Marc Steiner Ousted By WYPR

Posted on February 10, 2008

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Marc Steiner, Maryland’s best talk-show host, has been unceremoniously dumped by WYPR, the locally owned National Public Radio station in Baltimore. To say the move is controversial among public radio listeners in the Baltimore area would be an understatement.

As a former newspaperman, I understand that the Mainstream Media (MSM) offers little security these days. And of course radio and TV have traditionally been insecure places to work. But I had not considered WYPR to be MSM. Now the station explains Marc Steiner’s loss by saying that ratings were down. Maybe so, but there was nothing wrong with the Steiner show that couldn’t be fixed.

As Dan Rodricks noted in his Sunpapers blog, public radio has often seemed to go out of its way to be highbrow, bland and boring. Dan has a point. On his last day on the air, Marc was hosting a conversation on the bail-bond system. Talk about borrrring! But at his best, Marc Steiner is a superior interviewer, informed, fair to all sides, a great voice in the Baltimore-region. He even reads the new books before he interviews the authors!

Sometimes storms come to a peaceful end. I have some hope that WYPR (88.1 FM) will reconsider. Even better, with the right support, Marc could become a needed national progressive radio talk-show voice. For some reason, arch-conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh and Ron Smith (WBAL 1090 AM) seem to thrive in the ratings, while liberal and progressive talk struggles to find an audience. Marc could be the one to change that nationally. Or he could go on to even greater things here in Maryland. I can see him fitting in at WTOP or WMAL on AM in Washington. He could offer more focus on Maryland politics and arts than Kojo Nnamdi and Jonetta Rose Barras on WAMU (88.5 FM).

(OK, maybe Ron Smith can be informed and reasonable, when he wants to. Let’s just call him conservative. He is the best of the WBAL talkers, in my opinion. He might do the best rant on radio.)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if WBAL would give Marc a time slot to balance its many conservative voices! Don’t hold your breath. WBAL (called WBOB by many) has the Kendal Ehrlich show on Saturday mornings. I doubt that WBAL would give Marc the time of day, much less two or three hours a day. But wouldn’t it be great to be proved wrong. Go ahead WBAL, prove me wrong!

Meanwhile, Kojo has a great program on WAMU at noon weekdays. And Jonetta is one of my favorite political commentators (however, she focuses mostly on D.C. politics).

You can keep up with Marc on his blog at http://marcsteinerblog.wordpress.com by clicking on Marc Steiner in the Blogroll to the right.

Looking on the bright side, I understand that WYPR has wisely decided to cancel its February fund-raising drive. Not a good time to ask for donations, right after you’ve canned your popular local star. I’ll try to follow this story, which is still unfolding in Baltimore. But Tuesday’s Potomac Primary gets top priority. And then there’s always my day job. — Bernie Hayden

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Posted in: Baltimore, Maryland, Media