All That Jazz

The beat goes on at WDUQ in Pittsburgh, at least for the time being. Jazz, apparently, may be an endangered species there, helped along by Public Radio Capital, which formed its own company — Public Media Company (board member Susan Harmon, managing director of PRC, is in Austin to sit on a panel entitled “How to Save College Radio”) — to help buy up the station over a higher bid from the locals (see story, “Duquesne Double-Cross,” here). For now, anyway, some of the comments from jazz loyalists can be found on the Essential Public Media site. Most of the comments are polite pleas to retain the format, though some question the ethics and more of the participants:

In my view Marco Cardamone and Susan Harmon have assisted Duquesne University in killing off WDUQ. Why radio people would play such a role is a mystery to me. I do understand that Oliphant of the Pittsburgh Fund had some role in this. Where are you going to get an audience? I am a sustaining member of WDUQ. You are firing people whom I like. I have listened to DUQ since I moved here and have learned much about the history of jazz in Pittsburgh. I believe that I have stayed here in part because of the jazz on the station and in the community. Why would I give you a dime? I have an ipod. I would rather listen to a local station, but I don’t have to. I cannot tell you how much I despise all those involved in this debacle.
—Pamela Berger

I am a long time DUQ member/listener. I have found the vague press meeting comments from Mr. Cardemone about the future of jazz programming and “consolidations” on the “new” DUQ to be distressing. Clearly, if the intention was to continue the format of the station of a balance of news and jazz, that would have been plainly stated. Also you would have so stated if you intended to continue the employment of station personnel. So you are considering “something else.” I am really amazed that substantially changing ANYTHING about DUQ (format, personnel) can be being seriously considered by the acquiring organization. Certainly the membership and Arbitron numbers indicate that DUQ is a much MORE successful radio venture than is YEP. For anyone at YEP to say that there needs to be “listening posts” (other than Arbitron and membership numbers?????) established to see “what the community wants is patently absurd.” Clearly, this is just code for covering already planned changes. Of course, if this deal goes through, you will do what you want with DUQ’s format and personnel. But you must know this: We, the membership, will merely vote with our donation dollars if you choose to substantially change what we have already voted to (again, with our dollars) support. You should do the smart thing and not try to fix something that isn’t broken. Think about this (if you really are PUBLIC radio professionals): if you upset DUQ members, we will merely stop giving, and we will join the 90% of the listening public who DO listen and who DON’T contribute already. And, WE will loose nothing from doing this. What will YOU loose? This is not a threat, It is merely a historical fact. You might want to ask the DUQ management how the membership reacted when the Planned Parenthood spot was withdrawn during a pledge drive several years ago. When the NPR story aired, many called up and withdrew committed pledges. We are listening. We are waiting. You can’t finesse this. Duquesne University may have decided to do business with you, but WE have not. Leave OUR station alone!
—Rich Haverlack

Comments continue for 57 pages, so there’s a lot to sort through . . .

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2 Responses

  1. Actually Lloyd, I was surprised to see this panel in the lineup. And I think the folks at SXSW are doing a service by including it. Wish I would have seen it earlier, maybe we could have drummed something up. But doing something inside would be prohibitively expensive, this isn’t open to public or to those with wristbands. My understanding is it takes “laminate” access, pretty pricey stuff. As for demonstrations outside, it’s pretty hard to get noticed on the street at SXSW no matter what you do. I think the best hope is that the station reps do a good job outlining the problem, then we can try to get that word out better.

  2. The people at SXSW must be looking for controversy or else they have a sense of humor. I wonder if people in Austin have plans to express our feelings about Harmon, either in or outside of the festival?

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