Monday, May 07, 2007

WMUB is the voice of Miami

Having been on the faculty of Miami University for 22 years, during which time I have lived in Oxford; and having been an administrator at the level of chair and interim dean, the importance of WMUB as an important voice of Miami University is absolutely clear to me.

Miami is a rural university.  We do everything we can to connect our students to the greater region, the state, the nation, and the world.  Part of that connection is having an NPR station on the campus that brings regional, national and international news to the campus, the town of Oxford, and the entire listening area.  At the same time, the reverse is also true: WMUB brings Miami University to local, regional, and national attention.

One of the unfortunate aspects of Miami's location in northwest Butler County is that fact that it has little presence in the print and electronic media of the greater Cincinnati area.  While Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky University are continually the subject of news stories in the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati Post, Miami is vastly underrepresented, except when those news media can sensationalize something negative about the institution.

This lack of news coverage can be explained by the fact that Miami does not form an important share of the market for the Cincinnati news media.  However, this makes it imperative that Miami recognize that an enormous part of its presence in the southwest Ohio area is provided mainly by WMUB.  We might imagine building an even stronger presence, given the saturation of the Cincinnati air market by the three NPR stations at Xavier, UC, and NKU.  The last thing that we should let happen is the weakening of Miami's presence by cutbacks and the loss of important programming initiatives brought to the station by its current General Manager, Cleve Callison.

If anything, the ability to increase reportage--especially reportage that can eventually be picked up by other stations or by NPR in Washington for national distribution--can only put Miami into a stronger position and convey the reputation of the University to a national audience.  But even if the only outcome were a stronger presence in Ohio, we would be doing ourselves a huge favor.

I don't know of a first- or second-tier university--or any aspirational university that Miami uses for benchmarking--that does not have a strong NPR station that it supports.

I understand that budgets are tight, but it would seem that this is a time to be concerned about whether we would be penny-wise but pound-foolish by imposing significant budget cuts on WMUB.  I would urge you to have the courage to support a decision that would not leave the station in the unfortunate position of entertaining a few listeners with canned music rather than serving as the beacon of Miami University.
--Robert A. Benson, Ph.D., Oxford


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