Staff at Georgia Public Broadcasting – your PBS and NPR stations across Georgia – got an interesting email from Georgia Public Broadcasting Executive Bob Olive this weekend.
(And please, GPB, don’t fire anyone over this leak. You can never be sure how this came to me, can you? And if you’re so committed to creating jobs, firing people suspected of telling truths really violates that spirit, doesn’t it?)
So, back to the email. It reads:
“On behalf of Teya Ryan, President and Executive Director…
“GPB has been in the spotlight for the last few weeks and for those of you who have experienced the white heat of a media frenzy, you know it can be uncomfortable but not unbearable as long as we continue to focus on our mission which is to produce and distribute programs that educate, inform, and enlighten our communities.
“So to set the record straight: GPB is starting a new initiative that the state has funded which will address the two major challenges facing Georgians today–the economy and education. Because GPB has the largest distribution system in the state with 9 television and 17 radio stations as well as a comprehensive educational website, we will lead this state-funded initiative. It will launch in late spring, beginning with a weekly statewide radio show and an interactive website designed to connect job seekers to employers. GPB will work with partners in the university system, K-12 teachers, technical colleges, and the private sector to connect students and job seekers to the job skills they will need.
“The initiative will be led by a former State Senator, Chip Rogers, who left his position in the Georgia General Assembly to lead this state-funded program. Working with the state is not new to GPB. We work closely with the state on many levels–we are currently developing a digital textbook for Georgia History, a requirement for all 8th graders in the state. We are working with the Department of Education on a literacy based childhood obesity initiative. We work closely with the Department of Natural Resources when taping our Emmy award winning program Georgia Outdoors. And we work daily with Georgia’s K-12 teachers, providing them with over 125,000 digital assets tied to standards and in support of the classroom experience. and while the choice of Rogers may be controversial, we invite all of our public media colleagues and our Georgia communities to listen to the weekly radio show when it launches in late spring, then go to the interactive website and see how we hope to have a positive impact on our state’s crushing 8.6% unemployment rate.
“At GPB we are well known for applying a business sense to our public media model and we are a strong example of a public/private entity. Through our wide distribution system, we are in a position to help meet Georgia’s economic and educational challenges.”
Hmmm, with the exception of that introductory paragraph, this feels a bit like it was written to be leaked, doesn’t it? All those positive talking points about its distribution system, its partnerships and its commitment to helping Georgians find with jobs. The “We don’t get out of bed in the morning without finding ways to connect our educational mission to our programming…”
And, yes, the initiative itself sounds interesting. And no one argues that Georgia needs help with its unemployment problems.
But we can’t lose sight of the fact of who will oversee this marvelous, taxpayer-funded project. And we can’t lose sight of how he got there.
Let’s stay focused, shall we?
This brilliant boondoggle is being managed by disgraced former GA Senator Chip Rogers. And Rogers landed that job because GPB President Teya Ryan – charged with being a good steward of not only the public and private money that funds our NPR and PBS stations, but also the integrity of our PBS and NPR stations – let Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) and his crony, Rogers (R), waltz through the door and onto those airwaves… with their agendas in hand.
Continuing to focus: and there’s Rogers’ salary: $150,000. Yes, it’s almost three times what most existing staff producers make, and is even more than the salary of Bob Olive, Ryan’s second-in-command and mouthpiece. In fact, $150,000 appears to be $10,000 more than Governor Deal. Sweet.
Yet it’s still more than $50,000 less than Ryan, who pulls in a healthy $208,000 for her stewardship, now irrevocably and completely compromised.
Again, Georgians do need jobs. But using taxpayer money to pay for a project that requires someone hand-picked by the Governor, at an exorbitant salary, and total access to our NPR network?
Senator Rogers, you’re an expert on odds. What are our chances of that play being a winner for the people of Georgia… and for the future of our PBS and NPR stations?