Friday, February 17, 2006

Strib Letter: Public Radio

Oh, in my youth I gave money to my local PBS station (KTCA). I liked watching some of the programs that were rare (at best) elsewhere. (This amounted primarily to Doctor Who and at least a dozen British comedy shows or more.)

Eventually cable and satelite broadcasting came through, a huge video and DVD market grew, and I saw how much money PBS and NPR actually get from folks in addition to government funds. No need to keep paying up.

Not only that, but around most pledge drives the tweed-suits try to convince the audience that some folks want to end certain programs. Occasionally, they use the old chestnut that Republicans or conservatives or the religious right (or who ever) want to kill Big Bird (or these days, Elmo).

A friend of mine actually said that to me in an e-mail.

Another friend, Brewing J., loves the current local public radio station The Current for playing music he's willing to try out... and can't see how regular comercial radio can survive. (I think he's going Commie on me.)

That said, some folks don't like the Empire any more than I do. (See a related story in the Star-Tribune at Anti-Strib.)


Open the books

I was a contributor to Minnesota Public Radio for many years, going back to the mid-'70s. Over time, it became apparent (e.g. the sale of the "Wireless" business) that president and CEO Bill Kling's primary goal was self-aggrandizement: the accumulation of personal wealth and power.

Also, over a period of time, I came to realize that WCAL (St. Olaf College's public radio service) offered superior programming, playing a greater variety of classical works in their entirety, not just passages or movements. The superior depth and breadth of musical knowledge displayed by WCAL announcers stood in marked contrast to the inanities and platitudes offered by MPR's on-air "personalities." For a few years I supported both broadcast services, but as the relative superiority of WCAL's programming became ever more evident, WCAL became the sole recipient of my public radio contributions.

Bill Kling took it upon himself to destroy the competition, buying WCAL and taking its programming off the air. Now, during MPR's pledge week, we have the Star Tribune story about Kling's half-million-dollar compensation package (Feb. 15). As MPR pledge hucksters beg for donations, perhaps they could let us all know where the money goes. Sure, I listen to MPR, since, thanks to Kling, there is no longer an alternative, but Lucifer will traverse his realm on ice skates before I will even begin to consider pledging.


Cut the government money all together. I've heard more than one PBS and NPR devoted Lefty say that the tax money that goes to public radio and television doesn't amount to much. Great. Then they can be private and do what they want without it. Now's the best time. They've got stores, catalogs, websites, and state of the art equipment for television and radio broadcasting.

I just finished listening to the NPR radio play of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jeji. While I'm greatful that someone put that together, it clearly could have been done by almost anyone. I'd love to see a private college gang get help from Lucas to make his other three films into another three radio plays (and improve on the Lucas work).

In fact, I'd willingly pay money for it. ;)



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