Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Listener Charges WAMC With Censorship

CEO Chartock's control-style censors progressive viewpoints!
by Gregory G. Lewis, The Newsketeer!

I have noticed WAMC has drifted significantly to "main stream," where station CEO Alan Chartock exerts such a micro-managing control style, that more progressive viewpoints are censored. I have actually seen or heard this done on multiple occasions.

Although listeners commonly think WAMC represents the liberal media, which is true in the broad scheme of things, closer scrutiny of what does not get aired at the local level strongly suggests a lot of otherwise important viewpoints are quashed at the executive level.

Some examples:

  • Dion Robbins-Zust, who had recently lost in his run for Massachusetts State Senate in 2006, was abruptly cut off by The Roundtable hostess Susan Arbetter. Robbins-Zust was trying to make the point that the media was giving selective attention to two other candidates, one of whom (Benjamin Downing) did win. While I have doubts that Robbins-Zust would have won with fairer treatment, the fact is his treatment wasn't fair. Arbetter more eloquently made Robbins-Zust's point when she hung up on him.
  • WAMC recorded an opinion piece I wrote on the recent beef recall. The opinion's angle had to do with humane treatment of animals, rather than the food safety issue to humans. After all, everyone was talking about food safety, but nobody paid much attention to the animals. In my one sentence bio, I referred to myself as "heretic and iconoclast". The opinion strangely never aired. (Read it here: 'Sick food, sick society')
  • In a case involving a teenager who was arrested for selling Marijuana within a so-called school zone, the teen blundered yet again, but was additionally charged with selling the psychedelic mushroom known as Psilocybe, which Chartock rather cavalierly stated as, "even more dangerous." But, his saying it does not make it true. I have heard many equally valid opinions that Psilocybe, and the whole US DEA Scheduling structure should evolve to a more enlightened decriminalization approach, rather than harsh punitive measures for drugs that have never actually been proven dangerous, except by popular media anecdote. Whether Psilocybe is more dangerous than Marijuana, or perhaps neither are dangerous, we won't hear on WAMC, which has given its moral imperative on the subject. Decriminalization not being a popular view, WAMC is de facto being mainstream by not airing it! Not liberal, and hardly objective.
On other occasions, I've known people who sent letters to his weekly show The Media Project. Where such letters might be seen to favor the print media (Times-Union) represented by editor Rex Smith, over the radio media or Chartock's own station (case in point had to do with the subject of blog libel on the Times-Union web site), Chartock will consistently overlook letters critical of his own radio station (or, letters that question whether WAMC is equally liable where call-ins might make slanderous statements).

Of course, listeners would never know this was happening. After all, do you know what letters Chartock is reading, and which he is not reading? I would suggest that WAMC simply post all letters to their own web site, that way we, the public, can draw our own conclusions.

The problem becomes conspicuous once you learn that not all voices and opinions are allowed air time. Not all should, as we know, but certainly Chartock is hiding the most embarrassing to himself.

Chartock maintains his status quo by sticking to safe and popular opinions, while avoiding those views that could be regarded unfavorably by a large number of WAMC's donors. I think he is a cunning fellow who knows how to preach to a target choir.

In conclusion, I think what is lacking is a more democratic content management. Chartock does give one the sense of being the little dictator, at the expense of what a broader base of listeners would like to hear. I don't think this was always true, but sadly, it becomes increasingly apparent.

These are all little things, perhaps, I realize. But they are only a few of lots of little things that are adding up. I like listening to WAMC, but I think it could be more fairly managed.

More and more I find myself tuning the dial to competitor radio station WFCR (Amherst) or WRSI (Northampton) when I've had enough of the whining and ranting. Truthfully, one grows weary of being bombarded with one man's ego. <<<<<

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Blogger newsketeer! said...

The Berkshire Eagle has decided what is best for us all, and is not publishing any comments on a recent story about how some Dalton teenagers allege they learned how to make a chlorine bomb from YouTube. The Eagle is advocating censorship, but it looks like what really boils them is competition of information sources.

Read my article, The Freedom Myth: Surrender your will.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Many upstate NY progressives have been exasperated by WAMC News' virtual blackout coverage of Green Cynthia McKinney and independent Ralph Nader, to say nothing of Chartock's scathing criticism of Nader (not based on any substance like policies but of the fact he runs).

Chartock and WAMC are very consistent in excluding coverage of any smaller party and independent candidates, be they left, right or otherwise. Them being part of the establishment status quo trumps all other considerations.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 6:24:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Incidentally, I've called Chartock on it several times in letters to the media project. He and that other establishment tool Rex Smith always fabricate some strawman to beat down, ignores my nuances and then wave away my complaints dismissively.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 6:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly think Alan Chartock is an egomaniac. Often I turn away in frustration at his rudeness, arbitrariness, cavalier dismissiveness and basically lack of intellectual gravitas that I would EXPECT from an emeritus professor. It is shameful that WAMC allows him to run rampant as if he embodies the whole station. Whenever I can, I turn to WNYC for truly professional and respectful interviewers, producers and commentators. It is a disgrace that Albany area can't produce a top-notch NPR station. What a pity!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:42:00 PM  

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