It was as a 22 year old college student in 1972, and working as a security guard adjacent to Boston’s South Station , that I first discovered public radio as an alternative to commercial entertainment. Like a breath of fresh air on a hot muggy afternoon, the strains of great music from Gregorian Chant to Stockhausen bathed my ears and soul ,totally free of crass manipulative advertising. In those days, NPR was full of youthful promise and potential .One local NPR affiliate promoted itself has having “everything but commercials”.
This “epiphany” of sorts had planted within me the belief that public media is integral to a healthy democracy.
The more I listened to news and public affairs programs, the more I heard views an d opinions would never be permitted on a commercial media beholden to its corporate sponsors. Analysis and discussion by such great minds as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn,and the more poltical speeches of Dr. Matin Luther King were only to be heard in the oasis of National Public Radio. I yearn for a return to those days. No ,not to be young again, myself but for the public to be restored to public radio. It disappoints, but does not surprise me that, to my knowledge ,no NPR program has featured any voices who question market ideology or the Bush administration’s foreign policy on principle rather than merely on the tactical.
Overall ,I’m saddened that my beloved NPR has bowed to trendy market rhetoric and has lost its youthful boldness. Yet I’m delighted that there are many independent media outlets on the airwaves that rejuvenated my hopes for a just and democratic society.The media watchdog group,”Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting” is a superb example of what NPR should be. I still long for the NPR of oldwhen the public was truly present in public radio. An independent public media is indispensible to a healthy democracy. This I believe.
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