It’s that time again. The good souls at WABE 90.1 are coming over the airwaves with their hats in their hands, sprewing more guilt trips than a Jewish grandmother left alone and forgotten on her birthday.

I listen to public radio. A lot. As with most, I listen during the drive time hours, so 90%-95% of my time is spent with Morning Edition and All Things Considered with a little Marketplace here and there on the days I work late. I understand how the system works, but I’m always torn as to whether or not I should pledge because there are a couple things I cannot stand about WABE.

First, I am highly suspicious of the relationship between Public Broadcasting Atlanta and the Atlanta Board of Education. I’m not suspicious of foulplay or other shenanigans, rather, it seems to me to be a mutually destructive relationship. The Atlanta Public School system has enough problems without being saddled with the burden of running a public broadcasting company. I understand that PBA essentially grew out of the educational system way back when to be used as an educational tool, but I think it’s high time for the two to go their separate ways. The school system doesn’t need the added responsibility of running a broadcasting company, and the broadcasting company would do much better for itself if it weren’t trapped under the umbrella of a public school system. I’m not an expert on this relationship, so if someone can argue the other way, I’d love to hear it.

Second, LOIS REITZES MAKES ME WANT TO JAM MECHANICAL PENCILS IN MY EARS!! Seriously, at 9:00am, Reitzes sounds like she’s fresh off a paint thinner and valiuum bender. Does she not sound like she’s 115 years old? Is it me? And I mean no personal offense to her. I’m sure she’s an intelligent, dynamic, articulate person, but her voice makes the hair on my back turn gray. (Other NPR luminaries who should have someone else read their stuff: Karl Casell and Daniel Schorr.) It wouldn’t be such a big deal if she weren’t also the program director, which brings me to my third point.

What’s the deal with all the classical music? I feel like WABE plays the NPR and PRI programming it does only because, if they didn’t, people would riot. If someone else started a station and tried to compete for the NPR and PRI affiliations, it wouldn’t surprise at all if WABE simply said, “Fine, take it. Dealing with those hippies is a pain in the ass anyway. More time for Bach!!” WABE must be sensing imminent mutiny as they’ve started running commercials where locals talk about how much they love all the classical music. Apparently, people like me need to know that there are actually folks out there who don’t turn the radio off when Reitzes and Lemley start kicking out the snoozers. I love classical music, and I find it culturally invaluable, but I want to keep it separate from my current events.

So I’m torn. I use their service and it’s only right that I pay for said service. BUT it annoys me that my money will be, in part, funding services I don’t want anything to do with. BUT that is the same logic employed by Northside exurb hacks like Jim Wooten when he talks about not giving Marta any money until they get their act together when maybe the one thing they need to get their act together is money.

I will probably make a pledge to WABE, not because I love WABE, but because I don’t want to be governed by the same logic as Jim Wooten.

13 Comments so far

  1. Tony Mc (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 2:46 pm

    Here’s a concept, sell ad time and stop begging for money and sucking off the government’s teet. I’d rather have my tax money back than spend it on “public broadcasting.”

  2. josh (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 3:23 pm

    I feel the same … especially regarding the classical/talk mix. Georgia Public Radio (available outside of Atlanta) has more NPR programming per day than WABE.

    My solution: I pledge … but I only pledge $29.17 towards a $35 basic membership. I include a note saying I will pledge 20% more (29.17 x 1.2 = 35) when they add 2 more hours of NPR during the day … say … Talk of the Nation.

    Unfortunately, I think my $5.83 is pretty safe.

  3. Nikki (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 4:10 pm

    I think that public broadcasting serves a very important purpose, government “teet” or “teat” notwithstanding. The news on NPR is totally unparalleled, in my experience, and I really appreciate it. So we’ll pledge . . if only to get them to SHUT UP in the morning when I don’t want to hear begging, but would rather be listening to the news.

  4. Alex (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 4:45 pm

    Amen Tony. I wish WABE was more like LA’s KCRW. Lots of NPR programming mixed in with interesting music. It’s not just you about Lois Reitzes, she drives me insane. Douuuble uuuuuu ABE

  5. Thomas (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 5:54 pm

    Thanks to public broadcasting, I know most of my ABCs, how to tell time, that grouches live in garbage cans and where rain comes from.

    Also, I know how to spell “teat.”

    But really, I find NPR (locally via WABE) to be an invaluable service that I don’t mind supporting at all. And as far as the aforementioned teat goes, few people realize just how small that particular teat is. If I remember correctly, about half of WABE’s funding comes from various underwriters and another forty-five percent is donated by listeners (like you). This leaves us with a 5% local teat.

    Similarly, half of NPR’s nationwide budget is contributed by their affiliate stations. An additional quarter of that budget is funded by various foundations (Ford, Annie E. Casey, etc.). Most of the remaining quarter comes from national corporate underwriting. So respectively, NPR’s teat is even more tiny.

    (Much resist urge to leave off with, “So suck on that.”)

    Cheers. :)

  6. CM (unregistered) on October 19th, 2005 @ 11:32 pm

    I agree that Lois Reitzes is really irritating. A friend of calls her the ultimate fake orgasm. But what do you have against Kasell and Schor?

    As for classical music, WABE is the only station in Atlanta that qualifies as a classical radio station. WREK and possibly another station play a little classical, but not enough to make it noteworthy. Now considering that classical music is high art, wouldn’t it be depressing if Atlanta had exactly zero classical stations? Personally I wish they played more classical music, not less. About half their supporters feel the same way, and about half of them feel the way you do. So they arrive at a balance that makes everyone reasonably happy.

    Re “running commercials where locals talk about how much they love all the classical music” they are also running ones where locals talk about the other things on NPR.

    If you have a look at you’ll see that there a lot of stations that do the classical/talk split. Some do classical/jazz/news or classical/jazz. There’s no rule that a radio station has to be devoted to one format.

  7. shelbinator (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 8:39 am

    When I lived in Phoenix and had a job, I proudly called in my first post-college pledge drive and opted for the monthly deduction from my checking account. Done and done. I thought it was just going to be 12 deductions up to my pledge level, but nooooo, KJZZ has been dropping by every month for the last 8 years and snagging a fiver from me.

    I’d figure out how to cancel it, but I’m so much happier with KJZZ than WABE, I’d rather keep sending my money out west. I actually have AudioHijack on my computer scheduled to record some of my favorite shows from the KJZZ web feed to listen to a la podcast, b/c WABE is too busy spewing freaking opera at me on Saturday.

    I understand that classical music is good for the soul and great background noise for the workplace, but you know what? If I want to listen to Bach or Mozart, I have freaking CDs of it I can spin my stinking self. I do not have reporters calling me up during the day to analyze world events for me, nor does Michael Feldman pop by on Saturday morning to quiz me.

    I also consider Atlanta’s inability to have one station devoted entirely to classical music and jazz, and another station devoted entirely to NPR news, talk, and variety programming one of the items we have yet to check off to be a “real city.”

  8. CM (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 8:58 am

    You may have a CD of the Du Pre/Barbirolli recording of the Elgar cello concerto, but WABE will play the Du Pre/Barenboim recording, and you’ll hear something new.
    On the other hand, the CD logic really does apply to popular music stations.

  9. Nikki (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 9:32 am

    The classical music doesn’t bother me so much, except for on Saturdays, when I don’t necessarily want to listen to regular commercial radio, which tends to be utter and complete crap, but I don’t want to hear opera, either. I wish they played far more jazz, actually. I’d be perfectly happy to exchange Lois’s Second Cup for an early morning Bloody Mary and some Coltrane. I do sort of feel like Tony though — that we “dirty hippies” are more trouble than we’re worth to WABE. I’ve heard that the Classical Only crowd really hates the I *heart* NPR crowd, as well. Can’t we all just get along? Since we are, and obviously will continue to be, in the same boat here in Atlanta?

  10. Tony (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 9:36 am

    CM, thank you for the heads up on the typo.

    I think we’re saying essentially the same thing. WABE is doing its best to balance the demands of their entire audience. But I want more NPR, PRI, APM, BBC, OPP, etc, and you want more classical and jazz. In the current setup neither of us are getting what we want.

    Casell and Schorr sound like their cheeks are each three inches thick. They are both incredible journalists, especially Schorr, and I listen eagerly, but their voices drive me crazy.

  11. CM (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 2:07 pm

    I don’t want more jazz as such and I’d just like a little more classical every day — maybe an hour or so. Some public affairs shows can also be heard on WRFG and WREK — possibly on WCLK too. With podcasts now the problem is less severe anyway. I don’t think you should make any uniform statement about the people who want more classical music. I certainly don’t hate the I *heart* NPR crowd, and no one I know fits that description either. So someone probably just started a rumor and it spread.

  12. Anna (unregistered) on October 21st, 2005 @ 11:14 pm

    I recently moved from south Georgia, where we could get Tallahassee’s talk + teeny bit of celtic and classical public radio station and Tallahassee’s classical public radio station and Georgia Public Radio’s mix of talk and various musical programming.

    Kind of sad, really, that a hick from the Quitman can move to the big city Atlanta and actually find less public radio. Oh well, maybe we need it worse down there.

    I miss Talk of the Nation most of all. (written with misty eyes, no lie)

  13. mere (unregistered) on October 27th, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    I actually sent money back to WUNC in Chapel Hill. They went to an all-talk format when I was in college and it was sweet and wonderful and I miss TOTN too. Alot. I believe that the lack of talk radio in the ATL actually diminishes the quality of life here. 2 stations, please. Somebody, do something.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.