A tale of radio and a pair of governors


In Minnesota, newly installed Governor Mark Dayton (D) has been trying to continue a state gubernatorial tradition of keeping in touch with constituents via regularly scheduled radio programs. In Rhode Island, newly installed Governor Lincoln Chaffee (I), pictured, is bringing a similar tradition to an end.

Both governors have served in the US Senate – Chaffee was a Republican at the time.

In Dayton’s case, he is trying to preserve a tradition set in motion by the ultra-colorful independent Jesse Ventura back in 1999. It has consisted of a one-hour weekly program for which CBS blaster WCCO-AM served as flagship. Ventura’s program was kept alive by Tim Pawlenty (R), and although it was not without its critics, Dayton is attempting to follow suit.

According to reports, the hurdle is that other stations must be given an opportunity to take over as flagship for the program. The governor’s staff is said to be getting ready to do just that.

Meanwhile, the radio habits of former Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri (R) are drawing to a close under the Chaffee regime. Chaffee has drawn a radio line – he said he and his staff will deal with radio news reporters, but will not participate in talk radio or opinion oriented radio.

According to reports, Chaffee believes that the opinion shows use controversy as entertainment, that they are simply out to make a buck and he says government officials should not allow themselves to become a cog in a purely commercial operation. Therefore he will not participate, and while they are on the clock, neither may any member of the Rhode Island government.

RBR-TVBR observation: We like to see openness and transparency in the government. We also like it when our elected officials are held to account, and a good way to do that is listening to how they field random questions from voters in public.

As far as making a profit goes, broadcasters in the US pay their own way. Those that make a profit while going above and beyond the call of duty in their service to the public interest by putting voters in touch with their representatives in the government should be commended, not chastised as the misguided Chaffee has opted to do.

It goes without saying that newspapers, television stations, cable news networks, news and information websites and radio stations that carry news are all out to make a profit – and the fact that they are independent of the government for life-sustaining revenue is one of the underpinnings of a free press and by extension a democracy.

Pictured: Lincoln Chaffee