Friday, December 16, 2005

Public radio pays

The silence about public radio salaries either means they're abysmally low or unashamedly high. Are these seemingly dedicated people filling the commercial-free air and shilling for pledge dollars only to live like paupers themselves?

Well, here's something: Laist reveals that KPCC's Larry Mantle, host of "Air Talk," makes $115,000 per year, and Nic Harcourt, keeper of the "rare, live import demo remixes" * for KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" makes "a little over $100,000, all this information presumably gleaned from the stations' annual reports.

Now I don't know about you, but I find $100,000 to be a lot of money, but I don't begrudge it to these guys one bit -- especially Larry Mantle, who I admire very much and who works very hard for that money.

We all know the kind of money Howard Stern and Katie Couric are making. When you're in a certain stratosphere, it's national news. And we all look at and judge the salaries of others through the prism of how much we, ourselves, have earned.

Still, I don't think people knowing that the top public radio on-air talent drags in $100,000 a year will be much of a help to the stations' pledge-drive efforts. And it begs the question: Do these people's salaries have a direct link to their ability to pull in donations, both individual and corporate?

*Neither a direct, nor indirect quote. Just my summation of Nic Harcourt. Have a live, cassette-only B-side remix demo -- on the house!.


Andrew said...

I don't think those salaries are too high. Of course the reason Stern makes hundreds of millions is that he is selling something for profit. Mantle works for a non-profit organization.

Anyway, now that Howard Stern can say any four letter word he likes on the air, our civilization has reached a new high point.

Benevolent Con said...

"Let the thunder of 2006 begin"

2005 was a year of great challenges for my family and I. As I sit here in my room reflecting on the past, I can't help but dream of the future.
2005 was a year where I was hired and fired from so many of America's finest universities and organizations not because I was unqualified. But, because I am like millions of Americans. I am a non-violent ex-offender trying to live in a judgmental nation.
It is tough to have served my debt to society yet still be persecuted each and every day. It was not what the judge ordered but it is the reality every ex-offender must face IF you live below the level of middle class and can't afford the Johnnie Cochran's of the world. It just goes to prove that not all people in prison are guilty. They just could not afford to pay for the rich man's justice. For those of you who didn't know it... we do have two kinds of justice. Rich Man - Poor Man. Yet we call this America. John Edwards was right... we do live in two distinctly different America's. The ones that got it, and those that don't.
Society is unwilling to give people a Second Chance, while at the same time criticizing the rise in the crime rate and an over crowded prison population which cost taxpayers in California well over one billion dollars each year. It doesn't really have to be this way, if society would open their eyes and ears to potential solutions verses slamming the door shut on positive ways in which to deal with this growing problem. Everyone deserves a second chance at redemption. An opportunity to begin anew. But that opportunity never comes... For some it comes too late.
2005 also brought great unrest in the lives of my parents who suffered great challenges due to their age and significant health ailments. Even as I write this, I spend Christmas in room 647 at Glendale Memorial Hospital, doing all that I can to bring some sort of happiness to my parents who are alone despite having a large family.
2005 also brought great loss for us as a family. We lost my brother in early in December, and recently we had to make two 911 calls for help as my mom struggled with strokes and seizures. It has become a routine all too familiar, and sad as it may be, there is still a flicker of hope that yes, even for us a better day are yet to come.
However, despite great challenges in 2005, 2006 brings with it great promise. It signifies an end as well as a beginning. Renewal as well as change. No one knows what lies ahead, but we do know and we do hope that things will get a better not just for some... but for all Americans.
But as a people. Human beings all of us, I sit here looking out my window reflecting on those who at this very minute suffer in the cold and rain, without shelter or coat and ask myself, Why? Why, after so many years of living in despair, we have yet to solve the problems of poverty, and the suffering of our people. Somehow, my asking why seems to be a word no one listens too, much less has an answer.
Twenty years ago, then President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures. The President said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why, this country is a shining city on a hill." And the President is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all this President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his Crawford, Texas ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can't find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of their houses. And there are people who sleep in the city streets of Los Angeles, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn't show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, in the faces that we don't see, in the places that we don't visit in what a President called a shining city. In fact, this is a nation we all ought to know.
Maybe, if we visited some more places; maybe if we went to South Central Los Angeles where some people still live in sheds; maybe if we went to Main and San Pedro streets in downtown Los Angeles where heroine sells faster than hamburgers at Mc Donald's. Maybe, if we stopped in at the a shelter in any city in America and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, we would asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because the President said he needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't afford to use.
Maybe. But I'm afraid not.
Because, the truth is, that this is how we were warned it would be. The President told us from the very the beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. Government can't do everything," we were told. "So it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and Faith Based charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.
You know, the Republicans called it "trickle-down" when Hoover tried it. They soon called it "supply side." But it's the same for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is to stare from a distance at Los Angeles's glimmering towers.
It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. They believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. "The strong," they tell us, "will inherit the land."
Democrats believe in something else. Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have done it more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America. For nearly 70 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here I am, Fred Brito, a non-violent ex-offender on the eve of 2006 reminding ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children.
Today, average people willing to do more to help others has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time I urge all Americans to stand up for what is right and to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of terrorism and chaos in the middle east.
We as American's must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship -- to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that will bring people to their senses. We must make the American people hear our "Tale of Two Americas." We must convince them that we don't have to settle for two Americas, that we can have one America, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now, we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of 2006 is more babel of arguing voices in Congress. If that's what's heard throughout the country, dissident sounds from all sides, we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender some small parts of our individual interests, to build a position that we can all stand on, at once, and comfortably -- proudly singing out. We need a position we can all agree to so that we can sing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick Melrose Avenue commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth.
We Americans must unite so that the entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
Now, we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other people, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, and every economic class. In our family we gathered everyone from the abject poor of San Bernardino County in California, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our people -- the middle class, the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare; the middle class -- those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.
I want to speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. I speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. I speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule "thou shalt not sin against equality," a rule so simple
I want to speak for young people demanding an education and a future. I want to speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social Security, is being threatened.
I also want to speak for those who have been rightly or wrongly convicted of a crime and seek a new way of life that opportunity does exist for all. That everyone deserves a Second Chance and you must stand up and demand it. We have all made mistakes. Some just got caught. But let no one sit in judgment of you after you have paid your debt to society. Be strong, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and know that you are not alone. Do your best to seek opportunity and lead a new honest life that will bring great promise if you apply yourself. It will not be easy. You will want to give up, but don't despair... Dig deep into your inner being and see that you have goodness to give if given a chance. Our day will come.
I am proud of this diversity as a people. We are a grateful people. But we, while we're proud of this diversity, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. Now is the time to lock arms and move America forward together.
If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own difference aside to create this consensus, then all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 2000. Now the President has asked the American people to judge him on whether or not he's fulfilled the promises he made five years ago.
We must help the American people understand this deficit because they don't. The President's deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise in 2000 to keep a balance the budget. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of the universe. It is a deficit that, according to the President's own fiscal adviser, may grow to as much 600 billion dollars a year for "as far as the eye can see." And, it is a debt so large -- that is almost one-half of the money we collect from the personal income tax each year goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children's future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don't take my word for it I am just a non-violent ex-offender living in a judgmental nation. A thorn in society's shoe.
Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they're not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they'll say that they're appalled and frightened by the President's deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it's been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition. Now we're exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them -- if they dare tell you the truth -- you'll learn from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit.
Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 2000 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry, and the largest government debt known to humankind? If he had told the voters in 2000 that truth, would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that's the kind of recovery we have now as well.
But what about foreign policy? They said that they would make the whole world and us safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive -- by escalating to a frenzy the terror level; by incendiary rhetoric; by refusing to discuss peace with our enemies; by the loss of over two thousand young Americans in Iraq and even more in Afghanistan in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder, and then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend -- it seems to me, in the Middle East -- the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel. Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than a hysterical commitment to a so-called anti-terror plan that leads nowhere -- if we're lucky. And if we're not, it could lead us into bankruptcy.
Of course we must have a strong defense! Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always -- when this country has been at its best -- our purposes were clear. Now they're not. Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals.
America has in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost over 2000 young Americans in Iraq and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are safer, stronger, or better?
Its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the President's amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.
And, now it's up to us. Now it's now up to you and me to make the case for America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all that the President has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another three years unrestrained, by a Republican Congress.
We must also not forget to ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people's religion and morality; the man who believes that trees pollute the environment; the man that believes that -- that the laws against discrimination against people go too far; a man who threatens Social Security and Medicare and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between our enemies and us? And, will three years more make meaner the spirit of the American people?
2006 will measure the record of the past. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.
I believe that we still have a dream. We still believe in this nation's future. And this is what our answer to the many questions might be.
I believe in only the government we need but I also insist on all the government we need.
I believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.
I believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
I believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
Our government should be able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don't fully understand.
I believe that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction and war, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And I proclaim as loudly as I can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
I believe in firm but fair law and order. I believe that ever person who has committed a crime and has paid his debt to society should have the opportunity at redemption. To be gainfully employed and have suitable housing without any form of discrimination by employers and landlords. The Second Chance Act of 2006 must be passed without further delay.
I believe proudly in the union movement.
I believe in privacy for people and their protection from a prying government.
I believe in civil rights, and I believe in human rights.
I believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
I believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in North Carolina are our problems; that the future of the in Los Angeles is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive, and live decently, is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in El Paso Texas is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 70 years the people created a better future for our children, using traditional principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities:
The people did it and the people can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. We as a people must understand how we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation's family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people. We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion.
We know we can, stand up and move this country forward better by applying the principles that we have used for so many years. The principles that helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher; that gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of one America. And it's a story that I didn't read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands work 15 and 16 hours a day on the railroad. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my grandfather. And, I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my grandmother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children, and they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation's government did that for them.
2006 will be a year of great promise and hard work. It will take rededicating our principles. For my family and I, it will be a year of new doors opening. The stage has been set for my rebirth of what I love to do. To be in the trench, in the thick if things as I work hard to bring voice to the voiceless and inspire hope in the hopeless. I may be an ex-offender, but I paid my debt to society and I refuse to allow them to cast me off as a second-class member of society. I pay taxes just like the next person. I bleed red blood just like anyone else. I just made a mistake like many others. My better days are ahead of me. If nothing else that I do in life, it will be to hold my head up and give respect to others as well as earn the respect of others, not by what I did in life, but for what I am doing to make a difference in the lives of others.
I may have wasted much of my life, but as I have grown older and wiser. I know that even though much has been wasted, much is still ahead of me. My better days are yet to come. We as a people have this moment to do all that we can to make this country what it truly can be one neighborhood at a time.
So let this new year begin with great promise. I urge you all to stand up for what you feel is right. Work hard to defeat discrimination of any kind. Defend those who have lost their way. Teach our children no matter how young or how old to speak up and be counted. Our time is now whether we know it or not. No longer can anyone tell you that you are 'second class' unless you of course you let them. No longer can people trample on you because you are an ex-offender trying to do right and clear your name by working hard, and being honest, unless of course you let them.
I urge all of you to be strong. Be of good courage. Be not afraid neither be dismayed. We are a people dedicated and bond together as human beings. Lift up those that we do not want to see. Reach out to those that may look different and face despair and hunger.
For me, this is the year that I break the chains that have bound me for the past three years while on parole. I was lost, but now I see. And the world I choose to see is one that is compassionate towards one another. Where our hands are open to help, verses clinched and ready to fight.
Life is too short to be in constant disagreement. Let us not focus on those things in which divide us. Lets work hard on those things that unite us as a people.
Like the old Christian song says, "Let there be Peace on Earth…. And let it begin with me."