National Public Radio & LPFM: Questioning NPR Prez Kevin Klose

  • National Public Radio & LPFM: Questioning NPR Prez Kevin Klose
    Yesterday I attended the 20th anniversary of the radio call-in talk show Focus 580 where the special guest for the program was the president of National Public Radio, Kevin Klose. For this special program there was a studio audience which would be allowed to ask questions, just like callers. I attended with the intention of asking about NPR’s role in the effective demise of legal low-power FM radio.

    To their credit, the staff of WILL-AM doesn’t screen callers (nor, in this case, audience members), and so Klose had to field questions about corporate underwriting and the recent underwriting of NPR programming by the governement of Kuwait, as well as more general questions about the bias and integrity of NPR’s news reporting. Unfortunately, Klose did not do a particularly good job answering most questions. Aside from questions about the Kuwait underwriting, which he did answer directly, most of the time he would pick some subtopic out of a caller’s question and expound on it, whether or not it addressed the point of the question. It was difficult to tell if he was being evasive, or if he just isn’t very good at this type of forum. But to be fair, as anyone who’s listened to call-in radio should know, frequently callers submit rambling diatribes rather than actual questions.

    About a third of the way through the program I raised my hand and was given the microphone to ask a question. My question was (paraphrased here, because my memory isn’t perfect): “Last year NPR’s and you [Mr. Klose’s] expressed publicly strong objections to low-power radio. Yet, public radio stations rely heavily upon translator stations, like WILL’s own translator at 101.1 FM, which are, in effect, simply low-power stations, operating under the same technical requirements as the proposed low-power FM stations, except that they are barred from originating programming. Given this, how do you justify your opposition to low-power FM?”

    My expectation was that Mr. Klose would evade or blow off my question, but instead, as soon as I uttered the words “low power FM” a look of recognition came across his face. He appeared to get excited, and started scribbing on a scrap of paper in front of him. As soon as I finished my question, he jumped in with his explanation, which surprised me some.

    I don’t mean to be a tease, but I will continue this story tomorrow, as I get more time to write it up. My own tape of the show didn’t turn out, so I’m working at getting a copy or hoping WILL will post it on-line so you can hear for yourself. Please check back tomorrow, because what Mr. Klose had to say was interesting.

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