Karl Miller and Deryk Barker, on the thread started by Kevin Sutton:
>>But I also want to learn something myself, which is why it aggravates
>>me to hear "Planets" every other day. If public radio is just playing
>>requests, it isn't really educational.
>Precisely. I wonder if you can actually specify what you want to hear
>(learn) and still have it be educational?
Deryk's question is absolutely fundamental. I can provide a clue to the
answer, having spent more than 40 years as a research scientist finding
out things that were not known beforehand. The answer is: (a) you cannot
specify what you want to learn ahead of time; but (b) there are logical
structures (for example that of experimental/inductive science) that
facilitate the process of discovery. Conversely, there are other logical
structures---for example, theological fundamentalism---which make it
impossible to discover anything new, virtually by definition. Humanity
moved a little way from the latter to the former in the 17th century,
with the result that rather more about the world has been discovered
since then than in the previous 100,000 years.
So, in terms of broadcasting, the question Karl brought up reduces to
the logical structure of the operation, i.e., the basis on which decisions
are made about what to broadcast and what not to broadcast. In commercial
broadcasting, we know what that structure is, and we know that the outcome
will be 20,000 Top 40 station, with a sprinkling of "classical" stations
broadcasting "The Planets", or more likely individual movements from
"The Planets". NPR has been moving in this direction for 30 years, as
its funding came to depend more and more heavily on business underwriting
and fund-raisers. Alternative structures can be conceived. I said
conceived, which does not necessarily mean (in the USA) implemented.
Department of Gnome Sciences
University of Washington