July 11th, 2007

more humble

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Connelly
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 4:29 PM

Subject: Maine Public Radio Support: Just Say No

Most of you listen now and then to Maine Public Radio, and many (you know who you are) of you, either suffused with liberal guilt or merely a sense of fairness, have seen fit over the years to support public radio with financial contributions, as have Rachel and I.

But rather than hectoring you to pony up when MPBN starts their next fund raising effort, which begins on Friday, or when you receive begging letters signed by Charles Beck or other staff, I am writing to ask you to keep your checkbooks closed, your wallets in your pockets and make like Nancy Reagan: Just Say No.

The reason for this unusual request stems from the unusual and inappropriate behavior on the part of MPBN's management with regard to one of the station's longest running programs, The humble Farmer. For more than 29 years, The humble Farmer's show has been a cornerstone of the Friday night jazz programming, and consists mostly of music carefully chosen interspersed with commentary and jokes. Making no changes, doing nothing he hasn't done before-- and for decades-- the management quite suddenly insisted last Fall that rather than being a music show with some remarks, the show was commentary and that the commentary wasn't authorized and that the host of the show, Robert Skoglund, had to stop.

A tussle began, the result at the end of the day being that The humble Farmer was yanked from the lineup.

It is completely clear that Skoglund was silenced-- censored-- because the boyos at the top objected to what he was saying, not that he was saying something. There were many options the stations administrators could have chosen. Most obvious, and easiest, would have been to do nothing. Other shows air on a regular basis with far more barbed commentary, yet they are neither identified as commentary, nor are there disclaimers issued before their broadcast. Next would have been to simply have a message before the show, "The views of The humble Farmer are his own and do not represent blah blah blah." But they didn't do that either. Instead, they produced a lengthy document and presented it to Skoglund to sign indicating that he wouldn't say anything controversial, political, etc etc etc. A gag order, if you will, one with guidelines that Skoglund couldn't possibly have met, and that he shouldn't have been asked to meet in the first place. When he wouldn't sign, his show was canned.

This vendetta against one of the few producers of home grown broadcast, a loyal, and one could claim at $30/week a terribly underpaid producer, is nothing short of shameful. To let this injustice go by without comment, in a business-as-usual manner, would send the wrong signal to the MPBN brass. It doesn't matter if you listened to his show regularly, sometimes, or never. This is about fairness. James Dowe, the current president of MPBN, needs to be reminded that he serves us, and that by forcing Skoglund off the air, he has failed to serve us properly.

So I ask that at the very least that you keep your bank account unmolested, and that if you can, that you take the time to let MPBN know that this sort of misbehavior is odious and inappropriate, and does not meet the standards that we, in Maine, expect from our public radio station.

Mike Connelly