Thursday, April 20, 2006

WBEZ, the (Partially) Taxpayer-Supported Station to Go Full-Time Liberal Talk

News that Chicago’s public radio station, supported partially by the taxpayers, will junk music and go full-time talk is interesting. Any listener to public radio who supposes conservatives will have a role on the station because taxpayers come conservative as well as liberal, can forget it. Listen to NPR at any time of the day or night and you’ll be disabused about “fair and balanced.” As a matter of fact, there was only one public affairs show on WBEZ that had a spot for conservative views as well as liberals, and that was the old Bruce DuMont show “Inside Politics” where yours truly was the conservative member. It’s to Torey Maletia’s credit (the head of WBEZ) that he sought to program a conservative (me) with a liberal for a show many years ago (Mara Tapp) but Tapp, true open-minded liberal that she was, couldn’t handle sharing the microphone with a conservative; thus the idea died aborning.

The outrage here is not that `BEZ will go liberal all the time, but that since there is no obvious market for liberal talk, the station has to use subsidized, taxpayer-funds to make it happen. Beyond that, we are assured by Rob Feder of the Sun-Times, not necessarily the most conservative of scribes, that there are other outlets for jazz, notably the College of DuPage FM station. Indeed there are, and I listen to it regularly—but `BEZ had more than just platter spinners playing jazz; they had Dick Buckley who is a jazz authority explaining the delineation of the performers, more or less like a Ph.D course in jazz appreciation. That means no more interpretative commentaries on the era of Armstrong, Teagarden, Anita O’Day et al. Buckley has been given his walking papers and as a jazz fan I hope he gets picked up by WDCB in Glen Ellyn. But the point should not be lost on public affairs program listeners: `BEZ will be presenting many hours of liberal talk at taxpayer expense.


  1. It is indeed another example of Liberal feeding at the public trough that WBEZ will move to all talk. Why should my hard earned money be spent on this? I will need to inquire how they get my money before I send a letter. Tom, can you help describe?

    WHile I did not listen too regularly, I LOVED Dick Buckley and his knowledge. Granted, sometimes I would fall asleep listening, but I am convinced that his knowledge, (like my favorite radio guy, Milt Rosenberg on WGN at 9:00 pm), would permeate by brain waves as I slept and make me more knowledgeable and concious of whatever it was he was teaching.

    Sorry to hear of the change, but the good news is that I live in Glen ELlyn and hopefully Dick will end up on College of Dupage radio.
    Thanks Tom.

  2. WBEZ misled the public for over a year. They petitioned to increase the radio frequency for their second station in Chesterton to air jazz, blues and other diverse music. Chicago Public Radio’s mission statement is to broadcast a wide range of diverse content to serve their community – not to eliminate programming enjoyed by lower and middle class Chicagoeans to satisfy the Lakefront Liberals who run the station.

    In the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 they asked their jazz, blues and other music listeners to pledge and support Chicago Public Radio to keep their music on the air. As soon as the Spring Pledge drive was over, they disclosed publicly what they were plotting privately which was to not only eliminate music on WBEZ (which was the original plan) but to instead create a second “urban hip” NPR liberal clap trap station. Other sources exist (XM, Sirius, internet, etc.) for Jazz, Blues, etc. it takes a local station to promote the great local jazz and blues artists and clubs in Chicago. A subscription based system also fails to reach new listeners who are looking for an alternative to the crap aired pretty much across the dial.

    This is a terrible decision and a slap in the face to the City of Chicago which deserves better. I hope the tens of thousands of music lovers who used to call WBEZ their home not only switch to WDCB but take their pledge dollars with them. I also enjoy Dick Buckley's show (as well as your show on Sundays though I listen to Drudge online now that WLS dumped the live broadcast for the real estate infomercial show).

  3. Although the signal usually stinks.

    >I listen to Drudge online now that WLS >dumped the live broadcast for the real >estate infomercial show

  4. what?
    tom and mara?
    whatever else may be said of 'bez i hope the record shows that i was a host or regular sub for eight years.
    the liberal / conservative pairing was jackie grimshaw and some graduate of an "air conditioned university," which is how tom once dismissed a comment of mine on a dumont show.
    thanks and best, robling