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A WAMC First: Alan Refuses Comment!!!

(The following "Street Talk" column appeared recently in Capital District Business Review.  It is reproduced here without permission.)
"Street Talk"
by Barbara Pinckney

Piracy and the high C's
A Washington, D.C. man has started a Web site dedicated to WAMC Northeast Public Radio, but it is not exactly the home of the Albany-based network's fan club. 

Glenn Heller, who lived for three years in the Berkshires and still spends his summers in Western Massachusetts, launched the "WAMC Northeast Pirate Network" website earlier this year.  He said WAMC.net (the official WAMC site is at WAMC.org) will provide a forum for discussions about flagship public radio station WAMC, 90.3 FM, and the entire seven-station network.  The site also airs opinions about WAMC executive director and State University of New York professor Alan Chartock

"The goal of the new site is to let folks know what WAMC, 90.3 listeners really think; to offer alternative views to those expressed over the WAMC [network]; and to provide answers to probing questions about things people might always have wondered about WAMC, but about which they could never get a straight answer from WAMC management," Heller said.

Among the questions: Where do underwriting and membership dollars really go?  How much does management get paid? 

And: "How did a valuable FM broadcast license, owned by the citizens of New York state and formerly operated by Albany Medical College, end up being transferred, for free, to the permanent control of one politically connected SUNY professor and a small hand-picked group of his friends?"

Heller said he remembered what WAMC was like before Chartock took over, and although Chartock has made some "very positive" changes, "it has become very bureaucratic and a very sweet deal for the people at the top.  Members aren't allowed to vote for the board, like they are at many other NPR stations. Chartock reports to no one." 

He claimed that although WAMC has a listener phone line, comments that are "anti-Alan or anti-WAMC" are not aired. 

"So I decided to start this Web site.  It seemed a natural." 

The site contains editorials by Heller and allows WAMC listeners to post their thoughts and opinions about Chartock and the station network. 

Chartock declined to comment on the site or the issues Heller raised.

Heller, who praises WAMC's programming, stressed that his raising questions about the network's operations "does not imply that valued WAMC listeners should stop pledging their dollars" to WAMC

"In fact, we encourage all listeners to keep their generous good will flowing freely, and we further entreat listeners to increase that bounty if they are so minded," he said.

 © 2000 American City Business Journals Inc.  All rights reserved. Reproduced here without permission.

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