WESLACO, Texas – While the Rio Grande Valley is in the national spotlight due to the surge of unaccompanied children arriving at the southern border, there is no local NPR or PBS news service to cover it.
This outrages a nonprofit set up to bring NPR back to the Valley. The group is called: Grassroots Public Radio RGV.
“It is outrageous to me that one of the most economically distressed areas in the United States – and yes, the border is the United States, contrary to what many folks’ believe – does not have a local NPR or PBS station,” said Ron Rogers, a director of Grassroots Public Radio RGV.
“We have all this international news coming out of our region and we cannot support public radio and public TV? It does not make sense. Why can’t we get educational television and educational radio in our area. Forget what the church did. Now is now. What is the hold up?”
Rogers was referring to the fact that the Diocese of Brownsville sold the local PBS and NPR stations a few years ago, leaving a region of 1.2 million without public TV and public radio.
“Year after year, survey after survey, U.S. citizens say NPR and PBS are the most reliable news services in this nation. More people believe NPR and PBS nationally than any other source of news,” Rogers said.
“Yet we cannot have educational television or educational radio, public broadcasting that has won every award for the last 50 years, for being the premier educational station for children and adults, for the history of our country. We are missing out.”
Asked what Grassroots Public Radio RGV is doing about it, Rogers said the group has started a fundraising campaign to raise $750,000. This is what will be needed to buy a radio station. Rogers said that campaign can be assisted by President Biden’s infrastructure plan and through philanthropic support from billionaires like Elon Musk.
“I am calling our congressmen and our senators and the president to help. President Biden said infrastructure is important. Well, a new radio station is infrastructure. What about Elon Musk? He just gave $30 million to schools in Cameron County. Any philanthropic folks that have money and care about this region, that want to invest in children’s education and public education, should come to our aid.”
(Editor’s Note: Congressmen Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez tell listeners what they are doing to bring back NPR and PBS in the attached podcast.)
Rogers said some of the best programming about the history of America is on PBS.
“I cannot get it. I don’t have cable. I have over the air, which I like. I can get PBS on Roku as an app, but that is scattered. We should have public broadcasting over the air.”
Rogers used to live in Boston, Mass., and remembers the plethora of local public broadcasting stations he could pick up on the radio dial. He said he has friends in other parts of the country who cannot believe he cannot tune into any in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The number of people that tell me, you do not have NPR, you do not PBS, that is amazing, that is tragic. They cannot believe it. It is like we are out in the middle of a desert.”
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