In the 1970s NPR lobbied the FCC to get rid of low-power FM radio, and in 1978, the Commission did. Then in 2000 NPR lobbied Congress to hem in the new low-power FM service, and Congress did that. Now it’s 2005 and it should be no surprise that the public radio network would air a story about the pirate radio crackdown in Florida that’s completely biased in favor of commercial broadcasters and law enforcement.
Frankly, the quality of NPR’s journalism is typically pretty high and reasonably balanced. So, this story filed by Amy Tardif the news director at Fort Myers pubcaster WGCU stands out for it’s one-sided approach and loaded language.
Tardif focuses on just one station in Ft. Myers, characterizing it as “difficult to comprehend,” put on by “DJ wannabes.” But does she talk to those “DJ wannabes” to get their side of the story? No. Did she even try? If she did, she doesn’t mention it, though she does acknowledge that she tried to talk to the FCC, which did not comment.
Instead, she talks only to the PD at the local Clear Channel hip-hop station and police, who are free to make whatever allegations and statements about the pirates, without any response from them.
The cops even get to make boneheaded statements, such as that they found a “large PCP pipe” on the side of the building housing the transmitter, fed by a ‘net connection. Perhaps the officer meant to say, “PVC,” which is much more useful for housing an antenna than a pipe meant for smoking angel dust. Or maybe that was just a little Freudian slip intended to smear the pirates with an illegal drug association.
Of course NPR and its member stations are largely hostile towards pirates — they’re just as hostile to competition as Clear Channel and its fellow radio giants. I’m sure WGCU, situated in pirate-heavy Florida, is even more anti-pirate than other stations. I guess I just didn’t expect it to leak through onto All Things Considered with absolutely no sugarcoating.