PUBLIC RADIO IS GREAT and it was never meant to be a part of the free enterprise system (“Real Things Considered,” The District Line, 3/17). Public radio was meant to be an independent entity free from the dictates of market influences.
The use of taxpayer money to support public broadcasting is a way of redistributing wealth. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting pools the money and doles it out to public broadcasters. In this way, lower-income folks who pay taxes contribute to public broadcasting. Those that are more financially endowed give through taxes and give again when they send money to their local public station.
I submit that you are operating under a false premise when you say that “the bulk of those stations’ audiences are well-educated middle- to upper-middle classers.” The truth is, the bulk of public radio’s financial supporters are the aforementioned. They are able to give of their discretionary income while “lower-income folk” have little if no discretionary income to give. Just because they don’t give, or give in small numbers, does not mean that they are not listening.
I propose that the reason why Mel Karmazin’s WPGC stations broadcast to more “inner-city kids than any public station in town” is because a lot, but not all, of those young ones don’t know any better. They are fed a steady diet of corporate-subsidized information and music, and many of them don’t venture into public radio because it doesn’t have any commercial value, ergo, it must not be any good. Not only that, but many of them have been socialized into thinking that public radio or television, along with anything “educational,” is a rich, white thang of which they want no part, except for whatever monetary and/or status maximization it may bring.
Mainstream media is paid by corporate advertisement to promote an agenda that is complimentary to corporate interests. Those who lack fiscal power are not heard in mainstream corporate media. Moreover, many times those who lack fiscal power espouse views that are antithetical to corporate interests. If these views are presented on mainstream media, they are either given short shrift or presented in a negative light.
This is why government must support public broadcasting.