Saturday, February 14, 2009

LGBT Smoking Cessation and Questions about the Analog to Digital TV Transition

On the Feb. 15th show:
* Landmark Smoking Cessation program for LGBT people begins at OutReach
* Analog to Digital TV Transition: Are We REALLY Ready?
* Open Phones on the This and Other Major Issues of the Day

Click to Listen to Archived Show

OutReach Begins Smoking Cessation Program, as Part of Larger Statewide Effort

In our first segment, OutReach volunteer group facilitators Erin and Stephanie join us to discuss the LGBT community center's participation in an exciting new statewide initiative to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in quitting smoking. This will be the first in a series of reports about this project, which has been many years in the making, funded by The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Partnership Program and implemented by Diverse & Resilient. See .

Other partners include:
the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, Milwaukee LGBT community Center, LGBT Resource Center of the 7 Rivers Region, OutReach, Chippewa Falls LGBT community Center, SAGE in Milwaukee, Positive Voice, Wisconsin State Department of Health and Family Services, University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, American Lung Association of Wisconsin, La Crosse County Health Department and Milwaukee City Health Department. The program is being administered by Diverse and Resilient's new Health Promotion Manager, Rodney Johnson. (See

These efforts are an integral part of longstanding efforts to deliver culturally-competent health care services to Wisconsin's LGBT residents, many of whom encounter some unique additional challenges as they seek to quit smoking. For more information on these programs, go to the "rm2breathe" website at . To sign up for OutReach's local group, and for more information, contact OutReach at 608-255-8582, write to, or go to OutReach's new web presence .

Questions Remain on the Eve of the Digital to Analog Transition

On the eve of the much-anticipated analog to digital TV transition, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate student Joan Downs joins us with some major concerns about the consequences of this action for millions of people without access to cable or satellite--especially those in rural areas--for whom the transition may be less than smooth. It's all about who benefits, and who loses, namely, where consumers come down in the mix? Is this all about a better TV picture, or were less noble motives behind this decision? Why isn't a dual system being maintained for a longer time? What's going to happen to all of those suddenly obsolete TV sets sent to landfills and the chemicals they could be releasing into the environment?

Michael J. Copps, Acting Chair of the FCC, predicts that
there may be "considerable consumer disruption" on February 18th because of the lack of government preparedness in this transition. In response to such concerns, the federal government recently passed a law that delays the mandatory end of traditional analog broadcasts until this summer. However, the three major Madison TV stations say this will make no difference, and their own analog broadcasts will cease as scheduled on this Tuesday, Feb. 17th.

Our guest, Joan Downs, ignited an interesting discussion on local blog Dane 101 with her recent rebuttal piece responding to an earlier piece entitled, "
Digital television delay dissed by channels 3, 15 and 27." In this article, she argued that it was in the best interests of local TV stations to follow the federal lead and delay shutting down analog transmissions until at least this summer. Joan defended the rights of the estimated one percent of the population who may not yet be ready for the transition (many of them elderly and rural viewers), and encouraged anyone adversely affected by the transition to weigh in with both local stations and advertisers.

Almost without exception, respondents to Joan's post left messages to the effect of "people have had more than enough notice, stop your whining and move on." There was little sympathy expressed for those whom the transition may inconvenience or leave behind. Still--this debate did play itself out on an Internet discussion board, not a place where the potentially technologically disenfranchised were likely to gather.

In a final rebuttal post, in arguing for further delay, she points out the fact that vouchers available to help low-income and elderly people purchase conversion boxes have run out, and that other new wrinkles keep popping up--such as the fact that the vast majority of existing rabbit ears will not work with digital signals, and will require the purchase of new antennae. She also applauds Wisconsin Public TV for delaying hte transition for a time while they ponder the consequences for their viewers, and encourages local commercial broadcasters to follow that lead.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please phone us at 321-1670 locally, *123 toll-free for US Cellular customers, or 1-877-867-1670 toll-free for people nationwide listening on the stream at .

Next week: A Special Panel Discusses the politics and the issues behind an impending decision by the Common Council about whether or not to authorize an increase in bus fares to $2. Sound decision? An end-run around public process by the mayor and others, or a matter of showing the "political courage" to do the right thing? New revenue that will save transit locally, or a disastrous path that will discourage ridership and decrease revenue, endangering years of growth? Weigh in with us on a fascinating discussion, next week, on Forward Forum.

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