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Now More Than Ever

Now more than ever, we need WAMC. We all know it. Of course, there are a few trolls who find that WAMC’s speaking truth to power is not to their liking. All I can say is “too bad” or “join the lumpenproletariat” (“lump it or leave it.”) We are doing our best under very trying circumstances. We know that Donald Trump is conducting a war against his perceived enemies, including the press. The First Amendment to the Constitution is a backstop against fascism and totalitarianism. I understand that the press can be self-serving and sometimes wrong but when you stop freedom of expression, you stop a civil society and you deal a body blow to democracy. This is the time to stand as tall as we can.

I am old enough to have lived through McCarthyism, a time during which many good people ended up losing their jobs or even committing suicide because of accusations about their past or current political affiliations. It appears that Trump and his newly installed Attorney General, William Barr, may be on a similar track. We know that in past years, public radio and television have been taken out of the federal budget. I have always said that when you give politicians the power of the purse over public stations, sooner or later they will insist on their prerogatives when it comes to calling the shots and influencing the delivery of the news. In the end, it is up to each of us to make sure that we stay solvent. This is not going to be an easy task based on the very words that this president is using about getting even with his enemies.

We know from past experience that if people don’t hang together in times like these, things can get a lot worse. Clearly, National Public Radio sees what is about to happen. They are intent on bleeding some of our successful member stations in a manner never before seen. It’s quite interesting considering the amount of money NPR uses for consultants and what could only be considered an inflated staff. When it comes to courage, my personal observation is that NPR is not the leader in that field. I would give you the shocking amounts of money that they are asking for but they have sent out a memo saying that we shouldn’t talk about their agenda in a meeting called to discuss all of this. I wonder whether they have ever heard of freedom of the press. But never mind, what is important here is that NPR’s intent to bleed the member stations is just one more reason that my already grey hair is getting whiter. We run on an even keel but if what we fear starts to happen, we are about to get sunk.

I have always tried to figure out what goes on in the minds of the incredible numbers of people listening to the station. You, dear readers, know what I am talking about. Most of you learned family lessons early in life. You rely on the station and we rely on you. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because we know that you are there, we can move on. Without you we would be nothing.

It is a simple matter. We have to value what we have. When you turn your radio on in the car or while you are making the egg salad for the kids, you must know that WAMC delivers each and every day. No one else has the amazing Ian Pickus heading their news division or Joe Donahue’s contributions to the arts. Those names are just for a beginning.

We will continue to stand tall and to fight like hell to maintain what we have and we know that you’ll be right there with us.

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany. He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. The program, for almost 12 years, highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project and The Roundtable and offers commentary on Morning Edition, weekdays at 7:40 a.m.
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