Alan Chartock: Message from The President

WAMC President and CEO Alan Chartock shares his thoughts in this monthly column.

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany.  He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. For almost twelve years the program highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project on WAMC and offers commentary on other WAMC programs such as Midday Magazine.

Every year, I offer my fearless predictions for the coming months. The rules, as always, are simple. Sometimes I really don’t want something to happen so I predict an event in the hope of putting the triple whammy on it in order to prevent it from occurring. Sometimes I do want it to happen so I predict it will, and sometimes I really believe that it will happen. It is always your job to try to figure out which is which.

Thank You!

Oct 26, 2017

Dear WAMC friends,

YOU did it. I am truly humbled and amazed and delighted about the success of the Locked Box and the subsequent eighteen-hour fund drive. Shortly after it ended, the newspapers called me up and asked me why things went so fast. I opined that our success could be attributed to the fact that Donald Trump was so abhorred and feared by much of our audience that they needed the radio station like never before. They were happy to put their money behind what they saw as a fearless institution.

Many Sides

Oct 2, 2017

I have some very strong beliefs in life. I believe that health care is a right for every American. I just can't fathom why some people think that if you are poor, you and your kids don't have any such right. In fact, universal health care is just one example of something I believe in. 

Behind The Scenes

Aug 30, 2017

It takes a lot of people to make WAMC the superb, fun place to come to work that it. Many of you know Joe Donahue, Sarah LaDuke, Ray Graf, Brian Shields, David Guistina, Wanda Fisher, and Selma Kaplan, among the many other on-air people. But there are a lot of unsung stars who really do make the place hum.

Keepin' On Keepin' On

Jul 27, 2017

In just a few days, my body will be 76 years old. That’s incredible. I don’t feel 76. People tell me I don’t look 76 but maybe they’re just flattering me. I suspect what’s keeping me going is a combination of three things: watching what I eat, exercising every day and most of all, loving my job. 

So the WAMC fund drive is over.

This time it took just nineteen hours to get it done and to put it to bed. The Berkshires sure did their part. There were moments when I was reading all the names of contributors on the air and I just couldn't keep up. It started a few weeks before the fund drive with our invitation to shorten the drive by putting money in the Locked Box. It was amazing how fast that money came in.

The fund drive is where we live. Hey, if everyone puts in just a little money we will have what we need to go forward. Everyday I go out on the streets and so many of you shake my hand and tell me what the station means to them. Maybe because I am getting a little older people thank me for my part in putting WAMC together. As I tell them, I am telling you -- it isn't me. They think I'm being modest but I am not. I assure them that this has happened because people believe in what we are doing and are not afraid to put something in the pot.

The month kicks off with our fund drive beginning June 5th at 6 a.m. Help make this the shortest fund drive in WAMC history! Your continuing support allows us to keep bringing you the programming you love. Call 1(800)323-9262 or pledge online at WAMC.org. We couldn’t do it without you!

Farewell, Rosemary

Apr 28, 2017

Professor Rosemary Armao recently dropped a bomb on all of us at WAMC when she announced that she was retiring from the University at Albany where she had a full-time, tenured position as Associate Professor (harder to find than a gold mine.) She will soon be working with investigative journalists all over the world, teaching them the tools of their trade. To put it mildly, doing this puts her in real physical danger. It also means, of course, that she will no longer be a nearly daily presence on The Roundtable and a participant on The Media Project. 

Coming up this month on the Saturday Metropolitan Opera Matinee Broadcasts:

Stayin' Alive

Mar 31, 2017

When the right wing organization Breitbart decided to publish a piece calling for the defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) I thought, “Well, that’s that.” 

What If?

Mar 1, 2017

A while back, I told you that the Trump White House was on track to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the organization that provides some federal funds for public broadcasters like WAMC) and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. We know that the Breitbart organization, formerly run by senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon, had called for the privatization of the CPB. When I mentioned that on WAMC, the money came rolling in and we made history. I suggested that each time we have a fund drive we tack on an extra $133,000 that would add up to the $400,000 CPB contributes to our $7,000,000 budget. You were smart enough to make sure we got it.

On February 6th, perhaps the most important fund drive in WAMC's history will take place. It comes as Donald J. Trump takes his place as the 45th President of the United States. 

I can’t believe that it’s already 2017! Frankly 2016 could have been a lot better but I suppose it could have been a lot worse. So I am compelled to give my predictions which are given for three reasons. Some I really DON’T want to happen so I put the double whammy on them by predicting something that I fear. Or, sometimes I predict things that I want to see happen so I predict them to make them happen, a little positive energy. Or, and this is a big or, I predict things that I really think will happen. It’s up to you, dear readers to decide which is which.

Well, the die is cast. The election is over and now we have to live with the results until 2020. My best guess is that those who have differences with the incoming President will have to make adjustments. From where I'm sitting, WAMC is one such adjustment. We have a budget that hovers around $7,000,000. About $419,000 comes from the federal government. Because of you, I am not worried. Our fund drives are marvels. It has always been true that the rougher things are, the more we all end up pulling together. That really is the story of WAMC from Day One.

What A Drive!

Oct 31, 2016

Oh, what a fund drive it was! It was surely some sort of a record breaker. First off, thanks to you we made over $400,000 in our locked before the drive even started. We went on-air Monday morning and ended, a million dollars later, on Thursday around noon. That's a lot of money andmany of you followed us every minute of the drive. It's always interested me how some public stations never tell you how much they've raised. We think that it's incredibly important to keep you in the loop as we go. After all, we are all in this together. 

The fund drive begins on October 17th and it may just be the most momentous of all time. That's because on November 8th, shortly after the fund drive is completed, Americans will be voting for President of the United States and a new Congress. This is arguably the biggest news item of the year and no one has covered this election more assiduously than WAMC. Not only have we interacted with you on Vox Pop every week but our first hour of Roundtable has become our most popular locally produced program. We have spent enormous amounts of time discussing what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said and done. Probably never in American history has there been such a stark choice between the candidates for the presidency.

What It's All About

Sep 1, 2016

It’s hard to believe that September is already upon us. It has been a sensational summer, not just because of the natural beauty of the great northeast, the glorious weather (mostly) and all of the incredible cultural events that take place throughout the region. I think you’ll agree that this has been THE most extraordinary run-up to any election, possibly ever. I was recently reading the trade newspaper that comes to all of us public broadcasters. We already know that the number of people listening to public radio has increased dramatically with the election in sight and I figure it’s probably in large part due to the, “What will they do next?!?” factor. Well, rest assured, I promise you that whatever they do next, we’ll be talking about it on WAMC. It’s already been quite the roller coaster ride and together, we’ve watched it all unfold, from the earliest primaries to the latest polling data. As a collective family, we might not agree on everything, but looking back on our morning Roundtable discussions, I think civility has been the word of the day. Of course, sometimes passions flare and people get excited but that’s what makes it interesting and real. The amount of feedback we’ve gotten assures us that you are listening and that’s what it’s all about.

A Very Round Table

Aug 1, 2016

We came up with the concept for the morning Roundtable panel from 9 to 10 AM because we thought a provocative discussion about the day’s events would be a great bridge between Morning Edition and the Roundtable proper. It turns out that the program, with its rotating panel of four people, is now one of the leading shows on WAMC. We look through the headlines and talk about whatever may be going on. Maybe it’s something that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did the day before. It could be a discussion of race relations in the United States. Sometimes the discussions get, shall we say, heated.

“Sumer is Icumen In” goes the song. I sang it in the Hunter College chorus (59-63) (where the girls were) and it made the point that the summer season is very special. The wonderful snowbird friends of WAMC, many of whom have been listening on their WAMC apps, are back. People are swimming. Tanglewood and SPAC will soon be going full steam, all the summer theater anyone could ever want is available throughout our listening area and the birds are making sounds to rival anything that we mortals may have composed.

I heard my friend Arlo Guthrie say something the other day. He was looking for donations to keep the Guthrie “Bring Your Own God” Church going. He said that every time someone put something into the pot, they became a part owner and were responsible for the continuance of the Guthrie Center.

People with good minds can be very passionate. Take the case of the current Presidential election cycle. We hear from people of all political persuasions who are quite sure that we are being blatantly unfair, usually about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Now don’t get me wrong – when the Massachusetts primary rolled around I voted for Bernie. I had announced that I would because I believe that journalists have a responsibility to let their audiences know where they are coming from. I have interviewed both Bernie and Hillary on the air so I am very surprised at some of the vitriol we have heard about the station’s alleged “position” (we never take sides) in favor of Hillary. I try to be fair on our daily Roundtable panel. I have explained that I think Bernie is right on the major issues. I have also explained that I believed Hillary would capture more of the centrist voters and be more electable.

Political Season

Apr 1, 2016

If you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of a Presidential campaign.

As you may imagine, we receive a lot of mail at WAMC – here are a few of our listeners’ recent questions.

This, as always, is where the rubber hits the road. Monday, February 1st is where and when we gather as a group to see whether we still have the will to keep WAMC going; so far, so good. We need a million dollars three times a year to make it happen. That’s a lot of money and the fact that we can do it makes us the talk of the nation. Some of our colleagues just don’t believe it. That’s because this is more than a radio station. It is a group of people who are intellectually curious and committed to ethical behavior. When someone calls me up and tries to typecast us, either on the right or the left, the first thing I ask is whether they’d like to do a commentary, laying out a position on a contemporary problem.

Okay, dear readers, here are my fearless predictions for the coming year. I offer them every year with the following warnings. Some of them predict things that I don’t want to see happen so I offer them to put the evil eye on them. Then sometimes I offer predictions that I don’t necessarily think will happen but I want to make them self-fulfilling prophecies. Finally, there are those that I really think will happen. As always, it is up to you to figure out which is which.

The Washington Post recently published an article that spoke of the “graying” of NPR and its member stations. It was a fascinating look into the ways in which young people get their news -- through podcasts and social media and not by listening to the radio.

No Static At All

Oct 29, 2015

There is one sure thing about WAMC and that is that life here is always interesting. Nothing is static. We know, for example, that the first hour of The Roundtable is a tremendous success. Wherever I go, I hear from people who make it a must-do to listen to the panel on The Roundtable. Everyone reacts, some more strongly than others. Each of the participants has developed a following and each of us has some detractors.

The Drive

Sep 29, 2015

The crucial, life-giving fund drive begins Monday October 5th. I don’t have to tell anyone that this is where we live. No fund drive, no station.

The New Geography

Aug 28, 2015

Everywhere I go, people stop to tell me how much they love this radio station. I really appreciate those on-air testimonials that people volunteer to record, attesting to their “WAMC-hood.” Now that we are all “apped” up and you can hear the station anywhere in the world (I heard it as clear as a bell in Colombia S.A, and in Italy), people listen all over.

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