Is Public Broadcasting Truly Imperiled?

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RBR + TVBR INFOCUS


In a 1919 guidebook to New England travel, the Litchfield County, Conn., town of Sharon was described as “a village of rural loveliness which attracts many summer boarders.”

The description of this far Northwestern Connecticut locale remains fairly accurate, as it is just far enough away from Hartford yet close enough to New York City to attract its share of affluent weekenders and just a few more year-round residents in this municipality of roughly 2,300 people. Among those who live in Sharon is actress and comedian Jane Curtin. Both Michael J. Fox and Kevin Bacon have homes in Sharon.

It’s one of the reasons why Robin Hood Radio, the nation’s smallest NPR affiliate, made its debut. But, the entity founded by President Marshall Miles can’t rely solely on wealthy benefactors who call the area home.

Some 85 miles to the northwest, in Schenectady, N.Y., public radio and TV operation WMHT faces a similar situation, despite its much larger footprint and presence in Nielsen Audio market No. 65.

Down the road at Northeast Public Radio and its home station, WAMC-FM 90.3 in Albany, N.Y., one of the largest fundraising drives ever seen by an NPR station just concluded — yet there is still fear of the future.

Why there is apprehension among public broadcasters in this corner of the U.S. is likely equaled at NPR and non-religious noncommercial TV and radio stations across the U.S. It became known early Thursday (3/16) that the Trump Administration’s proposed Federal budget calls for the wholesale elimination of funding for public media. 

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