The future, if we lose: KPFT
shows what Pacifca means by "diversity"
I received an interesting comment in response to my 'Ratings and diversity' posting of yesterday. I'll pass it along momentarily.
It is enlightening in two respects:
1) MFB's proposal would put KPFA on probation pending improvement in
ratings and diversity. Shortcomings in comparison
to what? What follows is a description of a Pacifica station not facing any ultimatum or hostility from the foundation.
2) Does station vitality count for anything with national Pacifica?
My assessment comes from attending the last two East
Coast meetings of the national board and from chatting with MFB at a book signing.
The answer: No. I have never heard the slightest hint of
embarrassment or regret concerning program content at WPFW
or KPFT. Pacifica wishes to have transmitters in Washington and Houston for the network programs. It is desirable that
whatever is heard the rest of the day should attract an adequate tally of listeners and money. Beyond that: no programming goals whatever. This is not polemical exaggeration on my part.
So much for context. Here's what I received......
From: "R.S.Hradilek" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jul 30, 1999 3:15 AM
Regarding your post...
I am responding to you directly, but if you consider this response worthy of a more public airing, feel free to post it yourself. I am a KPFT listener, and pretty much know what this "diversity" BS is all about.
It's about music. It's about taking all the cultural and intellectual content off the air and replacing it with a music content intended to draw a wider audience. Both KPFT and WPFW have done this, though differently.
KPFT is now "The SOUND of Texas". All the programmers are required to repeat this hype slogan every time they ID the station, and we have all heard it so many times we could puke (knowing what the station once was). The station has been redefined as a particular format of music, which now dominates the schedule nearly 18 hours a day - and nearly every day. Diversity?
Mainstream radio is also centered around music entertainment. There
are top 40 rock stations, country stations, oldies stations,
classic rock stations, classical music stations, christian stations - and others. This is the formula that sells. KPFT has chosen a music format not otherwise available and probably not commercially viable, and uses it as the ONLY alternative to the commercialized hype on the rest of the dial. For Houston, it is a sort of alternative country format, kinda twangy, acoustic, folk, "singer/songwriter". That's how they describe it. It doesn't do anything for me, but I suppose it wouldn't offend my boss if I
played it all day at a day job. Maybe that's the whole idea. To reach more people with jobs in lame office environments (mainstreamers).
KPFT used to play such a rich variety of music, an addition to the rich variety of cultural and public affairs programming. I used to listen to the station about 18 hours a day, but now am down to less than that in a whole week. The format used to change every hour or so, thus if there was a program I was only lukewarm to I would just leave the radio on and it would change - on the hour. Now I am lukewarm to the whole schedule, and there is no point in leaving the radio on once "Democracy Now" is over. My radio is clicked OFF as soon as the music starts - and it stays off all day and all evening with rare exceptions. I still support the station to the tune of about $300 per year and have participated in many of the fund drives, but that is now on hold until Garland Ganter is fired for his role the the KPFA takeover.
So what does this music format do for us? Or for the cause of free speech? Does it really bring in more $$$ to the station, or is that just the booming Houston economy? If ratings are really up because of the people drawn in by the music format, do they really pay attention when the entertainment format is interrupted by "Democracy Now" once daily? Is this how they intend to get the "message" out to a wider audience? If this really is their plan, I would hope the mainstreamers give Amy more attention than I give "The SOUND of Texas" (none).
Pacfica was not founded to provide entertainment for the masses. I don't know what kind of music format management has planned for the Berkeley area, but can bet that whatever it is you will be hearing it 18 hours a day - replacing the shows of ALL that have been fired. In Washington DC, WPFW has chosen a jazz and blues format. You can compare the schedules of KPFT and WPFW on their websites. The common denominator is the nearly constant music format - morning, afternoon and evening - all the same. Diversity? Ratings? The format sucks!
Roy S. Hradilek - Houston
Computer Programming since 1967
KPFT supporter since 1978