Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seeking Aging And Affluent Suburbanite Money, Once Proud Classical WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Abandons All American Music For 'Comfort-Food Music'

National Arts Advocacy Day 2007

[Former WGMS Program Director and now Classical WETA-FM Program Director] Jim Allison might indeed be a "nice person," as mentioned by Bob L., but he is taking the New Classical WETA-FM completely in the wrong direction as noted by numerous posters here [on the new Classical WETA-FM blog] over the past month; a direction in which he is perhaps comfortable having spent 14 or so years at musically-deconstructivist and commercial and survey-driven WGMS. He is clearly the wrong person for the New Classical WETA-FM, one of the most important classical music administrative positions in the Nation's Capital.

I would assume that if the Board of Directors of WETA -- or WETA's rightfully beloved Ken Burns for that matter -- were aware of how Mr Allison has turned the once proud Classical WETA-FM into Classical WETA-FM-lite, in which over 200 years of American classical music achievement is treated with disdain, neglect, and condescension; they would be rightfully concerned and might ban the use of WGMS's old survey-driven classical music programming-software at the New Classical WETA-FM; and seek a consultant (pro bono or paid) to coach Mr Allison and his staff on the proud history of WETA Television and Radio, and on American cultural and musical diversity issues.

Today being National Arts Advocacy Day 2007, I am preparing now to begin a letter writing campaign to the Board of Directors of WETA to alert them to the destructive to American culture direction that Mr Allison and his marketing team are taking the National Capital's radio station. Obviously, Sharon Percy Rockefeller is out of touch with the realities of the Classical WETA-FM radio station, of which she is nominally President and CEO. Clearly, she and her family and friends don't listen to Classical WETA-FM or hold it in high regard.

Bob L. mentions below his dislike for American content quotas. Well, Bob L., as well as Mr Allison and his Classical WETA staff, are going to have to get used to the fact that quotas and goals have been a part of American socio-economic, gender, and cultural life for the past two generations. It is unbelievable that Ms Sharon Rockefeller's WETA Television station can devote whole months to "Eyes on the Prize" and human and civil rights issues, including Women's rights issues, and then allow WETA Television's sister network, the New Classical WETA-FM, to become Mr Allison's and Mr Laurson's plaything peddling survey- and software- driven, comfort food-modeled, short musical doses to its aging, former WGMS (and remaining WETA) audience members; while ignoring those members of the region's growing population for whom classical music is a now comfortably American-based, living entity -- and as alive as WETA Public Television, books, movies, popular music, the internet, the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, the Smithsonian, Wolf Trap, the Library of Congress, and the National Gallery of Art.

If Sharon Rockeller were as serious about Classical WETA-FM as she apparently is about WETA-Television, perhaps she, and her Board of Directors, would create an Advisory Board headed by the European and American classical music loving former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor (who did so much to refine the useful role of quotas, goals, and plans in everyday American life) to study the roles and balances of European and American classical music in the National Capital's public radio and television programming.


In response to someone below, the New Classical WETA-FM did in fact, in the very brief golden age before Mr Allison's arrival at Classical WETA-FM from WGMS, program Bruckner's Symphony #5 and works by the American composer (of Armenian descent) Alan Hovhaness. Who was the Acting Program Director during that very brief golden age, and is she or he still at Classical WETA-FM?

(It will be left to some future historian of American decline to explain why the public radio station in the capital city of the richest and most educated nation in history repeatedly programmed works by Frederick the Great of Prussia, but not the American composers Edward McDowell, Charles Griffes, Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Howard Hanson, William Schuman, Ned Rorem, John Corigliano, or John Adams.)



On March 13, 2007, National Arts Advocacy Day, Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital and under the nominal direction of Sharon Percy Rockefeller, President and CEO, once again programmed no American classical music.

Humanist, Pianist, European and American Classical Music Lover, and Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Conner. She allowed American classical piano music to be performed in the halls of the United States Supreme Court.

Photo credit: Associated Press via www.newsday.com. With thanks.


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