Friday, July 16, 2010

oh mpb...

i've been in chicago this week for a conference which explains my interweb absence and returned to find that mississippi public broadcasting CANCELED the npr program Fresh Air this week. canceled it. not because they don't have the funds to pay for it--although maybe they don't-- but because it has "inappropriate" sexual content. seriously mbp? really? i wrote them this scathing letter this morning... feel free to ignore what follows, OR better yet, write them yourself and tell them what you think!
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Good Morning,
I'm a dedicated local listener to MPB because you provide programming that is insightful, engaging, and reflective. I've lived all over the state and there have been many years when I haven't had cable because MPB has exceeded my media needs! I remember sitting by the radio and listening to MPB for news of Hurricane Katrina since I had just moved to the Delta and hadn't heard from my family in for days. I've always been thankful that MPB was willing to provide programs that offered insight into news stories that went BEYOND sound bites and really uncovered meaning and purpose in current events when other news outlets fall short. I've often invited people over to listen to new This American Life programs and forwarded podcasts of the Gesalt Gardener when I've found the tips to be helpful or the conversation especially clever.
It is because I love MBP and rely on you for my news and insight that I am incredibly saddened and disappointed that you have canceled one of my favorite programs. Terri Gross is one of the most accomplished interviewers in our country. Because she prepares so fully for her interviews and allots more time to interviews than most programs she is able to extract a particular level of vulnerability and honesty from her guests that others cannot. Additionally, she interviews an incredibly broad swath of guests...I have heard her get Rainn Wilson of The Office to share stories of high school hijinx, Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) confess personal details about his family life and relationships, and world renown scientists discuss their discoveries and personal heroes. What is interesting to me is that she interviews EVERY single guest with the same level of depth and exceptional background knowledge. When she speaks to Puff Daddy and other hip hop artists, she somehow knows more about their accomplishments and personal motivations than they do... and the same is true for statesmen, diplomats, professors, and even obscure comedians, sculptors, and indie musicians. Terri Gross offers one of the most interesting and diverse programs of anyone in the media and so I wholeheartedly disagree with the comment published by MPB that,
"Mississippi Public Broadcasting strives to deliver educational, informative, and meaningful content to its listeners. After careful consideration and review we have determined that Fresh Air does not meet this goal over time. Too often Fresh Air’s interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues."
Not only is the station incorrect about it's appraisal of Terri Gross's program (not being educational, meaningful, and informative) but I also believe that it is important for adults to decide what does and does not "meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues." I am certain that Fresh Air has never offered lewd or lascivious content and although at times sex is discussed in terms that do stray from clinical definitions, it should be for individual listeners to decide whether or not they would like to continue to listen to it or not. This does not happen when you censor the program from the airwaves of my entire home state. It seems that by removing Fresh Air you are not offering us the opportunity to decide for ourselves, and thus it appears you believe we are either too simple to understand complexity and nuance, or too ignorant to know to change the channel if something offends our personal sensibilities. This is not the case as I am sure you are aware, but your decision suggests that this is MPB's opinion of us.
I was thinking of another way to address the concerns brought by the person who heard FreshAir on MPB's "hold" so that everyone can breathe easier. I would suggest that you remove the program from the "hold" que. Certainly someone on hold has no choice but to listen to what is provided, so he or she did not have the opportunity to change the station...but by removing it from the airwaves, everyone else in our state who enjoys and learns from Ms. Gross suffers. This seemingly rash decision has made me reconsider supporting MPB in the future. In fact, I have an ipod, and have a great deal of driving to do across the state for my job. If MPB is unwilling to share insightful, witty, and interesting programs then I will instead download NPR podcasts directly and forgo the companionship of my old radio friend. I fear that there are many other people in Mississippi like me and that the removal of this program may prove to be a poor decision that will cost you listeners and support. I do not wish this, but fear it, and urge you to reconsider your hasty and unfortunate decision.
Sincerely, me

1 comment:

St. Casserole said...

Great letter. Very well said!