Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The Public Broadcasting Smackdown!
What is the problem with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, these days? I heard the other day that NPR fired its CEO because it wants someone more forward looking? Well, I have to agree. In the past so many years, I have become a huge fan of public television and public radio. Anyone that knows me, though, that I have to have a gripe about these two respected institutions.
Let’s start with public television, gang. Well, I think its pledge time on public television, I’m not too sure though, considering I can barely stand to turn on the damn thing. The past two weeks has been “Mostly Wretched Music Week.” What might that mean, dear reader? Well let’s just say there is a good bit of Lawrence Welk, Scottish Songsmiths and some terrifying opera. Ok, seriously. Who exactly is public television going after as its audience, these days? 73 year old grannies who dream of visiting Scotland? Lord. As I stated above, I am a devoted fan, but this is just garbage. Do they honestly expect me to donate money when this is the shit they are trying to entice me with? Now to their credit over at public television, I did see a nice documentary about Elvis Presley’s gospel music and a special about Johnny Cash. The King and Cash, aside, it’s mostly been trash.
Now for my gripe about public radio. In the past so many years, public radio has been pretty good about syndicating more shows throughout the country and beefing up its news and reporting. Kudos. I have to say, though, don’t stop. Now, I love classical music just as much as the next geek, but I really have to insist on some more talk radio. NPR has some of the best produced series, including, “This American Life,” “Car Talk,” and “What do you know?” All good programs, all well produced and all on my ‘must listen’ list. Oh and I forgot, Garrison Keillor. He is good all around. It seems like NPR got to a point and just stopped. Now, I’m not forgetting “Thacker Mountain” which just recently got syndicated, but I am ready for some new shows. Come on NPR, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and the rest of the states out there! How about a good objective show about technology (and I don’t mean just another segment on “Fresh Air?” Or what about a show strictly devoted to contemporary and older literature?
I think I might need to put a finer point on my arguments to public radio. Just as a small example, take a look at Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Now these are some hard workin’ folks. Let me tell you. With a tiny, tiny group of people and little smattering of money, Mississippi Public Broadcasting continues to function. I am amazed. Over the last 20 years, these hard working people have managed to keep MPB afloat. “Mississippi Roads?” Fine program. “Mississippi Outdoors?” Good program. “Rural Voices Radio?” Ok, that sucks. For all my praise of MPB, “Rural Voices Radio” never ceases to come off hackney. Ever hear a great Mississippi author on it reading a story or anecdote? Hell no. It’s always a 9 year old kid talking about his grandmother’s biscuits. Yes, I love biscuits. Yes, I love my grandmother and her biscuits too. We are from Mississippi, it’s what we do. I don’t need to hear a book report about it. Look, I’m not downing on the kid. I’m sure he worked hard to write his essay and it took him like 13 weeks to eek out the 500 words. I just figure Mississippi Public Broadcasting should be a little more high minded. Faulkner is from here, for Christ’s sake! Let’s try to act like we have a little class? Ok, ok. I’m a harsh guy. Fuck off. My point is this: MPB needs more funding, it needs more shows, it needs better writing and Walt Grayson should not be the only person holding it up. Now, you really have to be a MPB geek to know who Walt Grayson is.
The end of the story is I do love Public Broadcasting in all its forms. I just wish that fat old white ladies would quit pretending they have their finger on the pulse of what the 21-35 demographic wants. For all the fat white women working at Public Broadcasting, here is a public service for you: We want intelligent shows about topics that concern 21-35 year olds. We want quality, we want integrity. We don’t want one-sidedness, we don’t want “Down Home Jill Connor Browne Garbage.” Treat us with the respect that the intelligent class deserves. So put down the candy, you know you don’t need any, walk outside your office, yea that’s it. Past your high school equivalent degree. Keep going. Now past your secretary who probably has three times your education and half your age. Now move your fat ass down to the legislature and beg for some more money. Fund MPB and I don’t mean offer more tote bags for more donations. Bitch.