Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WAMC: AWOL (guest essay)

by Mark Wilson

As the 2011 Legislative session in Albany was reaching its dramatic climax last Friday—with the tax cap/rent control/mandate relief bill, the same sex marriage legislation and the SUNY 2020 tuition indexing bill (among others) still hanging fire—listeners to WAMC and affiliated stations tuning in for the 9 AM Roundtable program were met with a surprise. Instead of an informative discussion of the unresolved issues before the New York State Senate, or an analysis of the political dynamics taking pace behind closed doors, the Roundtable staff—host Joe Donohue, producer Sarah LaDuke and WAMC President & CEO Dr. Alan Chartock—were broadcasting live from North Adams, Massachusetts at Mass MoCA, the site of the “Solid Sound” festival.

While Albany burned with speculation on the final day of government business for the term, WAMC “treated” its listeners to two hours of interviews with festival organizers, local officials, headliner acts, and a falconer friend of Dr. Chartock’s who informed listeners that nothing had really changed in his vocation for the past four thousand years. Not one word about the chaos that was coming to a head in their home state. Even the hourly newsbreak: BBC World News followed by four local/regional news reports (Rebuilding of a catholic school in Springfield, MA; 2 stories from Vermont; one from Connecticut) completely overlooked New York State news. They did manage to give the Albany weather, however.

While WAMC was on vacation, over at 1300 on the AM band, Fred Dicker was eating Dr. Chartock’s breakfast, interviewing E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute. McMahon was describing last minute changes to the tax cap bill, particularly a bonding clause that substantially neutered the legislation’s impact.

WAMC has always had an affinity for the Berkshires. From Great Barrington to Tanglewood and the Edith Wharton estate in Lenox, to Williamstown and North Adams. Certainly no one could begrudge the hard-working journalists some time off during the summer. Still, it would be reassuring to those who follow New York State political news and government affairs closely to know that the WAMC news staff is committed to staying focused on their number one job until the lawmakers leave town.

1 comment:

Brian said...

But WAMC did do a story today on Gov. Cuomo’s 2016 presidential chances. Does that count as ‘news’?

I’m not sure I’d say WAMC has an affinity for the Berkshires per se, so much as an affinity for the monied elite with second homes in the Berkshires. Those $1 million fund drives can’t be achieved by relying on them there hillbillies in Washington County.