Wilbur Mills to LBJ: ‘We ain’t gonna give money to folks without some strings attached’

Congress doesn’t work that way, said Wilbur Mills, the formidable chair of the House Ways and Means Committee in the late 1960s. Bill Moyers, then a young aide to President Johnson, recalled the upshot of the Public Broadcasting Act: Congress created CPB but left it without a dedicated revenue source, destined to lobby unceasingly for annual appropriations. This account is excerpted from Moyers’ speech to the PBS Showcase Conference in May 2006. (The full text of the speech is also on this site.)
… When he signed it, the President said that the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 “announces to the world that our nation wants more than just material wealth; our nation wants more than ‘a chicken in every pot.’ We in America have an appetite for excellence, too….

Radio gets in on the Act

The plan was for a Public Television Act with no mention of dusty old radio. Not everyone signed on to the plan. Readers’ sympathies will be divided by this narrative adapted from Jack Mitchell’s new book, Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio, issued in March 2005 by Praeger Publishers.You may root for the TV side or the radio side out of professional allegiance. Or you may instinctively align with the underdog, despite its rascally tactics — or perhaps because of them. The underdog in 1967 was radio, then a has-been technology that TV expected to leave behind.

Radio gets in on the Act

The issue had been decided, Fletcher said. Congress would pass the Public Television Act and create the Corporation for Public Television. To bring radio in at that point, he concluded, would “change the scenario.”

The Hidden Medium: A Status Report on Educational Radio in the United States, 1967

With support building for federal aid to public TV, the advocates of public radio found they had to act quickly to make their case. National Educational Radio, a division of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, hired Herman W. Land Associates to study the field and its potential. The resulting book, The Hidden Medium: A Status Report on Educational Radio in the United States, was published in April 1967. Overview and Summary
The oldest of the electronic media, going back in service to experimental beginnings as station 9xm in the year 1919, educational radio, almost a half century later, remains virtually unknown as a communications force in its own right. Overshadowed first by commercial radio, then by television, it has suffered long neglect arising from disinterest and apathy among the educational administrators who control much of its fortunes.

The Hidden Medium, Overview and Summary, April 1967

With support building for federal aid to public TV, the advocates of public radio found they had to act quickly to make their case. National Educational Radio, a division of NAEB, hired Herman W. Land Associates to study the field and its potential. The resulting book, The Hidden Medium: A Status Report on Educational Radio in the United States, was published in April 1967. See also Jack Mitchell’s account of guerrilla radio activism during the period. Overview and Summary
The oldest of the electronic media, going back in service to experimental beginnings as station 9xm in the year 1919, educational radio, almost a half century later, remains virtually unknown as a communications force in its own right.