August 30, 2004

RNCBlog1 - Safety First 

First, thanks to WILL for asking me to share my thoughts with you while I am at the RNC in New York. I hope they provide some level of insight above and beyond the reporting of Illinois Public Radio. A quick introduction -- I am the News Director for WCBU in Peoria, although this week I will be working for all public radio stations in Illinois. After a day and a half of being in New York, I can say the most noticeable thing has been the security and safety measures in place. Looking out my hotel window on Times square I can see four full blocks of 7th Avenue. Each block has at least a dozen police officers stationed on the sidewalks. The police presence gets more intense as you get closer to Madison Square Garden. Yesterday, fellow I-P-R reporter Bill Wheelhouse and I attempted to walk the half-mile to the hotel next to Madison Square Garden where Media Credentials were available. It took us more than two hours to navigate the crowded streets and find street crossings that were open to foot traffic. The protestors were out in force, and made getting around very difficult. We ended up walking around underground in Penn Station and found a exit that opened up on the other side of a police blockade. We got our media credentials, but that same exit was closed on our way back. It took even longer for us to get back. It's not just the protestors that are causing the security delays. To get into Madison Square Garden requires at least an hour, several passes though security checkpoints, hand searches of bags, walking through metal detectors, and repeatedly showing photo I-D along with the appropriate credentials. It is quite an ordeal. But I hate to complain. New York is still a wonderfully dynamic city, and the delegates from Illinois all seem very excited to be here. In the coming days I will continue to post on the kind of issues that may not make it into our reports. In the mean time, keep listening to your public radio station.

August 24, 2004


This just in from WILL-AM Program Director/Interim Station Manager Jay Pearce: AM 580 will be airing NPR's coverage of the Republican National Convention Monday through Thursday of next week (Aug. 30 - Sept. 2). Here is the essential information: Coverage of the RNC will mirror coverage of the DNC. The host is Frank Stasio with NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving. Floor reporters are NPR's Andrea Seabrook and Robert Smith. Analysts are EJ Dionne of the Washington Post and Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard. We will also hear from some of NPR's senior correspondents. NPR's special coverage will begin each night at 7 PM Central and will conclude at 10 PM Central - although NPR will stay on the air past 10 as warranted. As of now, the RNC has released the following information: Monday, August 30, 2004 Mayor Michael Bloomberg Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani Senator John McCain (R-AZ) Tuesday, August 31, 2004 First Lady Laura Bush Secretary of Education Rod Paige Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday, September 1, 2004 Mrs. Lynne Cheney Vice President Dick Cheney Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) Thursday, September 2, 2004 Governor George Pataki President George W. Bush

August 23, 2004

Becoming AWARE of our commentary policy... 

WILL has always been a place where community dialogue is encouraged. One way to do this is invite people in the community to do guest commentaries on the air. In my 17 years here I've seen a number of commentators come and go, and a number of controversies along with them. When you invite people to say something, they want to do it their way, which is understandable. Alas, sometimes "their way" would violate editorial standards we feel pretty strongly about. But what are those standards? Until very recently WILL didn't have a written policy on listener commentaries, and since no-one had submitted any for a while, no reason to make one. That changed when the Champaign-Urbana group known as AWARE asked us to air commentaries written by several of its members. At this point, I'm going to simply turn the narration over to AWARE itself, since this description from the AWARE web site is in my view pretty accurate. The commentary in question follows as well:

"The following AWARE audio commentary was submitted to WILL-AM 580 in early May, 2004 by AWARE member David Green. But it was rejected by WILL because even though AWARE's first audio commentary was accepted and broadcast in March 2004, WILL subsequently implemented an editorial policy for such listener-submitted audio commentary that precluded discussion of national or international issues. Some of us in AWARE intend to work toward change in what we view as arbitrary restrictions on this form of public comment at WILL, so that ideas such as those presented in this commentary may once again be heard on our community's public radio station.

"Submitted to WILL-AM 580 on behalf of AWARE by local resident David Green.

"As local men and women in our military continue to sacrifice for our government's "war on terrorism," it is vital to place the events of 9/11 and our subsequent wars in historical context. But this past March 15th, NPR's Morning Edition aired a commentary by Ruben Navarette titled "Enough with Vietnam." Navarette claimed that reflecting on our experience in Vietnam is irrelevant to preventing a future attack on our soil.

"Indeed, he expressed no interest in any of the historical context relevant to an understanding of terrorism as a response-however immoral--to U.S. foreign policy. This imperial history broadly includes U.S. relations with both Latin America and Asia, but at the very least must consider U.S. policies in the Middle East since World War II that have consistently viewed the people of that region as pawns in the service of American interests. These interests translate into control over the region's oil resources. Uncensored and unflattering historical perspectives are vital for an understanding of the continuities of U.S. foreign policy, and the consistently aggressive actions by leaders of both parties that-until 9/11-had not resulted in an attack within our borders.

"George Bush and John Kerry share this historical myopia. Bush has repeated the deceptions and illegality of the Vietnam War in Iraq. Meanwhile Kerry writes in A Call to Service "it's time to recognize (Vietnam) as an exception, not a ruling example, of the U.S. military engagements of the twentieth century." But I would assert that the key to understanding Vietnam is as the most egregious example of the rule that the U.S. is willing to use force against any country whose popular aspirations threaten the interests and profits of U.S.-centered global corporate capitalism. Since World War II, this rule has been applied with bloody results in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Indonesia, Chile, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.

"We all want to avoid the pain of another event like 9/11. But to do so we must critically examine the continuities of our history-including Iraq-and then fundamentally change coercive U.S. foreign policies. It is my view, on behalf of the Anti-war Anti-racism Effort, that continued denial of our problematic past and present only makes future attacks more likely."

I posted WILL-AM's Policy on Listener Commentaries here a while back, but for reference here it is again. It's likely we'll revisit this policy in the near future. Even though some people don't believe it (names withheld to protect the guilty), we pretty much bend over backwards to work things out. The question for you, dear reader, remains the same as ever: What do you think?

August 14, 2004

Bridging the Achievement Gap in Champaign-Urbana Schools 

I just took the time to re-experience the May 3rd, 2004 Town Hall Meeting presented by WILL and The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. Held at Champaign's Stratton Elementary School, the discussion focused on solving the achievement gap for African-American and other students of color. A bunch of highly articulate people spoke up from the heart and the head...it was a remarkable dialogue, and I hope we can keep it going. Town Hall meetingThe News-Gazette was gracious enough to provide us with all the photographs taken by its staff photographers. Suffice it to say they're better than the ones I took. They were so good I produced a photo slide show to go with the audio archive. You can get the RealPlayer SMIL presentation right here.

August 13, 2004

WILL-AM web audio goes dark for the Olympics 

*Sigh*...if I look any further into the rights restrictions here I'll probably just go off. In any event, we have to cut off our RealAudio and Windows Media live streams for big chunks of time over the next few weeks, to avoid violating exclusive rights to streaming coverage of the Olympics. Anything from the BBC or the CBC is covered by this restriction. This means we'll not stream from 7 pm to 5 am Central, from 9 to 9:30 am, and from 12 noon to 12:30 pm on weekdays; Saturdays and Sundays we'll not stream from 8 to 9 pm, 11 to 11:32 pm, midnight to 12:32 am, 1 to 1:32 am, 2 to 2:32 am, and 4 to 4:32 am. Mind you, we can broadcast everything on the air to potentially millions of listeners. We cannot stream the same content on the Internet to potentially a few hundred more. If someone can explain the logic of this (and I don't mean the legal justification), please let me know. Oh, and please do enjoy the Olympics.

August 11, 2004

Uni High Documentary: In the Wake of Brown v. Board 

Tonight at 6 pm Central, WILL-AM airs the latest in a series of radio documentaries produced by students at the University Laboratory High School (Uni High): In the Wake of Brown: Stories of Integration and Struggle. The 53-minute documentary examines how African Americans in central Illinois combated racism in their schools and communities after the Brown v. Board of Education court decision. Student producer Kinzie Cornell, a senior at Uni, says she had studied racial discrimination in school and thought she understood it pretty well. “But it was amazing to hear the personal stories of these people and what they faced. We learned a lot about the kinds of discrimination that still exist today.” WILL-AM’s Dave Dickey, who worked with the students on the project, says the documentary shows that despite all the progress made toward equality for African Americans, a lot is left to do. “A lot of discrimination has moved underground. It’s more subtle, but it’s just as hateful and devastating,” In the Wake of Brown: Stories of Integration and Struggle airs on WILL-AM 580 at 6 pm Central tonight, and will be repeated at 5 pm on Saturday, August 14th. You can also get it in RealAudio and MP3 format on WILL's web site.

August 09, 2004

Exciting Numbers:The NPR Station List 

If you want NPR wherever you travel, you might want this handy PDF file called the NPR Station List, wherein all U.S. public radio stations are listed by state, city, call letters, and frequency on the dial. Download it, print it out on two letter-sized pages, and stick it where you can find it later. We used to make you give a donation for these things, but as they say, information wants to be free. (That said, public radio still costs a lot, so if you want to give something back, we won't stop you from making a contribution.)

August 05, 2004

AM 580 News Director Shoots DNC 

Floor of Democratic National Convention Thanks to our News Director Tom Rogers for this lovely photo. Ohmygosh, that's Illinois right there. I know people in Illinois. BTW, I know lots of people were Googling for MP3 files of the speeches. If you found them, please let me know where they are.

The Keyes to the Senate 

Alan KeyesThe moment we've all been waiting for: The Illinois GOP has selected a candidate to run against Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate. Alan Keyes, former talk show host, presidential candidate, and ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, will likely be on the Illinois ballot. The candidacy remains tentative because Keyes said "like a string of previous possibilities...he needed a few days to think about it." (Quote is from his Renew America web site.) Alan Keyes is articulate, has name recognition, and can probably generate large quantities of cash for the campaign. And he's putting wind in the sails of Phyllis Schlafly, who with great gusto is filling my inbox with calls for Keyes-Obama debates...and interviews on her new book. What Alan Keyes doesn't have is residency in the State of Illinois, and apparantly he couldn't even drop by to discuss things with the Illinois GOP. No matter, the U.S. Constitution says "a senator must be 30 years of age, a citizen of the United States for 9 years, and must reside in the state he or she represents at the time of election." So he's got some time to set up an Illinois address to call home by November 2nd. Yes, I'm skeptical. Others have already pointed out that the final two possible candidates considered by the Illinois GOP are black (the other being Andrea Barthwell, who resigned her position with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to throw her hat in the ring). Gotta have another African-American to run against that skinny kid with the funny name? Let's hope cynicism is misplaced, and we really will have more black candidates from all political parties in the future. After all, only four African-Americans have ever been elected to the U.S. Senate. Maybe it's time for some affirmative action?

August 04, 2004

Political UnConventions in the News? 

In a marvelous oped in The New York Times, republished (with no login required!) on the Free Press web site, Alessandra Stanley argues for even more media stagecrafting of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. And she takes to task the major TV networks for treating the things as political spectacle, and poor ones at that, rather than as opportunities to engage people with political ideas. It is true, as she says, that if you wanted to view the DNC you could find it. At least on cable. But she misses the "unassailable authority that a network anchor brings to convention coverage." That would be, um, the likes of Dan Rather? I'll agree with Ms. Stanley that we need more political coverage in general. You might find this astonishing as I did, but during the 2000 election the major TV news programs devoted an average of 74 seconds per night to election coverage, and about half of that was coverage of campaign strategy. Ideas? Political and social issues? Not entertaining enough, we'd rather see Ben Affleck throwing baseballs to Katie Couric in Fenway Park. Or would we? Personally, I'd like to be able to listen to or view the entire convention, all the speeches and even the reports from the state delegations. I found them quite rowdy and entertaining...at least those few seconds the networks aired, in the background, while some nitwit reporter posed silly questions to a panel of annoying analysts. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I wanted the media professionals to get the hell out of the way and let me see what's going on for myself. If I could search for specific speeches or sections of the conventions I'd be even happier. Gee, maybe we could use the web for that! Who edits this thing? Oh yeah, I do. Better get to work!

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