Delmarva Public Radio part of our identity

November 2, 2012

Some years ago, the good people of Tangier Island rejected a million dollar offer from a movie studio to produce a film on their island. The script apparently included some nudity and some words they found offensive to their religious values. At first I thought they were just being silly.But then I tried to read the studio’s response. It was unintelligible to me. Gibberish. Hollywood folks simply could not process the image of people for whom there are things in the world more important than money. For my Tangier neighbors, that something was their soul.

I remembered Tangier’s integrity when I read the “consultant’s” report on Delmarva Public Radio. The limited set of alternatives that it presents, and the single one that it recommends, are all framed as “business models,” evaluated on the basis of the fabled bottom line. Its slippery statistics, ambiguous accounting, and dubious demographics thus make its recommendation that Delmarva Public Radio be ClearChannelized seem inevitable. In short, it demands taking Delmarva out of Delmarva Public Radio.

So this is not about just a couple of radio stations. It is about the soul of Delmarva.

What’s next? Privatize the zoo and install a Ferris wheel? Build a casino on Pemberton Plantation?

Those less elderly than I may not remember when we referenced things like the common good and the welfare of the community as often as we reference privatization and the profit motive today: days when we admired Ghandi and King more than Gordon Gecko.

Public broadcasting was a product of those days. Its explicit mission has always been to give voice to news and views, culture and music, that cannot produce profits amid the din of commercial broadcasting. It was seen as a gift from as well as a gift to the nation, the state, and the community. Its values are in enhancing that gift, not in revenue. In this case, the gift has been award-winning news and music focused on the Peninsula: “Putting Delmarva First.”

In the last quarter century, the gift of Delmarva Public Radio has become part of what makes us special, part of our identity: Music, information and commentary for Delmarva, from Delmarva, provided by people living on Delmarva.

Nourishing the soul of Delmarva.

Joel Roache
Salisbury, Md.

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