Monday, June 21, 2010

10. An Open Letter from Local Cultural Writer, "Alonzo Subverbo"

Friends, the WNRNification of WTJU is underway.

And maybe we cannot stop it, but at least we can go down fighting. Or emailing.

Last week station manager Burr Beard, presumably driven by either his shadowy overlords or by a malice rooted in childhood name-related trauma, announced some changes. The schedule is going to be rearranged, eliminating daytime rock and, uh, doing other stuff -- the details are not important. Also, the rock department will be creating a pool of songs to be put into rotation, requiring DJ's to draw from that pool for part of their playlist. Something like that. Again, the details are not important. What is important is that the DJ's are up in arms against this. Outraged, dismayed, heartbroken, demoralized -- our music geeks are hurting, and they need our support. Many are leaving the station, or considering it. And maybe they are being too sensitive, over-dramatic, cantankerous. Maybe some of them are senile and others immature. Prima Donnas hiding behind a microphone. Self-aggrandizing, autistic, secretly bald... one or two might live in a basement apartment with ten cats and a sex doll. Pretentious fanboys and misguided hipsters. Authenticity fetishists. Sweater people. Guys with pocket watches.

Yeah, maybe they are a just a bunch of self-important misfits.

But that is why we fucking love 'em. And even if a slim majority are relatively well-adjusted and reasonable, we don't want our radio station to be well-adjusted. We don't want it to be reasonable. We want to keep WTJU weird. Prickly. Anarchic. The one place on our radio dial where the music is played not because someone thinks we want to hear it, but just because some one actual living breathing human being wants to play it. Because I don't need to be told what I want to hear, what I need is for someone with a passion in their heart to share that passion with me and anyone else who cares to hear, through the music they play, freely over the airwaves, a gift. We need a place where such a thing is allowed to happen. A place where this chancy and unremunerative effort is respected and protected and allowed its free play. This is what WTJU has been. And this is what is being threatened now.

So the least you can do is send an email: Burr Beard's email is Maybe you should hit them both. Maybe you could even look up emails for other folks at the station to maximize impact. Tell them that you like WTJU the way it is. That you like the schedule the way it is (even if there are aspects of the new schedule that you may prefer -- its about the principle here, the schedule was not ordained by God and can be changed, but only in a process that is respectful of the DJ's and involves them and so then probably would not actually happen but so be it -- we should just say we like it the way it is). That you don't want to hear any songs in rotation -- pure freeform forever! That WTJU is a beloved institution that should not be meddled with lightly. You are concerned. You don't want to lose your favorite DJ's and their shows. You have donated to the station in the past. You don't know if you will in the future. You will kill a puppy unless Burr Beard immediately steps down and is replaced by Tyler Magill. And so on. The point is just to raise a stink, create a sense of public opinion, and to vent (but not to the point of unrespectability).

The office phone number is (434) 924-0885. Calling obviously has a bigger impact than email. It is the second step.

The third step is Direct Action. I imagine you could learn about that by listening for the coded instructions on Black Circle Revolution, or by simply getting a WTJU DJ drunk.

You should definitely keep aware and stay informed, preferably from sources more reliable and less tired than I am. Good morning and good luck to us all.

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