WWNO's Local Programming Problem...


Front-page banner from wwno.org, New Orleans' NPR station.

I'm always conflicted when I want to write about WWNO. It's my school's radio station, even though it's not a "student" operation. I've always been quite proud that the NPR station for the city operates out of the University of New Orleans. The emergence of HD Radio on the scene changed the business model at WWNO radically. The station went from being a trifecta of drive-time news, daytime classical music, nighttime jazz, went to three HD channels with that content.

As a NPR news junkie, this made me happy, but then the station started to augment the daytime NPR lineup with local shows. A food/cooking show, another on local music, a books/reading program, and an interview program sponsored by a popular local restaurant, recorded on location at the restaurant.

The food show, "Louisiana Eats" and the music program "Music Inside Out" are positively awful, from the cliche' theme music, to the delivery of the hosts, to the mediocre and commercialized guests interviewed.

I just re-upped my contribution to WWNO, pledging $15/month, putting my money where my mouth is on this. The more-news format of 89.9 FM is a great concept. Here's to hoping WWNO can fix the mistakes and move forward.

Is this the end of St. Augustine High School?

Da Advocate, in reporting on the resignation of the chairman of St. Augustine High School's governing board, Daniel Davillier, includes an interesting and devastating quote from Mr. Davillier:

“The fact remains that St. Augustine High School is already in a precarious financial position,” Davillier wrote, “and adding an additional $580,000 of annual losses unnecessarily exposes the school to a substantially increased risk of insolvency within the next few years.”

That's a huge hit to the school's operating budget. Granted, some of that can be offset with faculty layoffs, but it's still going to hurt.

Unlike Holy Cross School and Christian Brothers School, St. Aug's decided to drop their sixth and seventh grade programs, rather than add K-5, as directed by the Archdiocese. The archbishop directed Catholic high schools in the area to operate either as K-12 or 8-12 schools. In recent years, Brother Martin High School and St. Augustine added seventh grade, and St. Aug continued to expand to include sixth grade. This was viewed by parishes operating elementary schools as unfair poaching. They saw the expansion by the two high schools as starting a trend.

Two schools, Christian Brothers and Holy Cross, got caught in the crossfire. CBS has long been a middle school, offering grades 5-6-7, and Holy Cross has long operated both a middle school (5-7) and a high school (8-12). Both schools have submitted plans to operate as K-12.

That leaves the city's historically black boy's Catholic high school, St. Augustine, holding the bag. The school has struggled in recent years with both recruiting and retention, and those struggles are reflected by the financial situation.

It appears that St. Augustine would rather continue its mission of educating high school-age boys than change formats. A proposal to merge St. Mary's Academy with St. Augustine, making a historically black coed Catholic school. It will be interesting to see the St. Augustine faith community's reception of that proposal.

Texts for TOPS

The Taylor Opportunity Plan for Students (TOPS) is a wonderful program to provide tuition assistance to Louisiana residents attending state colleges and universities. There are problems with keeping students in the program, however:

A legislative audit last year found that nearly half of the students lost their awards before finishing college, and most of them lost their awards during their first year. It concluded that the state spent more than $46.7 million on TOPS awards for students who didn’t make it on the program past their first year.

While a lot of the students who don't make it likely flunked out, there are a number of pitfalls in the program in terms of paperwork and such, that a student could show up for their second year, only to find they didn't re-qualify for TOPS.

The state's setting up a program to send SMS (text) messages to students, rather than trying to voice-call them, to remind them to check on their TOPS status. This makes perfect sense, since teens and 20somethings use their phones to text more than just about anything else.

State Troopers for Essence Fest makes sense...

Mayor Landrieu wants to beef up NOPD's street presence this holiday weekend with reinforcements from the Louisiana State Police. Not an unreasonable request, in the wake of the white-on-white shooting on Bourbon Street last week. Candidate Jindal's in a tough spot, though. Had the shooters in last week's incident been black, Governor Sociopath would have been able to score many points with Duck-believing Christians nationwide by stepping in. Now, it's more complicated:

That request was met with a cool response from Gov. Bobby Jindal, who pledged a typical deployment over the July 4 weekend for Essence Festival but made no promises beyond that.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said he would meet with New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas on Wednesday to discuss providing a contingent of troopers to augment the NOPD through Labor Day.

Edmonson doesn't get along well with NOPD (and that should not totally reflect poorly on him), so this will be strained. Landrieu is caught between a rock and a hard place, given the city's chronic underfunding.



Is Our Children Learning?

The Recovery School District proposal was controversial, even in the pre-Katrina world, but it passed because the common mantra was "how much worse can it be?" There's a lot of truth there. So many members of the OPSB from the decade before that were pushed out of office under clouds of suspicion and corruption, if not under indictment or in jail. Schools were a disaster.

Then the storm washed away all opposition, and in came the corps. Have we improved? Hard to tell--the metrics don't indicate much change other than who's profiting:

Even by the state’s own haphazard standards, the now all-charter RSD New Orleans continues to remain at the bottom of state rankings. In 2012, the RSD was given a “D” letter grade.” In 2013, the RSD was given a “C” – still withEven by the state’s own haphazard standards, the now all-charter RSD New Orleans continues to remain at the bottom of state rankings. In 2012, the RSD was given a “D” letter grade.” In 2013, the RSD was given a “C” – still within the state’s own definition as failing in terms of voucher eligibility.in the state’s own definition as failing in terms of voucher eligibility.

We shouldn't use taxpayer funds to pay corporations to do such a mediocre job.

More evidence that @BobbyJindal is a craven sociopath

So, the signature bill for Candidate Jindal for this session of the Louisiana State Legislature passed and is on his desk. You'd think that the Candidate (remember, he gave up being the state's governor a year ago, for all practical purposes), would have had pen ready to sign the bill banning lawsuits against oil companies for screwing up the wetlands. We're not dealing with a man of principle here, though. This is akin to something out of a Mafia movie--"That's a nice bill you got there, it would be a real shame if anything happened to it."

Candidate Jindal needs money to further his ambitions. He's got nothing left in Louisiana, unless he runs for Senate should Vitty-cent become governor. He needs a boatload of cash just to keep up the appearance of presidential aspirations. Who better to extort than the people he was just trying to help?

What's the NRA's next move?

Salon has a compelling but naive article about how the NRA should be scared of Richard Martinez, the outspoken father of one of the Santa Barbara shooting victims. Here's why Mr. Martinez is smart and the Salon writer isn't:

Right now, there hasn’t been much blowback from the other side,” Martinez noted during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC. “But I anticipate that once my grieving period is over, the gloves will come off. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They are going to try to do to me the same thing that they’ve done to all of these people. But I have a message for them: My son is dead. There is nothing you could do to me that is worse than that.

Don't think for a moment that, as soon as this man started speaking out, the NRA didn't have private investigators and other opposition research teams digging up anything and everything they can to discredit this man. And they will use it.

If he can hang on, then maybe he'll be able to fight the gun manufacturers.

.@TellMeMoreNPR's "Barbershop" is the latest example of offensive false equivalence

It's supposed to be a roundtable. It's supposed to be a discussion of smart people. Unfortunately, though, it turns out to be quite the offensive experience, because the "Barbershop" segment on NPR's show, "Tell Me More," allows conservatives say things that are so factually wrong that it's hard to respect the rest of the show's efforts.

Tell Me More is a daily show on National Public Radio that is an omnibus news round-up. One of the regular features is the Friday "barbershop" segment, where host Michel Martin and a panel of journalists/writers/pundits, mostly male (if not all male), comment on the week's news stories. Today's segment on the minimum wage started with the news that The Gap plans to raise their starting salary to $9/hour this year, and $10/hour in 2015. The discussion then went to the President's push to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10/hour.

Today's Barbershop panel consisted of Jimmy Israel, a writer from Cleveland, Fernando Vila, program director for "Fusion," an ABC-Univision venture out of Miami, Kevin Williamson, "roving correspondent" for National Review, and Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root. Here's what Williamson had to say when they came around to him on this topic:

What the President has done here and what the Democrats are pushing, is a raise in the minimum wage for its own sake, which is going to create these tradeoffs that you don't necessarily have to get, and the reason they're doing that is because they want to hand a victory to their political base that's clamoring for it, even though they don't understand what the consequences of it are...everyone supports the minimum wage, because people are idiots and they don't pay attention to the economics...

Without going into Mr. Williamson's economic theories, this is where treating conservative pundits as intellectual equals falls apart. "Everyone" do NOT support a raise in the miminum wage. Congressional Republicans most certainly do NOT support the concept, mainly because

  • It would give POTUS a win in an election year
  • Teabaggers would use that support to bludgeon non-teabagger CongressCritters in primary season this year, leading up to November.
  • All too many Republicans object to a raise in the minimum wage because it would immediately benefit black and brown people.

Do any of the folks in the "Barbershop" call the conservative on it? NO. Ms. Martin makes a half-hearted attempt, prefacing her remarks with "I'm sorry," even.

When you treat extremists as equals, you lessen your own principles. Sad ahd shameful to see so much of this on public radio of late.


Is MeMe Roth the next AnnThrax?

The title of this Amanda Marcotte article caught my eye: 

Just Don’t Put Meme Roth On TV. There Is No Excuse. Not Even For Fox News.

So, I clicked through, and nope, I still had no idea who Marcotte was talking about. So, I clicked through from Pandagon to a profile of Roth in The Guardian, which is where this image originates.

OK, so, she's a moron. Even by Fox News standards, she's a moron. She certainly isn't qualified to speak on anything more than maybe farting in her chair. That's when it hit me.

Meme Roth is the next-generation Ann Coulter.

Nobody's been able to figure out how to duplicate that nutjob's schtick.

Methinks Roth has. Fat people are a target-rich environment for a skinny blonde to be as obnoxious as she wants.

Hello, AnnThrax II.