Friday Feedback for July 21, 2017

Jul 21, 2017

"It is shameful the way you support one half of the public's views." - listener G; "This station works the hardest at delivering the news as straight as possible." - listener B

Well, today is my last full day in the office before retirement, so Friday Feedback is heading for the last transmission. It will be bleedin’ demised and pushin’ up daisies after today. I’ve had a great time reading these little messages each week for the last seven years, and I’ve learned a lot. Thanks to all of you for making it possible. I’m very happy to report that the future looks bright for WHQR. The new manager, Michelle Rhinesmith, will be moving from public radio service in Florida soon and will assume her duties on August 14th. She and I have been in daily touch, and I’m confident that the station will continue to grow under her strong leadership. Please welcome her to the coast and to WHQR.

I frequently get asked how I’m able to keep my composure when reading critical comments. But it’s just one person’s opinion, so you can’t let it bug you. Last week I read on-air a small part of a comment a listener made in response to my recent guest appearance on Coastline. As I said then, Feedback is not the place to continue opinion-sparring from CoastLine, so I didn’t present either of our actual views. Instead, I published that listener’s full comment on CoastLine’s web story, along with other commenters. But I did read a small segment of his message criticizing me. Another listener felt I had treated this person unfairly. I published his reaction in full on the CoastLine site. Here’s a sample:

You really must think conservatives are all ignorant Fox News zombies. You are a public radio station, and it is shameful the way you support one half of the public's views while you either squelch, mis-represent or cherry pick the worst of what the other half has to offer.

We exchanged some emails about this. Neither, I suspect, convinced the other.

On the other side of the coin, John Felts wrote:

I just wanted to take a moment and tell you how much I have enjoyed your decision to be honest, and how truthful you are with feedback and with the station's activity. I'm a libertarian and very much appreciate the mostly balanced and fair approach this station takes. There will never be a complete elimination of bias, but this station works the hardest at delivering the news as straight as possible. Thank you thank you thank you for your service.

John, thank you for listening. This diversity of opinion is why I’ve enjoyed doing Feedback for the last 7 years. It’s been an especially meaningful part of my time here. I love public radio because of what Feedback represents – a willingness to engage others, to contribute to the great symphony of voices that make up the public radio audience here and all over the country. No, we don’t always have to agree. But we ought to be able to disagree without being pulled into a world where we only listen to people who talk and believe just like us. We ought at all times to listen to others.

I’m going to finish up with a message from Bill Hart I’m too embarrassed to read myself. I’ve asked Kate Brandis to do that:

In my view you have accomplished near miracles in nearly every metric relevant to a public radio station. Some of them are: going from red ink on the balance sheet to financial stability for regular operating expense and the long term; improved transmission hardware; entry into the Myrtle Beach market; a beefed up news program; the progression from just 91.3 to 91.3 HD to two sister stations with 24 hour classical music; being inventive in supporting non-profit organizations; and continuing the long established cultural programs, such as Cinematique. Can't ask for much more.
Strangely, Bob and you have anchored the necessary fund raising campaigns in ways that made them a lot of fun and therefore tolerable: a notable achievement when compared to the tedious fund raising segments of the past.

Thank you, Bill. But you give me too much credit. My thanks go to Wilmington, for giving me the opportunity to work at this wonderful station, full of great people in a supportive Board and community. It’s been by far the best job I’ve ever had, and even though I’m ready to retire, there are many things I’ll miss about this job. This is one of them. Thanks to you for making it possible. Thanks for supporting our successful Summer Stealth Drive. And as always, thanks for your feedback.