“SIMPLE SOLUTIONS SELDOM ARE. IT TAKES A VERY
UNUSUAL MIND TO UNDERTAKE ANALYSIS OF THE OBVIOUS.
Alfred North Whitehead
I like to propose solutions when I point out problems. But there are many things that get so complicated that just knowing something needs to be done is not the same as a solution. I am the first to concede that I am not the sharpest tack in the drawer. Some think that I assume to be intelligent and they would be wrong. But I think and study and there are experiences that influence how I address the composing of what I write.
It is a fact that the employment or interests that I pursue will in fact be the lowest paying. A fact that has been pointed out every time the list of the country’s highest and lowest paying jobs comes out. Free lance writer is always on the bottom. As was farmhand, cowboy, firefighter, museum employee, and other things I have done in my years. But I have an interest and passion for each of the jobs I have done.
Now the subject that I am going to go on about is going to upset some people, especially those who do not read the entire piece. And my opinions I do believe are just a reflection of the reality of today.
I am going to talk about Public Television. I like PBS and a lot of programming that they do. I am fortunate in that we get both KPTS in Wichita and Smoky Hills PBS on DISH network, (advantages in living in an area that no one knows how to claim it). I am also a bit tired of the obvious left leaning news and attitudes taken there. In Kansas (like it or not) there is a definite conservative audience. I count myself in that group and I also count many liberal people as my friend. For the most part we ‘tolerate’ each other. (I really do like them).
I have been saying to my friends in the entertainment business for many years, long before I started writing this column, that the business model for public television was not a stable one and the rethinking of their business needs to be undertaken. It is a fact that the money from the government has been shrinking and there are moves to de-fund the network.
Years ago I was partners with two friends who developed a program that we presented to KPTS. The manager and producers at the station at that time all said that our presentation was the best project that had been brought to them. But the station could only fund eight projects and we were 30th on the list. Two producers tried to do our project independently but were not funded well enough.
In the last 20 years the entire structure of television networks and stations has been altered drastically. Just on Dish alone there are around 500 networks offering programming. It is a fact, that was obvious 30 years ago, that the rapidly changing world of television networks and entertainment packages required a whole new approach to how the business model was going to have to change.
My criticisms of the PBS and Public Radio system are from a perspective of limited contact of the networks. A little bit of knowledge does not constitute an expert opinion. But as a viewer, and someone who has had limited contact with the system, I raise questions, opinions, and hope that those who do have the talent and foresight can pick up on the thought and be able to do something constructive with it.
Going back to 2011 a program celebrating Kansas 150th birthday called KANSAS-HOME ON THE RANGE was an idea that I came up with and tried to develop for a year and had no success. The idea went through several incarnations. It was not until I was able to hand off the concept to a group of extremely talented and experienced people in the Western Music Association – Kansas Chapter. This group developed and created a great program to celebrate Kansas. It was so good that the publisher of the Wichita Eagle enthusiastically pushed for the program to be repeated in Wichita and it became the official celebration for Kansas. The point is it was only an idea that when handed off to people with talent, knowledge, and enthusiasm became a great event.
Do I have the answer for rebuilding a sustainable business model for public television? No. But if enough people with good intentions come together and work on the problem we will have public broadcasting for many years to come.