WUMB-Founded II

There was an interesting exchange recently on a North East Folk ‘n’ Roots radio group, with the initial question posed in this manner:

I’m wondering if this is fact or fiction: Pat is doing all the music programming now and won’t let JL have anything to do with it, even though he’s the “Music Director.” You can say what you will about him; however, I couldn’t think of a more unqualified person than Pat to fill this role. Word is that she makes every decision regarding playlist (somewhat explain the clunkers). I’m not sure how long this has been going on, or again, if in fact it is true.


Which ignited this reply:

Despite what I know and have seen of Monteith’s desire to have complete personal control over her station and everyone and everything in it, I find it difficult to believe that even she, with her ego, would believe that she is in the least bit qualified to select the music. From what I saw, she paid little attention to the music played on the station, and knew very little about it.

However, she may be doing it based on selections made by AAA format (“Triple-A” or “Adult Album Alternative”) radio consultants that she uses from time to time, the ones who suggested the format change from “Folk Radio” to the current “WUMB Music Mix” a couple of years ago. They are outside consultants, not staff at the station.

If so, these are the same consultants who program the very successful WXPN in Philadelphia, and moderately successful WFUV in NYC, but WUMB (for other reasons as well) has been sliding further downhill in ratings and revenue ever since their advised format change.

Philly and NYC are very different radio markets with very different circumstances and history from Boston. What works for them there won’t work here, but those consultants aren’t familiar with the Boston audience and the very different heritage that WUMB once had.

I know that, ever since the firing of former twenty-year Program Director Brian Quinn, Monteith has been the de-facto Program Director as well as only-ever General Manager. (The person listed as “Programming” on their website is someone who simply takes orders from Pat, and has no actual input).

I believe that the reason why she doesn’t utilize the knowledge and talent of her own staff at the station (past and present) to make such decisions is because she finds it threatening to her absolute control to allow anyone who works for her to become particularly successful at accomplishing anything, and then take the credit that they deserve for it. She would perceive that as giving the staff member a little more power within her fiefdom, and to make them a little less subject to her manipulation.

For example, any intelligent radio programmer would know that it would not be a wise decision to pre-empt a portion of your stations highest Arbitron rated and highest pledged-for show, Barnes Newberry’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” to air syndicated program specials. When something is successful, you don’t fool with it.

It never would have happened under Brian Quinn, who always aired such specials in slots where there were no established and particularly popular programs. It was more important to her to demonstrate her control over that program than to continue it as it was, and then she (probably) wonders why the stations ratings and revenue keep declining under her rule and places the blame on everyone and everything else but herself.

And this:

Myself being a UMass alumnus, I feel I could do a better job as the program director. I’d fire all the consultants and get the station back to its folk and roots beginnings. I’d also bring back “As Young As You Feel,” “Black Expressions,” and “Fusion Latina” to the station. This way, we could bring a very well balanced diet of folk and roots programming.


One Response

  1. Hello, folks. That was me, the guy who put the bottom comment. After all, I believe that I could do a better job with the role of general manager. I’d like to apply for the G.M. job.

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