|Larry Hincker (left) listens to Plowshare argument after meeting.|
The good people from the Plowshare Peace Center have been trying to get WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke to run an excellent, left-leaning show called "Democracy Now" (stream the radio or TV show here) for some time with no success. WVTF's reasoning revolves around the fact that the show is highly charged from a political standpoint (which is why the lovely people from Plowshare want it) and that they would feel obligated to balance it with another view if it ran; that and the fact that it would alienate a lot of conservative listeners at a time when revenues are threatened.
(My friend Betsy Gehman of Lynchburg writes that "Democracy Now" has its own channel on DirectTV in the Hill City.)
The notion that WVTF still tries to adhere to the Fairness Doctrine, which the Regan Administration and its judges killed, giving full power to right-wing talk radio, is fascinating in itself and I laud the station for that stance.
|Glenn Gleixner (left) and Larry Hincker (right)|
I don't want to plop my fat ass down between these warring sides, but I'd really like for them to settle this dispute. The Plowshare people say they want to be heard and haven't been. WVTF insists they have been heard, and heard, and heard and Larry Hincker of Virginia Tech--who has ultimate responsibility for the station--says they'll be heard again because he will offer to set up yet another meeting. Hincker was not happy that the man chairing today's meeting cut off comment abruptly and angered several of these generally peaceful people (hell, about half of them are Quakers, for heaven's sake).
I've known Larry and Glen Gleixner, the station's general manager, for years and I know they are willing to listen. I also know that when they make a decision--and this one has been made--you have to make a hell of an argument (and a new one) to get the first decision overturned. I don't see that happening here.
|Plowshare members packed the small room for the WVTF budget meeting today at Hotel Roanoke.|
Elsewhere today's meeting had little new information. The budget for the coming fiscal year was passed unanimously and there were only a few mildly interesting aspects to that:
- The new budget calls for $2.994 million, up from $2.927 million and still under the magic $3 million level.
- The station recently raised $1.58 million from listeners, its highest ever. Next year' it's shooting at $1.7 million (and that is certainly a reasonable expectation, given that they've set records the last three years).
- The station has a $500,000 reserve, which makes sense for one that has 7 transmitters, 13 translators and covers more than half of Virginia with its signal. Things could break at any time and the slush fund is welcome.
- WVTF's Friends Council, which it has in lieu of a citizens board--required of commercial stations--has been quite active in the past two years, according to Gleixner. It is making suggestions in all areas of the operation.
- Broadcasting expenses are down 40 percent from last year ($78,806 from $131,906), partly because of the elimination of some equipment needs.
- State and federal funding continue to shrink and it is almost inevitable they will be eliminated completely in the near future. In fact, Virginia's Republican governor has promised that will happen on his watch.