Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recent road collapse causes speculation on origin and prevention but also leads me to call out and question local broadcast stations

Monday evening the road collapsed on US Highway 27 northbound, south of State Boulevard, just before the Kroger Fueling Station. This incident caused major headaches as the road in question is a primary route through town and the lights are timed at 28-32 miles per hour to make traffic flow smoothly, typically a twenty minute trip one way. According to an interview given to Stephen Parker @ Around Fort Wayne by Rachel Blakeman, a former blogger, and current Public Information Officer for the City, they checked all possible causes and their working position now is that a water main break ten years ago caused the soil to move or become settled and therefore caused the road pavement to buckle under and take the City on a wonderfully (35 miles per hour, across a 12 inch dip in the road, on a curve, at night) fun ride. The City hopes to have the road repaired, at a cost of 26 thousand dollars (INC 23 September 2009), by Friday, weather permitting. The only question left to ask now is, Does the City need to go back and check the sites of all other previous water main breaks to prevent this from happening yet again?

My Problem With Local Broadcast Media

This incident was responded to promptly so I wont critique the City on interdepartmental communication this time but I will critique the local broadcast media establishments for not broadcasting the traffic alert at the bottom and top of the hours as the incident unfolded and progressed. Most of the radio stations that I tuned into were on national syndication at the time with no one answering phones or able to announce the obstruction to traffic on the air. Maybe we need to take stock in what we want from local radio? I am not saying that national shows and prerecorded programs are a bad thing, but when there is no one present to put out the traffic advisory for such a major road closing, or receive up to date information from average citizens at the event's occurrence, we begin to see another issue at play. What does that say about the intention of these people we entrust with our airwaves?

That is right, our airwaves! Publicly owned airwaves!

This isn't an issue of local only it is an issue of local at all. Most radio stations rely on the prepackaged or syndicated programs to fill time and just milk the advertising dollars from such programs. I miss the days of long term, local hired, Disc Jockeys (excuse me, Personalities) whom actually get involved in the Community they serve and do more than slut out the top 40 list every couple of hours, we need more indie and local music.

We need independent stations that aren't owned by conglomerates in the same market. We need to celebrate the arts and music but also receive our news and commentary from many different sources rather than allowing one or two stations to provide every comment or thought from a biased, small minded, position of assumed public trust. We need to start having public conversations again on air and actually invite the best people to the airwaves not just the ones who have the loudest mouths or the most clout in the industry or social landscape.

Allen County needs its own radio station that celebrates the people, arts and music, cultures, reports the news, and offers a balance of commentary on everything. My only question, Whom is willing to start providing and maintaining a truly free press for everyone to participate in? Are You?

EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS POST IS CROSS POSTED ON MY PERSONAL BLOG WITH PICS & COMMENTS.

2 comments:

Robert Enders said...

The doctrine of publicly owned airwaves is used to justify censorship. Radio and TV stations have a First Amendment right to broadcast anything they please, as long as it isn't slanderous and doesn't encourage people to break the law. They also have an equal right to refrain from broadcasting whatever they don't want to broadcast.

Having said that, it is my expectation as a listener that radio stations provide regular traffic updates as the situation warrants. I think I remember hearing about the road closure on one of the TV stations.

This might be all a moot point eventually. In a few years, we'll probably all have GPS in our cars and receive traffic updates in realtime.

Bon said...

Great Post.

I would start, and maintain a free press, if I had the financial capacity to start such an operation.