Letters to the Editor

From the week of February 28, 2002

Jim Bailey
via the Internet

From Motown to Mormons: Kudos on your column on Woody. I'm a journalist myself who covers sports business for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I've never met Paige, but I'm familiar with his work.

You absolutely nailed it by pointing out that Paige has spent much of his career reworking an old journalistic trick: ripping cities. This kind of trite journalism normally surfaces during big events like the Super Bowl or the World Series, but Paige seems to have made it part of his daily repertoire. I first encountered Paige's work when he wrote about Avalanche/ Red Wings games in Detroit, my hometown. Now, I'd be the first to admit it's hard to defend Motown, given its gritty reputation. But I do expect something a little more enlightening from a big-city sports columnist who is paid to analyze, entertain and inform.

The fact is that what Paige does is a form of journalistic laziness. He doesn't feel like reporting, so he attacks because he has nothing interesting to say. Given the furor he created in Salt Lake City, it appears people are finally on to him. Thanks for pointing it out.

Don Walker
via the Internet

A Public Hanging

Money for nothing: Michael Roberts's "Going Public," in the February 21 issue, was fascinating reading! Colorado Public Radio's empire-building seems antithetical to the basic tenets of public radio. Yet I might forgive even that, if only CPR would do away with that other basic tenet of public radio: ceaseless, money-grubbing pledge drives.

Jayce Peters
via the Internet

Have you heard the news? This might be unfair, but when I think about CPR's commitment to public-service programming, I inevitably compare its news component to that of WNYC, one of NPR's flagship stations. WNYC also came from a not-for-profit institution. When Mayor Giuliani (before his canonization) told its board that the city would no longer fund it, WNYC used its pledge drives to raise capital to buy its license; meanwhile, it still aired news and commentary critical of city and state administrations.

When the Towers fell, WNYC was in the blast zone; through the debris, against police advice, its broadcasters continued to air whatever news they could, under horrific circumstances. My question: If such a disaster happened in Colorado, would CPR's stations stop airing Morning Edition and discuss it? Car Talk? Would they open the phone lines to listeners? Hell, do they even have phone lines for such a talk-show format to be feasible on air?

I wish Dan Dreyer and his team luck in building a credible news staff. I like his work and am glad they're no longer competing for space with NPR's shows. A news channel doesn't really exist in the Denver market, and it would be nice if CPR treated that need as more than an excuse for civic window dressing. Still, I listen to the news channel every day. Pathetic, isn't it?

Name withheld on request

Not in his back yard: Yes, at Colorado Public Radio's February 1997 meeting in Glenwood Springs, I sat among those groaning or laughing at Max Wycisk's claim that the more public-radio stations in a market, the better for each one trying to raise money. But I found myself agreeing with Max, while wondering why he didn't apply the same logic to his own back yard -- where he fought attempts by KUNC and KGNU to broadcast metro-wide.

When I was station manager of KCSU, Fort Collins (1986-89), I heard about KUNC's plan to raise its broadcast tower several hundred feet so it could clearly reach 90-plus percent of the metro area. If it followed through with the plan, KCFR (CPR) promised to lobby the state legislature to remove KUNC funding in the University of Northern Colorado budget, claiming KUNC would have an "unfair advantage" over KCFR because KCFR did not receive state funds. The "unfair advantage" argument was then used when the KCFR board president wrote to the presidents of UNC and Colorado State as they were considering a merger of KUNC and KCSU. Then, in the early '90s, when KGNU attempted to place a translator in the metro area, KCFR and KRMA-TV blocked the attempts on technical interference concerns that were valid 25 years ago (before FM radio and TV receivers became substantially more sophisticated).

A key issue is the inefficient use of taxpayer money! All stations mentioned receive annual federal grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but largely due to "in-house" territorial nonsense, listeners across all of metro Denver can clearly receive three, instead of five, public radio stations. For that, only the public suffers.

Pete Simon

A slippery slope: I enjoyed Michael Roberts's article on Max's world and thought I might give some input regarding CPR's expansion and creation of its "statewide network." The very beginning was a grant to study the possible interconnectivity of existing Colorado Public Radio stations. I was managing station KVNF in Paonia at the time.

The proposal and purpose of the grant was to study and implement a network of stations feeding/sharing regional news and information. An unprecedented use of the Colorado state microwave system was permitted for this "hands across the mountains" attempt. Ultimately, no network was created, and the result was the creation of KPRN in Grand Junction, which started out getting feeds from KCFR in Denver, essentially establishing a broadcasting outlet for the beginnings of CPR.

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