I was surprised to come across a story on Maine Web Report talking about a controversy between MPBN (Maine Public Broadcasting Network) and a long-running DJ called The humble Farmer. The humble Farmer is a quirky show with 30s and 40s jazz and big band music with occasional dry-witted humorous stories that comment on the state of affairs of our times in a classic “Mainah” style.
Well, it seems MPBN is setting an ultimatum with the humble Farmer after some more objectionable political opines went out on the air. The problem with stating your opinion, I guess, is that it may be misconstrued as the station’s opinion despite the fact that the opinion is wrapped in humor. And as we all know, MPBN, and all of public radio, is entirely politically neutral.
I don’t want to get too much into the specifics, as I’m not a journalist and have to take this story at face value, but I’ve long been lukewarm as to the operation of so-called “public” radio as it’s mostly a pipeline for national programming, classical music, and a whole lot of literati banter. The network does anything but reflect the diversity and local culture, and this attack, however well-warranted, against one of their few shows that features true local flavor, is unfortunate.
I guess we shouldn’t expect a station that takes government bucks to welcome lively political opinions, though the other question raised is why the national political programming from NPR seems to be subjected to a different set of standards (as they have plenty of political humor, much of it at Bush’s expense). I also wonder why an organization that receives over 75% of its revenue from local listeners has such a small amount of local programming. Does all of Maine really donate to MPBN so they can listen to another edition of Car Talk?
With on-demand programming growing in versatility, radio remaining and increasingly becoming expensive, and an increase in the number of NPR products available on satellite radio, I begin to wonder what the future of our rather sad public media is.