A reader picks up where Rosen left off:
My main frustration with NPR and my local outlet is that they have made a knee-jerk reaction to the threat of the loss of federal funds. They are acting like every other advocacy group that will argue that yes, the deficit is terrible, but OUR funding should be sacrosanct. I get the argument NPR makes that the impact of the loss of funding would fall on the local outlets, but I think that is overstated. Vermont Public Radio does fund raising several times a year, and just completed one cycle where they raised more than their target. I think that if people really value public radio, they will continue to support it through donations.
My other frustration is that they seem to be saying that their funding model is also sacrosanct. In other words, why would it be so horrible if they became more commercial?
They already did that years ago, and the way they add a tag line to note contributions from businesses is not that far from a commercial endorsement in any event. I would be willing to bet, though I can't prove, that local public radio stations could supplant the loss of federal funds by selling (dare I say) commercials! Not the stupid commercials one sometimes hears on commercial radio, but something a bit less intense and more tasteful that would encourage more businesses to pay for being associated with an otherwise good product.
Finally, if people want more diversity of news and opinion on radio, there is another solution to that: petition the FCC to change the rules that allowed companies like ClearChannel to buy up the radio spectrum but without requiring any commitment to public service. Yes, there are more options for news out there, but the radio spectrum isn't getting any bigger, and going back to the days where radio was required to do more public service broadcasting in exchange for the right to control a piece of the spectrum would go further to expand the diversity of voices out there than spending more precious federal funds to maintain what is probably an antiquated business model (being "sort of" commercial free).
Local commitment is more important to diversity than federal funding. And besides, I'm sick and tired of all the whining about who is liberal and who is conservative.