Huffington Post on the Borg

The Huffington Post has jumped into the college-radio fray, with this post entitled “College Radio: You Will Be Assimilated,” by Tracy Rosenberg. In it, Tracy links to the PRC casualty list and ties in the borg motif of the public radio denizens:

But what happened to KUSF and Rice University station KTRU and about two dozen other college radio stations in the last decade wasn’t a corporate takeover. Their licenses were absorbed into public media or NPR, assisted by the public media financial leveraging firm Public Radio Capital.

Public Radio Capital has been around for about a decade, an initiative arising from the Station Resource Group. A planning document left up on the net drew my attention with a sentence it contained:

“With virtually all FM channels in well-populated areas already assigned, the only option is to obtain outlets from those who already have them, including commercial, religious, and educational broadcasters outside the public radio system.”

As one commenter here remarked, where is Rolling Stone on this story?

And by all means, Huff, don’t stop there. Check out the WRVU Facebook page (link on right), the folks at Vanderbilt in Music City, Nashville. They may have headed off oblivion, as that story has not yet reached its dénouement.

And of course, this is just part and parcel of a much bigger story, encompassing the homogenization of the public radio system, as shown in places such as Boston, Austin, Gainesville, Seattle, and many more. Poor KTRU students at Rice in Houston, their station sold out behind their backs, consigned then to the purgatory of HD radio. Check out the marginalization of those “lesser” musics — the folk, blues, jazz, free-form college radio, and, yes, even classical. Shunted to the side in the quest for manifest destiny at our “public” radio stations. As reported here, a post called “Having It Both Ways,” the current push for support in face of Republican funding pressures bears a cynical undertone, witness these quotes on American Public Media’s 170MillionAmericans.org website:

“Federal funding provides the margin of revenue needed by local stations to produce quality local programs and to make a market for national producers.” Followed by the pious bleatings about the mission “to ensure universal access to high-quality non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens, and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and minorities.”

You can’t have it both ways.

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5 Responses

  1. Sadly, there are some good things that come out of public radio and even NPR. With the cuts in the budget that are almost sure to pass, it is likely those things that will get cut, while the so called NPR fluff that they pass off as news will continue. How about an expose on where the money is coming from for these consolidations.

  2. … or maybe more precisely why do NPR affiliates need to acquire and destroy…

  3. If budget hawks in Washington are successful, then NPR’s expansion phase is finished — which can’t happen fast enough for college radio stations that are in the cross-hairs as take-over targets.

    Students are used as “interns” at NPR stations, and aren’t allowed to do much more than read school announcement over the radio once a week. Why does NPR need to acquire and destroy more college radio stations at the tax payer expense?

  4. Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation can’t offer any better ideas than to cut, cut, cut:

    http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/16/its-time-elmo-got-a-real-job-the-case-for-defunding-public-broadcasting/

    These guys just don’t have the capacity to see alternative ways of doing things. Allowing members of a station’s surrounding ethnic communities do some of the programming for an agreeable fee that covers station upkeep and insuring the signal stays on the air? Naan, that’d be too easy.

  5. Amusing, coming from a website that is about to be absorbed into another borg (read: whatever is left of America Online).

    The 170MillionAmericans.org website is also brought up in PBS affiliates WNET/Thirteen and (stepsister station) WLIW/21’s recently-launched ad campaign both terrestrially and online as well (complete with cross-links on the thirteen.org website). But the choice of screen-captured frames from some of the threatened shows is telling: All of them nationally-circulated, no ethnic or local fare.

    I have to pause that I’ve responded to Credo’s calls to save public radio/TV in the past – but with a caveat that PBS and NPR’s “business as usual” be ended for good. I will no longer respond to such action calls. This is -not- public broadcasting. Period.

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