In August, all the commentators of Vermont Public Radio— including myself — were shown the back door. When I heard the news, I was visibly upset.
You have to understand: I have been doing garden and farm commentaries for VPR for over 20 years. I was one of longest-serving commentators, along with Willem Lange and Madeline Kunin, our former governor.
I read the news of our firings in VTDigger before I was informed by VPR. A poor process indeed. I had submitted a commentary way back in February on the insect apocalypse but heard no word as to when it would be aired. The only response I received was every couple months, I was told that changes were taking place and I would hear soon. No updates ever came.
I believe the commentaries — the longest running series of its kind in the U.S. — were the heart and soul of the station. For 31 years, Vermont Public Radio’s commentary series treated listeners to a variety of cultural and historical events, stories, and opinions from farmers and gardeners, activists, teachers, journalists, poets, novelists and ol’ woodchucks. They were like a tapestry of life in the Green Mountains.
Listening to the commentaries was like having a conversation with an interesting person along with coffee and apple pie. Sometimes you just shook your head — like, where is this coming from? There were some 12,000 to 13,000 separate commentaries on every conceivable topic. They were a relief from the hard news and incessant advertisements.
I remember years ago when I had an issue with VPR. They told me I should consider it a privilege to provide commentaries. I found that comment to be both demeaning and elitist. I decided to continue with VPR, as I wanted to communicate on critical farm and food issues.
I believe VPR has lost its way. Hopefully, the station will return to the real Vermont one day.