Monday, January 7, 2008

Mississippi Public Radio: falling, falling, fallen.

Last night I turned on my radio, which is set to MPB, looking forward to listening to some classical music only to hear a news program from the BBC. HUH? So, I did some digging online and apparently MPB made some more decisions to quicken its slide into mediocrity.

"Mississippi Public Broadcasting-Radio will unveil a number of schedule changes starting Tuesday, including the debuts of several locally-produced programs...
MPB-Radio is also adding three information/call-in shows - regarding family issues, financial advice and pets/animals. They will replace the national broadcasts of The Diane Rehm Show at 9 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Other programs that will be dropped include Pipedreams and the 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekday block of classical music programming..."

The widespread destruction to its programming is apparent when one checks the website for the schedule. There is no more classical music at night. From midnight to 5:00 AM there is the BBC news. Just want I want to hear, more talk. Its not like there isn't enough of it on cable tv, the radio, etc. No, some Einstein (management is relying on consultants to some degree for its programming decisions) decided that now we need the BBC as well. If this is some attempt at injecting some British culture into public radio, someone should tell MPB there are MUCH better examples of British culture than the BBC. However, the horror does not stop with the BBC.

It is sad as MPB used to be a leading public radio station when it was PRM. PRM was a true asset to Mississippi. I travel outside of Mississippi quite a bit and trust me, there were few radio stations as good as PRM. PRM, although devoted to classical music, turned out a product that was second to none as it was run by true experts such as William Fulton, Frank Lynch, Sam Sherrill, Margaret Baker-Carr, and others. They had a true love for their craft and it showed in the quality of PRM and accolades it received.

Unfortunately, the new management of public radio decided that being the best in one field was not good enough and chose in the manner common to cultural barbarians to get rid of a great product and debase the radio station. I remember one manager at MPB defending the program changes in The Clarion-Ledger by stating she wanted programming that pleased everyone. Apparently this prom queen wannabe didn't learn the lesson in high school that when you try to please everyone you please no one. Now that their programming changes haven't worked out, they are trying to go have more local programming. Its not surprising as most cultural boobs confuse local with good.

There is only four hours of classical music a day. period. No more Mississippi Concert Hall. No more of the popular listener request Fridays. No more Metropolitan Opera. The reputation and legacy of PRM, which brought pride and culture to Mississippi, has now been carelessly cast aside as one would a Christmas tree after spending so much time decorating it. Like the tree, it is now in the street with the rest of the trash, quickly forgotten and taken away.

The carnage continues as there is no more Jazz at Lincoln Center (hosted by Wynton Marsalis, a New Orleans native). So much for exposing local listeners to the best we have to offer in terms of what is truly an American form of music. Good luck finding any jazz on Mississippi Public Radio as there is none. Not even the highly esteemed Jazz Profiles, produced by NPR and the NEA, is carried by MPB. The omission of jazz from public radio's format in Mississippi should be grounds for the firing of whoever is in charge of programming. However, the cultural devastation does not end.

Blues? Mississippi's contribution to music? If you thought a Mississippi Public Radio station would have a moderate amount of blues programming, you would be sadly mistaken as there is none but for a few hours very late on Saturday night. The cultural boobs at MPB have decided in their infinite wisdom to ignore a true treasure of Mississippi in favor radio!!!

Yes, instead of radio that reflects culture and Mississippi's contribution to music, MPB has decided to give us talk radio. In addition to the umpteen sports radio programs, WFMN, WJNT, cable news channels, the cultural boobs decreed that we should get more talk radio in Mississippi. One program will be about financial matters. Great. 15 hours of Dave Ramsey a week and the weekend Suzie Orman Gabfest on CNBC is not enough. Don't worry though, this one is local (sarcasm intended). We get a local show about pets! family matters! (Don't worry, Alex will not be hosting). I'm not denigrating these topics, however, as hungry as WFMN and WJNT are for programming, they have tried these topics as well or would have if they thought it was profitable. However, it doesn't matter as these shows are local. The cultural boobs at MPB would replace paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh with a bunch by Thomas Kinckaide or a local graffiti artist if he was local. Thank you, MPB, for ruining PRM while you wonder what to do with your new toy.

Mississippi Public Radio's website:

Note: There is still a public radio channel available that is devoted to music if you have a high-definition radio or can sit around your computer for streaming. However, being how this is Mississippi and not Orange County, not everyone has high-definition receivers nor works in an office around a computer all day. That, not the previous programming, is what I would call elitist.

Related stories found online:
The ignoring of Jazz by public radio:
How the consultants have ruined public radio:
The destruction of public radio:
Fundraising issues of public radio:
podcasts a lifeline for public radio?:


Anonymous said...

I agree, MPB radio and TV has become a joke. Our household used to contribute but stopped after too many of Antoon's stupid moves. On the TV side I want to know if the countless hours of Gene Edwards interviewing writers yields an audience big enough to pay the bills. I wholly doubt it. Antoon has turned MPB from a cultural oasis into a mindless hodgepodge cheap programming wasteland.

Kingfish said...

who is Antoon? Please elaborate.

Give me a three hour block in a decent time slot and I'll give you a kick ass jazz program. But no, that wouldn't match what the consultants recommended.

Anonymous said...

She's the Executive Director of MPB

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t disagree more. This is a public institution and it should respond to the needs of the public. There is a small part of the state the likes classical music. Fine. But the rest of us shouldn’t be subsidizing that (I know most of the funding is private, but tax payers do support it) for the small percentage of you who do.

There are people who want classical music. Can they get that elsewhere? Yes. There’s satellite radio, CD’s, etc. There are more of us who like engaging news and talk radio. Can we get that elsewhere, at anywhere near the quality and balance that MPB offers? Not even close.

I support this move, even if I don’t care for all the new programming. It was necessary to remain relevant.

Kingfish said...

Therein lies part of the problem. When you have the word "public" in the name then people assume it should be something like public access where you have something for everyone. The result is you get a bunch of lukewarm garbage which is what public radio is turning into. Since you want talk shows so bad, lets just complete the process and go ahead and put Enoch Sanders on a prime slot for his own talk show.

Also, I was not griping about the lack of classical music only. I was also raising hell because frankly there is a ton of talk radio. Just what we need is one more channel with talk radio format. Meanwhile, blues and jazz are completely ignored. So much for exposing people to what are true american art forms. They can't even produce a four hour block of jazz or blues at a decent hour once or twice a week. Meanwhile we get the bb-fucking c. And they claim to be locally-oriented.

Anonymous said...

I see what you’re saying but my point still stands. All the things you mentioned are available to people elsewhere. And frankly the type of programming they are offering is not. Supertalk with JT and Dave is hardly the same thing. I suppose it’s a matter of opinion, but I find the majority of the new programming enlightening. If there is one thing the people of MS need that a public radio station can offer it isn’t music of any type. It’s some education about the world that doesn’t come from Fox News.

Kingfish said...

ah, I've got a read on it now. Liberal can't stand the fact that he can't find any talk shows he wants to listen to or agrees with soooo he wants us to subsidize it for him, culture and music be damned.

Sorry, I have a strong opinion on some things. Like every time I see an attempt at painting by LOCAL artist Michelle Campbell I want to take a knife to it.

Anonymous said...

Umm, I’m hardly a liberal. And I would have no problem with the fact that I couldn’t find a talk radio show I liked (although I can on both public and private radio). What I was saying is that I, or any other taxpayer, shouldn’t have to subsidize an entertainment venue for a small group of Mississippians if the satiation is capable of offering programming that is more acceptable to more people. That’s hardly a “liberal” position. In fact, I’d prefer that the sate not subsidize radio at all. How’s that for a liberal position?

For the record, I find the non-music programming of more cultural significance than most music. I guess that’s a difference of opinion, but I think our culture is better served by more information and different information from more sources than from more music.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think our disagreement boils down to the fact that you think music would have more cultural impact for the state than more news, while I disagree. I’m still wondering why you started the name-calling and labeling me “liberal.”

Kingfish said...

because I'm already drinking heavily and having some fun with you.

actually, because what you wrote was what liberals pushing for talk radio formats in public radio say. Was almost a dead ringer, seriously. I see where you are coming from though.

Anonymous said...

Tell you what Butch. Take away MPB's taxpayer subsidy and then we'll call it even. Because what you are basically advocating is that your superior definition of how the service should be programmed trumps those who disagree with you though, of course, you are happy to have MPB funded, in part, with the dimes of others. If MPB needs the subsidy to break even financially then that means they don't have an audience for their programming. Let every taxpayer opt out by removing their subsidy and then you, and all the other folks who dig their selection of programs, can opt in by supporting MPB directly.

Kingfish said...

on a related note, notice how far removed PBS is from the market. If you want to buy any of their productions, good luck. Ken Burn's dvd series go for over $125. Want Eyes on the Prize? Only available in VHS for $250. Go to Best Buy and get a box set of a whole season for any tv show for less than $75, usually much cheaper. Their economics make no sense.

Kingfish said...

Civil War: $130
The War: same
Baseball: $180
Jazz: $180

although at amazon they are a little bit cheaper although only a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Rico Suave,
I don’t think you read my posts. I’ve already said I’d be most happy if the state didn’t subsidize it at all. I don’t think the government should be in that business in the first place. So, no I’m not “happy to have MPB funded, in part, with the dimes of others” as you allege. Please read the posts of others before critiquing them.

And you’re wrong when you say I’m merely advocating my own aesthetics over others. I’m doing the opposite of that. I’m saying that the personal preferences of a small group, any group, should take precedence of the majority. It is a fact that a majority of taxpayers didn’t care for the amount of music being played on MPB so they changed it to align more with the majority.

Nick Drake said...

These interesting comments do not address a fundamental fact. Audience data clearly shows that MPB Radio's audience has dropped significantly since the changes were made. It is a fraction of PRM's audience. MPB Radio is run by people with little or no public broadcasting experience. This lack of knowledge and professionalism is reflected in the network's programming and on-air sound. When will the highly paid Executive Director of MPB be held to account for what she has done?

Kingfish said...

I think that is why they went the consultant route, with predictable results.

d taylor said...

Just came across this great article after hearing mpb has dropped all classical music programing nice writeup. That station has now become completely talk except for Sundays with echoes hearts of space and thistle and shamrock. i am sure it will not be long before those get the ax also. really sad.

Anonymous said...

Hi there post author/moderator who has to read this to approve it.

I work at MPB (not MPR) Radio and I'd love to have a conversation with you about how completely wrong you were and still are about EVERY SINGLE thing you ranted about in this rather immature post.

Six years later, the radio network has never been in better shape.

Your representation of the "boobs" that made the decisions that were made and why they made them is outright offensive. You had not a single clue what you were talking about. Not close.

It is my hope, that in the last six years, you have mellowed a bit and have found a way to enjoy the talk and entertainment well as the 24/7 statewide music radio network that we built and signed on almost simultaneously, that includes more than 100 hours of classical music a week, jazz, blues and more.

Even if this is the case, you need to account for some of the hurtful, baseless and COMPLETELY wrong things you said about the people that work here, of which I am one.

Anonymous said...

Pugnacious said...

Since you want talk shows so bad, lets just complete the process and go ahead and put Enoch Sanders on a prime slot for his own talk show.~KF

Add Shawn "Pro Bono, baby" O'Hara to the talk show mix for call-in legal advice.

Anonymous said...

Eleven years later and I totally agree with you. Right now I am listening to a CD that has some of the classical music recordings from PRM that me and my husband made on cassette tape to be able to listen to during car travel back when we lived in Savannah, Tennessee during the late 90's. We have since then converted it to MP3 and have it on disc. It is still wonderful to listen to and we loved the back to back classical music chosen by real disc jockeys of the folks you mentioned with their soothing voices. Excellent listening program to reduce stress. Then we moved to the Jonesboro, Arkansas area who has a nation public radio station played out of Arkansas Statue University (KASU) which had news breaks on the hour every hour, totally ruining the relaxing atmosphere of the classical music played which was only in the evenings and only a few evenings a week. So it sounds like PRM went the way of the rest of the national public radio stations. Some area still worth listening to like the one we hear out of Monroe, Louisiana (KEDM) when we go to visit relatves there. I'm glad I found this article even though it is a bit dated, but I agree with you 100 percent.

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