Today’s meeting of the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission was an upbeat affair, in studied (rehearsed?) contrast to recent news reports of layoffs and deficits.
Only 5 of the 9 Commission members attended, Chair Brian Dill, Vice-Chair John Stephenson, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Hala Moddelmog, and Mary Ellen Imlay and Scott Justus. All are late-term appointees by former Gov. Nathan Deal, of Chip Rogers fame.
None asked about the layoffs or the ending of GPB’s physical presence in Augusta. None asked about employee morale. All praised the executive team. (None are working class.)
A new VP for News was introduced: Mary Lynn Ryan who comes to GPB from CNN as its Southeast bureau chief.
I assume she’s no relation to GPB’s CEO Teya Ryan. They did state working together at CNN’s Talk Back Live in the 90’s.
That show’s host Bobbi Batista also came to GPB a few years ago and current Chief Content Officer Alison Hashimoto is another CNN alum.
CEO Ryan praised Mary Lynn Ryan’s time at CNN and noted she “comes with a large rolodex.” Mary Lynn Ryan herself expressed a competitive nature and desire to beat WABE.
This is in contrast to NPR’s stated goals of fostering more affiliate collaboration, creating regional hubs, and working to fill growing news deserts, such as in South Georgia.
Last fall, WABE named its own new news director, but chose a veteran of other prominent public radio stations, not CNN.
Asked after the meeting about any 2020 election collaboration with WABE or a Georgia regional hub, Senior Exec. Bert Huffman said he was unaware of any and that GPB has no plans to end its operations on WRAS, which directly competes with WABE.
My own view remains that these turf battles, are petty, wasteful, and built on student activity fees, precarious, part-time labor, and insider connections.
They reinforce the belief that public radio no longer serves the non-commercial public interest, but the interests of wealth and power.