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Public Broadcasting: Asleep at the Wheel

July 15, 2008

OK, I just experienced the strangest email correspondence. I wrote an email to WMHT (our local PBS affiliate) to complain that they were not airing the newly launched cartoon series based on my favorite NPR show, “Car Talk”.

Sadly, this correspondence needs no further explanation:

From: Wendy
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2008 9:28 PM
To: wmht.org New Station Wide E-mail
Subject: Click and Clack

I am extremely disappointed that WMHT has decided not to air “Click and Clack: As the Wrench Turns” at the time that it had been nationally promoted. I have noticed that WMHT has sent Click and Clack to the television equivalent of Siberia: Saturdays at 12:00 midnight. And you have also decided to hold off on even BEGINNING the program until 3 weeks past its announced start date.

Why is this?

According to NPR’s website, “Car Talk is public radio’s most popular entertainment program, airing on 587 stations with more than 4.2 million listeners a week tuning in for an hour-long tune-up on car advice and fun.”

Why would you purposefully ignore such statistics?

Relegating what promises to be a successful show to a lousy time slot is ultimately short-sighted and naive. I can only assume that your staff and/or board has decided that this program is too “pedestrian” for their tastes, and the tastes of WMHT’s highbrow viewers. This could not be further from the truth.

I am not a regular PBS viewer, but I would have been had you made the CORRECT decision to air Click and Clack on Wednesdays at 8:00pm, beginning on July 9.

What a sad statement you are sending to your viewers – that you couldn’t care less about what they would like to watch. Good luck in your upcoming fund drives – I won’t be pledging.

And, here was the puzzling reply:

Dear Wendy:

Thank you for your e-mail on the new PBS series entitled “Click & Clack As the Wrench Turns”. WMHT will air this series on Saturday evenings from 12 midnight to 1am, beginning July 26th.
We hope you enjoy this series and thank you for watching WMHT!

Best regards,
Jayne Robinson
TV Traffic Coordinator
WMHT Educational Telecommunications
4 Global View
Troy, NY 12180
518-880-3439
jrobinson@wmht.org

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