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Support W.Va. Public Broadcasting

To the Editor,

I praise the State of the State speech. It’s rare that a governor is realistic, but, in the end, optimistic, that if we address reality now we’ll lighten up the end of the tunnel for tomorrow.

I applaud his enthusiasm and commitment to education and tourism. Both are critical for our future.

As chairman of the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation, however, I strongly object to defunding all state support. That $4.6 million is almost half of our budget, and is in addition to a reduction of more than a $1 million over the last couple of years. While we say only half, much of the balance is in matching funds and thus will be lost, too.

I could dwell on what that loss will mean to our hundreds of thousands of viewers and listeners. We are their source for thoughtful and accurate news, nationally, and their only statewide news, their only source for classical music, for shows like Antique Roadshow and Downton Abbey, a dedicated children’s network, and on and on. I haven’t mentioned the coverage of the Governor’s address and the blow-by-blow legislature coverage (It got them all wearing ties!). That will all be gone.

We know we continually have to prove our worth to our supporters, the governor, and the Legislature. So it is time to take the bushel off our candle!

We have a provable record of adding immense value by promoting a positive image to our viewers — local and out-of-state — through 24/7 broadcasting. We must quantify that and begin to toot our horn.

The state currently spends over $25 million promoting horses, dogs and casinos, and the new budget calls for an increase. We project a favorable image 24 hours a day to hundreds of thousands of people, in and out of state for a fraction of that cost. It would be the definition of “a penny wise and a pound foolish.”

Equally important is the contribution we make to help shore up our less than adequate educational system. There is an entire channel devoted to kids, with a world-class knowledge presentation, plus continuing programming for all grades of education. Is this worth our penny-wise chopping?

At the very least, don’t eliminate a proven success until you figure out how to replace it, if you can.

I think we are consistently building a future that’s rosier than our past. To eliminate WVPB is comparable to eating one’s seed corn today and starving tomorrow.

So, please, if you agree with me, call your delegate, your senator, the governor, write a letter to the editor right now! Help us to continue to tell the REAL West Virginia story.

Edward C. Armbrecht Jr

Chairman, WVPB Foundation

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