Re the Feb. 19 story “School district push for more control of WLRN raises concerns about news operation”:
Because the TV station, Channel 17, is not a source for news or public-affairs programming, the real issue is day-to-day control over the radio station. From a listener’s viewpoint, who controls the station is important. Who wants government officials to run news and public affairs programming of this precious outlet?
The problem is that WLRN-FM is, at best, a mediocre broadcaster. Yes, it buys programming from NPR and other programming sources, and through its affiliation with the Miami Herald, there is local news and public affairs coverage. But we can go on the Internet to listen to hundreds of NPR program outlets that provide the same national programming, if not more.
According to the radio station’s latest available (2015) financial statements, it is sitting on almost $14 million in unrestricted funds.
The size of this “net position” raises two important questions:
How and why has a nonprofit corporation accumulated this huge treasury? Why is this money not being put to use in expanding and improving the news and public affairs programming?
No one should want a station subject to day-to-day interference by elected politicians, unelected bureaucrats or their cronies or supporters. Community-minded people, however, can form a brand-new entity (a trust or other form of nonprofit ownership funded by listener contributions and foundations), buy the station over time from the School Board and operate a first-class radio station (and, if appropriate, a TV station) focused on providing hard-hitting, in-depth local news and public affairs programming to complement NPR and other programming.
As a condition of the sale, the new entity could continue to provide educational services to students.
Richard E. Brodsky,