NY Times Jr. Cops Out

Scott Fybush scott@fybush.com
Fri Sep 24 17:39:04 EDT 2004

At 04:09 PM 9/24/2004 -0500, Laurence Glavin wrote:

> > Perhaps what they meant by "public" radio stations is NPR affiliates.
>My comment to the corrections department (sort of sounds like
>a penal institution when you put it that way) did in fact
>begin by noting that not all "public" stations are as they say
>NPR-certified.  They could have used that.  WERS for example
>has a following (soon to be diminished by your departure) that
>recognizes it as a public station, although not even NPR or
>PRI programs overlooked by the Bif Two don't wind up there.

Noting first that the term "public radio" wasn't even really used in the US 
broadcasting environment until about 1970, I'd draw a distinction between 
the WERSes and WBURs of the world.

I would agree with the Globe in defining a public radio station as one that 
is listener- and underwriter-supported and which considers itself open to 
and answerable to the community at large. Secondary indicators would 
include qualification for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding 
(which requires a certain level of power, minimum programming hours and a 
certain level of paid staff) and membership in National Public Radio and/or 
Public Radio International. In Boston, that would encompass WBUR, WGBH and 

WERS and WMBR (which is actually where Eli's leaving next week, if I 
remember correctly) certainly have a community following and some level of 
community involvement, as does WRIU in Rhode Island. But they're funded 
primarily through non-public mechanisms (though WMBR does solicit listener 
contributions) and are not answerable in any sort of public way for their 
programming. (Which is not to say that a behemoth like WBUR really is, 
either, nowadays, but at least the theory says that it is.)

At heart, though, WRIU (and all the other campus noncomms in Rhode Island) 
are student clubs, answerable only to the student body or perhaps the 
college administration. There's not a single station on the NCE band in 
Rhode Island that I'd classify as "public" radio in the sense in which the 
word is commonly understood.

Mark this phrase down, as you won't often see it coming from my keyboard: 
The Globe got this one right.


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