NER Washington forum; Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, part six
On May 10th the Commerce Committee of the U.S. Senate reported out a bill as 11 60 originally drafted as the public television act. And now to be called the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 there's no question about it. Nine hundred sixty seven is the year that educational radio is emerging as a viable national public resource. A striking feature of educational radio today is it's movement in almost direct opposition to the current development of commercial radio where commercial radio has become primarily a local service to meet the competition of television educational radio is building on a statewide and regional level national and international. The voices you just heard were those of General Sandler executive director of national educational radio and Herman W. Land president of Herman W. land Associates a communications consultant firm with headquarters in New York City. They are our guests this week on the NPR Washington forum a weekly program concerned with the significant issues before us as a nation.
This week a discussion of the hidden medium a major research report on the status of educational radio in the United States made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation. This program was recorded in the studios of Riverside radio WRVA are in New York City and produced by national educational radio and WMU FM American university radio and Washington D.C. for the past five weeks the NPR Washington forum has presented condensations testimony presented to a U.S. Senate subcommittee as it studied the proposed public television Act of 1967. Now renamed the Public Broadcasting Act congressional consideration of that bill continues with much of the case for radio coming from the hidden medium. I many our public affairs director Bill Greenwood with me today to explain the significance of the hidden medium. Our Jerrold Sandler executive director of the NPR
network and Herman W. Land president of the firm which produced the documentation. Mr. Land is also a former executive of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company A former vice president of Corinthian broadcasting and former executive editor of television magazine. Gentleman in a manner of speaking Educational Television has its Carnegie report. And now Radio has this Ford Foundation report. Mr. Land Perhaps you could tell us why hasn't the hidden medium receive the fanfare which was received by the Carnegie report. Well I think that's perfectly unnatural that it should happen that way. We must remember that educational television was a subject of great moment. It was a subject of great importance and recognized as such and dealt with as such on every level it was in a state of crisis. And the comedy Commission was a gathering of the sting wished people at the behest of the president of the United States who said about grappling with this problem is perfectly natural it should receive all the attention it did.
Our job was quite different. It was to bring educational radio up to the point of recognition to begin with. This is not a report which attempts to create a plan the way the Contiki commission report did. It's really a first step. To develop the picture the story the documentation of what educational radio is what its problems are and what its needs are as well as what its accomplishments are. It's perfectly natural that it should never have received the same kind of attention it would have been unnatural if it did. When I you don't there is a difference then in the Carnegie report and the hidden medium general Sandler How did this hidden medium report come about. Well this is very interesting Bill because actually without much of the very fanfare and attention that was paid to educational television I don't think it ever would have come about educational broadcasting as a movement has been growing quite rapidly in recent years. And one of the interesting things that has occurred during the very period of the greatest growth of educational television is that it happens also to be the greatest period of growth and
educational radio. We now have close to three hundred fifty educational radio stations on the air licensed by the FCC in the United States today and they keep going on the air at the rate of about two a month. In the last few years a great deal of attention has been paid particularly among educational radio people themselves about what to do in this period of growth how to come to grips with it how to develop the still underdeveloped resource if you will of educational radio. And so with the help of the Johnson Foundation in September of 966 national educational radio brought together some 70 distinguished Americans in fields as diverse as government education industry communications and the arts to discuss educational radio as a national resource and you could say that that perhaps was the prelude for much of what's been going on in recent months. Out of that one of the recommendations one of the basic recommendations was develop and document the case for educational radio so that the Congress so that foundations so that the American people will
begin to be able to understand and begin to become familiar with the story of educational radio. And that's how it all began. What other hidden medium notes very explicitly that educational radio has existed since the inception of radio. Why hasn't this story been told before. Mr. STANLEY Well you know Bill Herman Ryan mentioned in his opening remarks something about the period of crisis that ATV went through. I think it would be fair to say as a psychologist might that without crisis you can't really expect very much change and education already was not born in crisis. It was born quite naturally as the electronic waves were becoming known as the physicists and the engineers on college campuses began to experiment with them and they started quite modestly quite naturally on campuses. It began just about at the dawn of radio in this country. Indeed. And
educational radio station WAGA the University of Wisconsin still calls itself the first station in the nation licensed as early as one thousand twenty and you see these stations began to grow as part of the college and university and school scene. Radio is not an expensive medium and therefore you did not have the problem of how do you solve the economic burden in quite the same way. The TV came along you see before the first TV station went on the air. They had a multi-million dollar crisis. How do you solve it. And this this is part of the reason why I think you did not hear about this until the present time. When I imply that crises were found in the hidden medium did you find such examples Mr land. Yes I want to comment on what Mr. Samad just said. From another point of view that of a person who has been studying the situation from the outside so to speak. What we found was a curious almost paradoxical situation
within the radio field. On the one hand you had a sense of inferiority a second class citizenship the feeling that. How does one find his way in a world dominated by the most glamorous medium ever to come along. I found this to be true by the way for a long time in the commercial field as well. It's a very common thing and unavoidable. And at the same time there was a sense of growing restlessness the sense of things that could happen that could be done. New possibilities emerging out of television itself out of the multimedia approaches that are beginning to be developed out of a new technology of which already becomes as important in many aspects as does television and as a result a fireman began to be noticeable among the radio ranks around the country and where on the one hand you'd find an ultra conservative approach to programming on the other side you would find stations beginning to explore that communities with all kinds of interesting new socially significant experimental operations.
Within this context you found a sense of developing that we have to do something. And so I would say that really what you are seeing is an expression a collective expression of people in the media who finally made up their minds they were going to do something and break through so to speak and they have done so. When I during the recent Senate hearings SENATOR PASTORE a Rhode Island who was the chairman heard the testimony which you gentlemen presented Mr. Sandler and your organization. And he said that this was a revelation to him he was literally startled by some of the findings documented in the hidden medium. What were some of the startling revelations. What was so exciting about it. Well one of the things I think that Senator story was talking about Bill was the fact on the one hand that we just we were able to describe the many storied mansion of radio that is to say the many different audiences that educational radio attempts to serve. And by giving
actual examples many examples of the kinds of services such as they developing to a medical networks pioneered by WAMC of Albany Medical College in Albany New York. New exciting horizons. Utilizing multiplexing whereby two or more simultaneous signals can be utilized by one station. In effect what we were describing was an almost endless avenue of program possibilities to meet the needs of many different kinds of audiences and at the same time saying to the subcommittee all of this is being done under the following circumstances. Approximately one third of all educational radio stations have to operate on less than ten thousand dollars a year. Approximately 50 percent of them on less than $20000 a year at least with some of the kinds of things that began to emerge. Well I want to add here that one of the main reasons for this feeling of well my gosh this is a revelation is goes back to what we were
talking about before and that is the. Great concentration of the most dominant medium to the point where people concerned with media development in the country really paid little attention to educational radio and because they were paying little attention to what they were not receiving the information that was all about. I just received a lot of this morning from a broadcaster a commercial broadcaster who was active in educational work who wrote that the report was a revelation to him with all his years of experience in the field. He knew very little of what was going on and it was only simply because he wasn't in. Or we could put it another way Herman you know you could say that you you can only hear these things when you are ready to hear them. Climate has to be right the climate has to be right for the individual as well as for the society. And you know not so many years ago when educational broadcasting was moving towards its first major step in terms of financial support from the
government through the TV facilities Act of 1962. There were individuals and organizations then that wanted to tell the educational radio story but Congress in a sense was not ready to hear it but they already today. You see when when you realize that so many things have been going on for a long time without recognition. You see the enormity of the problem. For example one of the most impressive stories we ran into was in New York City where this program is being recorded now. That is the w and y e. Programming a high school curriculum to handicap children by putting FM sets in their home and allowing them to get their diplomas. A remarkable thing that is going on in other places as well. Well the Louisville library system which has some hundred thousand tapes collected and makes available to the public an audio resource that is just remarkable. We have a case on hand of a person who got a master's degree by using these tapes just listening to them a blind person.
You have programs dealing with the American Indian. Now with the American Eskimo you have programs beginning to deal with various minority groups in ways that normally we don't associate with either radio or television it's all going on it has been going on for a long time although it's just at the beginning and much more will happen. You see Bill the point here is that this is the first time that we've been able to take all of these pieces that Mr. land's just been describing and putting them together in one package and being able to describe in a comprehensive way the very complex picture which makes up educational radio. It is not any one thing. It's many many different things I might also mention here. Jack Gould of the New York Times was very much impressed with the international news operation in educational radio and how many people did not even know it existed. That I can recall being at the University of Michigan and standing there with the news director before a lot shortwave set
and hearing the story of how the newscasts from different parts of the world were received there and put into a very unusual type of local newscast the only kind of service of its kind in the area. While this was going on elsewhere I understand as well. And it's the kind of thing that education radio can do awfully well that you wouldn't expect to get in the commercial field. Why would you not expected from a commercial field how does educational radio relate and or differ from commercial radio Mr. Sandler. Well actually the main difference really is in the function that they are supposed to perform. After all the commercial broadcaster whether it be radio or television is involved in a profit making organisation he does have that as one of his primary concerns. So he has to satisfy the needs of advertisers which in effect means he's got to deal with. How does he arrive at program formats and advertising formats to reach the largest number of people
the largest number of hours the largest number of days weeks months and years. The educational broadcaster on the other hand is not involved in a profit profit making enterprise and his job is to deal with the many different kinds of audiences that he can reach without regard to whether it is the 600 handicapped children that the New York City Board of Education serves through their high school of the air or through or through perhaps maybe several million people on another program. His concern is with. Is this a program. That is going to meet the needs of a certain portion of the audience be it big or small or anything in between. So that in effect the noncommercial or educational broadcaster can deal in depth with with issues can say take an issue like the Senate hearings and spend the two weeks that it took literally for the NPR Public Affairs Bureau to make this available so that member
stations of the Eastern educational radio network from Boston through Washington could participate in this live coverage if you did this in commercial radio. The cost to the station operators would be immense. But in noncommercial broadcasting it does become possible and indeed it becomes a very important part of our mission. May I just enter one word of the fence on behalf of the commercial broadcasters having been one of the very recent like. I don't think it's quite accurate to say that the commercial broadcasters in there just to make a buck you say. I know you didn't really mean that but it could have been interpreted that way. There are some who are obviously. But there are a great many who attempt to do many of the things that educational broadcasting finds itself the natural vehicle for. But must do so within a framework of commercial enterprise. And this framework has built in limits within the limits many of them
do a fine job in fact and I know that some of their programming find its way into educational radio as well when it's of a certain quality. I think that the problem is a lot of limitations to service which are created by an objective structure of an industry rather than motive motives and even within that structure some very good things are done. And I think many more good things will be done at educational radio however offers a wide range of marvelous possibilities to do things that you can't possibly do in any other way. And that's it's great value for the society. And I Mr. Sandler your organization of course is on the record in the Senate is seeking federal money to finance this operation do you think it's really fair for the majority of the taxpayers to be forced to finance a radio system aimed at minority and intellectual elite if you will. Well let me take that in a couple of pieces bill. Sure Herman Ryan will have a few things to say about
that as well first of all. At no time have we suggested the financing of any form of educational radio to serve an intellectual elite if you will. That may make up one part of the audience that we're dealing with but only one part. Indeed our survey which forms the basis for the documentation in the hidden medium rather monstrous questionnaire some 25 pages as a matter of fact dealing with virtually every aspect of broadcasting. Makes it quite clear that most of our stations receive regularly mail phone calls or visits from people of all kinds of all kinds of occupations educational and social backgrounds and so on and a wide range of interests I might add. Now you said would it be fair. For the federal government that is the majority of taxpayers to finance a system that is designed to meet the needs of a minority. Well the interesting thing about educational radio is
that if it serves a minority it serves a great many minorities and if you add up all of these minorities they make up a great bulk of the American people. Right. I just would like to introduce one of a thought here it. It is cruel that there is a great deal of so-called cultural programming in the old sense of the word that is the classical music Shakespearean plays of a BBC aimed at this cultural elite and that goes on and it's a very valuable resource to have in this country. What Jerry is talking about however is the new thrust within the medium that we could discern that sometimes people within the medium itself don't recognize by the way. But it is happening. It's a broadening of the perspective of the broadcaster so that he looks at a total society rather than any one small segment of it and he says there are all kinds of audiences here that need some kind of service. And sometimes a service a strictly educational and standard sense sometimes that service in the
social service sense sometimes vocational training or professional training through two way communications is beginning to develop all of these are services aimed at different parts of the social structure and has just been said if you look at each part and then put it together with the rest of it you've got a total society so in effect what is emerging here is a medium that is not at all concerned. Some cultural elite. I'd like to add just one other thing here Bill if I may. And that is that any legislation such as the Public Broadcasting Act of 1907 does not in any way shape or form suggest a total or anywhere near a total financial support for radio or television. It is a partial thing as a matter of fact it's meant to be a catalyst a planting of a seed making it possible for for educational radio and educational television to help itself. There will have to be as a matter of fact build right into the
legislation right there that will be supported on a statewide level on a local level. And indeed if you follow the the actual development of DTV They've had five years of support under the TV facilities that were thirty two million dollars of taxpayers money has gone into the development of the TV that thirty two million dollars which has been extremely invaluable is a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of dollars most of them private that have been put into the development of the TV and I frankly think the same kind of thing is going to happen in educational radio. Yeah and I think we have surveyed the field nationally that we see the radio people facing a real challenge to it. This is a challenge to look through their own sense of mission realize they've been so long under the gun and so long held back that the question is really whether they can live up to the promise that's inherent in the medium and that all this new attention on the legislation highlights for us all
if they can as a modeless future but I'm afraid that the that the the real question will be whether there is enough far seeing statesman like ability among most of the people in education radio to allow them to break away from the cliches of the past allow them to break away from the traditions that have actually been holding back a lot of creative development in the field. What we talk about in the hidden medium is there but when you look at it in the larger perspective you see that all of these things represent just a real beginning. And that the true service of educational radio and the social science that we've been talking about remains fully to be developed. But it just remains to be developed it has not been fully developed yet. Well it's easy to understand the undertaking and some of the findings but where does all that work lead you mention one part of it.
Can you shed new light on that most of what we mentioned briefly earlier rather major technical breakthrough that's on the horizon namely multiplexing. This is going to make it possible for instance to have two or three or perhaps more signals emanating from one common FM station and feeding into a variety of places at the same time. Now people generally are aware of the term quite often with regard to stereo multiplexing but that's not what I'm referring to here Bill. I'm talking about a situation whereby a program of this kind let us say is on the air on the main channel of WRVO are in New York City. Now at the very same time you could have a side band that is part of the this multiplexing arrangement that we're talking about feeding a special program designed to meet the needs let's say of the parents of mentally retarded children and at the same time another side band. You have a special program designed to meet the continuing education needs of women in our society or physicians or
any other kind of special group. So that in effect. Educational radio Ironically enough you know radio is a medium that it depends completely on sounds or the lack of sound. It's known as a uni dimensional medium. Well I've just begun to describe Bill suggests that the future of educational radio is a multi dimensional medium and many storied mansion if you will. Yes and many plans have already been developed throughout the country to develop multiplexing. There are plans and dozens of universities. We've been in touch with and they cover the range of professional life in the range of occasional live almost any profession you can think of can be involved in some way. In this two way communication medium but I have to caution here there is a problem. People tend to get carried away with all of us to do with visions of the modeless future. There's an economic problem is quite serious receivers cost a lot of money and that's really the problem. I noticed in the Saturday Review of March 25th an article which discussed this
multiplex problem for educational broadcasting and it says and I quote the West concent Educational Network which is the oldest in the nation has ambitious plans and it goes on to say what they need seven thousand five hundred dollars to provide this multiplex equipment. Is this the kind of problem that you're talking about. Yes that's the kind of problem we ran into all over the place you see the receivers as we found out from our checks with the electronic companies range anywhere around 100 from between 100 to $200 for good quality receivers these are multiple multiplex receivers. Now obviously the average person can't afford one of these sets. Professionals can but even professionals find us a lot of money. And so the beginnings of this movement will seem to be in the group situation what is needed is a great attack by industry government and so forth in order to create low cost receivers. And as the need is understood and recognized such an attack will
be made it is already true that there are more radios in this country than there are people. And I think that this whole situation is going to multiply many times over in the decades to come. Well certainly you see more than just the. Dissemination of programs through multiplexing as is the growth of educational radio though don't you much Sam. Yes I think one of the main things that we see happening already in its beginning stage of the development of statewide and regional networks which in effect makes it possible for Hap's to realize an old dream that the educational broadcasters have had for many decades. That is the development of a real time live interconnected network nationally and that of course is the most important credit of all because then the world becomes our stage. International Broadcasting will become a reality. Fred Friendly you know is the man who said that one lone man wandering a continent could bring back wonders and that no medium could
could do with an economy what radio could do in making this world a reality. But what you're saying you know fact is that that one lone man need someone to pay for his tape recorder right for his tape recorder and as a matter of fact perhaps even some salary for it for this individual. You see one of the problems is that while Radio is an inexpensive medium compared to television. Or to put it another way. President Johnson in his message on education health in America last February said dollars alone cannot do the job but the job cannot be done without dollars. And you think then the dollars will be coming from the Congress and private groups. Well if we can read the signs on the horizon of course none of us are really crystal gazers we're not clairvoyant. But the interest level is high the climate seems to be absolutely right. And certainly the timing is is perhaps more crucial today than ever before.
I want to add one important thing. None of this may happen even yet unless the people in educational radio fight to make it happen. Well and of course what Herman land is referring to here is that what we are experiencing right now at this time of this year is an interesting legislative development. That's the one that we all have heard about the kind of legislation that Congress is grappling with right now. The Public Broadcasting Act the educational radio people have a stake in this it is true but the American people have a greater stake. And so therefore they've got to let their wishes be known and they've got to stand up and be counted. Gentlemen I'm sorry our time is up I wish we had more of it. You've been listening to a discussion of the hidden media a major research report on the status of educational radio in the United States. Our guests have been Mr. Gerald Sandler executive director of national educational radio and Mr. Herman W.
- NER Washington forum
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Discussion of Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and a Ford Foundation report, "The Hidden Medium." Guests: Jerrold Sandler, executive director, National Educational Radio Network, and Herman W. Land, consultant.
- Other Description
- Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
- Public Affairs
- Media type
Host: Greenwood, Bill
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Sandler, Jerrold
Speaker: Land, Herman W.
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “NER Washington forum; Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, part six.” 1967-05-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-kp7trv3p>.
- APA: NER Washington forum; Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, part six. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-kp7trv3p