Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

PLEDGE The Book Excerpt: Kumbaya

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Owners, or the people running a place, can have a big effect on its character, or the feel of the place they’re running. Many times, that comes down to the relationship between employees and supervisors, or management and the board. Public radio is no different. But public radio listeners probably don’t put public radio stations and say, unions together in their minds much since, because public radio is so cerebral, reasonable, progressive and intelligent, why they might wonder, would there ever be any need for anything so impersonal as labor agreements. Everybody is always moving in the same direction, aren’t they? Not according to this 2014 statement from the WYPR Organizing Committee in response to station management efforts to kill a union vote.  “In These Times” writer Bruce Vail reported on the issue.  “We are disheartened by management’s decision to spend significant station resources to undermine our democratic effort. We hope they will commit as fully to making measurable improvements to the workplace and supporting the production staff.”

An author conducted survey of people in and associated with public radio found that nearly 40% of public radio stations are unionized. A little more than one in three are not. And 25% of respondents didn’t know either way.  For a lot of listeners, that might be a surprise. But staff in stations, like miners, teachers, pilots, nurses and longshoremen tend to unionize after labor disputes make them see that management doesn’t always work in their best interests. That’s not good for pledge drives, since strikes tell listeners all is not well in public radioland. And development officers like their givers copacetic. Labor unrest can have secondary effects on station character and ownership that goes way beyond whose name is on the building. The work can suffer. Morale can plummet and old, familiar voices can vanish without so much as a whisper in the thick of palace intrigue.

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Written by Interviewer

May 5, 2018 at 05:02

Posted in Scratchpad

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