Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Efforts to Have WOUB Carry Democracy Now!

ATHENS FREE PRESS - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our group, Athens Free Press, was formed a year ago in May of 2007, and includes, so far, members from Athens, Meigs, and Belmont Counties.

The principal goal of AFP is to persuade WOUB officials to add the program Democracy Now to its radio or television schedule. We have thus far been unsuccessful. Democracy Now is an award-winning program that is carried by over 700 radio or television stations and has been adding one or two stations a week. One can also get the program via the Internet at www.democracynow.org; however, many people in SE Ohio do not have Internet services or only have dial-up service. We are convinced that the addition of DN to WOUB’s weekly radio or television programming schedule would increase access to this outstanding program. Such access would also enhance and add diversity to WOUB’s coverage and analysis of events and issues that are important to the citizens of Southeast Ohio.

Over the past year, members of Athens Free Press met twice with WOUB officials and separately with the Dean of the College of Communications. We wrote letters to explain our position to members of the local community. We held an open forum at the Athens Public Library. We presented our case at Advisory Council meetings. We e-mailed information directly to members of the Advisory Council. One of our members obtained relevant information from WOUB via “information requests.”

From the responses and information we have received, the opposition to our proposal stems from WOUB officials and staff, some members of the WOUB Community Advisory Council, and one person in Athens who has registered her/his opposition directly to WOUB. WOUB officials reject our proposal because, for example, they contend that DN does not measure up to their professional standards, that it is partisan, and that AFP is not representative of their audiences. We have responded in detail to all of their objections.

On our side, there are a considerable number of people who support our proposal, including 306 persons who have signed our petition in the Athens area in recent months, and 143 persons who signed the petition at events in or near Belmont County, for a total of 449 signatures. We have 30 persons on our AFP e-mail list. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT AS WELL. PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION.

Further information about Democracy Now and and Athens Free Press can be obtained by requesting information from Bob Sheak at www.sheak@ohio.edu or by visiting our website/blog at http://athensfreepress.blogspot.com.

Today, we plan to give Carolyn Bailey Lewis, Director and General Manager of WOUB, copies of the signatures we have collected on our petition.