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.

LPFM Rematch on Capitol Hill

Four years ago, when the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio successfully convinced Congress to significantly scale back the FCC’s new LPFM service, grassroots media activists weren’t packing much heat on the Hill.

It’s been a productive four years: 400+ LPFM stations are now on the air with more in the pipeline and dedicated lobbyists in Washington willing to push for an LPFM revival. Read More

Smokin’ Klose

National Public Radio President/CEO Kevin Klose appeared on the UW-Madison campus today as part of a panel on the quality of the network’s coverage of Gulf War II. During Q-and-A, DIYmedia tried to get Klose to repent for his opposition to low power radio. The attempt was unsuccessful, but the excursion wasn’t a total loss….

Before the talk began, Klose was standing in the back of the auditorium speaking with various suits from the Wisconsin Public Radio system. There had to be at least 50 people in the auditorium, either suits or professors or students. I worked my way into the circle, and Klose stuck out his hand to shake mine: “Hi, I’m Kevin,” he said.

“I know,” was my response. “We met briefly in San Francisco in 2000, during an NPR board meeting there.”

Klose’s face briefly clouded over and he muttered, “Oh, you’re not one of those low power radio folks, are you?” I said I was; he mused out loud that he was happy the subject wasn’t on today’s agenda. Read More

Smokin’ Klose: NPR Prez in Madison

National Public Radio President/CEO Kevin Klose was on the UW-Madison campus this morning as a guest of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He appeared on a panel at a public forum on “Accuracy, Fairness, and Balance” with regard to NPR’s coverage of the U.S. escapade in Iraq.

Klose didn’t say anything terribly remarkable about the practice of journalism and NPR’s role in truth-telling. He compared trying to cover the fighting in Iraq with “circling an intersection at a fender-bender” with the hope of reconstructing what actually happened. But Klose did exhort the undergraduates to stay engaged in the democratic process, and as journalists-to-be they should always strive to maximize the diversity of voices given play in the media. Read More

Florida Broadcasters Change Tactics Against Pirates

An article in the business section of Sunday’s Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper highlights the “pirate problem” in southern Florida and features lots of quotes from irate broadcast industry-types. My favorite comes from David Ross, Clear Channel’s regional vice president for its 27 south Florida broadcast properties:

“They’re destroying the ability of listeners to hear what they choose and our ability to serve advertisers. It’s a form of squatting. They don’t pay any taxes, they’re breaking the law, they don’t need to meet any licensing requirements and they affect all of us, from the biggest to the smallest operator.” While there is a huge mass of pirate activity in Florida, making that state the most active by far, one gets the sense Ross would say the same thing in any situation where there’s “pirates.” Read More