I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

October 19, 2015 - 11:24 a.m.

Radio Days

Here it is five days later and I'm still writing this with an ice pack on my knee. I guess it's better than a banjo. Do kids still sing "Oh Susannah?" I hope so. I loved it as a kid. I don’t just have an ice pack I have one of those really big Band-Aids. I decided to do something before the blisters on it popped, I went to the drug store and bought bacitracin and Band-Aids and applied them both. I was just in time. It popped in the night. I applied them before it popped. Score one for good timing.

While I'm talking about my knee I'll bring up something that I think is part of the Wise Madness mission statement; writing about trivial personal things that people don't talk about so we don’t know what other people do. I suspect I get into bed differently than most people. I'm not sure because nobody else talks about these things, that’s my point. I know what people do in movies and TV and the more limited experience of seeing other people get into bed. The thing is I never thought about this when looking, I saw but I didn't observe. My feeling is that when other people get into bed they sit on the edge of the bed then swing their legs up on the bed and scoot over into their desired position. I get into bed by leaning forward, getting my arms on the bed then living my legs up so I'm on all fours. Then I crawl to where I want to be and turn over. I notice this because I can't really crawl with my bad knee. What I do now is get in the same way but put no weight on my bad knee. Even that extra effort is easier for me than sitting and scooting. Does anyone else get into bed like that? I suspect yes but I don't know.

I have a busy week so I tried to stay home yesterday, my only outing was the drug store. I did get a concert in via Concert Window. I'm not sold on it but if it's a friend AND I love the music it's fun. Last night I watched Meg Braun. Fred was in the audience too. I like getting to talk to the performer as she sings and not bother anyone. I also got to hear her father sing in Irish! He is not Irish, just a Hiberiaphile like me. Well not like me as all I can say in Irish is "go raibh maith agat" and I have to use Google Translate to spell it correctly. It means "Thank you" and I said that after ever pledge for Mile Fáilte the former Irish language show on WFUV. I listened to it every week that I was up in time 8 AM on Saturday morning. I thanked Meg's dad after his song. I was so excited I was able to use it in context. I wish I could call him something other than "Meg's Dad." I got to hear new songs by Meg and my old favorites. I got to see Meg. She moved to Nashville and I miss her.

I'm writing this while listening to Folk Alley instead of WFUV. I listened to WFUV for 25 years so it's hard switching. I still listen on Sundays, the only day that plays the music that got me listening in the first place. I also listen every weekday morning till they get to the Question of the Day. I hate not loving what the station plays, I did for so long. I have an emotional commitment to WFUV and that leads to what I want to write about, the dilemma of public radio. Public stations have to get people to choose to pay for something that they can use for free. That means they have to create that emotional commitment. Not having commercials is not enough, people can still listen and not pay. It isn't a subscription. Commercial stations try to cater to broad segments of the population, the more listeners the more revenue they get from ads. All they need is for people to listen, they don't have to love it. If they listen while they drive and switch stations often that's fine. Public stations need a less broad but deeper listenership; that's why they so often play genre music for aficionados. Classical music and jazz are the mainstays of public radio. People care a great deal about them and they won't hear them on commercial radio. Now back in the day New York actually had three classical stations and two of them were commercial, WQXR and WNCN. To distinguish itself the public station WNYC-FM played the more challenging classical music, more modern pieces and fewer of the classical hits. The classical audience shrank and WNCN changed formats and WQXR couldn't make ends meet. WNYC bought WQXR and moved all their classical music to WQXR and left WNYC as just talk. So now WQXR plays even more hits than they used to and the obscurer classical music has no home. They had to broaden their appeal to just to keep it the same size..

When WFUV became a public station the audience they targeted was me, people that loved folk music with a very broad definition of folk. The musicians they played were not playing a big venues, they weren't at arenas and stadia. Mostly they were people playing places like The Bottom Line but even smaller places like my haunts, Café Sine and The Sidewalk Café. They brought a small but very loyal audience. They reached their limit with that audience and ages ago dropped the less popular parts of the format, Irish, bluegrass, and traditional folk. They started playing more rock and pop. But the radio audience shrunk further and they played less and less acoustic music and more and more rock and pop They then had to reach for a yet broader audience and now play essentially what the commercial stations like WNEW were playing when I first left commercial radio for WFUV. The problem is that as you broaden the base can you keep up the level of commitment? That's the balancing act? The folk audience is too small but is the rock and pop audience involved enough to be willing to pay to hear what they can hear in other places? When I talk to people calling in or reacting to my WFUV gear what people most often bring up is "It's just like the old WNEW!" Can you build a public station on that base? I don't know. They are doing their best trying to find the right mix even if that mix isn't what I want to hear. As the radio audience shrinks it’s so does the sweet spot, a format that appeal to an audience large enough to be economically viable but small enough to feel that they aren't part of the mass culture and so are willing to pay to hear "their music.'

My therapy is now an hour earlier so I need to finish writing earlier. It's 11:16 that's not too bad. Now to make a breakfast sandwich.

Wait, stop the presses! I just realized that the bagels don't become half priced till 4 PM and now I finish therapy at 3:15. I have to find a way to fill the half hour that I actually have as I never get out of there just as the therapy ends. It's in the opposite direction but I guess I can go to the farmer's market at Union Square. Or I can go to Trader Joe's. I just don’t like going to that store as the lines are so much longer than in Brooklyn. OH well, I still have to finish this.






Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile October 19, 2015
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