Public radio for the public?

Who longs for a smart, on-the-edge radio station that plays what's happening around the country and the world, that isn't bought off by the corporate music machine? Many people I know are waiting for a station like this in Atlanta.

Why is there not a public radio station in Atlanta that airs shows supported by a large part of the taxpayers/listening audience? WABE is controlled by the Atlanta Board of Education (hence the call letters), which is supported by a small constituency of the taxpayers and plays mainly classical programs.

There are educational and fabulous syndicated shows such as "World Café," "Mountain Stage" and many others that premiere music of all persuasions from around the world — from singer/songwriters to world beat. If the public is footing the bill for this station, it should get what it wants to hear.

The music survives and gets heard because it stands up to the test of audiences and of knowledgeable program directors who are more interested in — and are good at finding — what their audience wants to hear, rather than (in commercial radio) how much money they're getting from the music industry to play a song. How do you keep people coming back to your radio station? Play the music that most interests them, even if they don't know about it yet!

Let's take a poll and get the demographics for several different programs most in demand, then petition WABE to have those shows — one per week, or better yet, one every other day — and see if we can get more support, more listeners, to call in, to send money for specific shows.

Educated DJs, a supportive and diverse NPR station in Atlanta would really put us on the map as a progressive international city.


?-- CAROLINE AIKEN, local musician and entertainment coordinator of the Dogwood Festival