RAYMOND K. K. Ho, president of Maryland Public Television, may have pulled off what his critics have been unable to accomplish: His own undoing.
By going public with conspiracy theories that the men to whom he reports, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and David H. Nevins, chairman of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission, are out to undermine public TV for their own personal gain, Mr. Ho may have irreparably injured his standing with the commission and other state leaders. Said one wag in Mr. Ho's doghouse: "Dr. Kevorkian couldn't have done it better."
Mr. Ho has long been an enigma at the Owings Mills-based institution he's led for a decade. He is widely regarded as the type of industry visionary the political times demand. Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer once gushed of Mr. Ho, "I've never seen a more enthusiastic man in my life." Both nominees in last year's gubernatorial race singled him out as a beacon of new-wave thinking in the public sector. And just last month in Baltimore, the head of the Public Broadcasting System, Ervin S. Duggan, lauded Mr. Ho's entrepreneurial spirit. MPT has just emerged from a record budget year with membership income at an historic high. The station is a leader in producing shows for national and international markets, such as the respected "Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser" and an upcoming sure bet for children, "Kratts' Creatures."
Unfortunately, there was a second Raymond Ho, too: One who had a difficult rapport with staff and who believed his own crusade to find the cutting edge justified any expense, with or without his board's support.
However the commission faces up to this dilemma in its meeting today, the interests of MPT's audience must be foremost. The expansion of children's programming and interactive and on-line educational initiatives have enriched the station's value to viewers in recent years. MPT must continue its vital role in educating Marylanders, while it forges new routes toward greater self-sufficiency. The importance of that mission dwarfs any internal dispute.