A Rising Tide

In Boston, Jeff Boudreau notes, the Purple People Meter is chewing up ‘GBH and WUMB, according to the latest Arbitron numbers, here. Both stations have sagged in the ratings since going all-talk and Triple A tripe, respectively. And, he notes, this article in the Boston Globe, entitled “WGBH asking for cuts as contract talks with largest union begin,” doesn’t bode well for those without a key to the executive washroom.

Officials at WGBH said yesterday that they began negotiations with the public broadcaster’s largest union seeking concessions that include cutting the company’s match for employee retirement plans in half, redefining job descriptions, and moving to a performance-based pay raise system.

As Jeff says, this seems to be the suited beancounters’ method: “1. Over-extend the budget by purchasing a weak classical station. 2. Cut expenses by firing the people doing folk and blues programming. 3. Bust the unions.” All in the guise of budgetary need, of course, after spending the money on another radio station. (The Boston Globe reports that WGBH’s endowment is now $57 million, compared with $64 million last year.) “Their hands are tied” — that familiar refrain, best served with gnashing of teeth and copious crocodile tears. Vaguely reminiscent of the overzealous supply-side economics that overheated the economy with military shopping sprees while at the same time cutting taxes . . . And when the bill comes due — the money has to come from somewhere.

It’s an overweening sense of entitlement that allows the nobility to make these big decisions, sacrificing the hoi polloi in the name of the greater good and a pious austerity — though it’s only when they’ve really screwed things up that they find the religion of frugality. Someone else’s, of course.

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2 Responses

  1. Just more sad news for radio fans in general and Boston listeners in specific. Here in Texas I don’t know of any public broadcasters union members. We are largely a non-union state (except for my employer AT&T, thank god ! ). Instead our station just cut staff’s hours, making them part time employees and decimating their benefits. Then they forced senior employees into semi-retirement using the “our hands are tied” excuse mentioned above. If there is any bright side to this at all it is that the broadcasters union is there to stand up to the bean counters. As a proud union member it is good to hear that the brotherhood is standing strong in Boston !

  2. I couldn’t agree w/ you more Jeff re how disappointingly WGBH has evolved. I have practically STOPPED listening and contributing because of it.

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