Credit Where It Is Due: More on WDAV and Lisa Simeone


Yesterday we had the silly frenzy about whether Lisa Simeone would be bounced as host of an opera show carried by NPR because she had been a spokesperson for the "Occupy" movement. I mentioned then that the show's host station, WDAV in North Carolina, had very quickly stood up to say that of course she would still be welcome to talk about La Boheme and Don Giovanni, no matter how she might feel about "the 99%."

Two people familiar with the station and its host institution, Davidson College, have written in to say that they are pleased but not surprised by the station's response. First, Michael Clark:

When I taught at Davidson College 10 years ago, this station was housed at and associated with the college. The association was somewhat loose... I don't know that any students worked there, certainly I don't remember students DJing there. In any case, however, it was a college station of a sort. Therefore WDAV has a particular obligation to support the free exchange of ideas.
There was a very strong level of support within the college from Davidson's first-rate administration for academic freedom. I suspect that WDAV may have heard quickly from the college administrators that the firing of Lisa Simeone did not fit with the college's tradition.

 And, from Lex Alexander:

I read NPR's blog post about being "in conversation" with WDAV about Simeone and immediately emailed the station general manager. He called me not 30 seconds later, said the college and station had already made the decision to do the right thing and that support for this position went all the way to the top. Details here if you're interested.

I'm a 1982 Davidson graduate and, more importantly, was on the original staff when the station went to high power (i.e., began reaching the Charlotte market) in 1978. I had a lot invested in how this played out. Both the president and the station manager had been on the job only about six weeks, so it would have been very easy for them to do the wrong thing. Instead, they basically told NPR to [butt out].

It's a good day to be a Wildcat.

Indeed. Go Wildcats.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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