3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts


Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired.    Tuesday
March 3rd, 1993.   It was a show on Norplant.    There was a huge
controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive
administered by the city health department to mostly inner
city teenagers.   Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug
were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond
the rates of teen pregnancy in the city.

So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air.    Four guests, all women,
an hour and a half with no breaks.   We started the show with a short
documentary that we produced on the subject.  We did that a lot in the
first year of our show.    I miss that.

Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity.    In 1990 after
three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for
an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance.
It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and
the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound,
music and voices for radio.

I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish
Music.  I knew it was an idea that could work.    So did David Creagh,
the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the
idea.   Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great
board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into
some financial difficulties.    It is still a great idea and I have
the proposal waiting in my files.

A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my
dentist’s office.   Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I
first met him.   He was now the new GM of WJHU.     We sat there in
the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing
and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural
wonders and histories found in our back yards.   Charlie, besides
being my and Dennis’s dentist, had been my Dad’s best friend and my
natural history mentor since I was a young lad.

At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when
he said to me “We are thinking about launching a public affairs
program at WJHU.    You know this city so well from the street corners
to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas.”
Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was
“You should let me be the host!”   Dennis said but you don’t know
anything about radio.   I said, ” What do you have to know?   You
read, you talk and ask people questions.  I do that at my dining room
table all the time.”

Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door.   I would not let go.  I hocked
him for months.   Finally, one day when I was at the station, after
bugging him for months, he said “OK, here is your desk, here is your
phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered
every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30.    That will be your time slot.
See what you can do.”   I took it.   And the rest is history.   Well
there is much more to that history, but we’ll leave that for another day.


Tomorrow is a very critical primary day.  Not for John McCain, he
has the Republican primary all sewn up.  Well, then again it might
be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how
they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one
another could have a profound effect on the November general election.

If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not
forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic
nomination is still on.   It could get quite volatile and nasty.
Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by
tomorrow night.    Lawsuits could erupt.   The Democrats could commit
fratricide.  You never know, it has happened before.    The Democratic
front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party
to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day

If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would
not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way.   If she doesn’t, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest
to regain the White House.   If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill
Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and
its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego.

The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories
about the race.   On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates.   The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil
liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from
police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot
Act.   Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and
Senator Clinton’s record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable.

While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply
about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their
liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values.
I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is
that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion
liberty.   Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common


So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a
.   The state says Constellation still has to reimburse
citizens for the rate increase.    Constellation thinks that since the
legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light
then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates.

While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts
there is a question that going unanswered by anyone.    Steve Larson
does a great job.   He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he
nor Constellation’s representatives ever answered the question I think
is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show.

Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of
state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit?     What are the
inner workings and relationships of these two companies?    One is
owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards
from this alleged economy of scale.    There is a serious
investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that
must be had here.   Where is it?  Is it going on?

It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult
Americans are in jail

This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in
Bill Clinton’s eight years.   Clinton’s administration maxed out the
time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember?    Who
snorts it and who smokes it?

That is not even the most important issue.    People like Governor
Martin O’Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something
about this.   We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult
justice systems.    Put money at the front end, create a responsible
system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen
sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non
violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent
offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation
and hope

America can become the leader in the new world green economy.    In
the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the
new green economy and our infrastructure.

One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the
21st century.

Your thoughts?


33 Responses

  1. Woohoo! Great post.

    This morning I was thinking about Steiner high points. Other listeners will have their favorites, but for me, the quintessential Steiner moment could have come during the debate about whether some Baltimore middle schools should be taken over by the state. I thought that souffle collapsed the moment Marc elicited the admission that the state bureaucrats had no idea what they would do different or better than the city school agency was doing. They just wanted to take over the schools, then put out a request for proposals. Ack.

    I learned a lot about education during the two centuries I listened to The Marc Steiner Show. The big thing I learned is, we pretty much know what works. We don’t need to keep beating that dead mule. Another thing I learned was, it costs money. I cleaned out my ears when I thought I heard Bonehead Bob Ehrlich tell Marc we didn’t need to spend more money, we only needed to spend the existing funds more efficiently. Even Ehrlich couldn’t have been that stupid, could he?

    Well yeah, he could. The projected state request for proposals seemed like a wishful-thinking hope that somebody out there had a secret magic solution.. I bring news – there is no magic solution.

  2. With regards to “Lock them up and throw away the key”

    I have worked on the addictions field for about 16 years. I used to do psychiatric evaluations in an west baltimore hospital. One of the things that I was most struct with was the lack of detox facilities for folks… There are several smaller rehab programs in the city… many very good… such “I can’t We Can”, The Helping Up Mission, BCRI, ect… but many of these programs do not have medical detox facilties and must rely on local hospitals for detox service. The problem his in general ERs and short term psych hopsitalizations have requirements of being a danger to self or others… meaning you are actively suicidal or homicidal… As a rsult these rehabs were forced to coach their prospective clients on how to lie to the ER just to get detoxed…. As addiction clinicians we understood this is the game that needed to be played in order for folks to get help…

    But here lies the problem… while there are many issues that keep people chained to addiction (such as povert, social environment, lack of employment, mental health issues) one of the biggest is the illness of addiction itself. Addiction is a brain illness… it is a medical condition where the brain is altered; it is hijacked…. withdrawal symptoms and craving can feel life threatening… and at times are depending on the drug.

    We desperately need more of continuim of care here in Baltimore… not only prevention and education, but access to to detox facilities, more rehabs and Outpatient treatment, relapse provention…. also housing; it is hard to stay clean/sober if you are living on the streat or in a crack house… I still can not get over the “tent City” at the end of 83 as you are coming into downtown…. To think we have the money for 2 stadiums, and a new civic center but we have people living under plastic tarps and in tents…. Anyway… I’ll get off my soap box

    bottom line it is alot easier to lock folks up than provide necessary treatment and the social support needed to help them stay clean and begin to rebuild their

    “Where there is a will there’s a way”… As a city and nation there not enough people that have that will

  3. Most of the recent discussion about Tuesday’s primaries has been ludicrous. If I can be more clear, let me know.

    The bloviations of the nitwit, thumbsucking, chit-chat artists that polluted our media last week might have made sense when Hillary had 20% leads. Now, however, Clinton could “win” all four states and not overtake Obama’s lead in delegates. Why are people yammering about “winning” states in the context of proportional delegate distribution, when the delegate count is the only thing that matters?

  4. Michael,

    No need to get off that particular soap box.

    Marc and Michael,

    Do you have any insights as to whether a shift in attitudes about the whole treatment-imprisonment conundrum is taking place? I have a feeling it might be, but this feeling is squishy and not based on real information.

    Several things have bothered me about the campaigns so far – not just at the pres level, but at legislative levels also. One concern is that the incarceration-treatment issue just is not being discussed. Is Michael right? Do we not care?

  5. I work both at sheppard pratt on a dual diagnosis unit (substance abuse and mental illness) and at an out-patient practice where I co-lead a State appoved DWI group(or other drug offenses) and a men’s relapse prevention group… I no longer work in th city so I’m a little out of the loop…. But in general many judges will mandiate treatment, manditory urinalysis, attending 12 step meetings… some of our clients go to “drug court” where they have to report to a case-manager every week and periodically appear for the judge for a review. At least with the cases I’ve seen the Drug court will order more more intensive treatment rather than jail time for a dirty urine or relapse… but it really depends on the program and the judge as well as the person’ history and the nature of the offense… it is ironic that while addiction is recognized as medical condition/illness it is also a crime…

  6. ^^^
    Just for clarification…. these are cases in Baltimore County…. not the city… I’m not sure what, if anything they try to put in place for non-violent drug possession offenses.

    At Sheppard we get a fair amount of folks from the city… If they have insurance or MA we try to get them into rehab and OP treatment, if they are homeless we refer them to healthcare for the homeless, and/or some of the free rehabs…if they are willng to go… “Partners In Recovery” an OP rehab that has locations in Baltimore City, Towson, and Harford County works with folks who don’t have insurance

    But there needs to be a lot more treatment and follow-up care. The relapse statistics on on folks coming out of rehabs is about 82%. By definition addiction is a chronic relapsing illness… So it is not just about going to a rehab…that is the starting point

  7. 1 in a hundred in jail is frightening enough. More frightening to me is that neither a Clinton victory nor an Obama victory will change it. Whatever the Democratic party “and its beliefs” are, they don’t address such serious problems in a useful way.

  8. Checking in to verify the notorious dentist office dialog. Other anecdotal info… Ironically, I asked Marc if he thought Dan Rodricks would do a local talk show justice. Marc’s short answer, I’ll never forget: “I think it should be me.”

    A radio talk show is part theater and part production value along with sound editorial judgment or a well-defined and well-defended point of view. Marc had all of these and I was an idiot for not thinking of him in the first place. When public radio was first sticking its toe in these waters, news departments including NPR’s tried to distance themselves from the content. Fortunately, Dianne Riehm and others didn’t let that stop them, and Marc became part of the second generation who, by their gutsy, and partly naive entrance into the market validated the notion that it could raise the bar of our highest ideals of community service.

    One important addition… the Steiner Show became the centerpiece of the hears-and-minds battle to win station support during a major format change that could have killed the station had it not been successful. The NPR news talk string was solid but we had to have something more and the MSS was it.

    I’d like to thank Marc and others who made that happen. Chris Czeh, the Chief Engineer who made the network interface smooth. Chris Wienk, the Program Director, whose work included branding the new station and analyzing the research that verified our gut feelings. Nan Rosenthal, whose work with local arts and charitable organizations brought a new dimension to our sense of community service. Kevin Donohue, whose former work and contacts in local commercial radio sales helped increase support from the advertising and business sector. Deborah Davis whose patience and dedication empowered the membership efforts. Andy Bienstock, whose talents, skills, and work ethic made him available not only for great jazz programming but the reliable designated hitter for anyone too burnt out to make their shift.

    Geez! I haven’t thought of those days in a long time. It was a good run, Marcy Marc. You done good and you got work yet to do. The FM band has become too narrow for your exploits and everything happens for a reason. Take the next step and don’t look back.

  9. Marc—

    Don’t let ’em stop you. You were bringing real issues to the airwaves and I find it hard to believe that YPR would make such a “lateral” move (at best).

    On the statistic: The incarceration rate is not surprising and even less surprising is the statistic within the statistic which is the numbers of minorities in prison: black men. I saw that the stat for is 1/9 black men were incarcerated and 1/36 latino men.

    Combine that with an obscene lack of opportunity within certain segments of our society, the barriers to entry into a better life, and the out and out danger associated with inner-city life, it’s clear that the country doesn’t see this as a problem… It’s just an accident on the side of the road that we all slow down for… I’ve given up the notion of fairness or hope for caring from the country, city or even county at large.

    I’m witness to a spouse who teaches at an exclusive private school with a 2% black population where my wife, the teacher used the word homogenous in class and none of the ninth grade students knew what that meant… That’s all too telling. Signing off.

  10. … Just discussed my post with my wife and: I’m sorry. She’s right. This country has proven it cares for black men and the statistic must be wrong because we don’t know anybody in prison…

  11. The facts around us are clear: our country is becoming more of a “security state” every year: more and more people in prison, especially black people; more court-sanctioned authority to invade our privacy; and now a de-facto approval of TORTURE and holding suspects indefinitely without charges! After years of obsessing over presidential politics, I am starting to wonder if it would be more effective for us to start to change things locally. Like Michael said, we all know that a new president will not change these things. The major media focuses on “leaders”; what we need is to take things into our own hands right in our own neighborhoods, on the small scale. Isn’t that right?

  12. Thanks, Marc, for “The Wire” stuff. That show is more real than any other tv show. I enjoy hearing its people talk about it.

    Now a word about the Democratic party. What its candidates have going for them is that they’re not Republicans. Well, neither am I! I don’t ask for anyone to vote for me! Remember Bill Clinton’s campaign to “end welfare as we know it” and the increase in poverty which accompanied it? That is are significant evidence of who that party is. Others may prefer other examples but the point is clear. I know progressive people who, out of fear of the Bush presidency, intend to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, whoever it is. I agree that Bush is scary but the Democrats are also. The consciousness is widespread that it is one or the other, Republican or Democrat . We have got to figure out how to use the elections to educate people about the difficult situation we are all in. There is ample evidence that hoping the Democrats will save us is not realistic. We need to build something else. It will be hard to do and will take time but it has got to be done.

  13. // The consciousness is widespread that it is one or the other, Republican or Democrat . We have got to figure out how to use the elections to educate people about the difficult situation we are all in. There is ample evidence that hoping the Democrats will save us is not realistic. We need to build something else. It will be hard to do and will take time but it has got to be done. //


    I don’t necessarily disagree with you on any of this, but there’s something to be said for the idea of trying to change the Democratic Party from the inside. Neither major party is a stationary, unchanging monolith; while both parties are certainly beholden to moneyed interests, it is in their interests to at least PRETEND to represent the people’s points of view. The GOP’s “Southern Strategy” is an obvious example.

    If this country were already being run in a Center-Left direction, and if there were a solid majority of citizens firmly in the political middle, I might agree that building a progressive third party is crucial. But there are a lot of extremely conservative people in this country, and if the Far-Left were to defect from the Dems, things would be even worse than they currently are. (And no, I’m not covertly blaming Nader for Gore’s loss.)

    We need to pressure the Dems to be better, not run away and sulk because they don’t do exactly what we want.

    For now, the Dems are the best we can do. In my opinion.

  14. I look at this on a couple levels.. We have very complex problems in society… We need intelligent, thoughtful, objective people addressing them…. Too often problems are viewed(and defined) by our political ideologies… both left and right…. If we are looking at issues soley through the lense of our ideologies we will never see the problem as it truely is…. So the result then is that our solutions are also driven by those idealogies…

    What we lack is common ground and a common view and acceptance of the problem…. Unless we find that common ground we will never make significant strides in solving our nation’s problems…

    And here is where I get really cyncial … as a whole the american public is dumb as hell !!! They make their minds up based on 30 second informercials, are largely ignorant even about what their party believes… They have poorly thought out views and little understanding… or a desire to understand our the complexity of issues… After the 2000 election I heard an bush suypporter say he voted for Bush “because he was the one that he was more likely to want to drink a beer with” Unbelievable….!!! and the rub is… Bush doesn’t even drink !!! Ask a working class republican who just got lost his job to out-sourcing so the company’s stockholders can make more money what “Supply side or trickle down economics” is and you will probably get a blank Stare… but he is voting for George Bush !!!

    The democrats are guilty of this as well… We have gone overboard protecting people from taking personal responsibility and are “politically correct” to the point that it is sickening…

    We need leaders who can put party politics aside… roll up their sleeves and take a problem solving approach….

    I may get jeers for saying this but when I think of this I think of someone like Gov. Arnold Shwarzenegger in CA…and while I don’t agree with all of his views he has been able to put party politics on the back burner and focused on solving problems… I was impressed with his coming out early and acknowledging Global Warming(when that wasn’t a “republican” thing to do) and putting an action plan in place regardless who it pi$$ed off. Infact my defination of a good leader is someone who can piSS off both parties… then you know they are doing their job… The exception being George Bush of Course LOL !!!

  15. Marc,

    I agree that there some common ground between libertarians and civil libertarians. The growing mass of independent voters seem a bit more interested in issues like privacy, warrantless wiretapping, the extraordinary incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders due to minimum sentencing and other issues of freedom. I read with alarm the ever increasing militarization of police forces and the abuse of “no knock” raids.

    While there is some cyncism about the intelligence of the American public, I tend to think we are seeing evidence of a generational shift. I see younger people as more tolerant… and in a democracy, the great unsung virtue is tolerance, the willingness to generally ignore those celebrations of freedom one finds less than compelling. It is the lesson of tolerance that both major American political parties seem to find difficult.

  16. Michael,

    There’s a lot of what you say that I agree with, but here’s the question: how did the American people get to be dumb as hell, to only be able to make a decision based on a 30 second commercial? It’s the way we’ve constructed (probably destructed is a better term) our educational system. We’ve created a system focused on how to fill in bubbles in a quick fashion based on limited information. Out of that ability comes funding for the public schools and ways to evaluate private schools (via SAT scores, etc.)

    IMO, it’s worse in public schools where the ideal student sits down, shuts up, peels back his/her skull and allows information to be put in. At least the private schools, the top ones, focus on some interactive learning processes.

    But we’ve been doing this for waaaayyy too long, and we are really reaping what we have sown. On the one end, as someone who works on the post-graduate level as an experiential teacher, one of the topics that keeps coming up is the difficulty, even the inability, that many of our learners have in addressing complex issues and being self-motivated in learning. If there’s not a bubble test at the end, they don’t know what to do. OTOH, even at this post-graduate level, there’s a lot that’s still being measured by the performance of our graduates on bubble tests, too.

    At the other end, you have massive failures for the students who, for any of a number of reasons, can’t fit into the sit down, shut up mode and don’t have other resources to access to help them get through life other than those that are deemed illegitimate. Hence the 1/100 people in jail.

    I agree with you about the problems of over-regulation and the lack of emphasis on personal responsibility. There has to be a better balance.

    But the key thing is, as you point out right at the beginning, these are very complex problems. If we think there are simple solutions, we are kidding ourselves.

  17. Theresa,

    I don’t know I would blame this on the education system….. Politics are an extention of our values more than anything… not so much about education…. We tune out or embrace ideas that are consistent with our world view which in many cases comes from our families.. our faith/religious traditions, ect… I grew up knowing alot of evangelial christians… and the majority of them are republicans….. they are college educated folks…. their views on money, their fellow man, poverty, addiction are shaped not by the eucational system but by much stronger issues…

    I grew up in a democratic home,, catholic… went to CCD; volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters….. these experiences shaped my values…
    and convictions …. Family, values ,life experiences, religious influences are very powerful….

    Then you have ignorance…. Want to see that in action… Watch the Rodeo scene on the Borat movie where the crowd is cheering about killing muslums and the old cowboy is implying should we kill all gay and lesbian folks…. I’m sure there are alot of “educated” folks there…. But most people go through life with blinders on…. Socrates said ” an unexamined life is not worth living” … problem is many people are content to live ann unexamined life.. and they look at the world through the lense of those values… you can present them with all the information but if it doesn’t fit their world view they will tune it out…. not all people off course… but many

  18. Addition….


    I’m not saying schools should play no role…. I have also worked in schools in the city and county …. We have character Ed programs…. School wide lessions about “being spectul, responsbile, trustworth, prepared”. Schools now also have manditory school service hours. But schools are have the primary responsibility of educating kids as to the 3 R’s….. And school curriculums are largely driven by state and federal mandates now…..

    But I know what you mean…. a good private school potentially can do a better job at helping kids develop a moral foundation…. potentially…..
    If kids are fortunate enought to go tto a private school…. they are generally exposed to more teaching about ethics and morality…. The question is whoses morality….. Ideas about right and wrong are diverse…..

    And when I was in H.S. the place to g to buy drugs was the local private, religious high school.

    I do remember something that my H.S social studies teacher said in class that has stuck with me my entire life … ” your rights stop when they start infringing on the rights of others” …that was powerful….. and guides how I think about many social issues….

    But I know that even that powerful statement would have been tuned out or just forgottten if it had not been for the values instilled in me by my family and my the catholic church that I came up in. I’m not a religous person now… might consider myself a pantheist… butt I have great respect and appreciation for the role the church placed in my life a young person…. from lessions about the compassion of Jesus for the poor, to volunterring at soup kitchens and clothing drives for the homeless, to organizanizing the large” Housing Now” Rally for down in DC in 1988…. It was these experiences that shaped me….

  19. Michael,

    I agree with you that background and other issues do play a significant role, but your background and mine are significantly different: I grew up in a suburban, upper middle class Southern home where both parents were devout Republicans and non-church goers, really didn’t emphasize community involvement (although they were involved, I’ll admit) and I went to that local, private school (secular, though) where kids bought the drugs.

    Yet I’d bet if you and I got together, our political ideas and values probably wouldn’t be dramatically different.

    What I was talking about with the educational system had to do with what you are talking about in quoting Socrates. Students these days are rarely asked to examine anything, much less their own lives. They are taught to read and memorize and regurgitate on limited testing. Teachers teach to the test because that’s how they keep their jobs. This starts at a very early level. My kid is in third grade at what is often considered the ‘best public school in the city’ and this is the year testing starts. MSAs are coming up and that’s all, and I mean all, they are doing. There’s no creative thinking, there’s no investigation, there’s just sit down, shut up, take the test.

    We’re raising a really good generation of Dilberts.

    I remember reading a looonnng time ago an article, maybe in the Atlantic, about a parent who chose a private school education for his child, and referred to it as an ‘education for the ruling class.’ I am realizing how true that is.

    So by keeping people dumbed down through the ‘education’al process, and keeping them otherwise occupied by weapons of mass distraction such as American Idol, that ruling class finds it much easier to manipulate the Americans that you referred to as ‘dumb.’ But is it their fault?

    And those that don’t fit into that model, particularly those who drop out of school, who are branded as ‘difficult’ from the beginning, these are the ones who most frequently wind up as part of that 1 in 100 now in jail.

    You clearly got a lot from your family, your religious education and the rest of your background. If only more people had the supportive kind of system you describe, we might be in a much different place.

    The question is, how do we get there?

  20. Theresa,

    I think you and I are in agreement as to what is happening in school…. Schools do “teach to the test” and there is little emphasis on free, critical thinking….

    I grew up in the 1970s-1980s and I even back then we didn’t have “civics” classes… social Studies was about all you got…. But I would agree that teachers had more freedom to be creative and challenge students…. Sadly many of the best teachers are either pushed out or leave teaching because they refuse to compromise….

    I’m not sure what the answer is either… When I talk about accountability and personal responsibility… I think in terms of the role of parenting; a parents responsibility in raising their child; with instilling values, self control respect, making sure they support the educational process and that their children are “available for learning” when they come to school.

    I see the lack of that happening first hand every day…. and it happens in both the inner city and suburbea ; it crosses racial, class, and economic lines….

    Just because “it takes a Village” doesn’t mean parents are off the hook…but too many times we blame the schools when parents have not been holding up their end of the bargain….

    So it is the school, family, church, civic/community organizations and business…. all have a role to play….

    But again… there has to be a will and too many people are content just to be drones…. and rarely look beyond themselves….

    As as we have seen with Marc’s situation…. Challenging the status quo ; focusing on issues is threatening and unpopular; it makes people feel uncomfortable…. It reminds them that that ” it is not all about me” ….

    People don’t like that…. Look at the media and the Iraq war…. No one talks about how Bush Lied and manipulate intelligence; ignored intelligence telling him their were no WMD… He starteda war based on a lie…. But no one wants to acknowledge that… Why ?because both congress and a large percent of the american public went along with it….

    I want to hear a politician talking about that…. I want to hear the media talking about that…. But you won’t hear that…. Why because this administratin particularly… but also we as americans just deny what we don’t like… their is no ownership, no accountability…. It is easier to fabricate a story (that we are there to fight terrorists… when everyonme knows there were no terrorists in Iraq before the war) than to look at ourselves, at our politicians…. sat our values…. our foriegn policy, ect, ect, ect…

  21. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

    Letter from Barbara Bozzuto, Chair of WYPR’s Board of Directors:

    Dear WYPR Listener,

    Thank you for sharing your reaction to the cancellation of The Marc Steiner Show. I wish to offer you, our listener, some further information, and more importantly, I would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm the responsibilities that WYPR has in the community and to share our vision for the future.

    Declining ratings were emphasized as the reason for the show’s cancellation out of a desire to avoid any public discussion of complicated personnel issues. In retrospect I realize that you deserve more than a partial reason and one which, unfortunately, has created the impression that our motivations are the same as those which drive commercial radio. The fact is that the day-to-day interactions and decisions that need to be made to keep an operation like WYPR moving forward require cooperation, teamwork, and a shared purpose. While still respecting private personnel records, I just want to say that it became obvious that attempts to resolve disagreements on a variety of matters had failed. Change is always difficult but we must move forward.

    WYPR is an organization of unquestionable value to this community and one which can grow even stronger. Operating under a Strategic Plan established in 2003, Tony Brandon and WYPR’s staff of forty dedicated professionals have expanded the station’s broadcasting to Frederick and Ocean City, completed the conversion to a more powerful digital signal capable of multi-channel broadcasting, and expanded programming to include such popular local shows as The Signal, Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast, Digital Cafe, Sports at Large, Backstage at the BSO, and Postcards from the Walters. We now have a fully operational and growing local news department. WYPR’s budget has increased from $1.7 million in 2002 to more than $4.2 million dollars in 2007. With sound financial planning, the station reduces its debt each year and operates within a carefully approved annual budget. Your approval of the changes is manifested by the annual increase in membership and listener support.

    You, and our many listeners and members, are the lifeblood of this station. Some of WYPR’s listeners have expressed their concerns about the station’s commitment to the mission of public radio. I pledge to you that WYPR will continue to embrace enthusiastic dialogue and open discussion of issues that concern you. Public access to the airways will continue to be the mainstays of our programming. Our newest programming addition, Midday with Dan Rodricks, shares those ideals and will further those common goals with an experienced voice.

    Everyone at WYPR is deeply grateful for your support, enthusiasm and passion for Baltimore’s public radio station and in the coming months we will reach out to our listeners to renew their confidence that we are partners in this enterprise and that we share the same ideals for public radio. I thank you for your financial support and for caring so deeply about WYPR.

    Barbara Bozzuto
    Chair of WYPR’s Board of Directors

  22. Barbara Bozzuto’S letter is titled “WYPR’s Vision For the Future”
    Lots of rhetoric but not much vision. They can do better than that.
    She said “we are partners in this enterprise”…
    OK, but when are they really going to listen to the listeners.

  23. I, too, received Ms. Bozzuto’s letter and the more I think about it, the more infuriated I become. I cannot believe how incredibly insulting all of these comments from the (mis)management at WCPR have become, not only to Marc but also to those of us who have been longtime listeners and supporters.

    I am thinking of a careful response to this letter, but if she was hoping to get me and my spouse back, she’s only served to push me further away.

  24. My response below, followed by her response. It’s so touching how concerned she is for the public’s perception of Marc! Why, I get choked up just reading it. Yep.


    Dear Ms. Bozzuto,

    This letter rings patently false to me. Your claim that you are holding back from full disclosure regarding Mr. Steiner’s firing in order to protect personnel privacy would make more sense if he hadn’t publicly challenged the station’s management to share its reasons. If he is willing to cede his right to privacy on this matter, what reason would you have to protect it? I find your implication that there are perfectly valid reasons for the firing which you’re simply not at liberty to share to be condescending at best and highly suspicious at worst.

    Moreover, I remain very offended by the callous way in which Mr. Steiner was fired. It’s just not ok to drop a key contributor to your station with no notice whatsoever, especially one who has been running a lauded program for 15 years and who played a key role in saving the station. I also feel that the station management has let down its loyal listernership and failed in its duty to the public by not consulting with the Community Advisory Board on such a significant programming change.

    Sports at Large? Postcards from the Walters? These are not the reasons that I became a member of WYPR. Neither is jazz or national content. I felt personally connected and indebted to WYPR for its in-depth, balanced, nuanced local programming, provided largely by The Marc Steiner show. By losing him you have lost me, as well as several of my friends and family members who are not as motivated to share their opinions, but who are equally disappointed and angered by your actions. The only ways that you could regain my support and respect would be by bringing back Marc Steiner or, perhaps, by providing a valid explanation for his dismissal. Saying that you can’t tell us your reasons is NOT an explanation.

    Abigail Cocke


    Dear Ms Cocke– thank you for your letter responding to mine. I am of course sorry that you feel that way you do about our personnel issue. I can only say that there are decisions in business and in life that are painful but inevitable. I will never disparage Mr. Steiner in public or in private. I hope that someday you will tune back in….. you may be surprised. Barbara Bozzuto

  25. Theresa — I’m also just getting angrier and angrier. The more I read the response to my letter above, the more it comes off like a clumsy attempt at being manipulative.

    By saying that she would never disparage Marc, she’s implying that if she were to do as people are asking and explain the management’s actions, it would reflect negatively on him. She’s trying to taint his public image without actually coming out and saying anything clear, since she knows that it would get her in even deeper trouble with the station’s listeners if she were to do so. Obvious, underhanded, insulting.

    If I actually believed this response was sincere, I’d almost be more offended. What sort of person is willing to yank away a person’s life’s work, without even TELLING them it’s happening, but is somehow simultaneously too principled to badmouth that person?

    Definition: smarmy.

    Also, the management’s attempts to frame the issue by waving the word “personnel” around like a talisman could hardly be more overdone.

  26. Abby and Theresa, I hope you will go to

    and post comments there.
    There are a lot of people that want to save WYPR from itself. We need to discuss these things in that venue, as the editors of that blog want to assist us all in organizing!

  27. Sandy,

    What is the point of that blog? Organize to do what, approximately?

  28. Abby,

    Spot on.

    Only thing I would say is that in trying to appear to be ‘protecting’ Marc’s image, it’s clear she’s trying to shield herself and Brandon from their unsavory role in this whole process.

    Yes, sometimes business decisions have to be made. This was an unbelievably bad one.

    Smarmy hits it dead center.

  29. John Machen editorial letter in the Sun:
    It makes me scratch me head even more wondering what the truth is behind it all and if listeners are really going to benefit at all here.

  30. I had the exact feeling that Abby and Theresa expressed after I emailed Tony Brandon about my outrage over Marc’s dismissal and that I was withdrawing my membership support. (I also reminded him he wouldn’t have a job without Marc Steiner.) He replied with the form letter posted on the WYPR site. It is strange that the management does not seem worried about losing members: while they harp on the fact that listener support comprises a minority percentage of the budget – thus making the corporate funders’ opinions more important in decisions – they neglect to acknowledge that without our support, corporate funders would not be interested in WYPR as a viable entity.

  31. having browsed these blogs i am thinking- wow- some people actually live in the “blogosphere”!

    too much to read

    so why am i adding my voice-(sometimes i sit in front of the screen w some wine and just watch my fingers on the keyboard (i also play the piano)

    marc- and others- on the criminal justice issues- u just aren’t left enuff for me- i am an ex con and have worked in the system for 30 years

    it isn’t going to be reformed under capitalism- but you’re entitled to offer “rearrange the deck chair solutions on the sinking ship” solutions if u want- count me out- i’m getting old

    how about this one?- teach the offenders and ex-offenders about groups they can join to overthrow the system (they’re out there did ya kno?)

    if you’re saying-“well how are they going to support themselves”? “how are they going to get a ride to the suburbs”?
    hey- there are gurus in india who wander around naked and homeless begging and they survive!!!!

  32. I’m a resident at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and just came off a bruiser month working in the NICU. I’m an avid NPR listener, to put it mildly. Well, that and ESPN radio when it’s football season. The broadcasts are always on. They are my morning alarm clock, my breakfast and commute backdrop, whatever I can get when I sneak a listen during lunch, and my evening solace while trying to finish a ‘People’s History’ while also studying for the EM boards. I like to stay connected–to this community, to this country, and I feel one of the most unbiased and productive ways in which to do this is to remain tapped into NPR (and the bbc.com, but that’s a point of contention I have with the AP, not NPR). I have lived in many places up and down the East Coast, and have often thought of how the lineup at WYPR was full of superstars. The Signal, Inside MD politics, and of course, your show. It was THE forum. It was my/baltimore’s/my dry cleaner’s/the 5D ward clerk’s/my attending’s/the security guard at Trauma’s 12noon until 2pm. It’s a shame.

    I don’t have many other excuses regarding why I haven’t written much about the events surrounding your show’s cancellation and the political climate at WYPR. Needless to say I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it, but I neither want to beat a dead horse, nor open healing wounds. My main point is that you have my support, Marc, and I’m eagerly anticipating your next show. Just make sure you podcast so that I can still hear you when I make my move to Dallas! Also, how can I get my WYPR donations back? I’m mostly kidding!

    I do want to make one point, though, regarding the new show with Dan Rodricks. He’s not a bad radio presence, but he lacks in that critical element of substance and believability. Today’s show, 3/13/08, had a forgettable, redundant and kitsch roundtable discussion about the Spitzer scandal and Geraldine Ferraro’s comments–dead horse indeed. CNN is to Fox is MSNBC is to CBS is to Nightly News is never supposed to be to NPR… until recently. It’s, again, ashame. Hurry back, Marc.

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