Dear Mr. Margasak,
Thank you for bringing attention to WXRT's decision to sell its ONXRT CD exclusively through the national chain Best Buy [Post No Bills, January 16]. Independent music stores are a critical part of a vibrant cultural scene, nurturing new and creative artists, and all of us who care about music should support them. This decision was a direct blow to independent stores, who have not only been friends of WXRT over the years, but also advertisers. It is evidence of the station's lack of concern for its audience and its local advertising base.
I'm sure that Mr. Winer, like most radio program directors in this age of ownership consolidation, has suffered from staff cutbacks and extra responsibilities being added to his workload. That makes it harder to do a good job. I'm sure it was easier to hand the work of producing ONXRT over to the national promoter, who made the deal with Best Buy. It may even be true that given the current working conditions at WXRT, the CD couldn't have been produced without such outside help.
But the public should be aware that stations like WXRT don't own their signals. They receive a broadcasting license from the government and in exchange for that license are supposed to serve the public interest. Localism is one of the aspects on which stations' service of the public interest are judged. Do you believe the public interest is being served when the station that once was a pillar of our local music scene is now stabbing independent record stores in the back? The profit pressures that come from megacorporate owners directly damage our local community. This deal with Best Buy is only one example.
I won't be buying the ONXRT CD. I will be going to Tower to buy some other great records I've heard on WXRT.