The Baltimore Sun

'Your Public Radio' isn't yours after all?

If I needed confirmation of the correctness of my decision to withdraw future support of WYPR, I got it from the condescending column by station board member John P. Machen ("Radio reality," Opinion

Commentary, March 7).

Mr. Machen indicated that the listeners of WYPR are naive to believe that the radio station belongs to them.

He said that "any thoughtful reflection" should "lead to the conclusion that ownership in the proprietary sense was never intended and should not be expected."

It is a pity that such lawyerly disclaimers and parsing of language do not exist on the station's Web site and have not been part of the on-air fund-raising appeals, in which listeners were urged to consider WYPR "their" station because of "their" contributions.

Was this false advertising?

The arrogance of Mr. Machen's column is truly breathtaking.

But it obviously reflects the corporate doublespeak of WYPR's management.

John B. Sinclair


I guess WYPR board member John P. Machen gave us all the information we need in his column "Radio reality," in which he explains that just because the station is called "Your Public Radio" doesn't mean that we listeners should expect to have any real say in its operation.

That is best left to the big boys who are in charge, and the only thing the public is required to do is to continue sending money to support the station.

Mr. Machen's message to listeners apparently is: "Send your money and keep your mouths shut. How we run 'Your Public Radio' is none of your business."

Peg McAllen


Station's arrogance turns off listeners

Here is another reality for John P. Machen: If indeed WYPR's decision to fire Marc Steiner was made "mindful of ... potential consequences," Mr. Machen and station management should accept that without Mr. Steiner, many former supporters of the station will give their support to other public radio stations or to whatever future project Mr. Steiner might develop ("Radio reality," Opinion

Commentary, March 7).

Instead, Mr. Machen appears to believe that by lecturing us all on the nature of corporate decision-making, he can effectively "re-educate" us as to the "meaning of public radio."

But what Mr. Machen apparently misunderstands is that Mr. Steiner's supporters already understand that station management regards their belief in the "Your" in "Your Public Radio" as naive literalism, or, as Mr. Machen suggests, a view that betrays a lack of "thoughtful reflection."

Such arrogance from the station is precisely what fuels the opposition to Mr. Steiner's firing.

Not surprisingly, such arrogance also makes station management unable to repair the damage it has done.

Deborah Shaller


Now aping the drone of every public radio

With "Maryland Morning" and "Midday" with Dan Rodricks, WYPR now seems much more civilized and professional. Gone are the rough edges and idiosyncrasies of the Marc Steiner era.

The station now sounds like just what we expect from any public radio station that can be heard all over the United States.

What a shame.

Mac Nachlas


Faster at finding smoldering flames

Congratulations to The Sun for publishing Frank D. Roylance's excellent investigation of "Smoke detectors' alarming limits" on the front page (March 4).

But shame on The Sun for not including in the article the most compelling relevant statistic, which is that photo-electric smoke detectors are on average 30 minutes faster than radioactive ionization ones at detecting smoldering fires.

In contrast, radioactive detectors are faster at detecting less-common fast-flaming fires, but only by an average of 30 seconds.

Caveat emptor.

Albert Donnay


The writer is an environmental health engineer.

Israel did provoke attacks by Hamas

I too condemn Hamas' rocket attacks. But The Sun is wrong to say that they are "unprovoked" ("Mideast mayhem," editorial, Feb. 29).

Until June 2006, Hamas had maintained a unilateral cease-fire for 16 months - including a moratorium on suicide bombings.

During this time, Israel kidnapped some of Hamas' democratically elected legislators and killed more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza.

Hamas ended its cease-fire only after an Israeli gunboat killed a family with five children picnicking on a beach.

Then there's the continuing deployment of Israeli squatters onto Palestinian land on the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem, and the inconveniencing, humiliation and persecution of Palestinians resulting from these squatters' presence. Palestinians see this as state-sponsored violence.

Thus the irony in Ira Rifkin's column "Right to fight" (Opinion

Commentary, March 5).

Why does he think that Israelis have a right to respond with overwhelming force against Arabs but Palestinians don't have a right to respond with any violence at all?

Bob Krasnansky

Ellicott City

Cameras' citations much like tickets

I feel a need to respond to two letter writers on speeding and speed cameras.

One letter complains that "since the camera cannot identify the driver, a ticket is simply issued to the vehicle's owner," and that this violates our presumption of innocence ("Speed cameras alter the burden of proof," March 2).

But it does not.

Tickets from speeding cameras are issued very much in the way that parking tickets are issued. And in both cases the vehicle's owner is responsible for the vehicle.

And to the letter writer who argues that driving 36 mph in a 25 mph zone "is not a dangerous threat to people's lives," well, I beg to differ ("Cameras just ploy to raise revenues," March 2).

Driving almost 1.5 times the speed limit in a residential neighborhood is certainly dangerous to all of the children in that community.

Speed cameras do save lives where they are used, and they can save lives here, too.

Neil B. Cohen


Tyler's new home fosters new chapters

Thanks to The Sun and to reporter Mary Carole McCauley for the lovely article about Anne Tyler's house ("New chapter for an old house," March 3).

Ms. Tyler is one of the city and the country's literary treasures.

I sincerely hope she has a writing room in her new home.

Matilda Weiner



The letter "Extravagant gown insults ratepayers" (March 10) failed to note that the $25,000 Molly Shattuck paid to have designer Christian Siriano create a dress for her will go to benefit the Baltimore School for the Arts.

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