The fall of National Panhandler Radio

I was once fired by WGBH.

I say that only to establish my credentials to comment on the accelerating collapse of Boston NPR – National Panhandler Radio.

A couple of days ago, it was WBUR announcing buyouts, which are inevitably followed by layoffs.

Now it’s WGBH declaring that it too is facing “headwinds,” and here are two facts that illustrate just how dire their financial jeopardy is.

WGBH has 850 employees – 850!

Jim Braude, the “executive editor” and talk-show host, made $470,855 in 2021.

And Braude was only the fifth highest-paid employee at the station that year.

What’s happening at the local whine-and-cheese outlets was described perfectly in one of Ernest Hemingway’s early novels:

“How did you go bankrupt?”

“Two ways,” Hemingway’s hero replied. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

WBUR and WGBH appear to be entering phase two.

Panhandler radio is now confronting the same problems as the rest of mass media – it’s not nearly as “mass” as it used to be.

The reality is, the old WGBH business model of tote bags and umbrellas is no longer viable. You don’t need to pledge $39 a month to get your daily dose of Democrat agitprop, delivered by pampered twits with posh British accents.

The downfall of NPR is being portrayed as a tragedy, and it is – at least for Gov. Maura Healey and Mayor Michelle Wu.

Where will they now go for their slobbering monthly softball interviews if the 74-year-old half-million-dollar man and his about-to-turn-70 sob-sister sidekick have to finally dodder off to NPR’s version of Marion Manor?

Like everyone else, WGBH and WBUR were caught flatfooted by the new technology, but WGBH even more so, I believe.

They had Channel 2, with Ken Burns and all the rest of those paralyzing snore-mongers.

They also figured, hey, we got the kids’ stuff — Sesame Street and Arthur. People will always love us. First cable wrecked that monopoly, and since then the internet has decimated cable.

YouTube is where it’s at now. Just ask Ms. Rachel.

Over the last five years or so, what has WGBH done to adjust to the new reality?

They dropped the “W” from WGBH, so it’s now “GBH.” And er, that’s about it.

Once upon a time, both radio stations provided services you couldn’t get in most of the United States – good jazz and classical music programming. Hell, Boston even had a commercial classical music station.

Those may be niche formats, but some of us liked having a jazz alternative – Tony Cennamo on WBUR, for one, as well as Eric Jackson on WGBH, which also had a weekend blues show. All those quirky public-radio shows, and so many more, faded away – gradually, then suddenly.

Both stations morphed into 21st century versions of the old Radio Moscow, only instead of venerating Uncle Joe Stalin, they worship Uncle Joe Biden.

It worked, for a while, until it didn’t. Now, who needs ‘em? You can get your Democrat agitprop anywhere – MSNBC, CNN, any of the alphabet networks. And now George Soros is buying bust-out commercial radio stations like WEEI. It’s a fire sale out there.

The same problems are faced by the unreadable, news-free alt-left newspapers.

If you subscribe to the New York Times, why do you need The Washington Post? It’s the same damn crap, in every last one of them. They don’t even cover local news anymore.

State-run media are hemorrhaging money, across the board. The WaPo lost $100 million last year. The list of failed media ventures just this year is too lengthy to list.

Cable TV is circling the drain as well – the only thing keeping MSDNC out of NPR’s dire straits is the fact that millions of aging cable subscribers haven’t yet figured out how to cut the cord and still keep their Internet service from Comcast.

It’s weird, isn’t it, how all these Democrat operatives with press passes who’ve been telling us how marvelously well Bidenomics is working are now getting laid off… by the thousands.

As for my back story, I worked briefly for Channel 2, when they had something called The Ten O’Clock News. I was on, I think, once a week, with a 2-3 minute taped package. I chased hacks around the State House, mainly, just like I’d done on the commercial TV channels.

Channel 2 was my first experience at a “non-profit.”

It was a total departure from life at Channel 7. Getting whacked at Channel 7 was like a mob hit – two in the hat, then your body was dumped in the trunk of a rented car and left in the long-term parking lot at Logan.

At Channel 2, when an intern left, after six weeks, the Beautiful People would throw a giant farewell party – catered food from Joyce Chen, top-shelf booze, party favors etc.

Everything on the arm.

Anyway, when I started appearing on Channel 2, every trust-funded pampered puke at the Globe went crazy. After all, it was their television station.

Finally one of the bow-tied bum kissers wrote a column suggesting that WGBH patrons begin a boycott until my blasphemous presence was banished from the hallowed halls of Channel 2.

He only recommended withholding a quarter or so, until I was fired, but WGBH got the message.

I was gone within a week.

So much for their vaunted journalistic independence. A couple of years later, the newscast decided to investigate the Bulger crime family. That lasted right up until the moment WGBH had to go to the State House to renew its annual one-day liquor license for the big soiree that brought in even more cash than the umbrellas and the tote bags.

That liquor license had to be approved by the legislature. Guess who was the president of the state Senate?

Goodbye, 10 O’Clock News.

All these years later, what can do WGBH and WBUR do now? It’s too late to go back to jazz or classical. Streaming ended that option long ago.

Maybe they could sell out to the snake-chuckers, as we called them — the Christian broadcasters. EMF bought a failed Boston “alt-rock” station, maybe they could use a couple more worthless local pinko outlets.

Or perhaps the two dying NPR signals could merge, the way they used to do with fading morning and evening newspapers.

Would Soros be interested in two more acquisitions? Combine and then move them to the WEEI stick – another famous-long-ago station now running on fumes.

By the way, when I left corporate radio a decade ago, a local show on Channel 2 predicted that my career was over. That ridiculous show has long since been canceled, unlike me.

Now the stations themselves are reeling. I’m still hanging in there, relishing the schadenfreude of the decline and fall of National Panhandler Radio.

It is not enough to succeed, as they say. Others must fail.

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