I’m all for more locally-focused programming on our public radio stations. WBUR has pretty much decided that it’s not worth investing in; the once-a-week “Radio Boston” is moderately interesting, but once a week doesn’t cut it. Especially when it runs on Friday afternoon.
So I was pleased to hear that part of WGBH’s recent makeover as an all-talk station would be to add two daily hours of local talk radio: Emily Rooney at noon, and Callie Crossley at 1 pm, every weekday, starting today.
Unfortunately, Rooney’s first hour has been rough sailing so far. First, there was some weird glitch whereby the NPR newscast was still audible while Rooney was trying to introduce her show and her first two guests: Governors Deval Patrick and Don Carcieri (RI). Awkward.
Then she started the discussion with perhaps the biggest non-story of the day: Harry Reid’s comments about Barack Obama’s skin tone and lack of a “Negro dialect.” First, this story has exactly nothing to do with Massachusetts. Wasn’t this supposed to be a locally-focused show? Then she kept calling the chair of the Republican National Committee “Mark Steele” until Carcieri finally had to remind her that his name is Michael. And then she framed the issue about as absurdly as she could by comparing Reid’s comments with Trent Lott’s famous remarks back in 2002 about how great it would have been if Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948. Now, I’m sorry, but the notion that Reid’s remark (which was phrased in unfortunate terms, but which is probably fairly accurate as a commentary on the state of the American electorate, as two African-American commentators on “The Takeaway,” which also airs on WGBH, opined just this morning — read one’s analysis here) is somehow comparable to Lott’s comments (which said that the country would have been better off if an ardent segregationist had been elected president) is completely ridiculous. It’s too bad that neither Patrick nor Carcieri called her on it.
Anyway, then we moved onto an issue that does affect both MA and RI, namely, casino gambling. But, weirdly, Rooney’s hook was to suggest that MA and RI, along with CT, engage in some kind of multi-state revenue sharing. Huh? No one else is talking about that, and that’s presumably because it makes no sense. Neither Governor had any interest in talking about the revenue sharing idea, unsurprisingly. She repeatedly tried to get them to talk about it; they wouldn’t, preferring to talk more generally about whether expanded gaming is a good idea. (By the way, Patrick is clearly still interested in bringing resort casinos to Massachusetts, though he didn’t sound like it was exactly his top priority.)
Hmm. Well, I still like the idea of more locally-focused public radio. Better luck tomorrow.