The Lesson Provided by the Colorado Public Radio Board
Colorado Public Radio is announcing new Board Members this week (see previous story), giving us time to stop and examine this beast. It is quite instructive. This exercise has academic overtones . . . but, is this: Geography 101? Statistics 101? Demographics 101? Non-profit Board of Directors 101?
When you weigh the distribution of representation on the CPR Board across areas served, a disproportionate amount of support for CPR comes from "the 303" area code, and a disproportionate amount of CPR's financial support is distributed in much the same way. Old habits die hard.
But there is a bigger story here. How many CPR Board Members come from Western Colorado? From places not fitting CPR's target financial demographic (yes, contrary to lip service they do have one). Do we have anyone serving Colorado Public Radio Board from: Silverton, Meeker, Craig, Cedaredge, or Parachute?
In 1991, after nearly a decade of maneuverings, and manipulations of technical facilities and people, CPR was started in that shotgun wedding between KCFR and KPRN (the orchestration of that would have made Montovani proud) -- much detail was placed on including CPR Board Members from Grand Junction (and then Montrose). Doctors, lawyers, and dentists were among their ranks.
Now that the KPRN take-over fall-out has evaporated (because the Grand Valley now has KAFM for a solid community voice), have the number of Western Slope CPR Board members kept pace? And if the numbers are still respectable, where are the sheepherders, the orchardists, the small town artisans, the wildcat oil and gas rig workers or the coal miners?
When you read the names of CPR Board members, know this: no matter if it is an Anglo, Hispanic, or African-American name, their economic level litmus test for this board has been passed. They are on the economically-successful side of life. They are REQUIRED to shell out thousands of dollars to sit on such a board (to subsidize CPR's operations) . . . and hopefully, to speak for more than the demographic sector from which they were chosen.
Is there a correlation between the make-up of CPR's Board, and on-air programming content? CPR management profusely rejects that idea, and perhaps they are correct, only because the over-all "culture" of CPR is already set in stone and those serving on the Board have been hand picked to fit that model. We saw what happened when former Board member Frances Koncilja tried to shake things up a bit.
CPR's twisted concepts for true public service have also been applied by dozens of other "big" public radio outlets across the land. It is a twisted departure from a time when The Public Broadcasting Act (1967) was created and funded by Congress. In its own way, this tainted culture mirrors what has happened to the nation; a nation which has seen a continued rise in the power and influence of our upper class, at the expense of people below them. In a sense, the people involved with Max's Excellent Adventure are right in step with history that History Professor Newt Gingrich would approve. End of lesson.
As Frank Zappa used to say in his dry, sarcastic tone, "Never mind, shut up, rise and salute the flag."