Thursday, January 25, 2007

It May Be Cold in DC, But the Heat's On at WETA
WETA's change to all classical has rubbed some station supporters the wrong way, causing some electricity. The controversy is profiled in today's Washington Post. In "WETA Hears Some Static Over Switch To Classical" the public broadcasting station even admits to putting the listener somewhere, but Not First.

"[WETA general manager] DeVany said the station was under no obligation to inform listeners. "We're allowed to do this" under WETA's bylaws, he said. "There are certain circumstances when we have private or closed meetings." One such circumstance, he said, is when changes "could affect employees, and a change in format could affect employees."

While the switch is going to save the station tons of bucks (in not having to air expensive programming like "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Car Talk"), not informing current listeners of the big change has understandably made a number of people angry - and I feel for them! Listener Tim Potter of Frederick has the last say in the article:

"I'm pretty disappointed, and I can see how contributors feel betrayed," Potter said by phone. "You expect this sort of thing from a for-profit company, but not from public radio. "It's a bit like advertising a product and then doing a bait-and-switch."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oprah Hogs the Spotlight
Why is PBS showing a documentary on Oprah Winfrey? Why are they giving extra broad and cablecast time to someone who doesn't need it? Oprah's on TV all the time... if it's not her show, then it's something called "after her show." There are millions of other African American lives PBS can showcase. Why does it have to be the woman who practically owns... Oh, wait a minute, I know why they're doing it - money. PBS is thinking, with a show on Oprah, we'll get tons of eyeballs. Ratings.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

They May Want Me Back, But I've Moved On
WETA-FM has gone back to the all-classical format they abandoned in favor of the all-talk format... and WGMS has metamorphosized into WETA in some kind of mad radio-dna-splicing phenomenon. You can read all about it in today's Washington Post article on the merger, which makes the whole affair seem like some clandestine operation done in the dead-of-night. We don't hear anything about the classical music audience until halfway through the article:

"It made sense for these two organizations to come together," said Joel Oxley, Bonneville's top local executive. "Both sides agreed it made sense for their stations and their listeners. This saves classical music in this market and arguably puts it in a better place than it is now."

See, the station comes first, and the listeners... don't come first. And I contend you have to do a whole lot more to save classical music in this market. The article speaks of WGMS's 18,000 classical music CDs (which are going to join WETA's 25,000). The way WGMS has been playing music this past decade, I thought they only had 10 CDs.

I'm still miffed at WETA, especially after I sent them an email when they changed to all talk. I said in the email "I've been a listener since 1974, and I've watched as the station devoted less and less hours to music. I now have no reason to listen to WETA at all." I received an email back, stating "We hope you'll continue to listen to WETA as there will now be many programs from which you can choose."

Got news for you WETA - I've moved on to CPR in Denver and KUSC in Los Angeles, via the Internet. I'll probably wake up to you, but I've gone out-of-state for my soundtrack at work.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sometimes Waiting Isn't All That Bad
My throat had been scratchy all week, and I was constantly trying to dislodge something from my bronchial tubes. But I could still breath and wasn't doubled over in a wheezing asthmatic coughing fit. So I called my doctor's office - Kaiser Permanente - on Friday morning before I went to work. "We can see you at 10:50 this morning," the appointment rep on the other end of the line said. I took the appointment, the office being a five minute walk from me. I've had Kaiser for years, and the one thing they've consistently delivered on is this kind of acute illness treatment. Simply put, if you're sick, they can see you quick.

The waiting area was mobbed with coughing, generally miserable-looking Kaiser members. A nurse called me into the examining room after just a couple of minutes. She weighed me, took my temp, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. All excellent. "Your doctor will be here to see you in a few minutes," she said. "You're the next patient on her list, and I'll check back to make sure you're seen soon." She was very friendly and cheerful, and left me sitting on the crinkly-paper examining table.

The few minutes ticked by and then started piling on, one after the other. I leaned back, the examining table inclined in a half-sitting position. I closed my eyes. I started thinking about getting back into work and starting on a project, going through the steps in my mind... and dozed off. Not long, not even a few minutes. But long enough to know my awareness shut down briefly. I snapped awake. Then the doctor came in. "Everybody's got a cold today," she mentioned. "Including me," I said.

I tell this story not because there's any great outcome to it, but to give a counterpoint to all the bad customer service I seem to find in DC. On this day, I was ready to wait. All I had to do was get back to work, although my doctor said "You might as well go home and rest." I had too much work to do. This has been the kind of treatment I've gotten from Kaiser all the years I've been with them - if I need to see them fast, they can get me in.

Now if they can just work on getting to me on a timely basis for diagnostic, preventive, or specialized care!

P.S. The cold got much worse after I picked up my prescription. Had to miss a party on Saturday night. But that's not Kaiser's fault. Just my rotten luck.