Monday, November 05, 2007

Report makes good out of bad

I think the Miami report takes the best that can be done out of a lousy situation and makes it into a positive good. (It is hard to believe that Miami can't afford a radio station, especially one that reflects so well on the University.) I moved to Dayton from Wisconsin, & am used to WI Public Radio's statewide music & talk networks. We listen to 5 public radio stations depending on who we can get as well as what's on (mainly WMUB & WGUC, plus WDPR & WYSO, plus the OSU station when we drive to Columbus). But I was shocked to find out that we have to choose who gets our money, since there's no network to pool pledges & expenses. So we pledge to WMUB & WGUC, and reluctantly stiff the others.

I hope that as you work out the details of MVPM, you have a chance to consult with WPR for some background and perspective on how they managed the two transitions to a state-wide network, and then to the 2-track system. (It was like making sausage, but the outcome is excellent.)

--Lin Seagren Jenkins, Dayton

A big job to complete

1. Last year we began to learn of the financial problems with WMUB, but my friends and I thought the problem was solved when it was announced that the required money came in at the end of the year (2006). It became more clear that money problems existed when the spring fundraiser fell short of its goal. It repeated itself just recently.

2. What was not known, at least to people like me, was that the school has obviously set a specific or general date for increased funding from members so that the university amount appropriated would decrease.

3. This is the only conclusion to be reached by outsiders when we know that sale of the station is off the table-- AT PRESENT. A sale would be the logical result from failure to reach appropriate funding levels.

4. Since we know that current levels of listener funding, in conjunction with everything else, are not up to snuff, that is why the station is looking for other ways to operate. Somehow the funding levels must be met, and that may be derived from reduced operating expenditures and/or increased public participation with pledges.

5. The reason I hate to see that personally, even though it may be a real requirement from the perspective of the station, is that I like the way things are at present. At least they are acceptable to me and many others. For example, there is a reason why I listen to WMUB and not either WYSO or WDPR so much. So when certain operations are merged, it is likely that I will not only lose programs I like, but that I will gain programs I do not like so much. This is why it is so depressing to read that report.

6. As an aside, it would seem that I would listen to the jazz sub- channel, but I do not own an HD receiver, as opposed to the stand- alone radios. (In fact, I have not even seen one for sale.) Is there product available?

7. It is also curious that I seem to recall that the Mama Jazz Show pulled in the most money at one time for any given show, even though that may not be true now. This leads a few of us to wonder why her show is not even used to raise funds anymore. (We know that she is not live anymore.) But that is a side point, or is it?

8. Let's move on to the issue of guts. As long as the school is firm about the level of funding, someone must grapple with the issue of future programming because the current programming is not providing the necessary funds from listeners which is coupled with the situation of expenses being too high. The goal, then, is to make whatever changes that will probably resolve the above, because current programming is not doing the job.

So you and others have a big job to complete. My hope is that there is something significant for me to enjoy when it is all over.

--Grant Wadsworth

Hoping for the best

And just how do you do #4? How can you develop a partner that is not there ? I am disappointed with the committee.

I consider COX as VERY bad news. You would be gobbled up. Sort of Ted Turner my mind. However WYSO and WDPR would be great. I have long thought that WYSO would be very good to team up with. It would greatly extend your range. I like classical music and I have WGUC when I want that or WDPR. But I would hate to see you have a heavy program of classical music. In short Ido not want anything to change but that may not be possible. I believe that I am not alone.

Hoping it all works out OK.

--Don Spangler

Teaching is WMUB's most important role

I got my start in public radio at WMUB.  I graduated from the Western College Program in 1994.  I started as a board op and worked my way up to music host and reporter there.  I remember keenly bolting across the quad, tape deck in tow, to ask then Vice President Al Gore a question during the '92 campaign.  I remember working overnights at WMUB, hyped up on Vivarin and cigarettes (you could smoke in the building then).  I remember hanging out with Mama Jazz listening to Lionel Hampton like he was playing there live.  

Frankly, without my experience at WMUB, I would not be where I am today.  That's where I discovered my calling, being a public radio reporter.  I'm writing because I heard your story on-line about the report on the future of WMUB.  I understand the difficulty the station has, being close to Dayton and Cincinnati, while not fully penetrating the markets there.  The problem was apparent even back when I was there.  

In your interview, Richard Campbell mentioned to possibility of linking the station more closely to the Journalism program.  It seems to me that would the best strategy.  As you well know, radio is a craft you learn on the job.  It's not something you learn in the classroom.  Have they looked into the idea of being a regional training hub for current public radio reporters?  Miami would have great facilities for that and it would give the station a role in the larger world of public radio.  What about fellowships for mid-career public radio reporters?  What about NPR trainings and meetings?  That would connect people in the business with the students.  And above all, getting the students on the air will better fulfill the university's mission to educate.

I know these are issues you and the WMUB committee have explored.  But I wanted to make my voice heard in some way.  I would hate for my experience -- learning the thrill of public radio on the job at a young age -- to be a thing of the past.  To me, since the station is owned by a university, teaching is WMUB's most important role.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.  

--Colin Fogarty, Oregon Public Broadcasting Reporter