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Consider the Suspension Bridge: It's Public Radio

Yes, I'm really going to compare public radio to a suspension bridge. They're very similar, don't you think?

And not just in the obvious ways.

It's easy to see that like a suspension bridge, public radio is a connector between communities, a way to get from Here to There, a conduit for the free exchange between points -- geographic or intellectual -- that seemed forever destined to be separated.

Both public radio and the suspension bridge were an innovation on the more traditional design, invented by necessity to address age-old needs of people faced with a wide chasm. The bridge spans a river or deep gorge; public radio helps span a gap in knowledge or a great divide between opposing viewpoints.

The bridge surface is the news, information and entertainment on KGOU, used by the listening and online audiences -- the bridge travelers -- to get from Here to There. Those travelers are a diverse mixture of all kinds of vehicles and pedestrians, sojourners on their way somewhere, whether headed to work or toward greater understanding.

No, I won't belabor any of that obvious similarity.

I want to examine the actual structure, the "suspension" part of the suspension bridge.

Suspension bridges have huge towers anchored securely in the ground, on which the entire bridge depends. The towers have to be strong, but the true innovation -- the greatness, really -- is in the suspension cables that actually hold up the bridge. The strongest suspension cables are made of individual steel wires, twisted rope-like, interwoven, and suspended from the towers in a way that not only enables the bridge to support its load, but also makes it lighter, more flexible, able to span a greater distance, and in the best examples, a thing of beauty.

By now maybe you can see where I'm going with this -- I'll point out that those individual strands of wire are integral to the structure of the bridge as a whole, that the absence of a single cable can weaken the entire structure, and that without those wires and cables, the bridge would collapse.

You've guessed it by now: I'm asking you to join me in being a single strand of wire for KGOU and the entire public media system. I'm not asking you to be a tower; others have willingly taken on that burden. I'm just asking you to join with all the other wires who together form the real strength of public media.

When thousands of public media consumers contribute what we can, the "wires" make up the single largest source of support KGOU has. Our contributions allow KGOU to pay the bills -- for programs we listen to, for the reporters who take us along for the ride, for stories we read and enjoy and share.

In our Fall Membership Drive you'll hear variations on the theme "Solid reporting needs solid support". Together we provide that solid support; we become the bridge, the connector, the means of getting from Here to There, a solution to the age-old need to know what's going on in our world, an enabler for high quality, in-depth news, information and entertainment. And a thing of beauty.


KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Laura works to fund journalism and entertainment programming on public radio through individual listener contributions and other funding streams. She is a former radio journalist at KTOK, WKY and other commercial radio stations.
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