Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Torn between WMUB and WVXU

I’ve been reading recent comments posted on the blog and aired on Friday Feedback. I agree that vitriolic and mean commentaries are not helpful. I hope that all listeners know that the staff of WMUB are working hard, doing their best and working with limited resources. That said, there are some kernels of truth in some of the angry comments of late. I, too, have largely switched to WVXU, for two reasons. The first is that they don’t interrupt NPR stories during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with local stories which are too often not as interesting. I appreciate WMUB’s commitment to local stories, but frankly, they are often just not as strong as the national stories. WVXU manages to do local stories without interrupting the national. Perhaps WMUB could move to that format. That alone would bring me back to WMUB full time. The second reason is Day to Day. I actually enjoy Tell Me More very much and I applaud WMUB’s commitment to a show produced by African Americans. I’m often torn between the two shows and am sad that I have to choose.

The main things that keep me with WMUB are the local commentaries. Alan Winkler, Rodney Coates and company do an excellent job. This leads to me to a final recommendation. I agree with last week’s angry poster that WMUB should do more about Oxford and Miami. Even people in Dayton, Richmond and elsewhere would recognize that Miami is a gem in our greater community and would no doubt enjoy stories about what’s going on there. And the traffic report from Oxford on Monday morning was very helpful as I was driving to work! It was unusual to hear a traffic report coming from “Kehr and Booth roads” rather than the typical I-275, but it was just what I needed to change my route that morning.

As to supporting the station, I make annual donations to both WMUB and WVXU. They both serve our communities, and in different ways. I urge listeners to consider how their lives would change without NPR. It is certainly worth at least the equivalent of a weekly grocery bill.

--name withheld, Oxford

Objects to 'Wait, Wait'

I wrote the comment below to 91.7 and felt guilty that I had not first communicated my feelings first to you.

If you discontinued the program 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me', we would contribute $100.00! The main reason is the blatant homosexuality. I can handle our society but it is so forcefully laughed about. (Just listen to this Saturday’s show if you missed it. I am used to this life-style being laced though out my life, I am on the planet. But I will never say I enjoy it, or support it.) I will miss you so much, you really are the best and my husband and I have fallen in love with Oxford, Ohio and Miami University through you, because of you. We tell our friends that live in Oxford that they need to listen to you because of how professional you are. Plus the reception is so much better than 91.7 for us.

I really don’t know if it matters. Peace to you,

--name withheld by request

P.S.: What I wrote to 91.7: ‘Thank you soooo much for being a non-typical NPR station, by not playing 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me'. My husband and I have not been willing to support our favorite station 88.5 because of being disgusted with thinking our hard earned dollars would participate in that piece. It is a personal response for us but I believe that is what public radio is all about.’

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Some comments have vitriolic tone

Does the price of membership include the entitlement to take any error in the station's programming as a personal affront?

The vitriolic tone of some of the comments posted here seems to indicate that, for the cost of much less than a dollar a day, a member can feel free to lambaste the station's staff without regard even to common courtesy.

Perhaps you might arrange for these individuals to volunteer their time at the station by working directly on the problems about which they complain.

Accept no financial support from them, but rather only their successful remedies.

--Donna in Dayton

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ending my relationship with WMUB

I am ending a long-term relationship WMUB, both in terms of listening and donating.

First, I have found the time between NPR broadcasts (local breaks) to be jejune, repetitive and completely scripted. I hear the same words at the same time every day. I can mouth the words the "announcer" is going to say. (Okay, maybe the "sponsor" names for the traffic may change.) At 11:00 p.m., for example, exactly the same thing is uttered every weekday.

Second, if I hear the pre-recorded announcement beginning with, "This is so-and-so from NPR news. You are listening to WMUB, NPR at 88.5, a listener-supported radio...blah, blah, blah. And how many times each hour do I have to hear the call letters "WMUB"? Have you ever counted?

Third, the technical guffaws are becoming all too numerous--dead air time, outdated weather forecasts (see below), and programs starting late, for example. I am tired of hearing the excuse that you are aware of the problem. (Why doesn't WVXU have the same problems?)

Next, the traffic reports are less than useful. A few weeks ago, I was driving to the Blue Rock Rd. area. I heard a report that there was an accident at I-275 and Blue Rock Rd. Completely useless. Was it on I-275? Blue Rock? Which direction? I have mentioned this before, and I receive the excuse that the announcer is simply reporting what s/he receives. Geeesh.

Additionally, your weather forecasts are often outdated. At 11:00 p.m., a forecast is delivered; at 11:06 p.m., there is typically a different forecast, often given by John. The same thing is true at 6:00 a.m...

How many times a day do we have to hear the same story during the time you "steal" away useful minutes from NPR news? (I switch to WVXU, as I am far from interested in Dayton news.) Also, your failure to cover events in Oxford is shameful. I well understand your need to appeal to your financial base, but you have forgotten about a major source of funding--Miami University which is in Oxford.

…The programming on WVXU is much more appealing to me. The midday weekday line-up is exactly what I prefer (e.g., Day to Day). Suddenly, you dropped the live broadcast of Michael Feldman's show, and replaced it with Whad'ya Know? Was this announced?

…My membership with WMUB ends in June, and I will begin my donation to WVXU at that time. It is a shame.

--Jerry Miller, Oxford

You reached a new low

I'm not a huge fan of your 7-8 pm lineup. "Free Advice" seems like free advertising for your guests, and I can look things up on the internet all by myself, thank you. "Help Desk" is a bunch of geeks whose every other word seems to be "uh" trading in-jokes and techo-babble. And Cheri Lawson really needs to work on developing an "inside voice" -- she always sounds like a kindergarten teacher talking to a large and distracted group of children.

But you reached a new low [the week of January 14th]. From the one hour commercial for plastic surgery on "Sound [Health]" (one of the few programs in this time slot that I usually find bearable) to not one, but TWO corporate shills on "Friday Forum" trying to convince listeners that customer service is still important to huge, faceless corporations, I was amazed at your blatant pro-business pandering. Couldn't you at least try to pretend that you care about the little guy and aren't just determined to be as business-friendly as possible? A little discourse on the downside of plastic surgery and whether or not that's an appropriate response to cultural and societal pressures to look good and never age (in the former instance), or having a representative on from a consumer or privacy advocate (in the latter) would have been balanced, appropriate and welcome.

I realize that business and corporate support are very important to your station, but an obvious pro-business slant and constantly insulting the intelligence of your viewers are not what I expect from public radio.

--Name withheld by request, Richmond

Likes "Wait, Wait" and Steves

Thanks for including ["Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me"] in your line-up on Saturday. I’m also glad to have the Rick Steves show later in the day.

--Susan Hill, Loveland

Thanks for "Wait, Wait"

Thank you so much for adding Wait Wait to your Saturday morning line-up! I moved here from California four years ago and was crushed when I found that you, the only NPR station I could get in this area, didn't carry the show at all. When I heard the announcement over the holidays that you would be adding it to the lineup, right after Car Talk, I was literally jumping up and down with glee. My two Saturday morning favorites are now (as they were with my California station) back to back. My weekend levity-ritual is once again intact and I'm grateful for your assistance.

--Sarah from Richmond

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy about Wait Wait

I really enjoy a lot of the NPR programming, and two of my favorite shows are 'Car Talk' and 'Wait Wait don't tell me.' I'm very happy you have added Wait Wait to your Saturday schedule. I listened to it in Indiana last year, and it's nice to be able to listen to it again here in Oxford. I will certainly be tuning in every Saturday morning!

--Jennifer Crye, graduate student at Miami

Wait, Wait bumps Whad'Ya Know

While its great to have Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me in the lineup, I wish you hadn't made space by bumping Whadd'ya Know to an hour later. It was a pleasure to listen to a show broadcast LIVE, in which we as listeners could participate in real time. Why not keep Michael Feldman live and simply add Wait, Wait (which is recorded live but not broadcast live) to 1:00?


[Program Director John Hingsbergen replies:

We are grateful that you took the time to share your opinion. We'll be monitoring the responses we get from listeners to this programming change so we can evaluate the effectiveness of it.  

You probably know that many stations choose to air "Wait Wait" at 11:00 right after "Car Talk" with much success.  You are correct about the "live" factor for "Whad'Ya Know" and that's one of the things we'll need to continue monitoring.

I hope you'll get a chance to catch this week's Friday Feedback since we are likely to have a number of reactions to the new Saturday lineup.]

WMUB now has it all

With the addition of Wait, Wait, I now never have to turn away from WMUB on  Saturdays.  Woohoo!  And as a bonus, I can listen to Michael Feldman, rather than miss it for Wait, Wait and This American Life. I like that This American Life will follow Michael Feldman.  Thanks  so much!

--Lisa B.

Wait! Wait! Is great, but . . .

I love Wait Wait! Don't Tell me.  Great fun and I always learn something.  However, I was wondering, what happened to Week-end  America? Thanks.

--Pat H.

[Program Director John Hingsbergen writes:]

...we chose to take "Weekend America" off the air because it has not proven to provide a  valuable service to many WMUB listeners. As you may know, we were airing  "Weekend America" for four hours on Saturdays when we started carrying it in  the Fall of 2004. We were one of the first stations to add it  when it was a brand new program. This included, of course, a "rollover"  of the original two hours, thinking that listeners would use it as a source  for weekend news and information that they could access any time during the  afternoon. After nearly two years with very small listenership and  support, we took away the first two hours.

Since the program has never developed a strong audience, we felt it was best to let it go while adding a proven show  such as "Wait Wait." With a limited amount of time and money to work  with, something had to go. We're sorry if it was one of your  favorites and we'll continue to monitor listener response and  support.]

More jazz vocals

I wish Tony Mowod, Scott Hanley and Bob Studebaker would play more vocal jazz and less instrumentals.

--Jim Gurin

Was anyone listening?

So I'm listening to Bob Sullivan tell Terry Gross how no one really has the time to complain about all the fees and consumer insults we face everyday and suddenly, you're broadcasting a show from last week. What happened? Is this you? Is this NPR? Then at the break, Jim Haskins acts like nothing has gone wacko. Is he even listening?  

I must hear some kind of on-air mistake like this 8-9 times per year and like all the consumers Bob Sullivan was talking about before he was so rudely interrupted, I don't complain because who has the time? But if management thinks we're out here not noticing or don't care, understand that we do notice and we do care. Let this stand in for all those times I don't write and all the other members who noticed and didn't have time to write.

--Mary C, member

[Program Director John Hingsbergen replies:

Thank you for writing. I am grateful that you took the  time to do so. Yes, we did notice the problem with the Fresh Air  segment...but only as it was ending.  Jim Haskins could not have done  anything about it since his station breaks in the show are  recorded.

This was a very odd occurrence as a result of the fact that we record Fresh Air as it is sent to us from 12:00 til 1:00 every day. We record it in segments because of the quick turnaround  needed. It so happened that today, the computer on which the show is recorded locked up and stopped recording just as the previous segment was ending. That meant that the final segment of the show did  not get recorded today. Instead you and I and all our listeners heard the final segment of last Monday's  show.

We realized what was going on too late to go on the air and say anything about it.  By the time the show was over and Talk of the Nation was on the air, it would have been counter-productive to mention it.

We take pride in providing quality programming executed professionally and totally regret that you could hear as many as 8 or 9 on-air problems of this type in a year.

Considering the complexities of running a radio station 8,760 hours a year plus our small staff, I am grateful that it is only that often but we continue working to reduce that  number.

Sometimes problems originate with NPR or program producers, sometimes they are computer failures and sometimes they are human errors on our part. We regret them all and are constantly monitoring and troubleshooting to keep them from happening. Many hours of our programming are controlled by computers under human supervision so there are lots of places where things can go wrong.

Please let us know whenever you hear something that is not right.]

More talk, less music

Please cut down on music and add more programs like Tech Nation, This American Life, To the Best of Our Knowledge, Human Kind. I want to hear Living on Earth & On the Media.

--Barbara B., Dayton

[Editor's note: we do carry This American Life. In fact we carry it twice: 2 pm Saturdays and 4 pm Sundays.]

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Remembering Sam Meier

A long-time friend of WMUB, Richmond's Sam Meier, passed away on January 6th in a hospice in Santa Monica, California at age 80. Sam was host of "Sam's Place" on WMUB for many years, drawing on his amazing knowledge of early jazz history on the show.

At age 14 Sam began work for Richmond's Starr Piano company. Starr's sister company Gennett Records is where legends like Bix Beiderbecke, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Hoagy Carmichael and Louis Armstrong made some of the very first jazz recordings. In recent years Sam produced three volumes of Gennett Records' "Greatest Hits" CDs that preserve priceless recordings of these early pioneers. He was a tireless promoter of them on his show and on frequent guest appearances on the Mama Jazz show.

Sam was also a "script doctor" in Hollywood, punching up comic scenes in films and in shows as diverse as the original Smothers Brothers show on CBS (working with his longtime friend Steve Martin) to "Everybody Loves Raymond" in recent years. See Barry Levinson's 1994 film "Jimmy Hollywood" for a scene inspired by Mama Jazz as a truculent customer in a diner.

I'll always remember Sam both for his profound love of early jazz and his inexhaustible sense of wry humor at the comedy of life. He will be greatly missed.

-- Cleve Callison, General Manager
(see the Palladium-Item obituary of 1/9/08)