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Protesters Greet WYPR's Replacement for Marc Steiner

Public-radio station WYPR aired its new radio host from noon to 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb 25. The new host and cancellation of The Marc Steiner Show were greeted with vocal, syncopated protests.
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Public radio station WYPR's cancellation of The Marc Steiner Show continued to be greeted with outrage. Protesters met the debut of new radio host Dan Rodricks outside the station's offices at 2216 North Charles Street. They held up signs and drummed out rhythms from 11 a.m. to about 2 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2008. One eyewitness says there were around 20 protesters there over the course of the 3 hour period.

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Since Marc Steiner was fired on a Friday evening earlier this month through a press release, WYPR has witnessed continuous protests Monday through Saturday. These protests seem partially spontaneous. In addition a coalition of WYPR listeners and members surrounding former Green Party candidate Maria Allwhine have a Web site at They are calling for a boycott of all donations to WYPR until Marc Steiner is reinstated.

Drumming could be heard throughout the WYPR station, according to one WYPR insider.

Baltimore's Senator Theater owner Tom Kiefaber brought several large African drums. He led the protesters in rhythms, and proved himself to be an expert drummer, said one person at the rally. The police arrived three times, likely because of the noise. No one was arrested.

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Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks is now hosting the weekday time slot of noon to 2 p.m. at WYPR, the slot once hosted by Marc Steiner. Rodricks held his first show on the topic of evangelicals in America, and the moral debates between progressive evangelicals and the Christian right wing. When a caller questioned whether it was moral for Rodricks to take over Marc Steiner's show, the caller was cut off.

That was Rodricks' first ever caller to the show. Rodricks did not take many calls for the next half hour. It seemed odd for a call-in radio show, especially on a public radio station.

WYPR senior management claims The Marc Steiner Show was cancelled because of low ratings. The Baltimore Sun has prove these claims to be false. Furthermore a Feb. 21 Baltimore Sun article in the Maryland section showed that WYPR's ratings overall have declined by 21 percent from Fall 2005 to Fall 2007. If anything, these declining ratings are systematic and spotlight the failure of WYPR's upper management.

Steiner says the argument over his firing is not about him; it is about the meaning of public radio.
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Since the firing, WYPR upper management has claimed publicly that the WYPR loan guarenteers "own" WYPR. This ownership claim seems anathema to the typical understanding of what public radio means. Public radio should be focused on the public and community interests, secluded from commercial pressures by their membership donations and non-profit fundraising.

However if five to eight people "own" the WYPR station, what has happened to all the $35, $50, and $100 annual donations by WYPR members?

What are those donations for?

WYPR's board of directors is scheduled to meet on March 12, 2008 in an open public meeting. It is expected that the Marc Steiner firing will take center stage.

Gregg Mosson is an independent reporter and author of "Season of Flowers and Dust" (Goose River Press). More can be found at his Web site at

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