On the Other Hand

This is an interesting post, though perhaps dated, with the other side of the argument against the collectivization of non-commercial radio stations under the banner of NPR. The American Family Radio network is a collection, according to Wikipedia, of more than 180 radio stations broadcasting christian programming in 40 states. And they’re in a pitched battle with NPR for the acquisition of new stations:

The Rev. Don Wildmon, founding chairman of a mushrooming network of Christian radio stations, does not like National Public Radio.

“He detests the news that the public gets through NPR and believes it is slanted from a distinctly liberal and secular perspective,” said Patrick Vaughn, general counsel for Mr. Wildmon’s American Family Radio.

Here in Lake Charles, American Family Radio has silenced what its boss detests.

It knocked two NPR affiliate stations off the local airwaves last year, transforming this southwest Louisiana community of 95,000 people into the most populous place in the country where “All Things Considered” cannot be heard.

In place of that program — and “Morning Edition,” “Car Talk” and a local Cajun program called “Bonjour Louisiana” — listeners now find “Home School Heartbeat,” “The Phyllis Schlafly Report” and the conservative evangelical musings of Mr. Wildmon, whose network broadcasts from Tupelo, Miss.

The Christian stations routed NPR in Lake Charles under a federal law that allows noncommercial broadcasters with licenses for full-power stations to push out those with weaker signals — the equivalent of the varsity team kicking the freshmen out of the gym.

This is happening all over the country. The losers are so-called translator stations, low-budget operations that retransmit the signals of bigger, distant stations. The Federal Communications Commission considers them squatters on the far left side of the FM dial, and anyone who is granted a full-power license can legally run them out of town.

As the story notes, AFR is basically a nationwide network, with little local presence:

Like many religious networks, American Family Radio has little local content; its stations rely instead on satellite feeds from the home office in Tupelo. Radio industry analysts agree that public stations usually carry more local news and offer programs more closely tied to the communities they serve.

More than a year after American Family Radio went on the air here, its two stations (one carries what it calls Christian contemporary programming, the other what it calls traditional gospel) have just one local employee. Elizabeth Arrington, 21, the station manager, works in a remodeled house on the edge of town. Its broadcast studio is an empty room, although Mrs. Arrington said radio equipment would arrive soon.

American Family Radio, a division of the American Family Association (website here, where you can view various “action alerts” and join up), boasts a Facebook site with some 17,000 members, as well as a Twitter account and a number of related websites where you can view such things as a Christian Voter Guide.


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