From the Department of Answering the Mail

Mar 1, 2016

As you may imagine, we receive a lot of mail at WAMC – here are a few of our listeners’ recent questions.

Why do you play the BBC news in the middle of the Roundtable panel?

The answer to this one is that when we redesigned the program, we decided that the panel would be a good transition between the hard NPR news of the day and the marvelous regional programming heard on the Roundtable. The BBC certainly offers a perspective different from that of NPR. Since I get up and leave for work at 2:30 in the morning, I get to enjoy the Beeb, which certainly gives us news from the rest of the world in a way that NPR doesn’t. The BBC part of the show is only a few minutes and offers a little diversity. And frankly, since we design much of the Roundtable on the fly, it gives us a chance to discuss what we are going to talk about next. We think it works and for those who would like a little more panel discussion and a little less news, I beg for your patience on the matter.

Why did you pre-empt Garrison Keillor the other day to play an NPR program giving the results of a presidential primary?

Talk about why my hair is growing gray! This certainly puts us between the rock and the proverbial hard place. No matter what we might do, we will get criticism. The very future of the United States is at stake here. Will we follow Donald Trump and forbid Muslim entry into the United States in the name of national security? Who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice(s)? Prairie Home Companion is important but it is not as important as all the previous concerns and many more. Based on the letters I got on this, it’s clear that people do feel passionately. In one recent letter, a lawyer from Albany who signed his name called me something really nasty. I simply wrote back to the guy and said, “Right back at you.” Of course, PHC is rebroadcast on Sundays at 2 PM.

How come you continue to play the Metropolitan Opera when so many people call in during the fund drive and tell us how much they hate it?

Well, the opera has always been a big part of WAMC. Okay, so I don’t like it but there are many who really do. I try to do my shopping during that time or maybe even write columns like this one. The point here is that a great public radio station like this one doesn’t stick to a single format. I will admit that when they broadcast an interminable opera that cancels out the news on both ends of the program, I grow very distressed and have been known to let the people at the Met know of my displeasure. In fact, when I get the contract from the Met I have been known to sign it and then add the comment, “Signed under protest.” I’ve been doing that for many years and no one has ever written back. I won’t even get into Wagner who was a scurrilous anti-Semite. I think he was the devil and that is why he wrote such beautiful music.

Why do you do a Vox Pop program in which people are allowed to call in and why do you take so many e-mails during your morning panel?

You can’t have it both ways. People who say that we should have more voices on the air are allowed to call in, to write, and to let us hear from them on the “Listener’s Comment Line.”  That’s what it’s all about and I wouldn’t have it any other way.