Thursday, March 17, 2011

open letter to fellow independent radio producers

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House votes to end funding for NPR
open letter to fellow independent radio producers

Since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free speech, I no longer recognize my nation. For their convenience, those newly elected through an AstroTurf campaign, claiming to be a “Party,” but not held accountable by campaign finance laws and other restrictions on a registered political party are rolling back unions, discrediting educators, destroying independent media and gutting community and public broadcasting, one of our nation's best treasures.

I'm a volunteer administrator for the KGLPfm Gallup, NM FaceBook page. The spokesperson for the local Tea Party ("Dog Patch"), "Abner Yokum" (AKA Joe Schaller) is railing that NPR and, hence, KGLP, have a "far left wing Marxist-Leninist agenda," because KGLP airs DemocracyNOW! As Admin, I pointed out the inaccuracies of his information, which he dutifully ignored.

I think NPR, PBS, CPB need to grow a pair. It's not enough to laugh about "death panels for Elmo," although I loved that on this list and made a graphic of it, which you  can see on my FaceBook page). It's not enough to speak in high-toned rhetoric, either. People need practical examples of how public and community broadcasting are benefiting their communities. AND people in those communities need to feel welcome, no matter their class, race, academic credentials, gender or orientation.

Personally, I've been made to feel like a suspect, second class and unwelcome at some stations (one of which served giant shrimp, Italian bottled water and pate at a fund raising lunch at the station) that have cosy  associations with lcoal politicians, business leaders and celebrities. There's not a lot of tolerance for those perceived as "outsiders." The feeling seems to be, "we're doing just fine as we are and don't need anybody rocking the boat."

Well, the boat is capsizing and we should be coming out, swinging -- not just to protect jobs and funding sources -- to champion free speech, education, news, culture, etc. AND the voices of the under-represented.

This campaign to destroy community and public broadcasting is carefully orchestrated. It has been in planning, like a military operation, for years. That is obvious to me. It is a full on assault. It is anti-intellectual, opposed to free information and education. Its assaults are coming to all communities, on a lot of issues, not just community and public broadcasting. It is a "shock and awe" campaign and, so far, it is working efficiently to create chaos and strip citizens of much more than just Big Bird or Click and Clack.

My example of "Abner" points the way. Mr. Yokum/Schuller is also a staunch advocate for stripping the University of New Mexico of all state and federal funding, aka "his tax dollars," that are being "wasted."

Quoting "Abner:"
UNM Gallup? Private schools are far more student oriented than our ivory towers of academic corruption. What a waste of taxpayers money.

We are only seeing the beginnings of what this military-style operation has in mind for shifting our nation's agenda toward something I find terrifying. We cannot sit back, cajole, beg or brush this off.

We have the advantage over the Abners; we have facts. These need to be presented to the citizens clearly and firmly, without condescension, without arrogance.

NPR, PBS and CBP should not be perceived as an elitist country club, pandering to the well-heeled, smirking at the working poor who are frustrated and angry, daily reporting stock prices while not reporting on how social welfare programs that impact the poor operate, what the term, "corporate welfare" means, etc. We need to involve our communities, not alienate them, provide them with practical information, train them in reporting, editing, interviewing, producing and fund raising, bring them into our stations and conversations.

We need to approach the American people with humility, honesty and respect, inviting them to the largest open house party on the face of the Earth, so they begin to appreciate more fully what a national treasure community and public broadcasting are.

I believe it is the Suffis who have a saying that a really good way to get loyal students is for the teacher to feed them. That's a good part of it. But the other part is that we need to be the students. We need to hear people's real, boots-on-the-ground concerns and priorities and address them, clearly, honestly.

I'm glad a soccer mom in a Prius stops in her driveway to listen to the end of a story on NPR. I really, truly am.

I will know community and public radio have succeeded when  a football mom sits in her driveway, outside her peeling single-wide, in her dented, old pick up to listen, too.
On May 10, 1994, I planted corn in a field in southern Indiana. I had just learned it was a Ku Klux Klan town. I was very discouraged, but could not afford to leave. I lived in a pole barn. Just inside the big, barn doors, I had my stereo speakers turned toward the field where I worked. I was listening to National Public Radio as they began a tape-delayed broadcast of the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa: an event I had never imagined I would ever witness. I cried in joy and silently hoed weeds. Suddenly, I heard the sounds of jet air craft. The NPR announcer described the military aircraft passing overhead, billowing streamers of colored smoke, in the colors of both the Apartheid and African National Congress flags. At that precise moment, I looked at shadows of leaves on the ground around me. The tiny holes, through which light passed through and shone on the ground, were crescent shaped. And I remembered we were scheduled for a partial eclipse that day: something else I'd learned on NPR.
None of my neighbors witnessed any of these miracles. They were inside, watching game shows or driving, listening to “talk” radio, totally oblivious to how wonderful that day was. But I knew. And I felt badly that they didn't. I think we can help our neighbors see the marvelous in the world with community and public media.
Please help me make this happen. And thank you for all you've done. Community and public broadcasting have made my life, as a very low income person, much richer and has allowed me to participate, not only in a national conversation, but around the globe, as well. I'm very grateful that my universe is so much larger, and still expanding, as a result of community and public broadcasting than it would have been without it.


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