Saturday, December 15, 2007

Imperialist Radio: A Hostile Takeover of NCPR?

By now you may have heard. Albany based WAMC is attempting to take over North Country Public Radio’s 91.7 fm frequency in Lake Placid. The whole thing stems from the exceedingly rare decision according to NCPR’s page on the subject (apparently WAMC could care less about answering questions we in the Adirondacks might have about the situation – they have nothing about it on their page):

After 10 years of refusing to accept new applications for transmitters in the non-commercial section of the FM radio band, the FCC opened a brief ‘window’ in October.

WAMC applied for a the frequency that is being used by NCPR. You should also know that there are no other full-power frequencies available in Lake Placid,there may not be another opportunity for another frequency for years to come, if ever, and NCPR has been serving this community for a long, long time:

NCPR has used a translator (a low power transmitter) in Lake Placid for 20 years. Translators are NOT protected by the FCC under the rules of the current application period. Therefore, we applied for a full-power transmitter at the same frequency we’ve used for two decades, 91.7 FM.

It is Imperialist Radio, plain and simple, and here’s why:

WAMC does not cover the Adirondacks in any significant way. Go to their webpage and search for Adirondacks – you’ll find nothing about the important issues that face the Adirondacks – their coverage is limited to the “big” southern oriented stories – nearly all based on press releases from politicians and advocacy groups. Have they seriously covered North Creek’s recent boom and bust in development? How about border issues? How about Potsdam food-coop story? The recent property tax decision? How about the increasingly vibrant blogging community? Local elections? NCPR is an important part of the Adirondacks – does “NCPR” ever show up on their webpage? No. Does “WAMC” ever show up on NCPR’s – sure does.

WAMC has hundreds of thousands of people of color in their backyard and yet not a single program oriented to their community needs. Until WAMC hires some people of color (or even offers relevant programming) to cover the neighborhoods (some of which are literally a block or two away from the offices) they have no business marketing to the wealthy in Lake Placid. It’s no accident that WAMC broadcast outside it’s natural environmental and cultural region into the wealthy lower Hudson Valley and the Berkshires – now they want the wealthiest community in the Adirondacks too. Look at their supposed coverage area – do they really think they can serve Worcester, MA, Sussex, NJ and Lake Placid equally?

WAMC is obviously attempting to take the economic resources from our region to their offices in Albany without returning services to our community. In fact, they will be reducing local news coverage in Lake Placid. They’ve already done this in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga. Search for Ticonderoga on the WAMC website – in all of 2007 they’ve reported just twice about Ticonderoga -both stories about International Paper. Take a look at their events calendar – not a single event in either Plattsburgh or Ticonderoga, or anywhere in the Adirondacks for that matter. Now take a look at NCPR’s events calendar.

What should we do? Here is what NCPR says we should do:

We know that NCPR listeners are concerned about this conflict and want to help the station. We appreciate your support and encouragement. At this time, the best thing for you to do is stay informed about the issue–read the information provided here and follow the story as it develops. Share accurate information with others you know.

Here is what I think we should do:

1 – Be informed and inform others. Write about this issue: blog about it, write to local newspapers and media outlets.

2 – Contact WAMC (if you can, they only have one all-encompassing e-mail) and tell them that you know what they’re doing and it’s wrong – plain and simple. Tell them that you value NCPR and do not want WAMC to damage your LOCAL NPR station. Ask them to withdraw their attempt to take over NCPR’s frequency in Lake Placid.

3 – If you have a business from the Mohawk River to the Canadian border, or from the Vermont line to the St. Lawrence / Great Lakes and you advertise with WAMC – contact Dona Frank at 518-465-5233 ext. 167 and ask her to pull your advertisements and start supporting your local NPR station instead. Remember to tell WAMC why.

4 – If you live in the NCPR region now is the time to send some support their way – advertise your business by becoming an underwriter or become a member of the station.

5 – Leave a comment here to let NCPR know that you’re thinking about them and wishing them well. When your supposed allies turn on you, hearing form your friends and community makes a difference.

6 – Begin advocating for the removal of Alan Chartock as head of WAMC. He’s been unaccountable for far too long.

Good luck NCPR and let us know when and if there is anything we can do to support our best local radio station.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




15 Responses

  1. The Almanack Editor says:
  2. Glenn M. Heller, editor, WAMC.net says:
  3. The Almanack Editor says:
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  5. Glenn M. Heller, editor, WAMC.net says:

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