April 21, 2008

4/21 from Marc


Our new website is born. So please spend some time with us here. Our endeavor is to create a new public media that crosses all the platforms and makes you part of all that is going on around you. We have archived our Peabody Award winning series, Just Words and the documentary series we produced on the Vietnam War that we taped here in the states and Vietnam. Our new programming, like conversations with folks from the Wire, Phil Donahue, Andre Codrescu and others is here, as well. There are also video, still photography, and places for your comments.

Speaking of places for your commentary, we opened forums for you to comment on anything that is on your mind. It's sort of like open phones on the web. Please join us there and send us some story and interview ideas. Tell us what is happening in your communities and things of interest you think we could share with everyone.

Politics and the Media

The Pennsylvania primary is tomorrow. Thank God, at last, we thought it would never get here!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate in Philadelphia.  Photo Credit: AP Photo

I don’t know if you saw last week’s faux debate between Hillary and Barack on ABC. I do mean faux, it was just horrible. What is wrong with major media in our country? Is it just them or are we all becoming that shallow, uninteresting and banal? They are shirking their duty to all of us. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were pushing Barack Obama on his relationship with Bill Ayers, former SDS Weatherman who went underground in the sixties. They're focused on Hillary and her claim that she had to run under sniper fire which turned out to be false. The media created “bittergate” as they call it, and are pushing the capital gains tax! Well that fits, most of the big media stars are so well paid and run with such wealth that I guess they are worried about capital gains. What about the rest of us?!

Where were the questions about Iraq, the economy, health care, our infrastructure, home mortgages, the financial market, No Child Left Behind and our schools, veteran's benefits, Afghanistan, global warming, the environment and the future of this nation?

It is all about selling product and the drivel they think will sell to the masses. Well, give the masses some credit. Those who are involved and voting deserve better.

In Pennsylvania, they could have devoted the debate to the economy. What are their ideas about the financial markets? Do they believe that hedge funds and speculation of billionaires need the same oversight as banks? What role does the federal government play in stimulating this economy? Can we create a green economy and rebuild the infrastructure of America the same we did in the 30’s or in the 19th century when the federal government stimulated growth by building the canal system and then later the railroads?

Give us something! America is at a crossroads with wars, the economy and a 21st world that will be very different that the last century.


One small tidbit that I would like to share. I heard that management will be spending considerable money for an advertising firm to rebrand the station. It feels it must clean its tarnished image of the last several months. It must purge the identification of Steiner with WYPR.

They tried that before, spending at least $20,000 on the 5th anniversary for WYPR.

Oh, well…join me, join us at the Center for Emerging Media as we create a new public media for our community, for all of us, for the 21st century.


March 3, 2008

3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired.    Tuesday March 3rd, 1993.   It was a show on Norplant.    There was a huge controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive administered by the city health department to mostly inner city teenagers.   Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond the rates of teen pregnancy in the city. So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air.    Four guests, all women, an hour and a half with no breaks.   We started the show with a short documentary that we produced on the subject.  We did that a lot in the first year of our show.    I miss that. Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity.    In 1990 after three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance. It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound, music and voices for radio. I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish Music.  I knew it was an idea that could work.    So did David Creagh, the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the idea.   Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into some financial difficulties.    It is still a great idea and I have the proposal waiting in my files. A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my dentist's office.   Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I first met him.   He was now the new GM of WJHU.     We sat there in the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural wonders and histories found in our back yards.   Charlie, besides being my and Dennis's dentist, had been my Dad's best friend and my natural history mentor since I was a young lad. At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when he said to me "We are thinking about launching a public affairs program at WJHU.    You know this city so well from the street corners to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas." Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was "You should let me be the host!"   Dennis said but you don't know anything about radio.   I said, " What do you have to know?   You read, you talk and ask people questions.  I do that at my dining room table all the time." Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door.   I would not let go.  I hocked him for months.   Finally, one day when I was at the station, after bugging him for months, he said "OK, here is your desk, here is your phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30.    That will be your time slot. See what you can do."   I took it.   And the rest is history.   Well there is much more to that history, but we'll leave that for another day. TEXAS OHIO VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND Tomorrow is a very critical primary day.  Not for John McCain, he has the Republican primary all sewn up.  Well, then again it might be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one another could have a profound effect on the November general election. If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic nomination is still on.   It could get quite volatile and nasty. Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by tomorrow night.    Lawsuits could erupt.   The Democrats could commit fratricide.  You never know, it has happened before.    The Democratic front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day instead. If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way.   If she doesn't, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest to regain the White House.   If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego. The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories about the race.   On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates.   The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot Act.   Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and Senator Clinton's record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable. While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values. I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion liberty.   Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common ground. ENERGY SUITS WHO? So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a lawsuit.   The state says Constellation still has to reimburse citizens for the rate increase.    Constellation thinks that since the legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates. While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts there is a question that going unanswered by anyone.    Steve Larson does a great job.   He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he nor Constellation's representatives ever answered the question I think is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show. Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit?     What are the inner workings and relationships of these two companies?    One is owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards from this alleged economy of scale.    There is a serious investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that must be had here.   Where is it?  Is it going on? LOCK EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult Americans are in jail. This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in Bill Clinton's eight years.   Clinton's administration maxed out the time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember?    Who snorts it and who smokes it? That is not even the most important issue.    People like Governor Martin O'Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something about this.   We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult justice systems.    Put money at the front end, create a responsible system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation and hope America can become the leader in the new world green economy.    In the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the new green economy and our infrastructure. One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the 21st century. Your thoughts? -Marc
February 26, 2008

3/12 BOD meeting cancelled

Hello friends. Just got this message in and I thought it was important to share with you.
Dear Guests,   WYPR's March 12 Board Meeting has been rescheduled for April 15 - it will still take place at 3pm.  A location will be posted on the website by March 15.    Thank you! ~ Alex   Alexandra Price Associate Development Director WYPR 2216 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218   ph. (410) 235-1446 fax (410) 235-1161 www.wypr.org aprice@wypr.org
February 20, 2008

2/20 A few words from Marc

Hello everyone,

I have a few short reflections after seeing what I wrote last night. I don’t want to fall into the trap of he said/she said quarrel of inconsequential detail. On some levels I have allowed myself to do that.

First, I realized when I spoke of the $750,000 raised that I inadvertently left out that $70 some thousand dollars of that amount was really contributed or in a sense forgiven by Johns Hopkins University. I realized after I sent it in to my blog that I left that line out.

Second, I want to be clear how grateful all of us should be to the original guarantors. Bill Clarke, Jonathan Melnick, Anne and Jane Daniels, Tony Brandon, Charlie Salisbury, Earl and Darielle Linehan, Tom and Barbara Bozzuto and Albert Williams. Without their guarantees we could not have saved the radio station for Baltimore. I just want to be absolutely clear about that.

Finally, the problems boil down to certain things that leadership of the station just doesn’t get.

  1. This should have been a partnership between guarantors, contributors and members to create a board to oversee the fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of WYPR

  2. Martha Rudski, WJHU Marketing Director, came up with the name Your Public Radio because we believed we could create a truly powerful and unique institution that belonged to this community.

  3. When we first started, the story around NPR was the amazing marriage between this conservative Republican corporate executive and a community activist talk show host known for his progressive leanings coming together to build a community radio station. My belief in the myth hurt us all.

  4. All this is madness. There was never any concrete reason for it to happen. They keep changing their story as to what led to the end of my show because they are grasping for straws. There is no reason other than a deep personal and political dislike for me from Tony Brandon and a few others. They could not stand what I stood for, or that I was the face and voice of the station. Ray Blank, the station consultant, has said to me more than once that they see you getting all the recognition. They feel they deserve some. I always gave it to them.

  5. So, all this is for what?


I have nothing left to say unless they come at me or at the public with more specious comments.

See you tonight.


February 15, 2008

2/14 from Marc

Well, I'm back. My road trip was great.   I know I am just a doting Dad (with my older ones who are gone now, and my little one at present) but she was brilliant on the stage.  Well worth the day off.  I don’t have much to say about the Dan Rodricks issue.  I have no control over it, can’t do anything about it and will just wait and see on that one.   There was a big hole left and opportunity to fill it.   Doesn’t come along every day.  He filled it.   What can you do?  That's life. I want to encourage you all to come to the Community Advisory Board Meeting at the BMA on February 20th.    It will begin at 7:00.  It is scheduled to last two hours.  The CAB was formed in response to a regulation that requires all public radio licensees to have a community board.   The event on the 20this your opportunity to speak your piece.  I hear it may be taped and made available on the WYPR website. A public radio station worth its salt should have some of those who make up the CAB be members of the Board of Directors.   The board, while made up of many good people, should be all inclusive.  It is not.  Listener members should be members of that board.   Community and corporate leaders should interact on the board to help guide the station.   That is a real democracy of the public airwaves.  Anita and others who wrote on the blog recently talked about how the crowd at the Obama rally held in the 1st Mariner Arena represented that same “view/world”, as she put it, as those who have supported me and my show.   I want to build on that.   We want to continue our public commitment to this community.  We want to create a new forum for all of us.   We are going to start on the web.   We will build it from there.    Jessica Phillips and I are already trying to work on ideas to produce and share with everyone.   Let us know what you think.    What do you want?  More documentary features?  Panel discussions?  One on one interviews?  What topics do you care most about?  What have you enjoyed in the past? It is Valentine's Day.    Gotta go celebrate.   Remember, it may be a Hallmark Card day and full of commercialism but reality is if you blow it... you're done.  I’m Marc Steiner, for whatever comes next that will be your public media Take care, talk soon. -Marc
February 9, 2008

2/8 WYPR Staff, the WYPR Board Meeting and the CAB Meeting

Hello everyone. I just wanted to share my thoughts on your latest thoughts.
I stopped by to say hello to the protesters at WYPR today. Some drove all the way from the Eastern Shore and Bel Air. I must say I am humbled by the outpouring. You all do love the soul of public radio. You get it.
The staff at WYPR is fantastic. They have been really supportive to me personally. When I taped my Maryland Morning segment many staffers were watching, cheering me on. They know the truth. They have confronted Tony Brandon and Andy Bienstock in meetings. Asking tough questions of management is never easy but they have done it. They are advocating for you, the listener. I know many of them feel lost but I have told them to work. They have families to support and mortgages to pay. Some have refused sit in my place on the air. Despite the difficulties I have faced with sectors of the management and some of the board, it has been a joyous experience to work with the producers and staff at WYPR. They are as upset about all of this just as you and I are. As for management...are they trying to cancel the March 12th WYPR Board meeting, or are they just trying to discourage people from coming? Certainly all mention of it has disappeared from the WYPR website, where there was previously a message giving you a phone number to call if you wanted to attend. There are also reports they they are considering try to cancel the Community Advisory Board meeting on February 20th, despite the fact that the CAB is meant to be independently operated. I have also heard they on the verge of hiring a host for the midday show. So, we will see. While the truth squads will keep working, we are going to work on developing new programming for the web and for the radio. I would love to hear what you think you would like us to do besides keep up the good fight. What are your ideas? Keep letting them know what you think, show up on the 20th and let us know what you want us to do. I have to read everything your wrote today. I will be back, and we will be in touch by e-mail and blog to let you know our next steps. Thanks... -Marc
February 7, 2008

2/7 from Marc

I just read each and every one of your entries on the blog. It is hard to know what say. For starters, show up at the Community Board meeting on February 20th. It will be at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the Meyerhoff Auditorium at 7 pm. I have no idea what the WYPR representation will say but I am sure that it will be a continued misrepresentation of the truth. What I am really worried about is the future of public radio in our community. WYPR will be here for a long to come. Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion and all the other national programming you love will be there. They won't go off the air. What is missing in the you in public radio. I think about all the times during the fund drives (which they cancelled for February) I said to you "that you are the public in public radio, that is why I named WYPR "Your Public Radio". I feel like you were betrayed and lied to. The management of the station has done a remarkable job building underwriting. Perhaps the best job in public radio But they have let membership wither on the vine. No money, or I should say very little money is invested in serving members, getting new members or marketing the station. While they may make enough money with underwriters to sustain themselves, the heart and soul of public radio is the listener members. There has to be a balance. The balance is gone. You are not cared about nor there to ensure the democratic nature of the station. The board has some wonderful people on it who love and are very devoted to public radio. While we need corporate and philanthropic leaders on any non-profit board what is missing are the everyday listeners who invest their money in this station. They are not heard. They do not have a seat at the table. Gary Levin is there as President of the Friends Group but he is ex-officio with no vote. The board does not reflect those listeners who invest in and support the station. These are just two of the battles I have fought and lost at the station. I will tell you more stories along the way on this blog, and soon we will begin some new productions on the web. Jessica Phillips, who was a producer on the Marc Steiner Show from October 2005 to February 2007, has come to work for me. I have a production company called The Center for Emerging Media that has produced a series on the Vietnam War and a series called Just Words, about the lives of the working poor and other marginalized groups. You can go to our website to see some of what we have done. The whole Vietnam series, Shared Weight, will be posted soon. The website itself is going to be rebuilt. I thought soon, even though we will continue for a time to talk about the station madness, we should talk together on this blog about the issues of day. We will be posting interviews and productions soon as well. So, we will all stay in touch. Thanks so much for your support.


February 5, 2008

2/5 from Marc

First, thanks so much for all the support. In my next post I will respond directly to the thoughts and ideas you all have shared.

I don’t know if you all heard Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast today. They interviewed me and then they spoke with Tony Brandon,  who is president of the station  and who led the effort to get of me. Quickly, I want set the record straight on one thing that he said which was a bald-faced lie.

He has constantly attempted diminish what I and our listeners did six years ago in raising funds to purchase what was then WJHU. He said on the air that we raised only 5% of the $5 million to purchase the station. I have all the records, and the old bank statements. We raised close to $750,000 after I send an e-mail asking listeners to support our effort to buy the station. $400,000 of that came in huge contributions of six figure. Four people gave $25,000 and numbers more $15, $10 and $5 thousand dollar contributions. Hundreds more gave everything from$5.00 to $1000.00. None of them (those who gave $25 thousand and less) were ever acknowledged or thanked by the station.

At any rate, in many ways this is beside the point. The money is not important. It is more important to them than to me.  But it is important that the efforts of the listeners and early supporters not be diminished.

What is important is the future of public radio. What is important is that this is about integrity of public radio. It is about the corporatization of WYPR and of public radio.

When I raised the money from listeners I said I would return every dime to them if we did not buy the station. You trusted me. I met some people, like Tony Brandon, who I thought would be partners to build our community station. Instead it was hijacked.

There is a history here that I will relate to all of you over the next few days. Right now I have to go off to a lunch meeting so I can continue to ensure coverage of our world in print, audio and video on our blog and the Center for Emerging Media website.

So, I will share with you all our future plans, and my perspective on the history of the past six years at WYPR very soon.

Thank you all so much. I will back at you a bit after lunch and for the next few days.

Take care.. and thanks