June 30, 2005
In case you missed it the other night, here is the audio from President Bush's speech on Iraq at Fort Bragg from June 28th, 2005. streaming RealAudio MP3 download
June 27, 2005
Let's be honest about bias in public broadcasting. Your view of it is rooted in your own biases. Or is there an objective measure of objectivity? Would it be based on numbers of conservatives vs. liberals quoted on the air? Or perhaps the voting records of reporters and producers? Before we go all simplistic or head toward slippery slopes, let's take a closer look at the current attack on public broadcasting. By now you might know that Kenneth Tomlinson, pal of Karl Rove, appointed to the chairmanship of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by President George W. Bush, secretly hired an Indiana gentleman by the name of Fred Mann to monitor the political "balance" of NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS. That's what Tomlinson claimed, but it turns out Mann also "monitored" the Tavis Smiley show on NPR and the Diane Rehm show from WAMU in Washington. What did he find, besides the fact that Bill Moyers has been off the air for the past six months? This gets interesting: Mann created guest lists with ratings "L" for liberal, "C" for conservative, and "anti-administration" for anyone raising questions about the Bush presidency. Scary, but perhaps somewhat statistically useful, depending on the intent of the statistical user. So for example Republican Senator Chuck Hagel was rated an "L" because he "expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan," according to a report by Frank Rich of the New York Times. There's more, and it may get reported...unless the reporters are too cowed of the fear they'll end up on this or another list as "anti-administration." Mr. Tomlinson signed contracts to hire people (we don't yet know how many) to measure the political balance of public TV and radio shows based on a rather politically unbalanced scale, and paid them public money. CPB was charged by Congress to shield public broadcasting from government influence. He hasn't been exactly forthcoming about the details, and this whole thing is giving off a strong and unpleasant scent. If reporters are not too cowed, we may be in for some very interesting stories.
June 24, 2005
I found out a couple of days ago that this Saturday night will be the last broadcast of The Jazz Corner on WILL-FM. Program Director Jake Schumacher says due to cost increases in just about every area, he's making several changes to keep the FY 2005 WILL-FM budget roughly equal to last year's. Several other changes will be made to the WILL-FM program schedule, and WILLblog will cover those too. But we're too sad about losing Mick Woolf to continue right now. So let's let Mick have the last word for today:
"Each Saturday night over the last 16 years, I have hosted The Jazz Corner. I have enjoyed exploring and sharing a wide variety of music with the listeners, meeting many local and legendary jazz musicians along the way. It's been an honor to hear from callers ranging in age and experiences from high school jazz band players to jazz lovers and musicians into their 80's. Because of all this, I am sorry to say that due to budgetary challenges and programmatic changes affecting WILL and public radio in general, the final edition of The Jazz Corner will air this Saturday night at 10 PM. "While WILL has offered jazz programming over the course of many years, with nationally syndicated programs, the locally produced Jazz Corner has been a staple broadcast service to the listeners in our community for at least 20 years. "I want to personally thank former Station Manager Dan Simeone, former Music Director Nancy Stagg, and former classical and Jazz Corner host, Michael Rothe (who hosted the show for at least four years) for the great opportunity to host this program beginning in July of 1989. Thanks as well to Paul Wienke for all his great efforts in teaming up for the Jazz Live series for several years, augmenting the Saturday night jazz programming by giving the local musicians an opportunity to be heard on public radio, giving WILL a chance to spread its wings in aspiring to fulfill this aspect of its mission as well. "I hope that in WILL's future decision making processes that the station will remain mindful of the importance of a collaborative and inclusive approach by drawing upon the experiences of staff, both on and off air, that can lead to a creative exchange of ideas and options for the station and the listening community in the midst of the challenges of balancing budgets, programming, and ties to the community. "Tune in one for the final edition of The Jazz Corner at 10PM Saturday night. Farewell and good luck to all.--Mick"
President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari held a joint press conference this morning at the White House to address small issues like war, peace, and democracy in Iraq. Other media are reporting and analyzing, but our task here is simply to offer the audio archives. These recordings belong in the public domain, so WILLblog presents them here as 'open source media.' Please make of them what you will: streaming RealAudio MP3 download
This just in from Kimberlie Kranich, WILL's Outreach Coordinator, and the person who deserves several tons of credit (to say the least) for making the Youth Media Workshop documentary project happen for the past two years:
All, Just a reminder that the radio documentary, "More Than A Bus Ride: Desegregating Champaign Schools," will air at 5 pm Saturday on AM-580 and again at 6 pm on Monday, June 27th. "More Than A Bus Ride" examines the process and implications of the 1968 plan that desegregated public schools in Champaign. Interviews with members of the committee formed to head up desegregation, as well as teachers, principals, parents and students tell the story and beg the question, "Are African-American students better off today than they were before the schools were desegregated?" Fifteen students from Franklin Middle School and Central High School conducted all of the interviews, engineered the interviews, and edited stories from those interviews as part of the Youth Media Workshop, a collaboration between WILL and Innovative Ed Consulting. Dr. Will Patterson, Dave Dickey and I put the final version together. The documentary features Harold Baker, Dereke Clements, Al Davis, Dave Downey, Maudie Flake Edwards, Lila Jean Eichelberger, Rupert Evans, Alvin Griggs, Ruby Hunt, John Lee Johnson, Julian Rappaport, Jackie Smith, Hester Nelson Suggs and Crystal Womble. More information, including transcripts of the raw interviews, desegregation documents from 1968, and more information about the students who produced the program are available at will.uiuc.edu Tune in and send us your feedback. Thank you! Kimberlie KranichYou can listen to the documentary when it airs on WILL-AM this Saturday at 5 pm, and again on Monday, June 27th at 6 pm. You can also listen to it online in RealAudio and download it in MP3 format from the More than a Bus Ride documentary website. And if you missed the documentary from last year ('Our Journey: Stories of School Desegregation and Community in Champaign-Urbana') you can also listen to the whole thing or the interviews from which it was produced, read transcipts, and a whole lot more on the Our Journey website.
June 23, 2005
If you wanted to know who voted for and against the Obey-Lowey-Leach amendment to restore cuts to public broadcasting, say for example so you'd know how your Member of Congress supports your local public TV and Radio stations (or doesn't), you could look it up in the Congressional Record. Or you could download this PDF of the Final Vote Results for Roll Call 305. A big thanks to Tim Johnson (R) here in the 15th Illinois District for his yes vote! Also to Ray LaHood and John Shimkus elsewhere in the state. But, um, hey Jerry Weller, what did we do?
CPB Press Release (Washington, D.C. – June 23, 2005) Patricia S. Harrison, former Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), has been named President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). ”CPB needs to be in the forefront of support for public broadcasting and we look forward to supporting Pat Harrison in this important effort," said the CPB board in a prepared statement. Harrison stated, "I am pleased to join with the Board and all stakeholders in the future success of public broadcasting." She also vowed to join with public broadcast leaders to restore congressional cuts of CPB in the President’s Fiscal Year 2006 Budget. Harrison has served as Assistant Secretary since 2001, leading a bureau comprising 360 employees, managing 30,000 educational, cultural and professional international exchanges and working with 1500 public private organizations and 80,000 volunteers. Under her leadership the ECA's budget was increased from $237 million in FY02 to $430 million in FY06 and ECA received OMB's highest Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) score for effectiveness. In her position she was highly praised for her leadership and received the Secretary's Distinguished Leadership Award. Harrison started the U.S. government's first exchange program for high school students from the Arab and Muslim world, created both Culture Connect and Citizen Connect, comprising men and women volunteers working with their counterparts abroad helping to build civil societies and working on issues such as HIVAIDS, the environment, education, people trafficking. She also served two extended periods as Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Harrison, a native of Brooklyn of Italian heritage, is a former Visiting Fellow, of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate of American University. In 1973, she co-founded the E. Bruce Harrison Company, with her husband, which became one of the nation's top ten owner managed public affairs firms. The author of A Seat at the Table, A Guide for Women Leaders, Harrison founded the National Women's Economic Alliance in 1983 to promote economic opportunity for women in business and industry. From 1997-2000, she served as Co Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In making the announcement, CPB Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson paid tribute to the executive search firm Spencer Stuart for conducting a comprehensive review of potential candidates for the position. "They reached out to over 200 people and had extensive discussions with more than 80 contacts. Over 50 diversity profiles were developed and eleven diversity candidates were reviewed by the committee." The three member search committee, comprising current and former Chairs, Katherine Anderson, Frank Cruz, and Ken Tomlinson, reviewed 23 prospective candidates over the course of four committee meetings. The entire CPB board conducted interviews with four finalists during deliberations on Monday, June 20, 2005. Patricia de Stacy Harrison was selected on Wednesday, June 22, 2005. Anderson, who chaired the search effort said, "Pat Harrison's career exemplifies outstanding leadership. She has demonstrated great strength in coalition building. She knows Capitol Hill and is devoted to public broadcasting and the mission." Contact Information Eben Peck Corporate and Public Affairs email@example.com (202) 879-9646
A few minutes ago the U.S. House of Representatives voted 284 to 140 to approve an amendment which basically restores $100 million cut from next year's budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. More than 80 Republican members joined the Democrats in approving the bipartisan Obey-Lowey-Leach Amendment to the budget bill recommended by the House Appropriations Committee, which had drastically cut the CPB's budget. (See the report by Broadcasting & Cable on the House vote.) What does this mean? First, that a very large outpouring of citizen calls, letters, and emails once again turned the tide on something that seemed inevitable. But we're not out of the woods yet...not by a long shot. The House will soon vote on the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, of which the CPB budget is a small part. This may happen tomorrow. While the Obey amendment restored cuts to the main part of the CPB budget, other big cuts were made to the Ready to Learn program, the funding for digital conversation for public TV and radio stations, and the interconnection service for distributing shows to stations. These were all zeroed-out by the House bill which will likely pass tomorrow. The Senate has not yet taken up this part of the budget, and while the outpouring of citizen communication may have saved public broadcasting in the House, there may be another battle in the Senate. As these things go, we can reasonably expect a political backlash. In other words, if you care about the future of public broadcasting, it's not time to relax. However you feel, please keep those phone calls, letters, and emails coming.
June 22, 2005
...like Sound Money, As It Happens, and A Prairie Home Companion. Let's have WILL Radio Station Manager Jay Pearce explain (from an email sent to staff):
I'll be putting out a mass message on this soon, but wanted you to receive heads up first. Due to budget considerations, AM 580 will be de-affiliating with American Public Media. This means that as of September 3rd, AM 580 will no longer be airing Sound Money, As It Happens, A Prairie Home Companion or Writer's Almanac. This was not an easy decision, but a necessary one. As you may recall, APM was formed in the last couple of years...taking with it several programs previously under the PRI tent. This forced us to pay an additional affiliation fee which we, and a number of other stations, can no longer afford. We will be making arrangements to replay A Prairie Home Companion on WILL-FM. And soon I will be able to tell you what will air in place of these programs on AM 580. I think it's safe to say you can expect other changes as negotiations with NPR and PRI continue. I'll let Jake speak for the FM. Thanks for your understanding...I thought you might appreciate the official word as it is at this moment. These things tend to undergo some interesting changes as they make their way through the grape vine. Yes, we are facing a very challenging year as far as the budget is concerned. Changes being made are meant to preserve the most important elements of our programming - and I think you all know that in my mind - that means locally originated elements that make WILL a relevant and imporant part of the community. I'd appreciate any feedback (especially sympathy)... Thanks. JThis budget crisis stuff just isn't funny anymore.
June 15, 2005
I finally finished all the archives from the May 10th and 11th conference at the University of Illinois: "Can Freedom of the Press Survive Media Consolidation?" organized by Bob McChesney and the Illinois Initiative for Media Policy Research. (Let's also give a big hand to Victor Pickard who probably did all the actual organizing work). The conference archives are encoded as steaming RealVideo and RealAudio files, and as downloadable MP3 audio files. Since streaming video won't work well unless you have a broadband Internet connection, I wanted to provide the audio alternative. You don't need the video to get lots of great moments and ideas from this excellent conference. Check out the smackdown of Viacom executive (and U of I fundraising heavyweight) Dennis Swanson in Session Three on May 11th, and then marvel at why he agreed to appear on the panel so unprepared. WILLblog is a big advocate for freedom of the press, and we loved this conference. I gotta say that it felt dangerous, since many of the views expressed were highly critical of the current administration's policies on media ownership, and its attempts to control what gets reported by news organizations. In today's political climate, can we even talk about what's wrong with the media? If we do, will the news media cover it? Actually this conference garnered almost no coverage from the mainstream media, even with the likes of Seymour Hersh, Amy Goodman, and Phil Donahue as presenters. All I can say is the WILLblog videocam was there, and you can get the archives here.
June 13, 2005
So I've been out of town on an actual vacation, which is a good thing for mental health every once in a while, yes? But too bad, since I'm back just in time for this note from WILL station Manager Jay Pearce:
All, You'll be receiving more information on this soon from Don...but I wanted to take a moment to give you a heads up from where I sit. As you may be aware, a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee voted last week to cut the money already approved for CPB's FY06 Community Service Grants. The proposal is to cut 100-million dollars (about 25%) from this program by which stations like ours receive our federal funding. This federal grant makes up about 25% of WILL Radio's budget. Also on the chopping block...money for Ready to Learn, Digital Conversion and PTFP (equipment grants). CPB is being told to take the money from its general appropriation is it still wants to fund these programs. This would require cutting Community Service Grants even more. All together...these cuts could result in a total cut of 45% in federal funding for public broadcasting. Needless to say...this would be absolutely devastating to WILL. I'm not trying to cause panic or anything. But I do want you to know this is considered to be a serious situation. We will be joining in a massive effort to get listeners to call their congressional representatives to let them know what they think of this. Don has recorded a message which will be aired frequently on AM, FM and TV - setting out the situation. As I mentioned above, you'll be receiving more info about this soon...including what our assessment of the impact to WILL might be....Let's just add real quick that no-one at WILL will tell you what to say to your Congressional representatives. If you are happy to see big chunks chopped out of public broadcasting, you can certainly tell them that. Either way, better do it soon, and as loudly and clearly as possible. And now it's (*sigh*) back to work for me. More soon...