1370 Connection: WXXI and the Little

1370 Connection: WXXI and the Little

Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm

WXXI President & CEO Norm Silverstein and WXXI board member Mark Cleary discuss the recent affiliation between WXXI and the Little.

On 1370 Connection, Friday, January 6 at 1 p.m. on AM 1370, Norm Silverstein and Mark Cleary join host Bob Smith to talk about  the joining of forces between Rochester’s public broadcasting organization and the region’s principal venue for the showing of independent film, the Little Theater.

To read more about this formal, long-term affiliation, click here.

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WXXI and Little Theatre merger

I am a long time supporter of WXXI and I am not exactly excited to hear about the merger between WXXI and the Little Theatre.

I have nothing against the Little, and think it's nice to have a theater like it in town. But honestly, any time I check the listings at the Little, most if not all of the movies shown there are also being shown at the commercial theaters at the malls. Again, no objection, and I do know that the Little also shows less commercial films too, but I was honestly a bit surprised to learn that the Little even qualifies as a non-profit organization at all, since it is essentially primarily a movie theater. A theater that is presently showing five movies, of which four are War Horse, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Young Adult, and The Descendants does not seem like a charitable or cultural institution any more than the Regal Eastview. I wish the Little Theater no ill, and would love to see it function as a successful business, but I don't think it really accomplishes anything that is not already being accomplished by a combination of the Eastman House and the Regal Eastview. It is not something I care to personally financially support with anything more than the price of a movie ticket.

With this merger WXXI is diversifying into the movie theater business. The logic of this escapes me. I contribute to and support WXXI public broadcasting. I support public broadcasting. I don't want to see that support diluted by a merger of a public broadcasting organization with a movie theater. The supposed benefits to public broadcasting from this merger seem to me to be quite weak, even taking them in the rosiest scenario being presented.

I will wait and see how this works out, but merging WXXI public broadcasting with this theater seems to me to be financially questionable, and seems to demonstrate what Peter Lynch called "diworseification". It appears to me that you are losing sight of WXXI's mission in the interest of bailing out a failing movie theater business, simply because many members of the WXXI core demographic are sentimentally attached to it. Even if I turn out to be wrong about this, I have no doubt that this is not the sort of venture I contribute to WXXI to support.

I wish you would stick to public broadcasting and stay out of the movie house business. This merger is ill-conceived.

Thank you for listening to my input,
Tim Biehler

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your questions about WXXI’s new affiliation with the Little Theatre.

First, let us assure you that WXXI did not enter this affiliation without proper perspective and information. A task force made up of board members from both organizations had been meeting for months exploring all the pros, cons and – ultimately – benefits of joining forces. Plus we worked with The New York Council of Nonprofits to assist with our negotiations. The opportunity to have a footprint in the East End of Rochester as well as a new tangible connection to the city’s cultural community was one that we saw as invaluable to WXXI’s growth. The affiliation will also help extend and enhance our educational efforts and add complimentary programming. Both WXXI and the Little have similar missions with strong committed membership bases, and though the Little has been an icon in the city for more than 80 years, we recognized that there were areas in which WXXI was particularly adept at that would help stabilize the theatre. For the Little, with a small but truly dedicated staff, an affiliation with WXXI means additional support where it can really make a difference – more effective fund raising, financial expertise, and promotion of films and events. And in terms of partnering on some of those films and cross-promotions, we expect many exciting opportunities for new programming and events for WXXI will emerge as the two organizations begin to collaborate.

Most importantly, this affiliation helps assure the future of one of the cultural gems of the city, while providing a model for other non-profit collaborations. All not-for-profits are facing challenges during this time of economic stress. The circumstances call for creative thinking and collaborative action. We feel this affiliation will provide opportunities to strengthen the missions of both organizations, broaden the scope of service and opportunity, and contribute to the quality of life in the Rochester community.