Friday, January 18, 2008

Adirondack Region Martin Luther King Jr Day Events

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday, January 21, 2008.

According to a press release from Adirondack Progressives: » Continue Reading.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks Contest Final Days

A quick reminder that there are only a few days left to enter our Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks contest. We’ll be accepting entries until February 1st.

Which human and natural constructed things/places inside the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of the top seven?

I’ll be offering an Adirondack related gift to one lucky person who puts their choice or choices into the comments. Chosen at random – one entry per person (anonymous comments won’t count for this one).

Remember – two lists – one for the human-made wonders, one for natural wonders.

Submit your entries over here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gaslight Village: Lake George Fun Yesterday

I thought I’d take a look at the history of the one of the more popular Adirondack theme parks – Lake George’s Gaslight Village.

Gaslight Village opened in 1959 and was run by Charley Wood. Charley already owned a number of investments including Holiday House on the shores of Lake George, and Storytown, U.S.A., an amusement park with a Mother Goose rhymes theme (later expanded with Ghost Town, a western boot-hill theme, and Jungle Land, an animal park) which he opened in 1954. He later went on to build the Tiki Resort (now a Howard Johnson’s), a short lived wax museum, Sun Castle resort, and more. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Adirondack Blogs and Local Media: A Comparison

During the recent WAMC-NCPR flap, Adirondack Almanack, Musing of a (Fairly) Young Contrarian, and Adirondack Musing, all covered the story (in our opinion) better then the local mainstream media and with deeper insight. While we might not expect local mainstream media outlets to mention by name any of the blogs’ more in depth coverage and commentary, we also would expect that when they draw directly from blogs for content they would give credit where credit is due.

When WAMC withdrew its offending application, the Times Union’s business reporter Chris Churchill committed a journalistic no-no by claiming “Some observers suggested the fight between the public radio networks was about money. Lake Placid, they said, is a relatively wealthy community that’s potentially fruitful for public radio stations largely dependent on contributions for their survival.” Those “some observers” were Adirondack Almanack and MoFYC who the Times Union didn’t bother to mention by name. That’s some reporting despite the absolute failure of local media to cover one of the larger trends to hit our area in some time. There are now more than 75 blogs in the Adirondack region, and hundreds more in the coverage area of local media. Not only does it show the failure of local mainstream media to do anything other than follow the pack, it also hints at just how scared they are of citizen journalism.

This recalls the Blog-Times long bet. In 2002, Blogger Dave Winer bet New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz that: “In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times’ Web site.” The results show that the blogs won the bet, but the real winner was Wikipedia – you’ll remember the claims the Almanack made about wikis some time ago. Wikis are another topic ignored by local mainstream media.

I decided to conduct a search of the top Adirondack stories of 2007 and see how blogs show up against local mainstream media. Here are the results:

#10 Nature Conservancy Purchases 161,000 Acres
bldgblog ranked fifth. The Albany Times Union ranked seventh. Winner: blogs

#9 Lake George Workers Exploited
Albany Times Union ranked first. Deacon’s Blog ranked eleventh. Winner: mainstream media

#8 The Failure of Big Sky Airlines
Press Republican ranked thirty third. No blog ranked less than fifty. Winner: mainstream media

#7 Adirondack Hermit Alan Como
Adirondack Base Camp ranked first. The Glens Falls Post Star ranked second. Winner: blogs

#6 The NCPR – WAMC Flap
NCPR ranked first. The Adirondack Almanack ranked third. Winner: mainstream media

#5 Adirondack Global Warming Impacts
Adirondack Almanack ranked fifth. NCPR ranked twenty-fifth. Winner: blogs

#4 Changes in DEC, APA, and ORDA (we used Curt Stiles)
NCPR ranked eighth. Adirondack Almanack ranked seventeenth. Winner: mainstream media

#3 Adirondack Health Care (We used Hudson Headwaters)
The Glens Falls Post Star ranked forty-third. No blogs ranked under fifty. Winner: mainstream media

#2 Adirondacks State Tax Payments
Adirondack Musing ranked first. The Press Republican ranked second. Winner: blogs

#1 Northway Cell Towers
The Press Republican ranked first. Adirondack Almanack ranked tenth. Winner: mainstream media

The overall winner, 6 to 4, is the mainstream media. If NCPR was thrown out of coverage of itself, Adirondack Almanack would have made the overall contest a tie.

Obviously this little exercise is not very scientific but it’s clear that over the past year local blogs have begun to take their place alongside local mainstream media on the Internet. Blogs like Adirondack Almanack and Adirondack Musing have been around for only a few years – the mainstream media players in the Adirondack region have been around for decades, and have paid web experts and a stable of reporters on their staffs. Most local blogs are the work of one or two people.

Clearly something is happening in local media – wouldn’t it be nice if local media took notice?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

State of the State: Adirondack Report

The full text of Eliot Spitzer’s State of the State Address is here. An e-mail today from John Sheehan (Communications Director for the The Adirondack Council) outlined the “three major environmental initiatives” Spitzer announced:

1. A $100 million investment in state park infrastructure including buildings and wastewater treatment/sanitary facilities, as well as an effort to make existing and new buildings accessible to people with disabilities. Many state campgrounds and park buildings are causing water pollution in nearby lakes and rivers due to aging and inadequate facilities. The Adirondack Park has about a dozen state-run campgrounds.

2. Smart Metering: This would change the way power companies bill their customers to allow consumers to take advantage of off-peak power rates when running power-hungry appliances such as dishwashers, laundry machines, irrigation pumps, etc.

3. Net Metering: This would allow power customers to reduce or eliminate their power bills by installing clean power generating equipment (solar panels, small wind turbines, etc.). Power companies would be required to buy back any excess power generated by these private, home- and business-based systems. Several owners of large Adirondack great camps and resort compounds have said they want the ability to control their costs, reduce power outages and help pay for the investment in renewable energy by selling the extra power back to the power company.

I have copies of pdfs that explain each if anyone is interested.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2007 Adirondack Memorial – Remembering Those We Lost

This will be an annual series highlighting the careers of those who passed during the year who had important impacts on the Adirondack region.

Peter Berle, Environmentalist

Known to many as the long-time host of WAMC’s Environment Show, environmental lawyer Peter A. A. Berle had important impacts on the Adirondack region. He served three terms as a New York State Assemblyman (1968-1974), and three years (1976-1979) as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Under his tenure the state started action against General Electric for knowingly polluting the Hudson River with PCBs and began work to address Love Canal. Berle helped author New York’s first solid-waste plan which ended in the closing of many Adirondack landfills. He also helped write the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and was appointed to the Task Force on the Future of the Adirondack Park. Berle was also President and CEO of the National Audubon Society (1985-1995) and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Joint Public Advisory Committee to the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation under NAFTA. He died suddenly at the age of 69 when a barn at his farm collapsed.

Bill Frenette, Tupper Lake Historian and Outdoorsman

William Charles Frenette was a lifetime Adirondacker who spent his working career in the family business — Frenette Bros. Beer Distributors and Tupper Lake Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Bill was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hike, paddle, and ski. Although he travelled extensively the Adirondacks was his lifelong home. He was an early 46er, and climbed all 46 in both summer and winter. He was also a gold medalist in the prestigious Coureur de Bois ski marathon. Frenette was actively involved in organizing Sugarloaf Ski Hill, and helped layout the trails on Mount Morris for Big Tupper, for which he served as the resorts Ski Patrol founding chief and an early member of the Search and Rescue Team. Bill was also a founding trustee of the Wild Center (the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks), a board member of the Adirondack Medical Center and served on the board of the Friends of Mount Arab. He served as the historian for the Town and Village of Tupper Lake. He died at his Tupper Lake home at the age of 80.

Paul Jamieson (From Nov 2006)

Paul Jamieson taught English at Saint Lawrence University for 36 years, but his longest lasting legacy for the Adirondacks comes from his 20 year fight to force New York’s Courts to recognize that free-flowing rivers are open to paddlers as public transportation routes, just as they were in the nineteenth century. Jamison was critical in initiating state purchases of two scenic stretches of Adirondack rivers: Lampson Falls on the Grasse and Everton Falls on the St. Regis. He has been recognized by innumerable accolades. Adirondack canoe builder Peter Hornbeck named a boat design Jamieson. Jamieson was honored in 2003 by the Adirondack Mountain Club with its Trail Blazer award. He was given an Honorary Life Membership to the Adirondack Mountain Club and was a founding member of its Laurentian Chapter. He received the Stewardship Award from the Nature Conservancy, the Navigable Rivers Award by the Sierra Club and a Founders Award by the Adirondack Museum. The Adirondack Council awarded him its Distinguished Achievement Award. Jamison was the author of Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow and an autobiography Uneven Ground. He edited The Adirondack Reader, Man of the Woods (a memoir by Wanakena guide Herbert Keith), and Adirondack Pilgrimage (a collection of his writings). He was also an Adirondack 46er and received honorary doctorates from St. Lawrence University and Paul Smith’s College. He was 103.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Adirondack Almanack’s Most Read Stories of 2007

This year, we’re throwing out an anomaly. Due to the porn obsessed among us, the most read Adirondack Almanack story of the year was Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex. Apparently, “Halloween sex” and “naughty nurse” are quite in demand.

Frankly, the post is one of our favorites and I’m sure those looking for sexy nurses are surprised to find a feminist analysis of Halloween and the role of sex oriented costumes for women and girls. Here’s a sample:

Linking sexual images so closely to the profession of nursing–to even the fantasy idea that working nurses are sexually available to patients–reinforces long-standing stereotypes. Those stereotypes continue to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect. Desexualizing the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to overcome the current shortage, which threatens lives worldwide, and to meet the challenges of 21st Century health care.

So we decided to throw that one out this year, even though it probably deserves it’s spot at number one based on content and the surprise factor for those who land on it.

So on to this year’s list.

#10 Adirondack Northway Cell Phone Controversy
#9 North Creek: Center of the Adirondack Universe?
#8 Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder-Suicide?
#7 Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Tragedy
#6 Adirondack and New York State Map Round-Up
#5 1950s Adirondack Ads Online: Gaslight Village
#4 With Pipe and Book: Will Lake Placid Lose The Adirondacks’ Best Book Store?
#3 Adirondack Mountain Lions, Panthers, Pumas, and Cougars Oh My!
#2 Sopranos Premiere Set In The Adirondacks

and drum roll please…

the most requested story of 2007 (for the second year running)…

10 Deadliest Accidents in The Adirondack Mountain Region

Thanks for reading, and thanks for contributing your comments, and for supporting the Almanack through donations via PayPal (at right) and purchases from the Almanack Store.

And while we’re at it – we’d like to thank the top five referring Internet denizens – these folks sent more readers our way than any other spots on the net (save for the search engines). Thanks for the links and we wish you well in the coming year!

#1 North Country Now
#2 Adirondack Regional Tourism Council
#3 York Staters Blog
#4 NYCO’s Blog
#5 North Country Public Radio

Last year’s list of most read stories can be found here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks Contest Extended

So far the response has been good, but I’ve decided to extend our Seven Wonders contest until February 1st to allow for some more entries.

Which human and natural constructed things/places inside the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of the top seven?

I’ll offer a spectacular – well, maybe not spectacular, but certainly interesting – Adirondack related gift to one lucky person who puts their choice or choices into the comments. Chosen at random – one entry per person (anonymous comments won’t count for this one).

Remember – two lists – one for the human-made wonders, one for natural wonders.

Submit your entries over here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

RCPA Names Michael Washburn New Executive Director

Forwarded for your information, a press release from the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. They have just named a new Executive Director to replace Peter Bauer.

Michael Washburn to head leading regional advocacy group

North Creek –The board of directors of Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks announced today that it has named Dr. Michael P. Washburn of Clifton Park, NY to be executive director beginning January 2008. Washburn is known nationally as a leading figure in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable forestry certification movement. He most recently has been engaged in private consulting to help progressive forest companies implement sustainability programs. He previously served as Vice president of Brand Management at the Forest Stewardship Council US in Washington, DC, and is a former research scientist at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He brings 15 years of experience in conservation, including roles with the US Forest Service, and Penn State University.. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Top Adirondack Stories of 2007

#10 Nature Conservancy Purchases 161,000 Acres – Dubbed “The largest conservation and financial transaction in the history of The Nature Conservancy in New York,” the plan will protect former Finch and Pruyn wild lands in the heart of the Adirondacks, and perhaps more importantly, includes sustainable forestry. The land includes “more than 90 mountains and over 250 miles of rivers and shorelines, the lands hold great promise for public recreation sometime in the future for hikers, paddlers, campers, birders, and shutterbugs.” The New York Times provided a slide show of the purchase area in November. Let’s hope that the state will make next year’s top stories list by purchasing a further 70,000 acres being sold by Lassiter Properties and Clerical Medical Investment Group.

#9 Adirondack Tourist Industry Exploiting Labor – It’s been known for a long time by people close to the action that area businesses have been exploiting immigrant labor. At the same time they’ve been claiming they can’t get locals to do the jobs they’ve been hiring foreign workers for – and now the truth (or at least some of it) is out. According to local reports, the operators of several local restaurants and hotels “exploited foreign workers and cheated them of proper wages” including “breaking child labor laws, refusing to pay required overtime and deducting rent from wages.” According to Irena Lyahkanova from Russia, she “worked like a ‘slave’ at Taste of Poland restaurant [in Lake George] for ‘nothing.’ The owners did not pay any of its tipped employees, the 10 to 12 waitresses and bussers through the summer, Lyahkanova said. Many went back to Russia and Poland with no money.” After a little hubub, the issue has apparently been dropped – the workers will face the same problems next summer.

#8 The (Kinda, Sorta) Return of Regional Air Service – What was promised as the panacea of solutions to the lack of regional air service, Big Sky Airlines (of Billings, Mont. under Delta Connection) has turned out, not so good. “As bad as we thought CommutAir was,” Harrietstown Councilman Barry DeFuria said recently, “they are looking real good now.” Big Sky was the was the sole bidder on service to Lake Clear according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “on a $2.4-million agreement with the U.S Department of Transportation to provide Essential Air Service to the Adirondack Regional and Plattsburgh International airports. Essential Air Service is a federal program that was created to ensure that rural communities have access to affordable flights. Big Sky took over from CommutAir, a Continental Connection airline, at the Adirondack Regional Airport on Oct. 31.” In late December, Big Sky pulled out apparently taking the federal money with them despite owing $75,000 locally. Congressman John McHugh said Big Sky is violating the terms of its federal subsidy and he and Senator Hillary Clinton urged the US Department of Transportation to maintain subsidized flights to Massena, Ogdesnburg, Watertown, Plattsburgh, and Saranac Lake. The DOT demanded Big Sky do just that, but it looks pretty unlikely. Adirondack Base Camp has moreon the issue.

#7 Adirondack Hermit Alan Como – For nearly twenty years Alan Como lived a spartan life in the wilds of the great northern forest of the northeastern United States – his last known address was on a drivers license that expired in 1989. In 2002 he was living in an earth and log mountaintop hut in New Hampshire. Then, after a two-year string of minor thefts near Brant Lake in Warren County he was captured near the Pharaoh Mountain Wilderness Area; police believed he had stolen a few blankets, tarps, and other small items, but left valuables alone. He was convicted of criminal mischief for cutting trees on private land to build his latest mountain ridge home and was sentenced in June to one-third to four years in state prison – with time served, he’s eligible for parole in January 2008.

#6 NCPR’s Lake Placid Signal Under Threat – North Country Public Radio (NCPR) has been serving the Lake Placid community for 21 years, but that didn’t stop Albany based NPR station WAMC from making application to the FCC in an attempt to force NCPR from it’s 91.7 fm frequency. A late agreement between broadcasters left NCPR with only one other media conglomerate attempting to take it off the air, Northeast Gospel Broadcasting, Inc., a religious station that features the likes of Oliver North and evangelical christian right wing programming. If NCPR loses access to Lake Placid, it could also affect frequencies in nearby communities such as Keene Valley which rely on the Lake Placid signal. Northeast Gospel has until early early January 2008 to stop coveting thy neighbor and back-off – after that it will up to the FCC. Adirondack Almanack has been covering this story in depth.

#5 Global Warming Impacts – It started with wacky weather: Record warmth in December 2006, then came record snow falls in February and exceptionally heavy rains in August and September followed by near-drought conditions during an unseasonably warm October. In the southwest corner of the park Hinckley Reservoir reached it lowest level since it was created in 1915 and drought was the impetus for closing the Erie Canal early. Wildlife was seriously affected this year with a mice explosion and the spread of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in deer. EHD is normally seen in southern deer populations, but for the first time was discovered in New York. While the Wild Center held a regional global warming conference and many locals gathered to Step It Up in April and November, that was about all there was on the ‘actually doing something about it’ front. Meanwhile the local right-wingnuts could care less because the world is going to end soon anyway – says so right in the bible.

#4 Changes in DEC, APA, and ORDA Leadership – Newly elected Governor Eliot Spitzer made important appointments in several state organizations including Pete Grannis as head of the DEC, Curt Stiles to chair the APA, and Joe Martens to chair ORDA. Perhaps more significant was the subsequent appointments (by Grannis) of Betsy Lowe as Director of DEC Region 5 , who will also represent Grannis on both the ORDA board and at the APA. DEC Region 6 also got a new leader this year in long-time local attorney Judy Drabicki. Then the Residents Committee to Protect The Adirondacks said goodbye to Executive Director Peter Bauer.

#3 Adirondack Healthcare – On a number of fronts healthcare in the Adirondacks reached the headlines this past year. First there was the news that the U.S. Army unit which was one of the just two providers of med-evac helicopters (that don’t charge patients) was pulling out leaving one copter from North Country Life Flight in Saranac Lake. Then came the apparent and astounding lack of leadership from both Representatives Gillibrand and McHugh just as news broke that the region faces a “desperate doctor shortage.” The one bright spot was Hudson Headwaters Executive Director John Rugge who forced major health insurance plans to pay their share of local health costs.

#2 Judge Throws Out State Tax Payments – In December a New York State Supreme Court Judge threw out payments in lieu of taxes for state lands. The move could have a huge impact on towns, schools, and taxpayers in the region. Town of Inlet Supervisor J.R. Risley, said his town has about 400 year-round residents, 10,000 summer residents, and that 93 percent of the land is state-owned. The ruling is expected to double the town’s tax rate. Twenty-two percent of the Saranac Lake Central School District tax levy comes from taxes on state land – the number is fourteen percent in Tupper Lake. The ruling has been stayed and is waiting appeal.

#1 Cell Towers Along The Northway – When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – a collective cane was raised that resulted in the APA’s recent approval of one 94 foot tall cell tower. Verizon already has 20 towers inside the park and is seeking another 11 or 18, depending on who you believe. Verizon, the APA, and our elected officials make absolutely no attempt to mitigate the impacts of these towers through new techniques and technology.

Here is a link to The Top Adirondack Stories of 2006

Links to local news that we found interesting enough to add to our “Latest Adirondack News” column (above right) can be found here.

If you like what you see, you can have our Adirondack News delivered by RSS Feed or by e-mail. You can also select only the news from the specific Adirondack county you’re interested in right here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Make A Homemade Boot Brush

Get Music OFF Your i-Pod

Learn to Paint an Adirondack Lake

Cure Your Own Hams

Read Your Own DHS Travel Dossier

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

WAMC Withdraws FCC Application

The Times Union business blog, The Buzz, is reporting that WAMC has withdrawn it’s FCC application and ended its attempt to take over NCPR’s 91.7 Lake Placid frequency.

WAMC and North County Public Radio today said they have negotiated an agreement that should help keep NCPR on the 91.7 frequency in Lake Placid…

Under the agreement announced today, North Country’s existing translator license would be transferred to WAMC, which will run it at a different frequency. But that can only happen if the FCC awards the station to North Country rather than Northeast Gospel Radio…

“The agreement (announced today) is a win-win for both stations,” said North Country station manager Ellen Rocco in a written statement. “The simple action of withdrawing this application demonstrates responsiveness and leadership on the part of WAMC and provides the best outcome for both stations.”

Congratulations NCPR and good luck getting the full FCC approval over a Rensselaer County religious broadcaster.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Imperialist Radio Follow-Up

Here is an update on the ongoing attempt by WAMC (an Albany NPR Station) to take over North Country Public Radio’s frequency in Lake Placid which the Adirondack Almanack blogged about over the weekend.

There will be two community forums this Thursday:

Saranac Lake at 3:30 (Adirondack Artists Guild)

Lake Placid at 5:30 (Adirondack Community Church)

This morning there was an on air Question and Answer session – you can listen to the audio here.

NCPR’s website on the conflict now also includes a link to provide NCPR with your e-mail address in order for them to contact you if and when they need more and/or louder voices.

Dale Hobson, NCPR’s tech guy who blogs at Brain Clouds reports in a post on Monday that the station is being very careful how they cover the story (WAMC isn’t covering it at all):

The news was first aired in the region this morning on Saranac Lake station WNBZ, in a feature story by Chris Knight who, in addition to his duties at WNBZ, is a frequent freelance reporter for NCPR on Adirondack issues. While NCPR is committed to retaining the frequency on which it has served Lake Placid for over twenty years, we needed to find a way to cover the story in a fair and balanced way that would place the public interest ahead of the institutional interests of the station. Toward that end, the station manager and the news director sought advice from the Poynter Institute, an organization that provides training in journalistic ethics. They recommended that we use an outside editor with no connection to either of the parties to the dispute to oversee NCPR’s coverage. Suzanna Capelouto, news director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, agreed to fill that role. The reporting by Chris Knight that you will hear on NCPR tonight and tomorrow was edited by her.

An Albany Business Review story picked up by the Boston Business Journal noted that NCPR is not alone in being bullied by WAMC – apparently Vermont Public Radio (VPR) is also being driven from a frequency in its own region. All total WAMC is trying to supplant locally originated radio in eight communities:

The eight communities are Brewster; Cooperstown; Lake Placid; Norwich and Stamford in New York; Vergennes, Vt.; Manchester, Conn., and West Swanzey, N.H. There are rivals for all but the Stamford and West Swanzey frequencies.

WAMC will face its toughest battle in Vergennes. St. Lawrence also wants to serve that city, as do Vermont Public Radio and a company called Wilbur Gospel Communications.

[Alan] Chartock said the FCC will award licenses to the applicant whose signal would reach the most people, based on such factors as the location and height of the proposed tower.

“So it comes down to whose engineer did the best job,” he said. “This will take months or even years to work out.”

Apparently, according to Chartock, that’s good enough for us – it’s a single engineer who gets to decide whether we have a locally originated station or we get homogenized radio.

WAMC’s Wikipedia page notes that the current conflict is part of an ongoing assult on local radio stations:

Though the original expansion of the WAMC network starting in the mid 1980s was done to serve areas that had previously lacked NPR service, many of the station’s expansions since then have been into areas that either had service from a WAMC signal or where an established NPR network was already on the air. Two examples of this were WAMC’s purchase of WAMQ (then WBBS), a signal whose coverage area is near enveloped by other WAMC signals, and in 1992 WAMC outbid SUNY Plattsburgh for the then-WCFE-FM in 1995 to serve an area with two established NPR stations.

A number of local bloggers have stepped up with their own comments including Adirondack Musing whose post title WAMC – The North Country Doesn’t Need You, pretty much says it all.

Brian over at MoFYC calls the whole affair a “terrible decision by WAMC.” He also takes the Albany station to task for their existing deeper problem in attempting to cover such an enormous area with such disparate interests:

WAMC’s news coverage is decent but cursory. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep. This isn’t surprising because WAMC’s gargantuan coverage area means it must provide local news for people in central and southern Vermont, the Berkshires (western Massachussetts), northern Connecticut, the Hudson Valley (southeastern NY), the Mohawk Valley (Central NY) and New York’s Capital District.. WAMC also reports on state politics for those four states.

By contrast, NCPR is focused almost exclusively on the region in and around the Adirondacks. The station often runs stories that are 5-9 minutes in length and thus offer significantly more depth than WAMC’s typically brief pieces.

WAMC almost never reports on issues in Glens Falls or the Adirondacks, simply because there’s not enough time. NCPR had extensive coverage of the 2001 Finch Pruyn strike in Glens Falls, even though the station’s main headquarters is three times more distant than WAMC’s.

There’s a lot more to what Brian has to say (including a follow-up to his original post) but he concludes with:

I used to be a member of WAMC but am not anymore. I simply found that WAMC just didn’t cover news stories that were relevant to my community or nearby ones. When NCPR added transmitters in Glens Falls and Lake George, I found a station that did. I now send money to Canton.

And frankly I’m glad I’m not a member of WAMC anymore. I wouldn’t want my membership monies to making the media less local and more homogeneous.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise called it “dirty pool” and said:

Chartock suggested that NCPR just move to a different frequency so both stations can serve Lake Placid. That’s like demanding someone’s house and suggesting they camp out in the woods out back. Sure, we’d like to have the option of listening to WAMC, but not at a better, more local station’s expense.

We hope the FCC recognizes this injustice and puts a stop to it.

So do we.

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.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Learn to Identify Wood

Get Grandpa’s FBI File

10 Anti-Phishing Firefox Extensions

How To Take Great Group Photos

10 Ways To Entertain Kids For $1 Or Less

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.

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Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.