David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio (AR) has been a regular presence on WUFT-FM for more than 20 years, but not any more. The writing was kinda on the wall, as it had been in the far-from-prime spot of Saturday night at 11pm for the last few months. For many years there was zero promotion of the show (except for in the Iguana). Former program director Bill Beckett deserves credit for bringing it to WUFT and keeping it going. But when he was purged in the recent staff downsizing, despite assurances from remaining staff as to AR’s viability, the radio show was axed April 23.
Chalk it up to the false notions of balance and objectivity as taught in J-schools and practiced at NPR.
According to WUFT’s Richard Drake, who is the point person responding to my inquiry, “The founding and overriding principle of Public Radio is to present all points of view on any topic. This principle countermands my politics, your politics or the politics of anyone who would disagree with any of us. ‘Alternative Radio’ does not present any opposing viewpoints.”
When those comments were shared with David Barsamian, he responded, “What rubbish. AR is a counter to all the pro-empire and pro-capitalism they have on. NPR is totally establishment oriented and systematically excludes dissident voices. He is wrong about the founding principles of public radio. It is ‘to be a forum for controversy’ and ‘to provide a forum for those who may otherwise be unheard.’ See my book for details – The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting.”
David wrote the book on it, and now we are living it.
The award-winning Alternative Radio presents voices not carried by the mainstream, corporate media, and presents them in a complete, in-depth format.
People are actually hungry for information. In fact, the recently completed pledge drive at WUFT-FM, the second since their format change, exceeded their expectations.
But for us now, to hear AR, you’ll need to either listen to some other station via the Internet or download it as a pod cast from their website, www.alternativeradio.org, which is okay for those of us who can, but for others? I guess they don’t need to hear it. It’s a shame such a large station, with a huge broadcast radius, thinks so small.
As a small consolation, the Civic Media Center’s Low Power FM station, WGOT 94.7, will likely pick up the weekly broadcast at a time and day to be determined. Hopefully the station will be streaming on line soon as well.
Stay tuned for updates.
by Joe Courter