A Few Words About Public Radio

Some years ago, in another of the Legislature’s overreactions to a budget crisis, when the price of crude oil crashed, WC and Robert Hannon recorded a PR spot. WC described listening to an APRN story reporting on the first whale taken at Barrow that spring, and the excitement in the whaling captain’s voice. WC pointed out that APRN helped keep the widely separated and diverse cultures of Alaska stitched together. WC asked listeners to contact their representatives and ask them to start pulling us together and stop pulling us apart.

Both WC and Robert got in a lot of trouble for that PR spot. The University was annoyed we’d recorded a political spot in KUAC’s facilities; WC’s boss was annoyed his associate had taken on a hot button issue. The funds were mostly restored; WC has no idea if his and Robert’s small effort had any impact. But it was true.

Now the Alaska Legislature is at it again. Support for public radio – in many rural and Bush communities, the only radio there is – is being asked to bear an unfair portion of the budget cuts. Once again, the Legislature’s actions are serving to drive us apart, rather than bringing us together. It’s the very opposite of leadership.

By failing to prioritize areas for cuts, individual legislators are permitted to pursue their personal agendas. Some members of the House majority caucus, for example, confuse the neutrality of public radio news with bias. They’ve been exposed to the absurdly one-sided distortions of Fox News for so long that anything balanced looks unreasonable. So they attack it because it isn’t Fox News, or it offers viewpoints they don’t want to hear. That’s, at best, a shoddy way to make budget decisions.

By cutting at one of the things that stitch Alaska’s widely divergent cultures together, the House and Senate majority caucuses are hurting Alaska in important, subtle ways. A community can be a fragile thing. You sever the threads that stitch it together at your peril.

One of the consequences of the Legislature’s actions is that Fairbanks’ KUAC-FM public radio is being forced to do a spring fundraiser, to supplement its regular fall effort. WC doesn’t often pitch his readers for money, but this is pretty important. Think about making a pledge to KUAC during its 3-day spring fundraising drive. Call 907-474-5822 of visit the on-line pledge form.

It’s a modest way to keep the bastards from winning.