The Days the Music Died

Following is an exchange one of our correspondents, author Gwen Fortune, had with “DT” about the state of music in general and NPR in particular:

Gwen:
Thanks, I know NPR affiliation is no guarantee of decent music. Some PBS affiliates do better, but by no means most. There is much PRM and APM programming that is of the highest quality, and a good bit of NPR programming is very good, but the NPR corporate attitude is the pits.

I have told you that at one time I contributed significant sums to WCQS, our local NPR affiliate. Then NPR’s programming changed, not so subtly. There arouse a frequent need for a mute button, and I would often forget to unmute.

When the morning magazine program began to use nasty rock in the interstices in the early AM, and the “music” reviews were nearly always rock, I complained. I wrote many letters with no response from WCQS and only boiler plate from NPR and the person they jokingly call an “Ombudsman.”  I won’t dignify their response to my letters as an “exchange.”

I turned NPR off in my house, permanently, and I stopped contributing. I will not contribute to a station that makes it necessary to carry a remote with a mute button. I record TV and use fast forward through the nasty segments, but I only pay the cable company for that.

Congress wants to defund them. I will not write Congress about that either. I do occasionally write to NPR to remind them of the situation and why they aren’t getting the hundreds of dollars a year I used to contribute. That money goes to my orchestras and local charities now.

Talk about beating a dead horse. I’m almost sorry about the diatribe…
Love
DT

D:
Our experiences with NPR are hand-in-glove. No diatribe. You’re entitled. This is called freedom. Without choice there is no freedom. We have ever decreasing choices.

In the Chapel Hill area I was part of a community group that met with the Ombudsman. A joke. UNC killed all Classical and Jazz  They prefer the banal, non-musical rock-rap  contemporary “pop” because the generation now in power has no cultural continuity.  There God is “the demographic,” kids with even less exposure to anything of quality than they have.

When I moved to Gainesville the station here had seven and one-half hours of classical music weekdays,  carried the Met and other good music. The UF president took control, and it has been downhill for more than two years. I was, again, part of the protest group. We picketed three or four times in front of the Journalism Building — home of the station — and The Alumni Hall where a high-level meeting was to be held. Most of the dignitaries entered by alternate doors, to avoid us.

I have totally given up on this society. A friend accused me of hating the US. I hate the ignorance that has always been a part of any culture — but the rapid “dumbing-down” under the guise and control of Corporate is the social equivalence of an earthquake-tsunami combination, nation-wide.

I left Chicago at the time NPR was forcing its corporate model on WFMT. Citizens bought the station — $$$$ — and it still offers high quality music and commentary. It is on my desktop, playing right now. Just announced a summer festival in Chitown. Watts and the CSO are included. Listening, now, to glorious music of Jonas Kaufman, from “Verissimo.” Oh, how I miss that place.

I wonder what the world will be like for the youth who are continuing the “School music” tradition. UF has excellent music students, and I am sure there are many others in the nation — but their survival is problematic, given sports and BUSINESS.

My seven-year-old granddaughter is in her third year of violin, and loves it. The four-year-old begins this fall, so they can play together, they say. Kids like this are being fed to the barracuda. For shame.

Yes, it is sad.
Love,
Gwen

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