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Monday, May 28, 2007

Saving Radio OpenSource....

I seem to do a good deal of complaining about Christopher Lydon at WGBH's Radio OpenSource, but it is clear that I find the show interesting and the debates lively. They do a decent job on a range of topics that would not otherwise make it on the air (e.g., the shows on Arendt, Weinberger's miscellany, etc.). For that reason alone I think it would be a shame if it went off the air -- something that can happen unless folks respond to the S.O.S. issued by Lydon the other day.

There is a bit of deja vu here -- if folks who live in the Boston area recall, Lydon had a rather nasty departure from WBUR in early 2001 thanks to a dispute over money and "ownership" of the production. Among other things the controversy led to publication of Lydon's then-$175,000 salary and publication of emails exchanged during the dispute. The show (The Connection) lasted a few more years, eventually ending its run in 2005 after regaining (at least I thought) some of its quality.

I raise this because, despite my inclination to be supportive of the OpenSource plea for help, in the back of my mind I wonder how much Lydon and his top folks have made reasonable cuts in costs to help make things work in the long run. There was a hint that UMass-Lowell folks were regretting the deal they struck with Lydon (financially they pulled the plug in October), and I noticed that several weeks ago a major staff member for the show left rather quickly, but there was no explicit indication of problems then.

So while I contemplate the donation I will no doubt make to the show, I hope this plea is indeed credible and not to support some grandiose long term plan for expanding the Lydon business model. The other rumored scenario -- that Lydon will leave for the Big Apple -- is perhaps a greater worry....

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