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I have a bone to pick with my “local” public radio station. KUAC is an NPR affiliate based in Fairbanks. I am new to the area so I don’t yet know the history of the station or much more than it is one of three stations I can get clearly here in Tok (one seems to toggle between being a rock station and a country station ?!? and the other is a religious station). I’ve learned that the only reason I can get KUAC/NPR here in Tok is because of the ongoing efforts of a tiny Tok-based nonprofit called Duct Tape Radio that funds/manages the repeater. (More on Duct Tape Radio in an upcoming post!)
So before I rant, I must say I am grateful for any bit of NPR that I can get out here. I crave my Fresh Air with Terry Gross, I long for my Neal Conan of Talk of the Nation, I can’t get enough of Humankind and The World from the BBC. These are my daily touchstones, the familiar voices and fascinating stories that fuel my mind, heart and soul. Being out here in such a rurual area of Alaska, my need for these programs has increased 100 fold.
But almost every time I turn on KUAC, they are playing classical music. And it really pisses me off.
Okay, I know there are many classical music fans out there. In fact, I was chided by someone in Tok who pointed out that the morning program is Performance Today from American Public Media and that I should be appreciating those fine composers. Whatever. I can appreciate fine composers in the evening when I’m winding down. I don’t mind some classical music after dinner now and then. But when I’m awake, alert and ready to start my day, I want Talk, not Debussy.
I may be overreacting here. Looking at KUAC’s weekday schedule, it shapes up like this:
5am-8:00am – Morning Edition
8-9:00am – Day to Day
9-11am Performance Today (except Tuesdays w/Talk of Alaska from 10-11am and Fridays with Science Fridays from 10am-12pm)
I don’t know why I’m so irked. I guess I feel that when a station is serving not only the town of Fairbanks but a large swath of rural area of Alaska via repeaters, there could be some time set aside for some relevant, local news and information. I just downloaded the iPhone App called Public Radio Tuner.
I’ve discovered that I can turn off the radio in my car when classical music starts and use my iPhone to tune into NPR stations in other parts of Alaska that actually have news, information, stories and messages during that time. I tuned into the Kotzebue NPR station KOTZ-AM to find them reading local messages. I loved it. It was like a radio version of the Mukluk News we get here in print in Tok. There were birthday announcements, event announcements, and even a thank you message from a woman whose car was pulled out of a snow drift by two local guys. THIS is what public radio should be about in rural areas.
Since I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like complaining unless I also am searching for a solution, don’t be surprised if you start hearing radio broadcasts out of Tok soon by yours truly. I always say if you don’t like something, do something about it!
Am I being too harsh on KUAC for playing classical music in the mornings? What do YOU think the role of public radio should be in rural places?