A Unique Perspective on Public Radio

Jack Mitchell is pretty cool. He was National Public Radio’s first hire, co-creator of All Things Considered, and rose from there to chair NPR’s Board of Directors. He’s now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just wrote a book on the history of public radio.

I have yet to read Listener Supported but Jack just did an hour-long interview on our local public radio station (MP3 link / RA link) and he gave a colorful description of the political origins of NPR, at one point comparing the initial work environment to a commune (check stereotypes at the door, please). He also honestly and deftly handled some critical calls about the state of public broadcasting today.

At Madison I had a chance to take Jack’s class on “public, community and alternative media,” and it was pretty good – he’s got a nice, dry wit. He even let me take half a period to spell everyone about the days I had missed class for the Seattle Mosquito Fleet operation. Knowing public radio has roots in folks like Jack gives me a semblance of hope for its future.

Clear Channel Pirates in Ohio?

Recently a radio station called “Radio Free Ohio” got some attention. It operated in the Akron/Canton area and once had a web site that generally bitched about the suckiness of corporate radio. Most importantly, the station allegedly interfered with the broadcasts of a Clear Channel station in the area.

Sounded intriguing, until an amateur sleuth discovered that the station’s online home tracks back to Clear Channel. Now CC has backtracked, nearly wiping the site and a related message board clean. Lest we forget that Jacor Communications, which was assimilated by CC in 1999, was founded in Ohio and now HQ’s just over the river in Kentucky. Read More

Work Noise

During the National Conference for Media Reform I was lucky enough to sit down and throw a few questions at FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in audio speaker iconformal interview-style (24:52, 11.4 MB), courtesy of Free Speech TV producer Lee Buric and John Grebe (Sounds of Dissent). As you can hear, we basically took turns in the chair.

The interruption of Grebe’s line by Jordan Goldberg, Copps’ senior legal advisor, kind of threw things off and made my own lines of inquiry a bit more circumspect (IBOC, microradio, and the future of the Telecom Act). Grebe was trying to get at the translator speculation/trafficking controversy. I felt like Copps played an adroit politician, in that he didn’t give up any substantive information. Read More