If a commercial station wants to be number one in its market, it spends money on research, contests, and advertising to be the most popular radio signal in town. But that is not the purpose of the public FM band (87-92 MHz), which can better serve the public with alternatives to other local programming.

When a tiny, 900-watt college FM station in Norfolk, Virginia, switched from its educational/reading programs to a music-only format (jazz, rhythm and blues, big band) in the Eighties, the change led to the demise of three AM radio powerhouses: WRAP (rap), WTJZ (jazz), and WCPK (big band). But now WNSB-FM must cater to the jazz-only listener for that market, as a public FM station.

Also, no one can compare Virginia, Ohio, or even Detroit or Atlanta (as Mr. Nielsen tried) with the Miami market, which has a uniquely international population. Alternative programs may not work for Hot 105 or KISS-FM, but they are needed on public radio. WLRN, 100,000 watts strong, should use its power to attract more of the Spanish-speaking audience with music and variety shows such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Caribbean, Brazilian, Argentine, as well as British and American folk -- without the hate-talk. And local print media should list the daily music schedule, as they do for television.

Another suggestion would be to record the monthly school board meetings for rebroadcast that evening, so working parents can hear about their children's school board.

WLRN's moneymaking efforts could also go further and include a radio auction of goods, as well as fundraising in three languages. I agree with Steve Malagodi that "music brings people together"; Miami has many different cultures of music to offer. But while commercial radio picks one music format, public radio does not have to work that way. WLRN should not have to abandon its national news and talk shows in search of a younger audience. But adding a variety of more music geared to Miami's diverse market could bring the "public" back to public radio.

Charles Meads, Jr.
Miami Beach

WLRN: Quit Begging Already
I first began supporting WLRN in 1976 or so, in appreciation of its weekly broadcasts of American folk festivals. Since then they have initiated pledge drives, first once per year, now up to twice. Although I still like some of their folk programming, I have recently decided not to join during the pledge interruptions.

Both WLRN radio and television have recently become aggressive in their on-air self-promotion. This turns me off. When I gave up watching Channel 17, it was superimposing its logo on the screen six times per hour, detracting from the quality of its shows.

Those people interviewed in Kirk Nielsen's article were singing the praises of WDNA-FM. I also used to like and subscribe to WDNA when they had Evan Cherin's "Notes from the Underground," other rock-oriented specialty shows, and the Henry Logan poetry program. If it's true that there is a coming Cubanization of WLRN, then perhaps its casualties might get together with the castoffs from WDNA and start a decent station that would be freely funded and uninterrupted by pledges or commercials.

Two final points: I think that to rid WLRN of the school board would be tantamount to children kicking their parents out of the house.

Also, the original idea for public broadcasting was to have an alternative venue, a nexus for all sorts of specialty programs that were not in the mainstream. To submerge that idea in search of ratings defeats the purpose.

I hope that in the new millennium there will be some variety broadcast stations left, places for uninterrupted music, poetry, radio comedy, drama, art, dance -- whatever people desire to hear or see.

David Melvin Thornburgh
Miami Beach

WLRN: A God Among the Heathens
Why should WLRN lower its standards to appease an audience that's captious, solipsistic, and sybaritic? In short, highly critical no matter what, into itself, and thinkless. You know the old saying: "Don't throw your pearls before swine." As a whole, Miami's population does not exactly consist of civic-minded erudites. We are much more into glamour, fine cars, and trendy movies than theater or opera.

When compared to New Yorkers, Chicagoans, or Bostonians, Miamians are like hillbillies who wear expensive overalls and drive $100,000 tractors, abounding in materialistic prosperity but misinformed, uncultivated, indifferent, and unresponsive to culture and to the arts. There are a lot more airheads than philanthropists living in Miami.

Gee, I wonder what would happen if more Cubans learned to speak Creole and actually took an interest in Haitian culture and language? We'd find that there are many things within diverse cultures that overlap, including sufferance and discrimination, only a lot worse for Haitians -- you can't hide color. And what if Miamians took a greater interest in their school board? Do you think people might unite and improve our city? But no, this is not what we want. We just want more hedonistic pleasure.

The station is trying to send a message that we, in our aloofness, selfishness, and stolidness, are failing to grasp. "Language splits people apart"? I disagree with Steve Malagodi. Language is everything. The issue as I see it is not whether WLRN should change its format, but whether WLRN's aims are too noble and reputable for Miami.

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