By the time WRUR completes all the program changes and personnel, they will have lost their listenership ("Anything but Static," July 14). For the past six years, I've enjoyed listening to the Friday nights Blues programs by Scott Wallace and Doug Curry. My husband and I would arrange our evening around their programs and became reluctant to commit ourselves to the RPO Symphony 101 series because of the great music they both played.
It wasn't only the music we enjoyed, but the information they passed on about the artists. Then on Saturday morning there was the Celtic music, which enlightened me about different styles of Irish music other than "Danny Boy." Of course, there was John Sebaste having fun with his Italian music and sending out dedications to local people. It was simply just a fun kind of station to listen to.
Now that WRUR, WXXI, and UR Broadcasting continue to change and drop formats and bicker as to who is going to get their way, I've just stopped listening to the station. In essence, when WXXI took over WRUR to "help out," it might have been an electronic advancement, but they have seriously floundered in management technique. That has left the people who listen to the station finding music on other stations.
Fortunately, WITR has an incredible Blues program on Sundays, and WGMC also offers a great variety of music. And, if I can't listen to these stations... I'll hum!
Laurie B. Ammering, Strong Street, Rochester
Thank you for exposing what's going on at WXXI's recent radio-station "acquisition," WRUR. The station was once a fabulous place to go for unique entertainment and a respite from reality.
If I want to listen to WXXI-AM, I know how to find that on the radio dial. I do not want to tune in to WRUR to hear all the horrible news of the world.
There is no longer any rhyme or reason about what programs will be on WRUR, and when. I've given up listening to a station to which I was a loyal listener for many years.
The disrespect with which they have treated and are treating their wonderful, talented, dedicated group of volunteer disc jockeys is unconscionable. I feel sadness for the DJ's who gave 20 years and more to WRUR but are no longer there as a result of the new organization.
It's amazing to me that the few remaining DJ's continue to jump through the mandated, confusing, unreliable hoops they're required to navigate to stay on the air.
People who love what they do have to go through all the preparation for a program, pre-record it, and then wonder when or if it will be recorded or how many weeks in a row the same program will air.
WRUR owes a lot of people --- staff and listeners --- some major apologies.
Cheryl Alger Mann, West Main Street, Honeoye
I have followed with much interest the recent articles and letters about Democracy Now!, WRUR, and WXXI. The paranoia of station managers seems inexplicable without an understanding of the culture wars that have shaped public broadcasting.
Early on, NPR suffered the most benign of neglects. Remaining below the political radar, with a tiny budget, it was nurtured by a talented group of idealistic broadcasters who believed that media could serve democracy by giving voice to ideas that challenged conventional wisdom. They inspired many others around the nation to bring the same sort of high-minded purpose to local stations. We thought radio could be enlightening, elevating, and educational in the best sense.
By the early Reagan years, NPR's coverage of the Iran hostage debacle and the economic malaise made it an opinion maker, and therefore a threat. The administration found a target in some apparent budgetary irregularities of NPR management, triggering a financial crisis at the network. After that, you could discern a tightening of editorial scope, less of the free-spirited adventurism that made the network so captivating. The biggest loss was cultural programming, which NPR abandoned almost entirely. Research indicated that news could draw more listeners. Lectures, modern art, non-mainstream ideas were, it was thought, boring or offensive to the preferred audience: middle-class, professional, high-income, moderately conservative.
It worked --- numbers went up as the tone became more uniform. NPR became a brand, and a brand works best when it is bland. The format of most current public radio programs won't challenge the audience with ideas that stray toward the margins. There's no time for that, not when balance must be maintained.
Balance. This perversion of the principal of fairness into the straightjacket of pre-approved sourcing is a result of the second great attack on American public media, The Gingrich Revolution. Remember the old "zero out" campaign? A creature called Newt, though he was humanoid, led an effort to eliminate tax-revenue financing of all public broadcasting. It's doubtful that he and the other animals thought they could entirely de-fund it, but what they did accomplish was, for their purposes, even better.
They neutralized it as a cultural resource. Rather than leading the way, NPR has abandoned the true spirit of social debate to the new media the network feared the most --- the Web and cable/satellite services. But that was the path of survival, and the lesson wasn't lost on some local stations. By relying on formulaic, fully-vetted network shows or innocuous DJ programs, managers could avoid headaches from aroused, well-financed special interests. (And by that, I don't mean Metro Justice.) Forget about Democracy Now! --- it's not slick enough, and it doesn't toe the line.
Now, even DJ shows on little college stations are a threat to conformity and public morals. Who knows when somebody might put on the Clash or Public Enemy or something else subversive? Our delicate minds, our terrorized emotions wouldn't stand it!
I got over missing NPR. I find ideas and information elsewhere, and listen to Democracy Now! via the Internet. But more than once over the past few years I've asked myself, "where is NPR --- the old NPR --- when we desperately need it?"
The closest I can come to one answer is that we let it go --- we Americans. Yes, we kept pledging, enough to keep the lights on, but we were willing to allow Washington politics, and its local expressions, to have its way. And if the reactionary tidal wave could wash away NPR's self-confidence, what has happened at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, or the FCC was bound to follow. When held by the throat, it doesn't take much twisting to turn an important institution against its best instincts. But the consequences for our Republic are lasting and tragic.
Carl Pultz, Redfern Drive, Rochester
Thank you for filling the void on reporting the deaths of our troops in this ridiculous war ("Body Count," in City weekly). And of course the Bush administration wants to let big media companies control even more.
I am amazed at the lack of coverage. I guess the 900th death is less important than the first.
Tom Koch, Hoover Road, Irondequoit
I found Walter Cooper's article on the 1964 riots most interesting (July 21). Having moved to Rochester in 1997, there's a lot about my new city's history that I don't know. I can also understand how the racism of that time would anger the community as much as it did.
The one part about this most informative article I didn't like was the way it ended. Mr. Cooper seemed a bit disappointed that what he perceives as a case of modern-day apathy within the African-American community wouldn't make another riot possible. I found that sentiment to be most disappointing. There's a big difference between peacefulprotest and rioting. It's one of our fundamental rights to protest peacefully over injustices. There is no justification to violence. In the 1964 riots people were killed, most of them innocent, and property was damaged, and I assume that most of those property owners were equally innocent.
It's a good thing to encourage activism, and the peaceful protest over injustices; but activism and protest have to be done responsibly. A riot is not a responsible form of protest.
Jonathan White, Dartmouth Street, Rochester
Walter Cooper replies: I thank you for your comments, however, I believe that my myriad public service to this community supports unequivocally my opposition to riots of any type, and at any time, to redress real or perceived grievances.
The riots of the '60s and '70s that engulfed urban communities across the United States were mostly derived from antagonistic relations between minority communities and law-enforcement agencies. Since the Rochester riots, although not ideal, police-community relations have improved significantly.
Also, my conclusion was based upon the proposition that without a relatively cohesive and aggressive minority community coupled with a corrosive relationship with the police, the probability of riots is negligible. And for the sake of the Rochester, I hope I am right in my assessment.
BLUE IN THE FACE
In response to Dave Atias' letter in City Newspaper ("Angel Attack," July 28-August 3) regarding his apparent displeasure with the Blue Angels shaking windows, etc., in Rochester:
Mr. Atias, I would like to tell you that I was living and working in New York City on September 11, 2001. I was on my way to work at the Council on Foreign Relations, located uptown on 68th Street and Park Avenue. On that morning, uptown workers and residents witnessed a huge brown cloud in the sky that was the demise of the two towers of the WorldTradeCenter.
For several weeks after 9/11, fighter jets flew over Manhattan. In my small office overlooking Park Avenue, I could hear and feel the impact of the jets that were circling to prevent any further harm to our homeland. My office window and building shook constantly. Manhattan residents had many sleepless evenings due to the fighter jets interrupting the quiet of the night sky.
So many of us lost loved ones and were afraid there was more to come. I was very thankful to know that these pilots were in the sky to protect our country.
Although you think it is an inconvenience, I reflect upon the airshow as a majestic display of America's finest. On any given day, I will gladly hear the impact of these wonderful pilots displaying their talents and think of their superb training and commitment to our country.
Nancy Barra, South Goodman Street, Rochester
The Blue Angels flew over Rochester and it was loud. We know. We were there. To call this an "attack" is an exaggeration of the grossest degree. My neighbors recently threw a party with a lot of late-night revelry and loud music. Their volume was an annoyance, not an "attack."
I had the same problem with the opening sentence of Dave Atias' careless rant. "Earlier this month, the Blue Angels terrorized Rochester." Are you serious? I was visiting New York City when actual terrorists attacked. I, and millions of others, experienced real terror. You heard an airshow. There's a difference.
Furthermore, the article's conclusion was that the people of Iraq have experienced much suffering (true) and that the Green Party does not support war (possibly). Thank you for the update Mr. Atias, but what is the point you are trying to make? That the current war on terror should focus less on the Middle East and more on our feared stunt pilots? That voting for Nader in 2004 will end the Blue Angels' reign of terror over Rochester?
This Blue Angels/Green Party rallying cry just reads like mud.
Andy Davis, Arnett Boulevard, Rochester
I noticed your article on Empire Zones completely failed to even mention the recent expansion of Eastview Mall in Victor, where the mall developer was literally able to buy Empire Zone-designated acreage from Geneva to build upscale restaurants, upscale shops, and provide valet parking for customers.
If any example of how this program has, however well-intentioned, become blatantly corrupt and bastardized, this example shows it clearly. How can anyone argue that this was anything other than state-subsidized tax evasion? A thorough investigation of Empire Zones and other state grants and subsidies would likely show a high number of political favors being paid.
I don't buy the argument that we would be worse off if it weren't for state subsidies and Empire Zones. Our legislators have created an environment so hostile to enterprise, these ideas seem necessary. The colossal ineptitude of the people and parties running this state has left it nearly in ruins. We are worse off. We would be better off with less people on the state payroll, lower taxes, and less state spending. Those things are never, ever considered.
The sooner the governor and legislature learn that reducing taxes, lowering fees, and generally softening the rules and regulations that quite literally suffocate business and individual enterprise in this state, the sooner successful enterprise will develop on its own. Individuals are taxed half to death in this state. If more people actually looked at how much they pay daily in state, local, school, gas, and sales taxes, New York would have the highest suicide rate in the country. Luckily, instead, we have the most apathetic voters in the country. How they can vote year after year for more of the same nonsense defies logic.
Think when you vote.
Sean Fagan, Bloomfield
WRITING TO CITY
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