For those of us who listen to public radio, this has been a nerve-wracking week. For the past several weeks, Al Bartholet, executive director and general manager for WKSU, Kent State’s public radio station, put out a plea for public radio listeners to call or write their state representatives and ask them not to cut the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget, as was proposed.
According to a public service announcement on the National Public Radio station, cuts would mean a near $100,000 reduction in WKSU’s annual funding and would have been devastating to the success of the station.
Fortunately, the House voted against a $100 million cut in funding to the CPB, which relieved thousands of public broadcasting supporters across the nation who enjoy government-funded media outlets such as NPR and PBS.
These cuts were part of the House’s proposed $142.5 billion spending bill for health, education and labor programs for the budget year beginning Oct. 1, according to an Associated Press article.
While this editorial board applauds the 284 House members — the majority of them being Democrats — that voted to restore the cut funds to public broadcasting, it’s obvious that the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee has it in for educational programming on PBS.
Far too many conservatives see things like NPR as the “liberal media,” and would give anything to see them crushed like a grasshopper under the heel of a rich Republican’s loafer.
But in reality, these proposed cuts show the government’s lack of concern for educational programming. PBS is one of the few surviving outlets for educational programming on television. Since these stations are given government support — as well as the support of their viewers — they don’t need to worry about commercials or ratings. All they have to worry about is providing quality educational programming.
Few people even bat an eyelash when hearing about the billions of dollars the government pumps into defense spending, money going directly from the pocketbooks of taxpayers to the Middle East, yet we see it necessary to drastically reduce the CPB’s funding. It’s about time we worry about our own country’s people and needs.
Maybe not everyone can appreciate radio commentaries about organic farming, but who didn’t remember growing up with shows like “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” “Sesame Street” or “Reading Rainbow”? It’s about time the future of America turns off “Jerry Springer” and inappropriate, dare we say “sexy,” Britney Spears music videos and watches something that will develop their young, impressionable minds.
This is definitely not the last of the jabs at public broadcasting, so all of us who still care about having some sort of intelligent, commercial-free media available need to be on high alert. We may have won the battle, but we are far from winning the war.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.