WUFTed in Gainesville

The following exchange occurred recently between author Gwen Fortune, Ed. D., and Randy Wright from WUFT in Gainesville:

Dear Randy Wright, UF,DMP:
You are the one person at UF who has responded to my communication in a personable way. For that I thank you.

Moments ago I was watching, on DirecTV, a program on the OVATION Channel. It was one in a series, “Discovering Masterpieces.” This particular program was a demonstration and performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Sacre du Printemps.” Pleasurable. As I watched and listened, my mind, naturally, returned to the loss of such programming on WUFT-FM. Indeed, I can sit in my lounge chair or walk around my house and hear the program. I can do the same with the radio stations I have placed on my desk top, or play DVDs, CDs, records and tapes in my office, living room or car, if I remember to take CDs to the car.

What is sadly missing is the opportunity to continue with similar music and programming as I travel in my automobile. Next week, I will drive to Orlando to reunite with my freshman college roommate. Ordinarily, I would listen to WUFT-FM — moving to another NPR station  as I passed outside the covered zone. For thirty years I did this during many drives, from west to east coast — California to North Carolina,  north to south — North Carolina to Massachusetts, and back to the mid-west — Illinois. Drives between Illinois to the Carolinas was a yearly trip to visit family for many years.

I have not made such a drive since 2006, Houston to Gainesville, when I moved here. I despair that this pleasure is no longer available. National Public Radio has abandoned its mandate to serve under-served populations, the minority who treasure the arts in music. Sadly, the youth who can benefit from a  higher quality offering than the commercial stations are the losers, as well. NPR was my friend. It is no longer.

Do you drive around the city and between cities, scan your radio dial from end to end? I have. The noise that has been given control of the airwaves is disconcerting, a burden and a disgrace. As to the current WUFT-FM repetitious talk programming, my news and analysis needs are better met from additional sources, such as LinkTV’s “Democracy Now,” and online.

I enjoy “Ovation.” I accept the commercials that pay their bills. Yearly pledges to NPR were more agreeable, but, I have no intention — or funds — to purchase a different radio to hear HD.

Sincerely,
Gwen

To which he responded:

Dear Dr. Fortune,
Thanks again for reaching out to me and I appreciate your concern. We have a group of experienced and interested programming personnel on staff at WUFT-FM who I have been meeting with for the past few weeks and we’re examining all the programming on the radio station. I will tell you that the consensus among the group is that while the changes of the past year have been painful to some in the community the overall direction of the station is something they believe strongly in. WUFT-FM continues to offer some very unique music-oriented programming that you can’t find anywhere else on the commercial (or non-commercial) radio dial. That being said we’re also very committed to ensuring the station lives up to the mandate of service to the community which is why we’re discussing a number of additional programming alternatives that I personally find very unique and exciting.

I assure you that I don’t take my position and responsibility lightly. Nor does the staff at UF’s public media properties. As I like to tell our people “building a great public radio station is a process and it takes time, patience and resources.” We’re working our way through the process and appreciate your understanding and support.

Best regards,
Randy

Then:

Dear Mr. Wright,
Again, thank you for your response to my concern in regard to the altered programming at WUFT-FM. As always, the power of control, money and the tyranny of the mass oriented mind has won. I did not actually think that a reasoned presentation of a socio-cultural position and plea would prevail. It never has. Pandora’s “Hope” still hangs around. Only in historical analysis will the limitation of the “consensus among the  group . . . of experienced and interested programming personnel on staff at WU-FM”  be manifestly obvious.

The universe is in continual change, but the archetypes, the patterns of human behavior, do not change. Most people are unaware of the meaning and effects of choices and decisions beyond a proscribed time and place. A few are aware of forces that have vital societal and cultural importance over history. Unfortunately, there is imbalance between the two perspectives. Regardless of whatever “programming” is done by WUFT-FM and related controllers, as an interdisciplinary student, I do not find it pleasant nor productive to observe that, again, “the good guys in the white hats” lost. A substantial, creative, intellectual community of this area will not forget its marginalization. Coming generations will not know what they lost.

I realize that you are very busy and will not, again, correspond with you. May you have success in your tenure at UF.

My life’s motto is, I think, I do not believe! Those who “believe” are not aware that “belief” rests within unperceived limitation.

Sincerely,
Gwen

Randy writes back:

Dear Dr. Fortune,
As unique as human nature itself our perspectives on this situation differs. You are neither right or wrong . . . nor am I. What I know to be true is that I am listening to all viewpoints with no preconceived notion as to what WUFT-FM should be, other than a great public radio station. You somehow seem to make light of our effort to include our staff in the programming decisions for the radio station but I assure you this is unique as many stations are operated in an autocratic and closed manner. I trust our staff, of which many have worked in various public media for decades, would concur that my leadership style and vision for our operation is wholly unique when compared to the process that brought about the format change on WUFT-FM.

So, while I respect your opinion I do not agree with your standing in judgment of our operation or people. Our people are totally dedicated to creating a wonderful public radio station for north central Florida but realize this will take a great deal of time and effort. We intend to invest both in the future of our stations for listeners just like you.

Have a wonderful day,
Randy

He’s right in one sense — in that a totalitarian mode pervades many stations, and a letter of any length beyond the rote boilerplate seen at stations like KUT in Austin (whose GM responded to Liz Carpenter herself with a form letter) is not the norm. But as Gwen concludes:

Dear Mr. Wright,
I intended for my last note to you to be my last on this topic, but I am breaking my decision for this final comment.

As happens more often than not, you misunderstand my commentary. My comments are from study and career as an interdisciplinary social scientist: specifically, an “Interdisciplinary Team Coordinator,”  “change agent,”  professor and head of Multi-cultural Studies at an experimental college that had no departments and divisions. We worked in a “cluster” organizational structure where democratic decision making was the norm.

I make no disparagement, no presumed critique of you and your staff. My intent and expression were within the framework of experience in cooperative models of leadership and operation. My observation of the climate of opinion and actions at WUFT-FM over the past year is recognition based in history and social-psychology of the unconscious, underlying assumptions in human thought and behavior as they relate to effects in a community. I draw assessments, not judgment, and the assessments are carefully and thoughtfully addressed within awareness of human socio-psychology, not personality.

Sorry, to have tried to communicate out of my range of ability to do so. Because I am writing a review of a collection of essays by the Analytical Psychologist (Jungian) Luigi Zoja, Violence in History, Culture, and the Psyche, my mind is in that “world.” I made assumptions of communication that are unfounded. You have my apology.
Gwen

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One Response

  1. Wow, that was a healthy infusion of pseudo-intellectual garbage, a passive-aggressive rant that eventually tries to cloak itself as academic commentary. It’s just a crotchety professor wielding the muddling power of jargon.

    I think there’s a lot of merit in the idea that local content is vital as part of the mission of public radio, but you’ve exhausted the angle of the angry baby boomer who doesn’t want to carry CDs in their car. (I also think it’s the weakest angle.)

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