23 June 2009

Mony Tiksak's Bords on Wooks

Like you, I listen to Mony Tiksak’s Words on Books whenever I can. It’s a really good show, as I think we all agree, and it doesn’t cost this radio station a single penny to produce.

Many Sundays I simply forget to go listen to myself. I already know where I’m going to cough and what I’m going to say. I wrote the script. So I miss it, the day goes on, no big loss.

However, the program that follows Words on Books on Sundays, This American Life with host Ira Glass, is a different bag of bones. It’s a must-listen, driveway-moment stunner of a show that never fails to elevate my spirit and my weekend.

The danger is that This American Life and a number of other expensive programs may soon be subtracted from the play list of this station, due to long and short-term budget shortfalls.

Listeners who have been paying attention already have heard about this dire situation. The rest are beginning to find out now. Programmers are chattering amongst themselves. The Anderson Valley Advertiser is reporting the situation in their reliably unreliable way. The board of directors is yakking. GM John Coate is communicating. The bottom line: We will soon go broke for good unless the station makes some painful changes.

My humble opinion about all this: Lose nothing, keep everything. And I understand why that particular jolly option is rapidly sliding off the table. We have to keep our limited funds for electricity and salaries and all the rest. Other expensive things, like Prairie Home Companion, have necessarily become optional.

Still, I say do not slam the brakes on Car Talk. Don’t end This American Life. Don’t fricassee the BBC or burn down the Prairie. That’s my wish, anyway, and my wishful thinking.

A great number of similar organizations and worthy businesses are bailing the same boat. I was struck by the relevance of this interview with author Patti Callahan Henry, printed in the Fayetteville Observer and distributed by the newsletter Shelf Awareness.

Ms. Henry said, “...I've watched the commitment and dedication that it takes to keep an independent bookstore afloat, viable and interesting... I believe many people love their independent bookstores but don't understand the problems the bookstore is going through. Readers are very upset when a local indie shuts down, yet they don't understand the things they could have done to prevent the bookstore's demise! I think the best things we can do to help save our local indies are to visit them, buy our books from them and spread the word about them. Buy local: It's not just a slogan, but a real way to save our indies and help the local economy thrive."

Henry’s words could just as well apply to this community radio station. We need to think globally and listen locally. Utilize KZYX and pay for it. Cough up money and volunteer time. Double the amount each of us contributes. Stuff like that.

A group of business people and concerned citizens in New England have started a new movement they call the “10-Percent Shift.”

They take a pledge “to shift 10% of their existing purchases from non-local businesses to locally owned and independent businesses.” One member said, “If the five million households in New England take 'The 10-Percent Shift Pledge' we can create thousands of new jobs and keep billions of dollars of economic activity in the region.”

That goes for this station as well. Even though many of us also listen to other radio stations, read newspapers both in print and on line, watch TV, rent movies and play our own music, all of us also make use of this station for entertainment, music and news.

KZYX&Z gives us a feeling. We feel connected to each other and to the wider world.

There is hardly anything more important than that.

It’s your turn to help. Now. Thank you.


Patti Callahan Henry in an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, redistributed by the online news service for the book trade, Shelf Awareness. Her latest novel, “Driftwood Summer” Penguin paperback $15, ISBN 9780451226884, focuses on the complicated relationship among three sisters as well as the challenge of running an independent bookstore.

This American Life has its own financial worries:

“Help Keep the Podcast Free! As you may have heard, last year it cost Chicago Public Radio more than $120,000 to pay for the bandwidth required to deliver our free podcast and streaming files. That's not computers. That's not staff. That's not the production of the show. That's just the server bandwidth required to get the show to you on the internet. In the past we've been able to cover these costs with a flood of small donations—if we can keep that up, we can keep the podcast free. Would you consider helping out? Five, ten bucks—anything you can give will be greatly appreciated!”

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