Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More "Hands of God"

Couple Drops KMBH-FM Radio Show Because Of Censorship Incident at Public Broadcast Station


HARLINGEN - "North of the Border" has gone south in the wake of the "Hand of God" controversy at KMBH.

Joe and Rosa Perez pulled the plug on their weekly KMBH-FM radio show Friday to protest KMBH-TV's refusal last week to air the Frontline episode "Hand of God."

"I felt so damned embarrassed to be associated with the station," Joe Perez said. "I consider myself a cultural activist and making a statement about this is as important as anything else."

"North of the Border," a program about music that has traveled to this side of the Rio Grande from Mexico and Latin America, had aired on KMBH-FM for five years. "Hand of God" concerns the child abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in recent years. KMBH, the local Public Broadcasting System affiliate, is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.

On Friday, Monsignor Pedro Briseño, KMBH's general manager, denied any connection between the station's ownership, the show's subject matter and the decision not to air "Hand of God."

Briseño did not return several calls seeking comment Monday about the Perezes' resignation.

Perez said he and his wife had provided "North of the Border" at no cost to KMBH. They are retired teachers living in Olmito who also perform folk music as Runbo al Anacua.

The resignation e-mail was addressed to Chris Maley, program director of KMBH-FM, Perez said. But Maley was away from the office on Friday. It was Briseño who replied to Perez. The two exchanged several e-mails, Perez said.

"His whole tone was like a priest talking to a 13-year-old ... in the confessional," said the retired teacher. "I didn't like that."

"To be honest, we were starting to lose our enthusiasm after five years of doing this," he said.

Perez said the controversy over "Hand of God" was the final straw. Perez said to himself, "We don't need to be there anymore."

Perez said he and his wife will attempt to air "North of the Border" on other stations.

"We're not trying to make a living at this," Perez said about the show. "We're not going to charge for it. It's just a cultural statement we want to make."

Jan 22, 2007 - 22:39:41 CST


A Harlingen Reader said...

You may also want to add the following from the Valley Morning Star Newspaper:

Church should answer for pulling program

Letter to the Editor:

As I watched "Frontline" on PBS two week's ago, I saw the preview for last week's topic. It was a documentary that dealt with the child molestation scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston.

To my surprise I tuned in and nothing; it was a repeat. I could not believe that this is important documentary was not being shown.

Then I learned that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville owns the PBS station, KMBH. It all became clear. Once again, the church has decided what is right to see and what is not.

PBS, to me, has always stood for "public broadcasting." We donate money to see special programming that cannot be seen on other stations.

And yes, I know another station decided not to show the program also, but they are not owned by the Catholic Church. Another question that comes out of this: Why no comments from Bishop Raymundo Peña? Was it a coincidence that church officials were away while we try to get some answers?

I know that viewers like myself who donate to KMBH would like to know what gives the Diocese of Brownsville the right to pick what programs are appropriate and which are not. If we do not get any answers, KMBH will say goodbye to my donations.

Alex Nuñez

Anonymous said...

Hats off to Joe and Rosa. What a strong statement for justice and truth. God love you both!
Only problem, we sure are going to miss your great show until another station picks it up, which shouldn't be very long. Thanks to both of you for your many years of entertaining us!

Anonymous said...

The only honorable thing to do is for the bishop to release KMBH (TV and radio) to impartial management, such as a college. But then, when has the bishop done the honorable thing?

Church Employee Who's Seen It all said...

Mr. Alex Nunez, it was NOT a coincidence that they were not available to answer the media's questions because they were on an annual retreat planned for months in advance. Even so, the good Monsignor was contacted at the retreat and he was made aware of the situation, that is why he demanded all questions from the media in writing. He had some choice comments for the local news reporters that would make a sailor blush. The request for questions in writing proved pointless when he was unable to answer but one or two of the twelve questions prepared for him.

It appears to me that the diocese administration felt no one in these backward parts of the country would even notice the show didn't air. Boy were they proved wrong, AGAIN!