Letters from the Issue of November 11-17, 2004

Public-radio lovefest, parks and mounted police, humans as panther bait

The Embrace of Public Radio

Peter J just wants to give you a big hug: Such venom! Such bile! And personal attacks! Gee, it's public radio, can't we all just get along? As Joe Cassara's counterpart at WLRN-FM, and the subject of one of the aforementioned attacks, I'd like to respond to his diatribe on WLRN in the "Letters" section (November 4).

Let's get the attack out of the way first. Joe, you're right on two-thirds of your descriptive phrase: The lisp (I guess my kindergarten speech therapist was not up to snuff) and the first part of the definition of "sycophant" -- I am a flatterer when it comes to WLRN, but I'm certainly not servile, nor is it for personal gain. I'm here because I love public radio and thoroughly believe in its and WLRN's mission. Matter of fact, I don't "need" this job -- I'm a full-time musician and worked for years at WLRN as an unpaid intern before gradually working my way up to my current operations position.

But enough about me! Joe, as operations manager of WDNA-FM, you speak of our mission as if it were some nefarious plot to insidiously take over the airwaves and listeners' minds. What we, and I'm sure you guys, are all about is serving our audience. Sure, we've opted for a news-talk format during the daytime hours (while, incidentally, expanding Len Pace's Evenin' Jazz program from three to five hours weeknights). But the reason for this is not "increasing member contributions," as you wrote.

I remind readers (don't have to tell you, Joe) that this is a nonprofit enterprise. We're not in Corporate Greed mode here, friends. Sure, we need those member contributions. As I've lisped on the air many times, that's because news/talk is a very expensive service, one that requires huge investments in equipment and personnel.

And it's not as if we're purveyors of Stern or Spears here. The quality, value, and to some listeners, downright necessity of our service in an era where the real bad guys have lapped up stations like candy and turned them into abysmal, vacuous excuses for profit-making, is evidenced by the avalanche of new listeners (and yes, members) who've come our way since we've adopted the NPR news format.

Oh, and by the way, while the Miami-Dade County Public Schools holds our license and pays the light bill and the phone bill, its financial contributions to our cause pale in comparison to revenue raised from our members and other community contributions.

I truly believe we in public broadcasting, major-market stations with hundreds of thousands of listeners like WLRN and committed community broadcasters like WDNA, share a common mission: to provide an enriching, enlightening, and intelligent service for our listeners and/or viewers, and to do it without corporate influence or interference. In that sense, we're all mom-and-pop operations. There's certainly room for all of us (the more the merrier, I say). It's unfortunate if any of us feels she or he must resort to sophomoric name-calling (LaBonehead?) in discussing our programming decisions.

Oh, and Joe, any time you need a dub of a program you missed, just give me a holler. Hope you can do the same for me.

"Peter J" Maerz, senior operations specialist



Horse Manure

I do not have a problem with the police -- is that clear? To expect that a journalist writing under the pseudonym "The Bitch" would represent an interview without a scurrilous slant is, I suppose, like expecting a whore to be a virgin.

In "I Want a Pony" (October 28), The Bitch suggested that I, as founder of Friends of Lummus Park, opposed a plan by the City of Miami's mounted police unit to use a section of Lummus Park to build a stables. The truth is that the Friends of Lummus Park and I support the police plan.

At our October 6 meeting the mounted unit showed us their plans for the stables. After their presentation, no member of our board was opposed to the plan. Our only issue was for further consultation on the design of the fence between the public space and the section wanted by the Miami Police Department. This was agreed to and we await the revised fence design.

As proposed, the plan calls for equestrian stables at the eastern, I-95, edge of the park. The design would add trees and serve as a buffer zone between the park and the noisy and ugly I-95. The board liked the stable's coral-rock and natural-wood design. We found it attractive and complementary to the historic structures in Lummus Park.

Another important consideration is that the police presence will provide security for the park, which has a history of petty crime and homelessness. If, as we hope, this plan materializes, we will be immediately able to remove a fence around Miami's oldest surviving home -- the Wagner Homestead (c. 1857). This ugly fence was hastily erected after a homeless person was found lighting a fire on the veranda of the wood-frame home.

The mounted police unit has a public outreach component that would add to the historical tours already taking place at Lummus Park. Visitors and school groups will be able to visit the horses at the same time they visit the park's historic buildings. The Friends of Lummus Park looks forward to a creative partnership with the City of Miami's mounted police unit.

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