Coming of public radio to rural areas can be rough on both listeners and broadcasters

With about 90 percent of the population covered by its signals, public radio has reached all the ”easy” regions and is now filling in the gaps, usually in less-populated areas. Even when there’s money to add repeating transmitters, however, there are often technical glitches. The furor has died down somewhat in recent weeks, but when public radio first came to Chillicothe, Mo., in August 1993, hundreds of people wanted it to go back where it came from. In an area where households without cable were accustomed to picking up Kansas City Royals games and other programming on weak signals from TV stations 70 miles away, the new 100 kw FM signal was so much closer that it blasted the ballgames right off the tube. Though the outrage was new to Chillicothe, similar cases of ”blanketing interference” often had occurred and subsided elsewhere and will arise again in other remote areas as public radio (or kind of station) fills the gaps in the national map of FM service.

‘The difference is that public TV serves a country, not a market’

This article is based on remarks by Marshall Turner, then chair of the CPB Board, at the board’s Jan. 27, 1994, meeting. Turner is an engineer and partner in the San Francisco venture capital firm of Taylor and Turner Associates and a longtime board member of PBS and KQED-TV/FM. Some say that the advent of new media — in particular, the challenge of cable television — has decreased the need for public broadcasting and its partial federal support. The opposite is true.