Friday, June 24, 2005

Let The Big Stick Carry You

Yesterday, the House voted to restore $100 million in funding for public broadcasting. The vote was in response to overwhelming public support for this funding. This outcome is a good reminder of the value public broadcasting delivers in just about every community in this country.

That value would not exist without our transmitters. Our big sticks, if you will.

While that seems like an obvious statement, it's a fact that seems to get lost every time a new delivery technology comes along. First, Internet streaming. Then, satellite radio. Now, podcasting. Each comes in with the promise of changing everything. Each settles in to being a nice supplement to our primary service.

The problem is, the main service is often ignored during the honeymoon phase. It's easy to see why that happens. Our broadcast services are mature. Success is achieved through maintenance rather than constant innovation. That's not as exciting as creating something new.

But we have to resist the temptation to go into cruise control on-the-air while we're playing with podcasting, Internet streaming, and satellite radio because collectively, these new technologies will never deliver the reach and impact of our current broadcast signals.

Our big sticks will always carry us as long as their importance is reflected in how we budget our time, creative resources, and dollars. The day we forget this is the day we give Congress a reason to eliminate our funding.

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