Deeper issues raised in Delmarva Public Radio debate

October 19, 2012

A very significant meeting was held this week at Salisbury University regarding the future of Delmarva Public Radio. The university foundation, the license holder, presented for public comment a consultant’s recommendation that local public radio make major changes in format in order to survive financially. WSCL(89.5)has a 25-year history of informed commentary developing appreciation and understanding of the classics in music and fostering local concerts and artists. The recommended format would simply have piped in prepackaged classical music without local focus and without an intentional educational format. WSDL (90.7) would also lose the local focus and the educational component of informed in-depth understanding of issues at the international, national and local levels and simply become a conduit of Alternative Adult Music to entertain a new generation of tastes.

About 250 people. largely supporting the stations’ local focus on providing the people of Delmarva with in-depth educational programming, suggested further study of possible viable survivable alternatives under local control. The eventual outcome of the debate is ongoing, but the building housing our local educational stations on the campus of the university is being demolished this Spring and decisions regarding even the future home of the station would seem to dictate the transition from education to entertainment.

As a lifelong educator, I find the university’s choice of entertainment in favor of education difficult to understand, despite financial considerations in use of this valuable asset in their possession. But more than that, I believe the change of format suggested by the consultant based upon statistical studies of what people want rather than what they need to thrive as human beings is indicative of much deeper issues for the university and for our society as a whole.

As a nation we are rapidly loosing leadership in development of a highly educated workforce. Even more important, we are resolving values conflicts in favor of money rather than the quality of life. As human beings, essential to human thriving is the development of both sides of our brain, the emotions and the cognitive abilities of critical thinking. The attacks on NPR funding at the national level are but another example of this issue. Do we want to be simply entertained, or do we want to pursue full development of our human potential. I believe we need to rise above the practical considerations to the ideals long debated regarding the nature of the truly good person nurtured by a good society which I believe lays at heart the debate about the future of Delmarva Public Radio. I believe this is really a moral issue.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and we choose the one least traveled by and that made all the difference.”

Richard F. Kauffman

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