not ready for Pop Vultures' irreverent approach to public radio. Others critiqued its producers for pulling the plug too soon on a fledgling show. KUOW Program Director Jeff Hansen said the PRX episodes were presented to the public radio system as pilots, and questioned Prairie Home Productions' marketing strategy. "It makes it look like Prairie Home Productions doesn't know what they're doing. They're basing pulling the plug on assumptions," he said. ()
Kate Sullivan served as music editor/columnist at ''LA Weekly'' newspaper for three years after the conclusion of ''Pop Vultures. Many of the show's diverse cast of "vultures" went on to illustrious careers, including NPR Vice President for Programming Eric Nuzum, Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers, political pundit Matt Welch, author/professor Baz Dreisinger, and Rookie magazine cofounder Anaheed Alani.
* () Janssen, Mike, "With Vultures, Keillor Hips His Peers to Pop," Current.org. Originally published in ''Current'', June 21, 2004
* () Jay Allison, The Transom Review Volume 4/Issue 4
* () Janssen, Mike, "Seen as misfits with pubradio audience, Pop Vultures grounded," Current.org. Originally published in ''Current'', Nov. 15, 2004
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