I’m pretty sure I’m one of those people who just shouldn’t talk to reporters. Not because I have anything to hide, but precisely because I don’t. I talk freely with most people and enjoy conversations with just about everybody, including reporters. And I have yet to read an interview that someone has done with me without being really surprised. And without saying, “Wow, did I say that like that? Because that’s not what I meant.”
Sometimes it’s just that all the good stuff I always say (and mean) about the colleagues I work with never quite makes it to print, and I think I sound like I’m saving the world all by myself. Or that little facts get mixed up that nobody cares about but me. Or that somehow the tone just is so . . . I don’t know, egotistical. Do I sound like that? I am busy, but who isn’t?
So here’s the scoop if you’re tracking us. I haven’t rocked the world since coming to public radio. I’ve hired some awesome people, empowered some others, and dodged some bullets. These have been great stations all along, with good people doing good things. We have some new challenges, mostly brought on by a changing economy, and we’re doing the best we can.
We’re selling three frequencies, the ones that carry classical programming – not to pay for more programming, local or otherwise, on WBOI – but to keep from being drowned by a capital debt that made sense at the time the stations were purchased, but doesn’t make sense now. The decision to purchase 94.1 was made by the organization and now the decision to sell is being made by the organization, in response to changing times, changing economies, and a changing audience.
I am proud of Midday Matters, but not because I can take credit for it — but because I’m proud of a staff of smart, experienced people who pulled it together from just an idea and have made it better week by week. I get credit for doggedly holding onto the idea, everything else has been done by somebody else. Phil Shaull, Jeanette Dillon, Colleen Condron, at the very start, and then each “resident expert” that signed on and continues to give it so much creativity and enthusiasm. Every day of the week has its loyal fans, every single day, and I wouldn’t single out one program because each program has its stellar days and, as Deb Romary would say, days we’d like to forget ever happened. It’s a wonderful series and each component has its own place in the weekly wheel.
Decreases in funding from government sources, both state and federal, and a decline in corporate support have forced us to make some limited program changes – taking Fresh Air off, at least for the time being, and removing several programs from the classical line-up. And it’s possible that more may follow. Midday Matters replaced a national program that was removed by NPR, not our choice.
And our local music programs, Burnt Toast, Little Brother Radio, Folk Tales, were all here long before I came (and before we made current cuts and replacements) and I get absolutely no credit for any of that magic (OK, sometimes I leave snacks so they don’t get restless, but that’s it). We’d love to see more local programming and were happy to add Saturday Fade a little more than a year ago, but all I did was say “yes” when Scott Young brought a well-developed great idea for an additional local offering. There’s limited cost to producing these shows – the brilliance is in the programming which stems from the volunteer hosts. It’s their thought and commitment that end up giving us such interesting and unique programs. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but we believe they have a place on our brand of public radio. We are committed to growing local programming, music and otherwise, but it’s a long process.
There are other things that show up in print from time to time that just don’t read quite right to me. If they don’t read quite right to you or any time you’ve got questions about what we’re doing here, or what I’m doing, specifically, don’t hesitate to call and ask.
I may limit myself to “yes” and “no” answers. I hope you’ll understand.