Volume 21, Number 9
March to War
Death to Afghanistan
Dying to Live
Wreck and Ruin
Laurence h. Shoup
Global Food Crisis
Fannie & Freddie
There are no articles.
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The Fight Over Maryland's WYPR
When Maryland public radio station WYPR fired progressive radio host and station co-founder Marc Steiner on February 1, 2008, they declared in a press release that they did so over low "ratings." Not only were many people shocked by the move, but what was a public radio station doing firing their station icon, best reporter, and main fundraising voice over "ratings?" Isn't public radio supposed to be insulated from this type of commercial number-crunching?
WYPR is "an independent NPR station" that receives approximately 50 percent of its funding from "underwriters" who sponsor radio programs, reports WYPR President Tony Brandon in an open letter at WYPR.org. The station receives 7 percent from the federal Corporation for Public Broadcasting and about 33 percent from listening members, according to funding data handed out at a February community meeting.
WYPR's reliance on underwriting as their main funding source is part of a national trend and it has to affect thinking at the station. An underwriter must think very differently about programming than a station member—especially because an underwriter may not even listen. In fact, unlike listening members, underwriters are often not humans. According to WYPR President Brandon, WYPR's top four underwriting sponsors all are institutions—non-profit, banking, retail, and educational.
Iowa Public Radio, on their webpage dedicated to luring underwriters, pitches: "Who is the public radio listener and is reaching them potentially beneficial to my business?" Utah Public Radio opens their webpage for underwriters with: "Underwriting is a great way to position your company name and image to those people most likely to use your services—public radio listeners."
Dana Davis Rehm, National Public Radio senior vice president of strategy and partnerships, said at WYPR's April board meeting that underwriting was growing nationally at public radio stations and edging out membership as a primary funding source. She cautioned that public radio stations should seek to maintain balance between underwriting dollars and membership dollars to be true to their mission.
National Public Radio host Scott Simon told Public Radio International's "Marketplace" show—which did an investigation of underwriting: "Let's put it this way, I find them indistinguishable from ads."
February 23 protest at WYPR
February 23 protest at WYPR
Meanwhile, Maryland public radio listeners have discovered that "ratings" were not the reason WYPR fired Marc Steiner. The Baltimore Sun, using data from industry group Radio Research Consortium, reported that while Steiner's show lost 17 percent audience share from 2005 to 2007, it was rising back up to 2005 levels. More significantly, the station overall dropped 21 percent in ratings from Fall 2005 to Fall 2007.
WYPR then claimed that Steiner was fired because of secret reasons they could not disclose.
To add to the sense of duplicity, WYPR President Brandon had also implied on WYPR's "Maryland Morning" that a handful of loan backers "own" WYPR. WYPR board member and attorney John Machen followed up by publishing a March 7 commentary piece for the Baltimore Sun claiming similar exclusive ownership of the station.
Then at the April board meeting, WYPR chairperson Barbara Bozzuto declared that neither "ratings" nor that previously claimed "secret reasons" were the primary cause of jettisoning Marc Steiner. It was about a "fundamental difference of vision" for WYPR, she said. Then she declared he can never come back. The audience booed. Bozzuto called the meeting into executive session and the board walked out.
Where are things now? At WYPR's April 15 board meeting, 60-plus people attended to witness the board's explanation for all this and to try to hold WYPR accountable.
To date WYPR swears they will never bring back Marc Steiner. A Save WYPR movement continues to lobby the station and pressure the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to investigate alleged regulatory violations of federal funding rules at WYPR.
WYPR held its May board meeting at a small non-profit center in Baltimore that could only hold eight members of the public. When Save WYPR advocate Maria Allwine tried to ask a question, according to eyewitnesses, a board member shouted her down.
So what is this "fundamental difference of vision?" Is the difference of vision tied to the rise of underwriting now comprising 50 percent of WYPR or not? Does it have to do with a WYPR board that says they "own" a public radio station, rather than steward it for the public good? What does it mean to "own" a non-profit corporation with a special public radio license? The answers to these questions remain to be discovered. Former WYPR members and listeners continue to press their case by protesting in front of the station and by pressing for an investigation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Gregg Mosson is the author of Season of Flowers and Dust (Goose River Press), and his commentaries have appeared in Z, the Baltimore Sun, and the Futurist. The photo used is by him.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.