I have been a longtime viewer of WNED-TV, public television that serves Western New York as well as Toronto. My children grew up watching Public Broadcasting System programs such as "Sesame Street," "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," "Reading Rainbow" and other educational programs.
But I agree with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint when he wrote in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month it is time for public broadcasting to go private.
DeMint, in an opinion piece, spotlights the waste by the agency. The largest part of it is not in programming or news coverage - it is in the salaries of PBS administrators.
Paula Kerger, PBS president, has been telling viewers on our funded television station to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting," DeMint notes. But nowhere in her message does she reveal her salary of $632,233.
That amount, however, is nothing compared to what the president emeritus of National Public Radio earns. It is a salary the fired Charlie Sheen could appreciate - $1.2 million annually.
Just as eye-popping is the salary of Buffalo's WNED-TV president and chief executive officer Donald K. Boswell. The leader of Channel 17, which our community has supported for numerous years through taxpayer funding and through purchases on its once-popular TV auction as well as fund-raising campaigns - that always interrupted programming - is compensated at just under half of what Kerger makes: $310,000.
Why would anyone who wants people to donate their hard-earned dollars to their programming consciously earn that much money? Are they out of touch or are they just plain selfish?
According to DeMint, the Association of Public Television Stations has hired lobbyists to prevent Congress from cutting its $450 million budget. As noted above, especially with the inflated salaries, maybe cutting funding is the appropriate thing to do.
This newspaper has been an advocate during the recession for freezing salaries of employees instead of laying off, especially in the public sector. In this instance, we would favor massive salary cuts for administrators.
If PBS leaders can make more in the private sector, more power to them. Find that job. They do not need to rake in this type of salary so our youngsters can watch "Sesame Street," which teaches my children to count to a maximum of 20.
Then again, if PBS administrators are calling the shots, maybe they do not want American children to count past 20 - especially when some of their salaries are more than the $175,000 state Gov. Andrew Cuomo earns.
Congratulations to Rosamond Burns, OBSERVER "Yesterdays and Todays" columnist. Her book, "My Dear Jen," which is a non-fiction first-hand account of a love story that spans 100 years, has been published.
A "launch party" for the book will be taking place Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It was co-written by her son George H. Burns III. Visit the Web site at www.mydearjen.com for more information.
John D'Agostino is the publisher of the OBSERVER. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.