Letters to the Editor - Don't do it October 30 2003

Talk is cheap. Music is culture.

I was angry to learn of the "movement" by "media activists" Andy Altman and Heidi Glick to get WABE to play less music and more talk (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum," Oct. 23).

I'm a 39-year-old Atlantan and a WABE listener. Every day I listen to "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered." On the weekends I listen to "Car Talk" and "A Prairie Home Companion." Yet I am very much against the idea that WABE should reduce the amount of musical programming and replace it with more talk shows, from NPR or elsewhere.

Altman and Glick are wrong, and seek to do severe damage to the cultural resources of this city. These people don't care about music. Why are they attacking a music station in the first place? They scoff at the crucial struggle for art against commerce. I'm guessing they are trying to get their children's schools to eliminate music and art classes, too. They want to make Atlanta a cultural wasteland — not that this will take much work.

I enjoy the existing NPR talk content that WABE airs, but we need no more. The purpose of public radio is to air musical material that is not available on commercial radio — content that the now-completely segmented and advertising-revenue-narrowly-targeted-audience-for-profit stations will not touch. What other stations in Atlanta air classical music, other than occasional haphazard programming on WREK (another public station)? If WABE is to reduce the airtime devoted to 400 years of classical music — from Monteverde to Philip Glass or Hans Zimmer — who else will play this music? Nobody. Atlanta will lose.

Lots of commercial radio stations in Atlanta have talk. You can get all the talk you want elsewhere. WABE's mission is to preserve musical heritage and make it available to the public.

I'm going to make a donation check to WABE, and I'm going to send it with a letter telling them that it's for their musical programming only. This listener very much wants to make sure that they don't reduce their musical airtime one bit.

-- Wheat Williams, Norcross

br>?Somebody's gotta do it
I do appreciate that you reported that there are folks out there looking to improve WABE, but I sharply disagree that more talk replacing music by "dead white Europeans" is the answer (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum," Oct. 23).

Sure, local college radio plays some classical, in very limited quantities. Classical sales have dropped to such low levels that most stores won't carry it. Somebody needs to play it.

My children have access to my hundreds of classical records, as I am a record collector. Most kids do not have the opportunity to hear such music without public radio. If you grow up without exposure to classical music, it is very unlikely you'll listen to it as an adult.

Folks who want to hear talk-of-the-day without Rush, Boortz, et al., are better served to get satellite radio in their cars.

I do not listen to local commercial talk stations; they are as narrowly programmed as the Cox and Clear Channel music stations. Do not make the mistaken assumption that I think WSB, WGST and the others "are the talk" that we need to hear. I hear plenty of non-right-wing talk on WRFG, even a little on Clark Atlanta.

Kicking Lois Reitzes to the curb is not the answer.

-- Thom Osburn, Douglasville

br>?Small percentage
Many listeners want more NPR programming (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum," Oct. 23)? Where did you get these numbers from? The first I heard of this story is from your article. You also mention hundreds of names on petitions and e-mails. Wow — hundreds! That's (calculating) a whopping .0005 of the 4 million Atlanta-area residents. This deserves national attention! I also love how you label the "we demand more NPR programming" people as "radio activists." As though these people are out fighting the good fight for the common man. Way to go "radio activists"! Amazing!

You also mention that Neal Boortz is a racist, or at least speaks in a "racist" tone. Even though he has a black co-host (Royal). Great reporting!

-- Shannon Diddell, Atlanta

br>?A classical dilemma
I would like to commend John Sugg (and then commend him again) for his article about the paltry NPR programming available in Atlanta (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum" Oct. 23). Of course, I should probably admit from the offset that I'm a little biased, having lived in Atlanta for nearly seven years, and having worked as a reporter for Georgia Public Radio for the last three of those years. GPR is, of course, the public radio outlet mentioned in Mr. Sugg's article that broadcasts from Atlanta, but not in Atlanta.

I now live in New York, a city that has twice the population of Atlanta, but three-and-a-half times the public radio access.

Atlanta is a fascinating city — politically, economically, culturally and (to a slightly lesser extent) historically. The citizens of that city could benefit from a strong local presence in their public radio programming. Alas, that will not happen so long as WABE is their only choice. WABE simply does not have the staff to investigate/highlight life in Atlanta — nor do its administrators have the inclination.

-- Maura Jane Farrelly, Bronx, N.Y.

br>?Tried and true
I am an avid radio listener (over 10 hours daily) and I can assure you that if more NPR was put on your station, I would cease to listen (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum" Oct. 23).

Classical music is wonderful! NPR is overly liberal and not a mainstream news source. NPR's "discussion" shows often give only two viewpoints: liberal and ultra-liberal. I'm originally from Boston and listened sometimes to WBUR, but sparingly due to my frustration with NPR's lack of an actual conservative, or simply a different point of view.

Again, please do not yield to "Atlanta Public Radio." Continue doing what you do best: classical.

-- Brian Henchey, Atlanta

br>?Hardly the case
It seems to me that there is a WABE issue John Sugg's thoughtful article does not deal with (Fishwrapper, "Bach off, you NPR scum, Oct. 23). Given that there is going to be wall-to-wall classical music between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., what kind of music should it be, and how should it be presented?

"Performance Today" is one of the best programs on the air today — anywhere. Between noon and 2 p.m. on WABE, we used to hear live — before it was mysteriously yanked — performances by up-and-coming soloists and groups or by established musicians. It was one of the best music programs imaginable. Perhaps its failing was that it reminded WABE's listeners of the paucity of imagination in connection with the programming.

It is not possible to satisfy all listeners of classical music. At least, however, if WABE were to bring back "Performance Today," it would be going a long way toward providing Atlanta's lovers of serious music with the extraordinary sounds and genuine information now being denied us. And ironically, the return of the show would give WABE 10 hours a week of truly rich, intelligent, often exciting music and commentary on music by the people who make it. I say "ironically" because the return of "Performance Today" would do a great deal toward making the station's stated mission seem worthy and sincere.

Finally, the station's almost-certain rejoinder that it cannot afford "Performance Today" is nonsense. It is to suggest that the current programming does not include 10 hours from NPR that are less full of delight and vitality than "Performance Today." That is hardly the case.

-- Sidney Guberman, Atlanta

br>?Viva la via!
Why would anyone believe filing a lawsuit requires facts/truths (News & Views, "Damn the trees, full speed ahead" Oct. 3)? This law clinic and its peers file hundreds of lawsuits annually, costing taxpayers millions without significant results. The Forest Service is required to document extensive public processes before rulemaking. People/organizations/courts have significant input opportunities.

The author made many fallacious statements, including the claim that the road shouldn't be there. Facts — e.g., the historical road has existed for a century while the wilderness tag is only about a decade old — weren't disclosed. He stated that some people damage the road, yet he ignores existing legal solutions — tickets, fines, arrests and even vehicle confiscation. Maybe I-285 should be closed because people exceed the speed limit and actually die!

Michael Wall paints a scene resembling an ugly stripped forest for an urban development, which incidentally is much more of a problem in your own backyard than this piddly issue.

Rich Mountain road is an easy daytrip for families to enjoy nature and their 4WD vehicle.

-- Steve O'Neal, Lawrenceville