Monday, June 21, 2010

4. The Opinion of DJ Pinetops Stephen

Some of Mr. Beard's master plan may be what the station needs. I can see the pros and cons of moving Jazz to the intense competition of drive-time. Our best bet for that time slot may well be with the incredible talents of our wonderful Jazz department. However, Jazz already has a consistent, weekly schedule of 9a-12n and to leave morning Jazz listeners, like myself, out in the cold seems awfully drastic and possibly foolhardy. I have other such internal debates with many of the tenets of the master plan as laid out in the consistency document. However, what troubles me the most with the master plan is an apparent exchange of our current passion for music with a passion for propping up one's ego. Through my several reads of the consistency document, I keep coming back to this conclusion, especially when it is summarized in the penultimate line in the document:

This is more “personality-driven” than “keep host out of the way of the music” driven programming.

In my opinion, passion for music is the common bond all of us at WTJU share. It differentiates WTJU from all of the other music sources. It is a primary attraction for our listeners and for the musicians that come to visit because they know that at WTJU, it is all about the music. To dilute or even possibly forsake this WTJU pillar may cause the entire temple to fall.

Quite frankly, my personal passion for music is why I have given so much of my time to the station. When I am speaking on the air, besides the brief underwriting, PSAs and promos, I am talking about the musicians and their music and then I gladly get out of the way. Perhaps I am interpreting the document all wrong and allowing my fears to run amok within the void of information. I look forward to clarifications come Thursday about this and also about what I find to be the single most disturbing paragraph in the document:

It’s not enough to expose people to new music when it’s just a smattering of all kinds of music. We reduce the genres to only those with the same appeal, and then provide enough repetition, balance and diversity so we create cool new solid identity.

The word "diversity" used throughout the consistency document must not be the incredibly broad version of diversity that has powered WTJU thus far, but rather the general FM radio version of diversity that I equate to just one or two steps above mediocrity. How else will department-wide playlists of current CDs work at WTJU without axing Soulful Situation, Reggae Vibrations, Danza Latina, Radio Tropical, Walkin' Blues, Professor Bebop, Sunshine Daydream, In The Spirit, Leftover Biscuits, Tell Us A Tale and the other "smattering of all kinds of music" within the current programming schedule? A lot of the shows I mentioned by name are officially within the Folk department and so far, playlists have only been mentioned for Jazz and Rock, but I suspect that the Folk department has just not been addressed and it is coming.

We don't have all of the details yet, but I fear for this radio station that I have loved so much for so long.

A note from Tyler: I agree with your points, and there is one word I see in your excepted text that I will be addressing soon. That word is "cool." I am worried that the freeform nature of WTJU is being sacrificed, uselessly, on an altar of putative cool. Not only do I not believe that the proposed changes will result in a "cooler" product, I argue that "coolness" was never part of WTJU's mission or identity.

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