Don’t Waste Your Breath

There is a kerfuffle in the Louisville area over some programming changes at one of our local public radio stations. Some people and formats have been dismissed and replaced with new hosts and sounds. If not for social media, it would have happened without my knowledge because I seldom listen to public radio these days, streaming or terrestrial. It has changed so much over the years that I barely recognize it. 

Our local public station’s snazzy logo. (Not jazzy, they’ve dropped jazz.)

I have enjoyed the intelligent quirkiness of public radio since my college days. I have grown older, and leaving has been a slow process. The Radio Reader died. Bob Edwards was fired. Garrison Keillor was fired. NPR news twisted itself into a both-siderism pretzel to treat lies the same as truth. Karl Kasell died. Funding credit announcer Frank Tavares was fired, and hyper-articulating Jessica Hansen was hired. Ira Glass’s vocal fry became the rage. David Dye left The World Cafe. Driveway Moments dwindled. The Splendid Table lost its splendor. Commercial programmer Jarl Mohn tinkered with everything, as he did when he was my boss. The voice of the host of All Things Considered continually reminded me of Kermit The Frog. The Louisville stations spent a small fortune on a five-note audio signature (a jingle) and could have derived similar results by opening it up as a competition among local creators. Before I stopped listening, I was tempted to offer a large money grant during pledge week only on the condition that no local announcer ever again pronounce the letter W as dub-ya.

From moaning over pet pronunciation peeves to grousing about technical shortcomings, the list of my personal irritations seemed endless, none of which were likely to change no matter how much money I pledged. After many years of gritting my teeth, it became evident that I was no longer the target audience for public radio. No honest broadcaster or streaming service will admit to considering the tastes of anyone over the age of 54, with 18 to 49 the sweet spot. I decided to leave rather than complain. Anyway, constantly griping about what the young folks are doing will get you branded as Grandpa Simpson.

As an ex-broadcaster and even a stint as a radio program director, I am keenly aware of the pressure to make changes and how angry listeners get when one plays programming chess with their favorite format or air personality. I have never mentioned my complaints to the local stations. I have dear friends who work there in both on-air and management positions. Besides, many of the things that irk me are at the national level, over which the locals have no control.

So, I left. They won’t miss me, and what I miss, well, that’s been gone for a long time. And that’s OK. I have more choices now than ever before. 

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes