Recently in the Xpress online forums, I made several comments about the Mountain Area Information Network's use of funds meant for WPVM, and suggested WPVM only exists as a source of funding for MAIN. Afterward I was personally contacted by Wally Bowen, executive director of MAIN, calling me out to prove the accuracy of these statements. In fairness I cannot. I cannot claim to know the mind or motivation of Mr. Bowen. Nor have I seen any financial documentation pertaining to MAIN. These statements reflected only my personal opinions and feelings, based on information I have acquired by word of mouth. Since I dislike it when others throw around unsubstantiated information, I should not have done [that].
What I should have said was this:
Regarding community media: Among the definitions of community in my copy of Webster's are: "A group of people living together and having interests, work, etc. in common." "Society; the public." "Ownership or participation in common." Dictionary.com said, among other things, this about media: "The means of communication, as in radio and television, newspapers and magazines, that reach or influence people widely."
I personally define functional community media in two ways: 1) It should give members of the public at large, provided they are willing to put in the time and work, a platform for communication and expression to which they would otherwise not have had access. 2) It should provide the community with programming that would not otherwise be available, including, but not limited to, noncorporate alternatives and programming specifically relevant to said community.
In order for this to happen, [community media] needs to be free of outside influence. Either the content is democratic in nature, or each individual producer is willing to take responsibility for it. Also, a special kind of dedication is needed on the part of producers. It requires a belief in, and a love for what you are producing. WPVM was full of volunteers like this.
I remember seeing the effects of losing an institution that was beloved by a community. It happened more than 20 years ago when my mother's church burned to the ground. After an initial coming together, my mother's circle of friends started to drift apart as everyone started to find new churches. As a teenager, I didn't fully appreciate the situation at the time. It took me years to realize what was lost that day.
I believe that it has not fully sunk in with some what was lost when the majority of volunteers were ousted from WPVM in one fell swoop. I had a show there for only six months, but in that time I saw the love, dedication and devotion so many put into the place, some since its inception. "Starts from scratch" does not begin to describe the situation now. I cringe to think how much knowledge and talent walked, never to return. I believe that even if WPVM is fully restaffed, it will never hold the same place in the heart of this community. Attempts to emulate or replace sacred institutions always fall short. Even if the new product is somehow "better," the old magic never returns.
But then, that's just my opinion.
— Matt Howard