Some questions about WUNC

Can anyone explain to me why I should be glad about this:

Chapel Hill-based WUNC, the area's largest National Public Radio outlet, has struck a deal with an NPR business and finance program to launch a southeastern bureau in Chapel Hill. The bureau's reporter, slated to start around May, will concentrate on North Carolina news -- especially the Triangle's big businesses.
- Chapel Hill Herald, 1/18/04

Much to my surprise I actually like this business show, Marketplace. It's a little more interesting than NPR's headline news, and it doesn't always fall into the ideological rut you might expect. I can see why WUNC, especially it's leadership, would like to have their profile enhanced by this new situation. But how does it serve the people of North Carolina?

I first learned that change was afoot in an article in the Sunday Lifestyles section of the News & Observer (by way of Paul Jones' blog) about Joan Seifert Rose, General Manager of WUNC. The short article outlines Seifert Rose's plans for world domination (OK not really, but she seems quite driven to raise the station's profile and to blot out any other public radio the state).

The General Manager says says "We're looking into... starting a youth radio project, where we'd have young people tell their stories, and work with them and show them how to do radio" which leads me to another question: Does WUNC know anything about Youth Voice Radio, a project that was started here in the Triangle something like 8 years ago? With their meager resources, YVR currently broadcasts a weekly show on WXDU. Is WUNC planning to work with and support YVR, or would they prefer to invest their resources in a program whose voices they can control?

So I can see why these ambitious changes might be good for the radio station, but how will this help them serve the community? Will there be more local or better reporters, or more community input into programming? Or this just a gigantic feather in the station management's cap?




Well I'm not saying that there is necessarily a problem, but I just don't get all the breathless excitement about this expansion. I would rather get more local information (which WUNC provides little of) or at least see that WUNC's growth will be guided by or reflect the community's values.

You could argue that since they are trying to coverthe whole state, they should reflect that instead of an Orange County perspective. I think that's OK, but if that's the case let's stop trying to act like WUNC is our hometown pride or something.

Their idea of starting a "youth radio project" without working with, supporting, or even acknowledging Youth Voice Radio makes me worry that WUNC's growth is the first goal and that actually helping the community is further down the list.

This is why I phrased this post as a question, "why should I be happy about this?" I want to hear what the benefits might be because I think people assume growth is good. I need to be convinced.

Ruby--I'm not sure what you're unhappy about. As you note, Marketplace is one of NPR's better shows. There official mission may be to cover local big business, but there's no law that says they have to ignore local activists, the Institute for Southern Studies, or for that matter local community blogs.

Sorry, I don't see the issue here. Can you give me a hint?


more jobs in Chapel Hill, and Chapel Hill becomes the dateline for so many more NPR reports.

I'm with Gerry on this one. First off I like Marketplace as a show. I'd love to see the stories there cover our area better and our region. WUNC now serves all of Eastern NC and so with needs to produce news as well as to air it.
Already most every call-in show from Car Guys to On Point has at least one caller from the WUNC listening area. Joe and Terry have been about the only major WUNC contribution back to the NPR pool for a long time. Time to develop stories here at a national level and to send'em out to Minnesota and Michigan.
Omitted from Ruby's posting is that WUNC will be also doing original reporting on a history of poverty in NC. From the "War on Poverty" to the present. This is important work and not cheap to do. JSR says:

We've got a fairly in-depth series about poverty in North Carolina we're going to be airing in the spring. It will start with the premise that it's been 40 years since the war on poverty was started by the Johnson administration. North Carolina was certainly targeted at that time as a state that needed assistance to raise its standard of living.

One thing we want to look at is: How far have we come since then? What's changed about the experience of being poor in this state? What decisions are being made at the national level, and at the state level, that are either making things better or worse for those on the lowest levels of the economic ladder?

Not exactly local, but definitely on topic:

{ { { {{{PLAUSIBLE NEWS}}} } } }
"Keeping Ahead of Reality Since 2001"

New Programming to Focus Specifically on Conservative, Liberal Concerns

WASHINGTON (Plausible News Service) -- It was always an uneasy, perhaps even schizophrenic combination -- Big Bird and William F. Buckley, "Teletubbies" and "Wall Street Week" trying to coexist under the same roof. But following the most recent controversy involving a two-mommy family and Buster Bunny, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is conceding that it cannot serve two masters.

Within a few months, PBS will split into two competing "noncommercial" networks, tentatively labeled "PBS Red," and "PBS Blue," that will focus specifically on conservative and liberal audiences, respectively.

"For years, we've been under constant attack from right-wingers for promoting liberal ideas like tolerance and diversity, and the left-wingers have been after us for sucking up to corporations too much," said PBS spokesperson Dexter Rive-Gauche. "We've tried our best to make everybody happy, and as a result, nobody's happy. So screw it."

The new networks will each develop innovative programming for their constituencies, said Rive-Gauche. New children's programming on PBS Red will include "Manifest Destiny," in which a group of time-traveling schoolkids from the 21st Century witness firsthand the inexorable march of American ideals across the North American continent, overcoming such obstacles as hostile natives, harsh climates, and restrictive government regulations.

Conservative activist Grover Norquist will take a page from his blue and furry Sesame Street namesake's book to become "your old pal, lovable, cuddly Grover," leading young would-be entrepreneurs down "Capital Street!", which will teach preschoolers about the basic tenets of free-market economics. Norquist promises that the weekly "drowning in the bathtub" of the Big Mean Government Beast will be handled in a "humorous and non-threatening way," since the Beast will always reemerge to be battled again the next week.

For adults, new vehicles are also reportedly in the works featuring commentators John Stoessel, Mike Savage and Ann Coulter, as well as a series to be created by Dr. James Dobson celebrating the "considerable contributions of Christian heterosexuals to American history."

PBS Blue, for its part, has not yet announced any program offerings, citing difficulties in the identification of funding sources.

(c) 2005 Skip Mendler/Plausible News Service
There is no truth to the rumor that PBS Red wants us to replace "News Hour." Please replicate freely.

This is interesting, given what some in the media say started this whole red-blue thing:

Since the advent of color TV, there has been a formula to avoid charges of giving any party an advantage by painting it a "better" color. Here is the formula: the color of the incumbent party alternates every 4 years.
The table below shows how this formula has applied since 1976:

Year Incumbent Party Incumbent Color Challenger Color

1976 Republican Blue = Ford Red = Carter
1980 Democratic Red = Carter Blue = Reagan
1984 Republican Blue = Reagan Red = Mondale
1988 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Dukakis
1992 Republican Blue = Bush Red = Clinton
1996 Democratic Red = Clinton Blue = Dole
2000 Democratic Blue = Gore Red = Bush
2004 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Kerry

Democrats have usually been colored red: it's a coincidence. In the six elections prior to 2000 every Democrat but one had been coded red, but that was just because of how the cycle of incumbency happened to work out during that period.

Following up on the color madness, the American Dialect Society selected red state, blue state, purple state as the "Word of the Year for 2004" [sic]. For more, including runners up etc see my blog entry for today.


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