Public TV, radio worth keeping

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

I cannot figure out why -- since becoming a taxpaying resident of this state a year ago -- I have not heard one whimper from Georgia conservatives about shutting down the state's public radio and television broadcasting system (GPB).

Where I'm from, a couple of states west, many conservative lawmakers -- mostly Republicans -- file bill after bill each legislative session to eliminate or severely reduce the state's public television and radio programming.

The GOP partisans there want the system either shuttered completely or put in a position where it must compete with commercial televisions for advertising revenue. Then, it would have to make it on its own, or die a cold, hard death.

Here, Georgians simply -- and thankfully -- have apparently ignored the fact that they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on an outfit that brings to them programming that they absolutely can get nowhere else, and certainly not on a commercial network. If they can't get it anywhere else, do they really need it? (My answer is an unequivocal yes!)

Where I am from, it is almost against the law, on your basic Saturday evening, while sitting on the screened back porch and sipping your mint julep, to listen to that liberal "A Prairie Home Companion" show.

Many people seem to believe that one may hear music or commentary on that show that could turn you into a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. Most conservatives in my home state live in fear of that possibility. They seem afraid they will wake up Sunday morning and ol' Khrushchev will have been reincarnated as the governor of a southern state.

I am pleased that Georgians realize that you can't get your state wildlife news and videos just anywhere. There are outdoors writers like Blakely's Bob Kornegay, who has been doing a superb job of just that for years on the pages of The Albany Herald. But, there aren't many Bob Kornegays around with the ability to do that kind of work.

What about all this classical music and jazz? Consider that steady doses of Dvorak's New World or Bach's Brandenburg Concertos on GPB might make us actually want to attend a symphony. That would be a good thing, in my view.

Georgia is abundant in unique restaurants, markets, museums, parks, beaches and myriad tourist destinations of the variety that are presented weekly on the outstanding Georgia Traveler on public TV.

Try finding such news on commercial television in one-hour segments. It can't be done.

There is a wide range of educational programs for children available free on public TV: "Count On It," "Sesame Street," and "Curious George" for small fry and "Georgia and the Fight for Liberty" and "Word of the Day" for older kids. To anyone who might ask if we should be supplementing the learning our children already get in regular school, the answer is yes, of course.

With all of this quality programming available and so little fuss about its cost, I take heart in knowing that Georgia conservatives aren't leaning quite as far to the right as those back in my home state -- at least on this subject.