Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Was Forest City's Gilmartin appointed to WNYC board because of "passion for public radio" or fundraising help?

So, why was Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin appointed to the board of WNYC?

As shown in the press release cited by Noticing New York's Michael White, WNYC President and CEO Laura Walker, commenting on the appointment of Gilmartin and three others, said they "bring vast experience in business, media and non-profit governance that will advance both the work of the Board and the mission of New York Public Radio.”  

Meanwhile, Cynthia King Vance, Chair, Board of Trustees, New York Public Radio, said “These accomplished leaders bring a passion for public radio and new and valuable perspectives to a highly engaged Board of Trustees."

Well, now.

I bet it has more to do with raising money.

How much may this harm WNYC in credibility? The jury is still out.

Forest City has a passion for shaping perception--such as the erasing-history effort to rename Atlantic Yards as Pacific Park

So even the capsule biography of Gilmartin, surely supplied by her office for the press release, is part of that effort. According to the press release, Gilmartin "led the efforts to build Barclays Center and Pacific Park Brooklyn, a 22-acre mixed-use development."

Actually, Pacific Park Brooklyn hasn't been built yet. The first tower is stalled. The second break ground next month.

Impact on WNYC

White, who wrote, Is Forest City Ratner, As Victor, Writing Our History?, worries that talk show host Leonard Lopate "could likely be replaced by someone who, on the spectrum, is more more likely to be confused with a corporate lapdog than Brian Lehrer, perhaps friendlier to developers like Ratner than even Charlie Rose." 

He pointed out that, "while public radio has done better in the past to escape the influence of Ratner and the real estate industry, the same cannot be said of New York City’s WNET public television station where criticism of the city’s real estate is never heard, but Forest City Ratner has gotten great promotion on Charlie Rose."

I'm not as alarmed as White--after all, it's a big board--but I do think it's cause for concern. (And he does point to the oddly whimsical segment on Brian Lehrer that featured Gilmartin, Walker, and Ariana Huffington talking about sleep.) 

Community Advisory Board meeting today

White highlights tonight's WNYC Community Advisory Board (CAB) meeting at 7:00 PM at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights:
The Community Advisory Board is supposed to take comment from the public about the station’s operations. At their last meeting the CAB groused that far too few members of the public come to their meetings. (With Gilmartin's appointment they may be on the verge of ironic solution.)
...it would seem that Ms. Gilmartin’s appointment to her policy-setting position on the WNYC board should be of vital concern to the CAB. To argue, contrarily, that it is only a board appointment and that the CAB should wait and be concerned only when station policy actually changes after enough board members of Ms. Gilmartin’s ilk have been appointed would be to say the CAB should react to close the barn door only after there has already been an irreversible escape of the horse.
He suggests that CAB members face a conundrum, because they are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees,

1 comment:

  1. As acknowledged here, this a cause for concern, but then the question is how finely the appropriate level for that concern can be parsed, with you supposing that my level of alarm is greater than yours (which it probably is).

    But, as you pick up here, if we have already lost WNET as venue and forum to understand how the real estate industry dominates New York City to its detriment and if that happened silently and without public comment, hardly noticed at all, how can we feel at all assured that we won't soon arrive at the same outcome here?

    And when we lose all our public broadcasting stations doesn't that more or less emphasize that everything public is for sale and will be bought as wealth disparities accentuate further?

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