WVPT cutbacks

Brent Finnegan -- June 29th, 2007

I hesitate to post this, but the press release went out today, so the cat is already out of the bag. There may be something about it in tomorrow’s DNR.

WVPT is canceling the bulk of it’s local programming and “reducing staff.” Thursday afternoon, they laid off six employees. I’m one of them.

This isn’t a personal blog, so I won’t mope about it (not here, anyway) but this is a real shame for a number of reasons.

I believe in the mission of public broadcasting and making it local. By cutting local programs, the community loses something valuable (likewise, the station reduces its relevancy to the community). Every day, I wake up to Morning Edition on my alarm clock radio. When I want national news on TV, I watch FRONTLINE, The News Hour or NOW. Public broadcasting allows interviewers and journalists to dig deeper, and not settle for sound bites. You know they’re not just trying to make you stick around for the next commercial break. And people trust it for a reason.

Among other shows at WVPT, I helped develop and produce Virginia Viewpoints, a local discussion and debate show. With it, Chris Graham and I were trying to produce a local show with the level of professionalism and that you might see on The News Hour. We involved local bloggers, conservatives, teachers, liberals, politicians, mothers, activists, etc and tried to involve the viewers, as well. Needless to say, the show got axed. Only ten of those shows ever went to air.

Virginia Reports, the infrequent documentary series is also gone. The last one recently won an award. The one I’ve been working on for the last nine months, dealing with undocumented immigrants in the Commonwealth, has been stalled, and may never be completed, depending on what they decide. I hope to be able to find some sort of grants or funding to complete it. I just need another month or two. If you’d like to see the documentary I’ve been working on, if you know of possible grant money, email me and let’s see if there’s any way we can make it happen.

If that position hadn’t opened at the station when it did, I’d most likely not be living here, in which case this blog wouldn’t exist. I’m not certain that I’ll be able to stay in H’burg, but I’d certainly like to.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed or called me with your support. I loved my job, and I’ll miss it. I still intend to work in public broadcasting in the future. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be out there co-producing something with Lowell Bergman.

24 Responses to “WVPT cutbacks”

  1. whackette says:

    Awww, Finnegan, I really do hope you can stay in the area. You and this blog have been good for the area.

  2. republitarian says:

    Sorry to hear about your luck…

    Should have put your name in for clerk…….

  3. Gxeremio says:

    What a weird press release. Do you think the fact they’re keeping “Consider This,” albeit on a limited schedule, has anything to do with the host becoming the interim GM of the station? When I watch that show occasionally (to keep up with state legislative news), Parker’s interviews are painful to watch. I think he’s reaching for “thoughtful,” but it comes across as “senile.”

  4. eso says:

    I’m sorry to hear that on many levels. I always hate to hear of layoffs because I’ve seen the pain they cause. I hate to hear of loss of Public Broadcasting – I listen to NPR frequently on my transport. And I hate to hear of the personal impact on you.

  5. Have you thought of talking to WHSV, Finnegan?

  6. It’s a shame, it seems that WVPT is going the “easier” route and simply airing national programming instead of creating good, local programming of it’s own.

  7. Channel 29 in Charlottesville has hired a few h’burgers.
    I hate to hear about WVPT’s situation, and yours as well.
    I am sure you will find something soon, I would imagine that you have an impressive resume. How about DN-R? They could use a good writer.
    Good luck!

  8. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Brent, while you wait on a public broadcasting job come feel the power of the dark side. I’ve got an opportunity in my department that may help tide you over. Give me a buzz.

    I have some strong opinions on the situation at WVPT, but it would be unwise of me to publicly state them. I guess Bert knew when to get out.

  9. When one door closes, another opens.

  10. TM says:

    Sorry to hear about that, finnegan. After that big award too. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.

  11. doubletree dan says:

    Finn, it is amazing of the kindness of MOST of the people of this valley. Good luck in your quest for stable and fun employment. I do hope you can join SVA…i love that station and the people seem to be sincere, too.

    Karl, that was super cool of you to open the door for Finn and can I pass along Kudos to whom ever put KC on at 4PM…she really is a riot to listen to daily.

    Oh yeah Finnegan, thanks for this blog too!

  12. David Miller says:

    I’d like to see NPR hire you on for local journalism. We might actually get some in depth local stories. You and Dave Reynolds would make a fantastic team. Save him from the Dark side while saving Harrisonburg. AIM HIGH!

  13. finnegan says:

    Thanks for all the support, guys. It’s encouraging.

    I will follow up on job leads and suggestions, but like I said, I have to find a way to finish this documentary somehow. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  14. David Miller says:

    Please visit the following link to speak with our elected officials to stop this tide before all unbiased journalism in our country dissappears into the Fox/Fog.

    Public broadcasting costs you and I $1.53 per year. To me, its well worth it. I just composed a letter to our senators to try and fight President Bush’s proposal to further cut the public broadcasting budget by another $50 million, plus his proposal that their budget no longer benefit from the 2 year firewall that previously (for over 30 years) shielded journalists from political influence. Imagine trying to write a story about corruption when that corrupt individual hadn’t written your budget yet. Think this benefits our country? Then tell your elected officials to do their job and stand up for US!

  15. David Miller says:


    Sorry I got carried away and forgot to post that link.

  16. Karl Magenhofer says:

    All unbiased journalism?

  17. David Miller says:

    I simply mean that unbiased (as in, reporting as many of the facts as humanly possible) journalism is under serious attacks on many fronts.

  18. JGFitzgerald says:

    Uh, maybe in-depth journalism? I’m betting Karl doesn’t have time to be biased. For instance, because of time constraints, he always referred to me from July 2002-04 as “Mayor Joe Fitzgerald” instead of the more accurate “Joseph Gus Fitzgerald, best-looking Harrisonburg mayor in at least a generation.” Of course the DNR, while it had space, never used the more accurate title. Obviously biased.

  19. Guys, can’t you put your petty differences away for a moment and focus on the loss to the community?… or do you think you are much more important than the community?

    Amazing…to say the least

  20. Joseph Gus Fitzgerald, “best looking Harrisonburg mayor in at least a generation”… That would have been more accurate .. I hope Karl will be just as accurate and refer to me as the “best looking Clerk of court in the last 3 decads” if I am elected in November. I have always believed in truth in journalism. ;) It’s good to create an image for your listeners and readers.

  21. Bubby says:

    I don’t know nothing about nothing when it comes to Public TV documentaries. But I do know that the area needs better quality local programming. In the spirit of helping you see that doc to reality, I offer this list of resources, scroll down for independent producers listed by area. I was surprised to see so many in Charlottesville.

    Never give up.

  22. Hollorffman says:

    finn. I’ve only met you twice and each time it was a pleasure. Hang in there! Open doors are there for you. You’re talented and ready for new challenges.. Peace

  23. finnegan says:

    Thanks, Holl.

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