In his Common Hour speech in Pickard Theater last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. focused on corporate control of the media. "Five multinational corporations now own 14,000 radio stations, 5,000 TV stations, and 80 percent of the newspapers," he said. Given this corporate media monopoly?where voices that do not contribute to profitability struggle to be heard?we would expect that the federal government would not be threatening a small, community radio station with closure.
Yet the government is making such threats loud and clear to WBOR 91.1 FM, Bowdoin's independent, non-commercial, student-operated radio station. It is true that the station failed to adequately keep records of public service announcements in recent years, and perhaps such a misstep does mandate a higher level of scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the station's current re-licensing process. However, it appears that by reconstructing the necessary records, Station Manager Adam Paltrineri '07 has compensated for this mistake. Furthermore, WBOR has also collected over 600 letters of support from students and members in recent days to show that the station does indeed provide a service to listeners.
We urge the FCC to take these letters and reconstructed records seriously and renew the station's license. WBOR performs a public service far beyond the airing of messages about community organizations and initiatives. The station offers a service both to its DJs and to its listeners.
By our count, each day, the station offers 20 to 30 students, staff, faculty, and members of the surrounding community the chance to play music, offer diverse commentary, and hone their communications skills. That's at least 150 voices each week that the community is able hear'150 more than if WBOR didn't exist. That also means at least 150 people are developing skills necessary to communicate with their peers and neighbors?skills that are so important for positive civic life.
WBOR is one of those few media outlets free from the pressures of the corporate media environment. It broadcasts without being preoccupied with meeting the bottom line and hitting a set number of listeners each week. Instead, people are allowed to expose the wider community or the music and messages they think need to be heard. Such content ranges from international musical selections that would never be aired on Portland-area radio stations, to the positive safety messages broadcasted by Randy Nichols and Mike Brown's show each week.
When people listen to WBOR, they know that what they hear are voices from people who are passionate about their broadcasts and care about their world. We can't think of a better way for a radio station to offer a community service.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board is comprised of Bobby Guerette, Beth Kowitt, and Steve Kolowich.