I would like to begin this letter to you by thanking you for helping to preserve Fayetteville’s tradition of commitment to the First Amendment and the creativity of its citizens. You are just the latest in a long line of civic-minded individuals who have fought to defend the Freedom of Speech of Fayetteville residents.
As you are all no doubt aware, April 1 marked the 35th anniversary of public access television in Fayetteville. All the way from Fayetteville Open Channel to Access 4 Fayetteville to Community Access Television to its current name of Fayetteville Public Access Television, public access producers have sought to show the world the rich diversity of life in our community.
Speaking as a public access producer, however - as well as being a former board member of Fayetteville Open Channel, Community Access Television, Fayetteville’s Telecommunications Board and the Southwest Regional Board of the Alliance for Community Media - I am uncomfortable with the idea that no celebration seems to be planned for this all-important year.
Fayetteville has one of the oldest public access stations in the United States, and every time access has been threatened on the government level, hundreds of passionate citizens have spoken out in its defense.
In fact, many of those who have attended awards banquets in the past have had no connection to public access television in any way except as viewers who appreciate what has been provided to them.
In that spirit, I would ask that the Your Media board, at the very least, reinstate the annual awards banquet. Not only was this a time for fundraising, but the awards themselves have always been good for producer morale, and show the community the excellent work that we are capable of.
Some years ago, while walking through the Northwest Arkansas Mall, I happened upon a display of quilts. On one particular quilt many patches were sewn together, showing the rich diversity of our community. What a pleasant surprise it was to discover that someone had thought so highly of public access in Fayetteville that a patch was devoted to Community Access Television, the provider at the time.
By your very involvement protecting public access in our community you have shown that you care about what the station provides, and that you honor the rich diversity which our station shows the rest of the world.
It is my fervent hope that you will honor those who have made the station what it is over the years - the local producers, men and women of all ages, political and religious views and economic status who have helped keep the torch of the First Amendment alive in Northwest Arkansas.
Richard S. Drake
Quote of the Day
The power to give oneself up graciously to a book is the wealthiest habit, I imagine, that one can acquire. - Chauncey Wright