Friday, July 01, 2005

It's A Great Time To Be In Public Radio

"It's a great time to be in public radio" -- the late Rick Madden, accepting public radio's Edward R. Murrow award in May 2001.

That's still true today, though it might not feel like it with the recent the attempts to cut federal funding and efforts to cast a chill over the public radio editorial process.

In my view, those are the reasons it's a great time to be in public radio. We've been given a wake-up call. Public radio is being attacked on multiple fronts and that's not going to change any time soon. How we respond will shape public radio for the next decade and beyond.

Choose one set of actions and we will find ourselves in a never-ending battle to maintain the status quo. Choose another set of actions and we can create a public radio system immune from partisan politics.

We can create that public radio system. We have the programming, technology, financial, and creative resources to do it. More important, we have tens of millions of weekly listeners behind us.

The value our listeners place on public radio is our greatest asset. We waste it when we use it to fight for the status quo. We should be tapping it to create a secure future for the public service we provide.

In his Murrow award acceptance speech, Rick Madden talked about breaking away from our tendency to focus on obstacles and to start looking forward so we could raise public radio to it's next level of significance. He was speaking of the opportunities that existed in 2001. An even greater opportunity is before us today. Let's seize it.

Note: Rick Madden was CPB's first Vice President for Radio. His contributions to our industry were so great that, without him, public radio would not be nearly as significant or strong as it is today. The full text of his Murrow award acceptance speech is at Current on-line For more about Rick and his work go to


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