Monday, October 02, 2023


This morning, I wrote to the Honorable Kimberly A. Howell, the Inspector General of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, concerning our local National Public Radio affiliate, WJCT News.  Minutes after news was reported that trailblazing Senator Dianne Feinstein died, an all-male WJCT panel ensued in the weekly news roundtable.  

Yes, my friends: all male. 

It's 2023.

WJCT is a federal funds recipient whose diversity efforts are subject to audit by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

What do you reckon?

See my letter to CPB OIG, below.  

On Monday, October 2, 2023, 07:21:22 AM EDT, oigemail <> wrote:

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On Monday, October 2, 2023, 07:16:17 AM EDT, Ed Slavin <> wrote:

To: Honorable Kimberly A. Howell, Inspector Genera, Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

Dear Inspector General Howell:  

1. As JFK said in 1963 at American University, we must "make the world safe for diversity."  Radio station WJCT is a recipient of federal funds, including some $20,000 in CPB public service grants in 2021.  This will confirm my message left with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Inspector General Hotline on September 29, 2023, requesting that CPB Inspector General investigate, based on WJCT's backsliding lack of respect for diversity requirements in WJCT's emergency federal grant for community service.
2. On Friday, September 29-30, 2023, WJCT aired, re-aired and re-aired again a weekly "First Coast Connect" putative "journalist" roundtable that led off with a flawed, hostile discussion of the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein. No women were on the panel. Why?
3. No women were represented on the all-male WJCT panel on September 29, 2023.  Why?  As Senator Robert F. Kennedy said, "it is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for there is much to dissent from."  Please investigate.
4. Incorrect and prejudiced information and opinions were dispensed on-air, without a fair balanced discussion. Why?
5. Harvey Milk was not the "first openly Gay Mayor of San Francisco."  Jaded Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union reporter Mr. David Bauerlein got it wrong and he was never corrected. Harvey Milk was the first Gay Supervisor in San Francisco City Hall, and was never Mayor
6. During the deeply flawed September 29, 2023 weekly roundtable program segment on WJCT, Mr. Dan Scanlan made some rather inarticulate, insensitive, uncouth, anti-disabled and chauvinistic remarks about Senator Feinstein, referring to her appearing at the Capitol in "a wheelchair," as if that wheelchair were something to be ashamed of -- how gauche and louche.  U.S. Senator Tammy [Duckworth] served our Nation in combat, lost both her legs, and is confined to a wheelchair, as was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Other Americans suffered and triumphed over their disabilities.  But to Mr. Scanlan, a woman Senator in a wheelchair is someone to be stigmatized. This is sexist. 
7. The other two (2) September 29, 2023 WJCT panelists, Messrs. Al Letson and Charles Griggs, both African-Americans, did not push back against this naked prejudice. WhileI do admire both Mr. Letson and Mr. Briggs, and I do imagine that they were as shocked as I was.
8. The September 29, 2023 WJCT discussion largely focused on shared nasty nostrums that Senator Feinstein's cognitive abilities during her last months of life somehow militated in favor of "term limits" or "age limits" for public service, hesto presto.  Panelist Mr. Charles Griggs quietly disagreed, but there was insufficient discussion of, or respect for, our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and other public policies protecting people from discrimination on the basis of chronological age or disability.   WJCT needs educated, sensitive panelists who are better informed than Messrs. Baurlein and Scanlan.
9. On September 29, 2023, I left twin voicemail messages for Messrs Scanlan and Baurlein, both evidently longtime friends and colleagues from their days working together at the TImes-Union. No audible response to date.  (Mr. Scanlan sent a text, but no responsive telephone call or e-mail.)
10.  Please review the transcript and lack of preparation for this WJCT program, which aired only a few minutes after news of Senator Feinstein's death.  
11.  Senator Dianne Feinstein was a trailblazer, whose accomplishments went unappreciated by this all-male panel, including the two (2) provincial, chauvinistic white male Jacksonville journalists who are long on bragging on their "experience" but short on knowledge, compassion and balance.
12. Too often, Messrs. Scanlan and Baurlein, apparently old friends and colleagues from days at the conservative T-U, talk way too much, emitting bromides, trite tropes, cliches and pro-Establishment conventional wisdom. These two men never say four (4) words when they can say forty (40) of them.  We need more women and minorities and dissenters on WJCT.  We need better balance.
13.  Messrs. Scanlan and Baurlein too often sound like uncaring, unctuous fratboys, unreasonable facsimiles of conservative Jacksonville, Florida "Republican Lords of All They Survey," to borrow a phrase from William F. Buckley, Jr.  These two men too often waste valuable air time, pompously patronizing WJCT listeners, rotely reminding us of their long journalistic "experience."  "Experience" with right-wing T-U, long owned by right-wing Morris Communications, now mismanaged by GANNETT?  I am unimpressed. 
14. Mr. Al Letson, whose first job doing live radio was this year, sometimes seems to be imitating their hauteur. Bad influence?
15. When the late David Brian Wallace and I moved to St. Augustine on November 5, 1999, we both noticed that the WJCT TV affiliate had a Friday evening journalist roundtable, all of its participants were all-white and all-male.  When we  complained to WJCT management about it, I was rudely told by telephone that the all-white WJCT TV panelistws were "volunteers," and hence not protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil RIghts Act.  The bigoted station manager who made that maladroit response to me is now a Republican Jacksonville City Councilman, Michael Boylan.  
16. We expect much better from our NPR and WJCT.  
17. We can do better, we must do better, and we will do better.
18. WJCT has long showed a hyper-Jacksonville-centric focus on a few square miles and matters relating to football, Shad Khan and real estate developers: my grandmother would have called it "hopelessly provincial."
19. While WJCT claims to cover news from "the Golden Isles of Georgia to Palm Coast in Flagler County," it has a focus limited to Jacksonville, and the interest of Jacksonville developers.  Perhaps NPR needs a new affiliate, one that will cover St. Augustine and St. Johns County, even as NPR now has a Cape Cod affiliate that now covers Cape Cod, once under NPR suzerainty of WGBH in Boston.
20, WJCT seems to show a lazy, louche lack of interest in, and disrespect for, our Nation's Oldest City of St. Augustine and St. Johns County and our history, politics, overdevelopment, and corruption. 
21. In fact, a recent WJCT News program on Hispanic Heritage Month omitted ant mention of St. Augustine.  Our corrupt County and City could benefit from investigative reporting scrutiny from WJCT, which is sorely lacking.  
22. There seems to be far too many advertiser or PR-generated stories and to little discussion of the issues that really matter.  Payola?
23. On the thirteenth anniversary of the September 2, 2010 murder of Ms. Michelle O'Connell by St. Johns County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Banks, not one word was uttered about it on WJCT, even though WJCT covered the story with an interview with three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Walt Bogdanich in 2013, when PBS Frontline and The New York Times broke the story, first reported by Anne Schindler in Folio Weekly.  
24WJCT's antique telephone system for incoming callers to WJCT programs badly needs to be audited and replaced.  It has been problematic for years. 
25. Too often, calls to WJCT programs do not get through, or are dropped.  (Some listeners may have given up.) 
26. One recent Friday, Al Letson could be heard, on-air, dropping an F-bomb at the beginning of the roundtable, which was not heard in the rebroadcasts.  The following Monday, longtime WJCT producer Heather Schatz was dropped mysteriously.  Has she sued, or gone to work elsewhere?  Why did she leave WJCT?
27. Does WJCT have an Ombudsman yet?  Please provide contact information, and kindly add CPB IG contact information to WJCT's website.
28. Local listeners do love our NPR and WJCT: but we do expect so much better, e.g., better than we heard about the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein from an all-male panel on September 29, 2023. 
29. I also sincerely appreciate the CPB' IGs investigation of my prior complaint about WJCT programming, which once filled half the day with pre-recorded music.  Thanks to your office, we now have intelligent conversation 24/7, with music now still heard on HD channels.
30. WJCT must learn from the ungracious, uninformed all-male WJCT panel of September 29, 2023, treating the late Senator Dianne Feinstein as both a pariah and as a punching bag on the morning of her death. It was contrary to the genius of a free people, and it violates the reasonable expectations of diversity and probity of WJCT as a CPB grantee.  Please call me to discuss today. 
Thank you. 

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