WJFF: Community Radio’s Future


(This article derives, in part, from a September 23, 2009  WJFF Board of Trustees  meeting.   Under normal circumstances, it would have been  published  within 24 hours of the meeting.  Instead,  for  four days, I’ve fretted and edited.

WJFF  has touched each of us whether we know it or not.  Its in-depth interviews of local, national and international activists have broadened and influenced our local  debates about  casinos, dams,  flooding and the advent of hydraulic fracturing.  During the lead up to the Iraq Invasion,  while  other journalists cheered  the fear mongers,  we  listened to WJFF   and heard  85 year old  Robert Byrd  lead the filibuster against granting the President preemptive war powers.  In a shaky voice,  he outlined  the Constitutional limits of Presidential power and Congress’ obligations.  We had no doubt  the moment was historic and potent.

But WJFF’s contributions have  been individual and personal as well.  The kids, including my youngest son, who participated in The Station’s  Youth Radio Project will never forget the safe haven where their creative juices could erupt in wonderful and often unpredictable ways.

It has been, quite simply, an integral part of our evolution as a region.)

*    *    *    *    *

“In 1986, WJFF founders Malcolm Brown and Anne Larsen put an ad in some of the newspapers around Jeffersonville.  It asked if there were folks in the area that were interested in having a public radio station, and if so, would they come  to a meeting about it at the Lake Jefferson Hotel.  This was the beginning of WJFF.   Station lore has the number of people who came to that initial meeting growing and growing.  (It’s up to over a hundred by now) but in actuality, somewhere between 40 and 50 people arrived at the Lake Jefferson Hotel that first night.  But hundreds of community members were involved from that day forward in getting  the station on the air February 12, 1990….”  (WJFF  “Soundings”  newsletter, 2005 retrospective.)

Twenty-three years later, on September 17, 2009, the following  email was forwarded  by a friend who has no  station-affiliation, “There have been internal issues that the volunteers, the Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Board of Trustees  (BOT) of our community radio Station, WJFF, have not been able to iron out.”  The writer then asked community supporters of  WJFF to attend the Board of Trustee’s meeting on September 23rd.

Regular listeners of WJFF  knew that Walter Keller,  host of  First Class Classicals (one of the station’s longest running shows)  and his production assistant,  Bill Jumper, had been either “fired,”  “suspended,” or  “dismissed”  after their August 29, 2009 show.  (In fact,  Mr.  Jumper resigned.)

In a letter to Community Advisory Board (CAB) member, Matt Frumess,  WJFF’s Board of Trustees President, Steve Van Benschoten wrote,   “…the two volunteers had “[violated] one of the cardinal rules of the station.  On page 9 of the volunteer manual,” he stated,  “you will find this injunciton:  ‘Volunteers may not use WJFF airwaves, events, listserve or links to discuss station politics.’   The rule is there to prevent an on-air person from using their program as a bully pulpit to present their case…. We simply can’t have this.  That is why they were suspended.”

Furthermore, Mr. Van Benschoten explained,  Walter and Bill had  run afoul of  WJFF-procedure,  “We have a process in place at the station for grievances to be mediated.  If a programmer feels that the Program Committee is wrong in their assessment of his  or her performance, they can take the matter up with the Board of Trustees (BOT), bringing supporters and arguments to bear on their side of the isue.  Instead, Walter and Bill chose to seize an opportunity on-air, in violation of station rules, to thumb their noses at the procedures WJFF has set in place to establish a rule of fairness and justice.  We simply can’t have this.  That is why they were suspended.”

(Breathing note:  Not only is the Program Committee appointed by the BOT, but   WJFF’s new 2008  “conflict resolution policy”  describes  the grievance process  somewhat differently,  “Volunteers who feel they have been treated unfairly in mediated dispute or who feel unjustly accused of violation of WJFF regulations may present their case to the Board of Trustees provided that…They submit their argument in writing to the Board of Trustees.  The Board may or may not decide to hear from the complainant or complainants in person.“)  (I was unable to find this document online for linking purposes.)

During the Board of Trustees meeting on September 23, 2009 and in subsequent emails, several volunteers disputed Mr. Van Benschoten’s   contention that a  forum exists where  the public, volunteers and station management can openly discuss their differences. Others  expressed a need for change in the way Trustees,  the Station Manager and members of the various boards are selected or appointed.  “It’s in-grown and self-perpetuating,”  one volunteer said and several echoed.

According to the station’s by-laws, most members of  The Board of Trustees are appointed by currently-serving Trustees and  no more than three Trustees are elected  by the active volunteers at the station.

Further,  The Board of Trustees determines the number of Trustee vacancies to be filled during any given election  cycle, appoints members to standing committees, approves  the Community Advisory Board and hires  the Station Manager.

“I don’t know what we can do,” wrote one volunteer after the  BOT  meeting where  she was not afforded an opportunity to speak.  “I want to try and work through the differences in a diplomatic fashion, but we are not even being allowed a forum…can’t talk on the list serve, can’t talk via email….  It’s a scary situation….Winston [Station Manager] and Steve can argue that we were there to discuss a ‘personnel’ issue (which isn’t always open to discussion), but they both knew through my emails that I had other concerns – lack of communication, lack of leadership, the feel of the station changing etc.  Walter and Bill are the underlying symptom of a much deeper problem….I do know that there are people who have stopped listening.   This is not due to the Walter/Bill issue but the fact that we are sounding too homogenized – where are all the community voices?”

*   *   *   *   *

So what did Walter and Bill  say on-air during First Class Classicals  that simply could not be borne by station management?

Walter led off  by referring to a recent change he’d made in deference to the Programming Committee:    “We don’t have the international weather.”

Bill Jumper:  We’re going to change a lot of things at First Class Classicals because this program has come under some pretty serious criticism from the WJFF Programming Committee.   They are saying that the paramount concern is  the audience so what we would like to do is ask our listeners out there… to ask you to let us know what you think of the aspects of the program as we’ve been doing it.  And, if we have some  good reports  for the programming committee  we would like to have  some of those to do…  otherwise  you’ll  see some probably pretty signifcant changes here at  First Class Classicals  here on WJFF.

Walter:  Thanks, Bill.

Bill Jumper:  Please participate. Please send in your cards and letters.  Please call the station and let them know what you think of  First Class Classicals.

Walter:  Thank you, Bill.   What is the number  on the voice box for people to call?

Bill Jumper:    There is no  voicebox anymore.

Walter:  Oh.  There’s no more voicebox?  (Gives WJFF’s  phone and address information.)

Walter:   I will say this… that each of us individually and collectively  have  had very positive feedback  about how the show begins.

Bill Jumper:  We have had some but  we just need more of our listeners to participate.  To let the station manager know what you think about this program.  Because you are  our first concern.   It’s why we are all here.  We aren’t doing this for the station manager or the  programming committee, so please give us a response and let us know if we’re pleasing you.  If we’re not, by all means we will change anything you’d like us to change   This program has been singled out for some very severe criticism, in my opinion by the program committee.

Walter:  I will second that…

Then, at the top of the next hour,  Bill  said,  “We just wanted to remind you that we need your support.  We’ve received some information from the Programming Committee that they want to substantially change some of the thngs we do here at First Class Classicals.  And so we would like your input and, as is true of us too,   the paramount concern is you the listeners  so please give us your support.  (Provides station contact information.)

(Breathing note:  During fund drives, this kind of conversation occurs on  most of  The Station’s on-air shows.  In the midst of  WAMC  fund drives,  personnel frequently allude to  bean-counters, program decisions  and hatchets,  “So now’s the time, if you want to keep this program,  you have to step up,”  or words to that effect.)

*   *   *   *   *

In  response to Walter’s  suspension and Bill Jumper’s resignation,  CAB member, Matt Frumess wrote,  “At the last regular CAB meeting…,  Walter Keller read a directive from the Programming committee… [which] included… some specific things involving the content of his show.  These things included shortening his international  weather segment and instructions to begin playing music as soon  as the local weather was done.  Frankly, Walter was less perturbed by these items than were many members of our board.

“The meeting ended after several of us expressed our concern about the station management micro-managing our station’s shows and, in general, meddling with the content of ongoing shows….All of us who listened to Bill’s short requests were surprised by  how innocuous they were.  We had all expected to hear some sort of tirade….By this time, word had gotten out that Walter’s show had been cancelled and emails and listserve entries hit the fan;  nearly all respondents were appalled by the heavy-handed behavior of the station management.”

Mr.  Frumess then laid out  four conclusions reached  unanimously by  the CAB:

  • “that Walter and Bill be reinstated immediately…  We feel that….there was nothing said that was so egregious that it should have elicited the immediate and inappropriate reaction it did.
  • that  given the extraordinary contributions made to the station by both Walter and Bill, the heavy-handed manner in which they were treated sends a dangerous message to all the current and prospective  volunteers at the station… As the CAB, representing a devoted listening audience, we expect the station management to maintain its community orientation and ts commitment to diversity, free speech and fair play
  • globally, that the recent behavior of the station management is being seen as a threat…to the integrity of WJFF as we know it….diversity requires freedom for  programmers and staff to express themselves as they see fit…unless they stray dramatically from the shows original proposed content or violate the law or specific station standards…
  • that the removal of the voicebox call-in line was inadvisable and should be restored.  The station needs a safe harbor mechanism for listeners to call….With our  mission to  serve a broad-based community, we need any source of feedback we can get.”

(Breathing note:  Walter Keller and BOT President, Steve Van Benschoten both attended the CAB meeting described here by Mr. Frumess.  Mr. Van Benschoten  was  aware that  Walter had  agreed to the Programming Committee’s recommendations and had begun to implement  them.  Nonetheless  —  and without making his intention clear at the CAB meeting  —   the Station Manager was directed to call Walter the next morning  and inform him [after nearly 20 years on  air] “that he and Bill Jumper were indefinitely suspended for violating station policy.”)

*   *   *   *   *

In a letter written after the September 23rd  BOT meeting where Walter’s suspension was discussed in Executive Session,  Mr. Van Benschoten wrote,  “I’m pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees’ voted to reinstate Walter Keller to the airwaves and that Walter has agreed to the conditions… I also want to inform the volunteers that the Board of Trustees has accepted Bill Jumper’s verbal resignation from the station, and (as he requested) a written acceptance of his resignation has been sent to his home.  There were many issues that were left unsaid and unanswered at the Sept. 23rd meeting due to the time limits unexpectedly imposed by the Jeffersonville Library.  At our next meeting, most likely in the Village Hall adjacent to the library, we hope to have much more time to hear from all who attend.  There were many issues that were left unsaid and unanswered at the Sept. 23rd meeting due to the time limits unexpectedly imposed by the Jeffersonville Library.  At our next meeting, most likely in the Village Hall adjacent to the library, we hope to have much more time to hear from all who attend.”  (Breathing note:  If you want to receive  meeting notices, you can sign up for the WJFF newsletter.)

*   *   *   *   *

Breathing opinion:  WJFF  must be cherished  as a valuable community resource.  Its capacity for a full-breadth of discussions  cannot be lost to us in a time when its service area faces the challenges of hydraulic fracturing,  multiple casino developments, increased job losses  and failing revenue streams.  It would be helpful to have WJFF’s alphabet soup of  committees,   volunteers and  concerned members of the public convene  in “town hall”   venues throughout the listening area.  The community of current listeners, those who’ve drifted away and those who haven’t  found 90.5  yet, must be given an opportunity to  help formulate the way forward.

Hopefully, the  currently in-grown system which has

  • Trustees appointing themselves and standing committee members
  • approving CAB’s members and chairperson  while also
  • hiring and tactically directing the duties of  the Station Manager

will be replaced by a  more inclusive,  elective process.

Since its inception, WJFF has reflected  the rough-hewn, down-to-earth flavor of  the village streets and sharp winters where it lives.   Despite some of those villages being more gentrified   than they were twenty three years ago, we’ve  learned through hard times that no set of hands is less than another and that all voices and visions must be actively sought.  Otherwise, we face a future  scored  by the divisiveness of  “them and us.”  Given WJFF’s legacy to us — that  a strong community can build anything it conceives —  such an outcome would be a terrible waste.

As would forgetting this phrase from WJFF’s  Mission Statement,  “Radio Catskill… aims to involve the community in preserving and transmitting its own cultural heritage and artistic expressions….”

To paraphrase a question raised by one volunteer after the  BOT meeting was cut short, “How does replacing  Walter’s homegrown First Class Classicals with  a canned program sponsored by British Petroleum (BP) involve or preserve the   ‘community’?”    We’re a  (*%@$%*^@!)-ing hydro-powered radio station!”

A highly-charged debate about hydraulic fracturing is taking place in WJFF’s listening community. British Petroleum will receive 32.5% of  revenues generated by Chesapeake hydraulically fracturing the Marcellus Shale.  For the BOT or Programming Committee to say, “You can’t blame us; canned programs come with sponsorship embedded,”  is, politely-speaking, insufficient.  Please see an earlier Breathing article, “Tom Paxton’s  We Didn’t Know.”

17 thoughts on “WJFF: Community Radio’s Future

  1. lizbucar Post author

    Dear Readers,

    Bernie Sandler pointed out that I incorrectly attributed 32.5 % of Chesapeake’s revenue to British Petroleum. That percentage accrues to Norway’s StatOilHydro. BP will take 25% of Chesapeake’s share in the Fayetteville Shale play. My apologies.

  2. Tom Holmes

    Seems the air waves are being taken over by fracting forces outside the community……. Maybe it’s time for a little insurrection. You have basically 3 choices. Sue, start a new station or play nice and try to work it out. The third is what got the situation to were it is. Monied forces and the forces of corporate control taking over “the publics” station.

    This is a microcosm of the politics and tactics that play out every day all across america and the political spectrum. Until The people take back ownership of their resources, economies and politics, The elitist shall impose their will. And it ain’t pretty…… See endless wars for peace and security. And don’t forget that little false flag terror strike 911…… brought to you by the global elites who know what’s best…… trust us, we are the change you can believe in and have been hoping for…..
    TBH

  3. Jack Hirschfeld

    Thanks, Liz, for your useful comprehensive report on the doings at WJFF. I salute you for this effort. As you know, I have been a long-time supporter of the station, and consider it to be a resource of huge value to the community it serves. Having experienced public radio stations in various “markets” in America, I can truly say that WJFF has always been for me a model of community radio (as opposed to merely “public” radio) and I have repeatedly held the local origination shows up to other radio stations (and people aspiring to create radio stations) as examples of how excellent volunteer programming can be. I know that the ingrown process of governance has been a thorn for some time, and I must say that Chris predicted what’s happening now when she and I had a conversation at the time she left the station. Even the CAB has an incestuous character, although some of its members have been engaged in genuine outreach. I was a monthly contributor to the station, and an underwriter of some of its programming, and even now, 300 miles away, I send an annual contribution in Maris Hearn’s memory. I am disappointed by the way Walter and Billy have been treated, and I am especially angry that the community will lose the voice of Billy Jumper, who was always available to cover anybody’s program, and for whom WJFF has been a second home. The issues at WJFF point up how difficult it is to maintain a democracy within the present culture. Even on such a small scale democracy will always be under attack and these attacks will come cloaked as “reasonable” or “concerned” and often well-intentioned. I received the same alert email you did, with the attached note from CAB members, and I am heartened that you took the time to summarize the situation for those of us on the “outside”. Protecting resources like WJFF from the corporate marauders is one of the most important tasks for those in the community wishing to advance the cause of democracy.

  4. Tnelson

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

  5. Graham Rice

    The implication in the remarks about the make-up of the WJFF Board of Trustees is that trustees should be elected by the general membership of the station, or by the community at large.

    In fact, in a small station like WJFF, this opens the door to any group – of any political, cultural, commercial or religious persuasion – to organize itself to pack the Board of Trustees with its own supporters and, in effect, take over the station. Is this really what supporters of the station want?

    This has been the first year in which there’s been any democratic process of any kind in electing WJFF trustees. A very welcome step forward. [I was on the committee that recommended this change.] All committed volunteers had a vote in the recent election, but only two candidates decided to run and a noticeable number of eligible volunteers failed to vote.

    The new arrangements, which also impose term limits on trustees for the first time, set a wise balance between democracy and protecting the station’s ideals.

  6. lizbucar Post author

    Dear Mr. Rice,

    Thank you very much for taking your time to write.

    Your opinion concerning a recent election in which “…only two candidates decided to run and a noticeable number of eligible volunteers failed to vote….” requires a response from people who participated (or didn’t) in the election you referenced. My speculations won’t shed light on any underlying issues or concerns.

    I will reply, however, to the first of your comments which addresses “the implications” of remarks in my article.

    From the emails and comments I’ve received about the WJFF article, it’s clear that many readers believe a group has already organized “itself to pack the Board of Trustees with its own supporters and, in effect take over the station.” It’s equally clear that those correspondents don’t appreciate it — so your comments should be taken to heart.

    You are apparently suggesting that involvement of more people in the process through more inclusive elections will result in less democracy — that more involvement will result in less community control. Or in the obverse, that a less democratic appointment process will obtain a more democratic & representative result.

    An early observer of our Constitutional Republic opined that the Constitutional model would create local governmental entities overrun by two-bit jackals and local precinct bosses. (I’ve got great readers. No matter how butchered the words, one of them will remember who “said” it. Jack?)

    The observer and you are absolutely correct about the risk. Part of the Constitution’s beauty and efficacy is that a vigilant public is more than a match for the local precinct bosses. It takes large groups acting cohesively to oversee the federal government but many fewer to keep an eagle eye locally.

    So, although I recognize the messy realities of local representative democracy, it gets my vote over the station’s much more closed system. Apparently, the only current elective action available to the listening public is to turn the dial or withhold contributions. Kind of draconian, don’t you think?

  7. Jack Hirschfeld

    Sorry, Liz, that I can’t quote your source, probably Hamilton. I share your preference for the messiness of democracy, but I also trust the good will of Graham Rice, and I support the steps already taken to increase democracy in the station’s governance. I suppose I’m one of those whom you reference when you speak of those who think the BOT is already stacked by a coterie. I don’t even question their good intentions. Like all elites, they seem to believe they know better what’s good for the rest of us than we do, and they are very skilled at justifying themselves. Tyranny is not always jack-booted. I believe I can locate the error here when Mr. Rice speaks of a balance between democracy and protecting the station’s ideals. It’s always the same fake balance (e.g. our rights vs. our security) that fails to understand that you can’t defend democratic ideals by curtailing democracy. If you truly believe in democracy you can’t actually conceive of apportioning it, measuring it out, protecting it by imposing limits. And doling it out in measured steps forward is not unlike protecting the environment by very slowly reducing the rate at which the pile of garbage smothers us. Liz, you’re very right about the inherent riskiness of democracy, and the requirement for vigilance that it imposes.

  8. lizbucar Post author

    This should be included at the beginning of every civics text if they’re even published anymore):

    “If you truly believe in democracy you can’t actually conceive of apportioning it, measuring it out, protecting it by imposing limits. And doling it out in measured steps forward is not unlike protecting the environment by very slowly reducing the rate at which the pile of garbage smothers us. Liz, you’re very right about the inherent riskiness of democracy, and the requirement for vigilance that it imposes.”

    Thank you, Jack for the clarity and reminders.

  9. William Jumper

    Thank you Liz and Jack and Graham for putting your heads together to work on this knotty problem. It is a thicket and has been for some time. If we keep hacking away at it, daylight will emerge. Thanks again for the loan of your incisive minds. It is more than important to make community radio genuinely community radio without sacrificing our principles. Lead on.

    Bill

  10. Joe Befumo

    This is one of the more specious arguments I’ve heard in some time.

    Comparing the farcical caricature of democratic process implemented by this BOT is like calling the exercises of the former Soviet Union’s Politburo an election. It’s fine for maintaining appearances to those watching from a distance, but if you look too closely, the result is a joke – and a rather tasteless one at that.

    Lest we forget, the people who actually keep this station operating are VOLUNTEERS. While some may have the luxury of devoting every waking moment to WJFF duties, the vast majority have responsibilities, and the hours they put in at the station represent effort and sacrifice. To say that they are not interested in the process because they aren’t able to attend the BOT meetings, perhaps driving miles and miles at night to do so, only to listen to more mealy-mouthed double talk is worse than an insult.

    Are the issues at hand discussed on the mailing list? Or is that only reserved for trying to coerce people into devoting even more effort to an organization within which they are increasingly marginalized?

    Are the qualifications, voting records, and so forth of the individual board members reported? Is the voting process explained and placed within the reach of all volunteers? Is the discussion group open to the listening public, even if only in a read-only format? Of course not.

    This is an incestuous group of ego-driven people (with a few exceptions, who are themselves largely marginalized within the BOT), whose primary interest in maintaining their own authority.

    Anyone who argues to the contrary either doesn’t understand what a democratic process IS, or is simply disingenuous. There does seem to be a lot of both afflictions in this community.

    Joe

  11. Evelyn Raymond

    I have always wanted the Community Advisory Board meetings open to this kind of dialogue even if the people can not be physically present at the meeting. Your voices can be represented in e-mails. One of our ideas was to have an open meeting with call ins from everyone about a problem. Looks like you have started that here, Liz. Thank you Graham, Jack, Liz and Bill and Joe for keeping it going. Please send this question to John Wombacher to make sure it is on our CAB agenda for the 14th as well as the open meeting to get comments from the listening audience. That would reallly be Community as advisors. Evelyn

  12. Sally Rowe

    Thank you for your excellent information. I have been in the dark for months. I am extremely saddened and distressed/upset to hear this news. I am a long time member and devoted listener of WJFF, and First Class Classicals is one of my favorite programs. I have been missing Walter Keller and Bill Jumper, wondering what has happened to them……and finally started googling and came upon your blog. These two gentleman’s volunteer contributions to the station have been enormous, and the punitive act by the board is completely out or proportion with their “misdeed”.

    My question: who should I direct a letter to to air my concerns? To the entire Board? The folks on the CAB? The Station Manager? Everyone?

    And….since months have gone by, can anyone provide an update as to the status of the situation?

    It occurs to me……if all of the volunteers unified and boycotted the station by not going on the air, than maybe the board would begin to see the light.

    Sally Rowe
    Barryville, NY

  13. liz

    Thank you for your comments, Sally. I apologize for not providing an update to this but have been focusing on finding paid employment. Ahem. At any rate, please forward your comments to the station management, to the CAB and the BOT. Some of their representatives have entered comments here, as a matter of fact. I will also email your statement to members of the station and ask that it be disseminated. You can also check WJFF’s web site for dates and times of CAB and BOT meetings and encourage everyone you know to attend. THAT would be lovely!

  14. Sally Rowe

    Thanks, Liz! I appreciate your efforts. Good luck with your job search.

    By the way, while I am in my ranting mode: I am also concerned recently by the onslaught of sponsorships that are now being aired on WJFF. I have to admit that I am one of the guilty contributors (Barryville Area Arts Association has a sponsorship), but I had no idea at the time we took the sponsorship that they were in the process of creating a monster, and that I was participating in that. On one hand, it is good that local businesses have an opportunity to promote themselves on the WJFF airwaves….but as a listener, it has gotten to the point of being intrusive and offensive (and, as an earlier blogger pointed out), very homogenized in their approach. No good! Is this fundraising strategy truly necessary for WJFF? No need to answer these questions, as I know you have a full plate, and I know this is old news to everyone. I have practically idolized the station until now, so I am very disappointed in all of these changes.

    Thanks again,
    Sally

  15. liz

    Sally, Your concerns about the new underwriting policy are of concern to not only listeners but to some of the volunteers as well.

    There is also the question of, “What is WJFF’s community?” The station’s answer appears to be its listenership. My contention is that, in accord with FCC rules, their community consists of all within their signal range, regardless of whether or not those folks are currently active listeners. That distinction would require them to empower the Community Advisory Board (CAB) to a greater extent. I realize the CAB does not have an enforcement or regulatory function but it is mandated by the FCC and so I agree with you that the CAB and volunteers have far more power than they have either been “granted” by the Board of Trustees (BOT) or than they have used. It’s my continuing belief that the CAB’s outreach efforts to the community must be as broad as possible and that they are not, due to the FCC’s rules, subservient to management or the BOT.

    The CAB and volunteers are the voice of the community. In many ways, the CAB has attempted to fulfill that mission. It is a diverse group of community leaders and we should be extremely proud of all their efforts but after 20 years of living in our community, it may be time for WJFF to engage in a full and concerted effort to review its policies and the manner in which they reflect the community-at-large.

    This issue remains alive, as far as I’m concerned. The economic downturn means that some of our print media may have to be more careful about not “offending” potential/active advertisers. I would hate, for the sake of our fragile Republic and in light of the controversial issues facing the River Basin and elsewhere, to see WJFF becoming increasingly careful about its content due to its increasing reliance on commercial underwriting.

    Not only was WJFF’s heavy-handed treatment of Walter and Bill onerous because of the chilling impact on two fine volunteers but because First Class Classicals was replaced (at the time) by a canned program sponsored by British Petroleum. BP is one of the fossil fuel companies that will gain from natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Such an act by WJFF’s management showed an increasing insensitivity to the issues faced by those of us living in its signal area.

    On the other hand, Dick Riseling and others have done some excellent work in bringing the gas extraction/hydraulic fracturing issue to the forefront. My question remains, though, “How much longer will that kind of free-wheeling discussion be available to us if WJFF continues its policy of airing programs sponsored by corporations who have a monied interest in building drill pads in WJFF’s signal area?”

    Thank you so much for your comments, Sally. This is not a passing concern. At least, it should NOT be.

    By the way, try leaving a comment on the “new” WJFF comment line and let us know what you think. Also, let us know if your comment is aired in its entirety….

  16. Sally Rowe

    Liz, thanks for the further elucidation and insights. I am on the same page with all. I am composing a letter as we speak, and will report back if I get a response.

    Sally

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