The humble Farmer at Bowdoin College, January 31, 2003

"Robert Skoglund is an international treasure....he celebrates and embodies the very creative spirit that public broadcasting seeks, or used to seek, to enable."

A letter from Ken Brown to Representative Dill and Senator Bromley

Dear Representative Dill and Senator Bromley,

Over the last several years, American society has witnessed a steady decline in civil liberties including the right to free speech, right to a speedy trial and protection from illegal search and seizure to name but a few. This phenomenon has been exhibited on both the federal and state level. Reasonable people could disagree as to the extent of the erosion of protections afforded Americans under the Bill of Rights but what cannot be disputed is the fact of the erosion.

I write to you about these issues so as to frame a very disturbing incident involving MPBN and the attempt to suppress the free speech of one of their long time commentators Robert Skoglund aka The Humble Farmer. Over the last twenty eight years Robert Skoglund has provided public broadcasting radio listeners with a witty, insightful mix of social commentary and 'old fashion music'. Many have called him the Garrison Keillor of Maine. My personal feeling is that Mr. Skoglund provides a far deeper intellectual analysis of the human condition than does The Prairie Home Companion as well as significant twentieth century American music history. He has never failed to promote and support local performing artists.

Personal bias aside, the trend to direct and control the content of The Humble Farmer goes back at least to 2003 when Mr. Skoglund received a reprimand / warning based on commentary regarding Adolf Hitler. The November 3, 2006 show was not aired at all due to content deemed 'political'. The limits imposed on Mr. Skoglund are new; former MPBN management did not see fit to criticize or curtail Mr. Skoglund. In addition the negative attitude directed at Mr. Skoglund from MPBN management has been of a nature that has simultaneously threatened and cast doubt on the future of the program 'The Humble Farmer' should he not "shape up".

Robert Skoglund is an international treasure. His program is streamed on the internet and is as well received in Paris, France as it is in Miami, Florida. He is not in violation of the original mandates of public broadcasting; rather he celebrates and embodies the very creative spirit that public broadcasting seeks, or used to seek, to enable. Are you never quite sure what he might say or play next ? Now you understand the nature of the appeal.

I am requesting each of you to look further into this issue. A good place to start might be Village Soup @ The latest posting describes another perspective on this topic. The Christian Science Monitor also recently profiled The Humble Farmer. After you have read about the unfortunate turn towards suppression of speech at MPBN I hope you will further consider closely questioning MPBN representatives should they appear before you during budget negotiations. I do not consider their actions either appropriate or necessary.

I am a life long Democrat. I have been a public broadcasting supporter / listener throughout my life. I will hopefully always be a learner. I do not seek to de-fund MPBN. I do seek a modification of their behavior and the utter rejection of the 'guidelines' that management has imposed at this very late date in the history of Maine Public Broadcasting on commentary. Robert Skoglund is a teacher, a mentor and a member of the old school.

Please, let's support the guy that has done so much for Maine and at the same time get back some of the liberties to which we are entitled.

Thank you both for your time. I appreciate your interest in this matter.

Ken Brown

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Robert Karl Skoglund
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St. George, ME 04860
(207) 226-7442

2007 Robert Karl Skoglund