PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Opinion

June 6, 2013

Editorial: Using EDC funds for radio station bad idea

PORT ARTHUR — Stephen Mosely of The Breeze radio station is asking to blur the lines between government and media.

He led a petition drive and through the citizen initiative process forced a proposition to be placed on the May 11 ballot. Voters approved — by 66 to 34 percent — making up to $1.6 million over four years of Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation money available for entertainment and related infrastructure.

Now he’s made a request for EDC money — not for creating jobs but for building and operating a radio station. We think that request should be denied.

During its life The Breeze, a low-power FM radio station that operates as a not-for-profit entity, has experienced first hand what can happen when radio waves or any other form of mass media is used to criticize government.

The station was once housed in the City Hall complex. After some community affairs programming that involved one political faction in the city criticizing the actions of another in the city — completely legitimate in the world of talk radio — the station suddenly had to move out of city hall. The connection was never officially made, of course, but it never pays to blast the officials that house you.

The problem with The Breeze asking for more government money, aside from other, more pressing uses for the EDC’s funds, is the question of how would the station management be independent to honestly express opinions about the government that funds them. And how would listeners know that the EDC or the City Council wasn’t insisting on how some opinions or issues were handled — or ignored — by the radio station.

We think Mosely has some great ideas for a multi-purpose facility that would house the station, provide some much-needed training for community members and provide other services that would benefit local residents. We think The Breeze provides some much needed services such as the community affairs programming, great music and even airing some Memorial Titans sports events.

Grants, fundraisers, advertising and other methods of raising money should all be used to keep The Breeze operating and growing. But living off government funds is not a good idea for an independent media outlet. We urge the EDC board not to let it happen.

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