Radio for Dummies | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Radio for Dummies

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Dear Sir or Madam:

Sitting here on a Friday morning listening to Eight Forty-Eight on WBEZ and a truly idiotic discussion by representatives of the Forest Preserve District about how restoring some acreage to "presettlement prairie" conditions has more ecological significance than preserving South American rain forests (!), it struck me your discussion of the programming changes at WBEZ [Hot Type, February 20] did not go nearly far enough.

Maybe I'm just an out-of-touch Hyde Park intellectual, but, as the above example suggests, Eight Forty-Eight represents a true dumbing down of public radio, at least on the local level. The unarticulated premise of the programming is that there should be a five-day-a-week prime-time program covering, almost exclusively, black cultural institutions and issues. Alas, political correctness continues to exert its insidious influence at the expense of truly excellent programming of more general interest to those of us who do not identify themselves primarily as a minority whatever.

Mara Tapp was a great moderator and a talent not limited to radio--witness her pieces in national publications such as, most recently, Mother Jones. Her topics and guests were on a par with the nationally syndicated Fresh Air. Metropolis, with Aaron Freeman, Andrew Patner, et al gave better coverage to Chicago theater, music, architecture, politics, etc than, frequently, the Tribune. And who could forget Freeman's telephone interviews on a Saturday afternoon with figures like Richard Posner (right-wing law and economics guru from the University of Chicago appointed by Reagan to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago) or Robert Eisner, a real economist from Northwestern?

Tapp, Freeman, Patner, and others who have apparently been axed knew Chicago in depth and reported with sophistication. Perhaps it is appropriate that Eight Forty-Eight is just an address on a building.

Name Withheld

S. Blackstone

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