CPB ombudsman gets complaint over station’s Occupy Wall Street button premiums

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CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan looks into a complaint that during a recent fundraising campaign at WAMC Northeast Public Radio in Albany, N.Y., the station sold buttons that read “I support WAMC & Occupy Wall Street — 99%” for an additional 99-cent contribution. Also, the listener writes to Kaplan, during that campaign, station President Alan Chartock “constantly referred to the Republicans in the House as ‘radical’ intent on silencing public radio because it is an answer to Rush Limbaugh. This speaks directly to how Dr. Chartock views himself. If he is the answer to Rush Limbaugh, he should raise the money from sponsors and not the taxpayers.”

Chartock told Kaplan: “I am the president of the radio station but we have a First Amendment in this country and I can say anything I want. I won’t be silenced by those who don’t like what I say.” And the Occupy Wall Street buttons?  Selma Kaplan, vice president of WAMC, said the station received more than 1,000 calls asking for the premium.

“I think the premium offer, despite its success, was a mistake,” the CPB ombudsman writes, adding, “WAMC is a remarkably successful public radio station. But its board of directors might want to rethink whether it is the best policy for WAMC’s president and c.e.o. to use that radio station as a forum to voice his personal opinions.”