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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, May 21

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Television Sat Jun 26 2010

Why Should We Continue to Support WTTW?

There have been a series of reports about the layoffs and financial problems at WTTW (such as in the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Crain's). But it's Robert Feder's column that makes me wonder what is really wrong with that station, other than lack of funds.

According to Feder, the CEO is overpaid and incompetent. Since I don't work there, I don't know if he's really inept, but Feder lays out enough information to make us WTTW supporters wonder why he "was able to survive a near mutiny in 2003 when it was disclosed that the company paid for the luxury Lexus he drove (and the cars three other top executives drove) shortly after they'd laid off 56 employees -- one-quarter of the station's workforce" and links to an article about how he was bringing the station to financial ruin.

He also makes over $300,000, a result of a salary cut (according to Crain's). I know that executives usually make a lot of money because they're running large, complex organizations, but should executives of a listener- and grant-supported entity make that much, especially when the station is not doing well?

I highly recommend reading Feder's critique of the situation, in addition to the news stories. Then ask yourself: do you want to continue supporting a media outlet that is run by someone who seems to not be a good steward of what we've given him?

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Scott Sanders / June 27, 2010 6:00 PM

But who chooses the people who choose the station manager?

WTTW's trustees are a self-selecting group of about 65 elites, most of whom are corporate financiers and/or are people who control large corporations.

But if you ask the average person on the street the question "Who chooses the trustees for your local public service media outlet?", most would likely say "Oh, I don't know, aren't they picked by some kind of ballot like a public school board?"

94% of Americans who live in school districts elect their public school board trustees. However, except for the 5 stations of the Pacifica radio network, 0% of CPB funded stations have either member or publicly elected boards of trustees.

More here and here.

And a study a few years ago details the corporate and other ties of WTTW’s trustees, starts on on page 18 here.

flange / June 28, 2010 11:34 PM

i stopped supporting wttw -- public television in general -- when hucksters like orman, buscaglia, and dyer started taking over the station for a week at a time. a silly little lexus is a drop in the hat.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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