Regarding Michael Miner's Hot Type story on the continuing problems of WBEZ [February 20], a few thoughts:
I have an old and proprietary interest in WBEZ. I worked there (my first job out of college) back in the educational radio days and was very pleased when the station changed direction to public radio. I was also a member for several years until frustration with Malatia came to a head with the classless firing of Stuart Rosenberg. Malatia couldn't understand Rosenberg's unique blending of music from everywhere. (I still listen to air-check tapes I made of Rosenberg's shows--they remain fresh even after dozens of listenings).
Malatia seems to hold that no one else has his deep understanding of what radio should be. He doesn't seem to listen or respond well to comments. (To hear him during one of the frequent "talk to the leader" broadcasts is a study in the term "petulant.") He has been the key player, as Andrew Patner's Web posting notes, in the removal of anyone who seems to have a point of view or, God forbid, personality.
He was a key player in the creation of the radio Taj Mahal on Navy Pier. While it's important that a radio station that counts on studio guests be located near downtown, several sites could have offered quality space at a much lower price. With a lower physical overhead, the effort spent raising the money to pay for gold-plated space could have gone to support the creative staff and purchase equipment. C. Northcote Parkinson had one of his several laws that fits this situation: An organization that makes a breakthrough in a skunk-works shack builds the perfect research facility and never again creates anything. It seems the Englishman's case has been proved again.
I have a personal solution until sanity returns to public radio in Chicago (perhaps a competitive public radio voice). For the past few years I have supported National Public Radio by becoming a member of various other stations across the country. I'm currently a member in good standing of Boston's WBUR. I think WHYY, KCRW, or even WNYC might be next. A portion of my membership goes to Washington for the national programming and the rest supports stations that are doing a better job locally. I urge other former members to send their radio dollars to safe havens until Malatia departs and WBEZ returns.