A Message From the President

What It's All About

Sep 1, 2016

It’s hard to believe that September is already upon us. It has been a sensational summer, not just because of the natural beauty of the great northeast, the glorious weather (mostly) and all of the incredible cultural events that take place throughout the region. I think you’ll agree that this has been THE most extraordinary run-up to any election, possibly ever. I was recently reading the trade newspaper that comes to all of us public broadcasters. We already know that the number of people listening to public radio has increased dramatically with the election in sight and I figure it’s probably in large part due to the, “What will they do next?!?” factor. Well, rest assured, I promise you that whatever they do next, we’ll be talking about it on WAMC. It’s already been quite the roller coaster ride and together, we’ve watched it all unfold, from the earliest primaries to the latest polling data. As a collective family, we might not agree on everything, but looking back on our morning Roundtable discussions, I think civility has been the word of the day. Of course, sometimes passions flare and people get excited but that’s what makes it interesting and real. The amount of feedback we’ve gotten assures us that you are listening and that’s what it’s all about.

A Very Round Table

Aug 1, 2016

We came up with the concept for the morning Roundtable panel from 9 to 10 AM because we thought a provocative discussion about the day’s events would be a great bridge between Morning Edition and the Roundtable proper. It turns out that the program, with its rotating panel of four people, is now one of the leading shows on WAMC. We look through the headlines and talk about whatever may be going on. Maybe it’s something that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did the day before. It could be a discussion of race relations in the United States. Sometimes the discussions get, shall we say, heated.

“Sumer is Icumen In” goes the song. I sang it in the Hunter College chorus (59-63) (where the girls were) and it made the point that the summer season is very special. The wonderful snowbird friends of WAMC, many of whom have been listening on their WAMC apps, are back. People are swimming. Tanglewood and SPAC will soon be going full steam, all the summer theater anyone could ever want is available throughout our listening area and the birds are making sounds to rival anything that we mortals may have composed.

I heard my friend Arlo Guthrie say something the other day. He was looking for donations to keep the Guthrie “Bring Your Own God” Church going. He said that every time someone put something into the pot, they became a part owner and were responsible for the continuance of the Guthrie Center.

People with good minds can be very passionate. Take the case of the current Presidential election cycle. We hear from people of all political persuasions who are quite sure that we are being blatantly unfair, usually about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Now don’t get me wrong – when the Massachusetts primary rolled around I voted for Bernie. I had announced that I would because I believe that journalists have a responsibility to let their audiences know where they are coming from. I have interviewed both Bernie and Hillary on the air so I am very surprised at some of the vitriol we have heard about the station’s alleged “position” (we never take sides) in favor of Hillary. I try to be fair on our daily Roundtable panel. I have explained that I think Bernie is right on the major issues. I have also explained that I believed Hillary would capture more of the centrist voters and be more electable.

Political Season

Apr 1, 2016

If you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of a Presidential campaign.

The Washington Post recently published an article that spoke of the “graying” of NPR and its member stations. It was a fascinating look into the ways in which young people get their news -- through podcasts and social media and not by listening to the radio.

No Static At All

Oct 29, 2015

There is one sure thing about WAMC and that is that life here is always interesting. Nothing is static. We know, for example, that the first hour of The Roundtable is a tremendous success. Wherever I go, I hear from people who make it a must-do to listen to the panel on The Roundtable. Everyone reacts, some more strongly than others. Each of the participants has developed a following and each of us has some detractors.

The Drive

Sep 29, 2015

The crucial, life-giving fund drive begins Monday October 5th. I don’t have to tell anyone that this is where we live. No fund drive, no station.

The New Geography

Aug 28, 2015

Everywhere I go, people stop to tell me how much they love this radio station. I really appreciate those on-air testimonials that people volunteer to record, attesting to their “WAMC-hood.” Now that we are all “apped” up and you can hear the station anywhere in the world (I heard it as clear as a bell in Colombia S.A, and in Italy), people listen all over.

What It's All About

Jul 24, 2015

Wow, there are some days that the first hour of The Roundtable gets almost too hot to handle. As you know, we try to keep things moving, switch out the people on the panel, and read e-mails so that everyone can have a say.

You Make It Happen

Jun 26, 2015

As we enter the summer months, our gardens are flourishing, our children and grandchildren are swimming and the programming on WAMC changes ever so subtly. For example, WAMC is proud to play every Boston Symphony Orchestra concert from Tanglewood. What could possible be better than sitting under the stars, listening to the best music ever composed?

Oh brother! Oh sister!

Here comes the fund drive. We did amazingly well in run-up to the drive but now we all have to show our stuff. A lot of people put money into the locked box -- some because they want more regular programming and less on-air fund raising and some because they will be out of town.

Reasons

May 1, 2015

In the first week in June, we will resume the business of trying to keep our station alive. Ray and I will hit the microphones at 6 in the morning and each and every person will make a personal decision of principle and conscience. Each of us will decide what it is that we treasure about our radio station. There will be those who say, “Let someone else do it” and there will be thousands who recognize that they truly care for the station and what it stands for: free speech, freedom of opinion, courage, empathy, understanding and sharing. Some people will look for reasons not to give, even though it is clear from their letters and communications that they are listening all the time. 

It's A Dog's Life

Apr 1, 2015

I was talking to Murray, the world’s cutest and brightest dog.  As you know, he was taught to speak English early on. It’s amazing. The dog knows so much that I’ve been trying to convince Joe Donahue to let him have my spot on the first hour of The Roundtable every once in a while.

One For The Books

Feb 26, 2015

Here we are, just a few short weeks after the historic WAMC fund drive. Between the locked box that raised half of the money before the on-air drive started and three and a half days of actual fund drive, we ended up with a million dollars in the bank.

It Is Always You

Jan 29, 2015

I recently met someone who told me that she knew I am not really as nervous as I say I am about the upcoming February 2nd fund drive. I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve done about a hundred fund drives and I worry before each and every one of them. I lose sleep; I break out into inexplicable sweats; I have nightmares. It is always up to my Roselle to remind me how people love the station, how much they depend on it and how they would never let it fail. You know that nightmare we have about the exam in the college class we never even knew we were registered for? This one is that we have a fund drive and the phones don’t ring and the on-line pledges don’t come in. Roselle always puts her hand on my neck and assures me that everything is going to be fine. And, of course, she has always been right.

Here are my fearless predictions for the coming year. Remember the rules. These can be things that I don’t want to see happen and so I hope to put the whammy on them by predicting them. They can also be things that I do want to happen, so I predict them in order to help make them happen. Then, there are those predictions that I really do think will happen. I leave it to you, dear readers, to figure out which is which.

End Of Year Tax Time

Dec 1, 2014

Toward the end of every year, we all seem to receive a slew of solicitation letters. Let’s not kid ourselves. People wait until the last minute to decide where to send their tax-deductible contributions. They have a great many choices. There are genuine charities that really deserve their money. There are churches and synagogues, temples and mosques. There are environmental organizations and educational institutions, hospitals and more. And then, dear friends, there are the WAMC stations. If you don’t use the radio station, perhaps this is a time to tune out. But if you do, let’s deal with the reality of what, as a communal group, we are up against.

One of the best things on WAMC is the first hour of The Roundtable, every weekday morning between nine and ten.

We are about to embark on one of the most telling fund drives of all. The truth is that we are only as good as our last fund drive.  We have to raise a million dollars. Some of this money is already in the locked box and we are grateful for everyone who has already done something. There is a relatively tiny bit of money in our First Amendment Fund to be used at the discretion of the Board of Trustees if someone or something threatens our right to do our job. But otherwise, we live from fund drive to fund drive. Failure, of course, is not an option.

At the beginning of October comes the next fund drive. Before you groan, please try to remember how much these drives mean to the continuation of the station that you listen to and depend on.  Sooner or later, someone has to pay the piper. The only way that we can be sure that WAMC remains in its present form – with the freedom to say what we want, preserve balance, and operate as we have been doing -  is for each person to do what they can. When that happens, when everyone pitches in, the station flourishes. I was recently at Tanglewood and several folks came up to say hello. They proudly announced that they loved the station and were members. Obviously, I thanked them with everything I had in me. That’s because when someone tells me that they understand, I am incredibly, personally and humbly grateful. I know that every day people tune in and often stay tuned in. They often tell me of things that I haven’t heard and I am grateful for that, too.

So Far, So Good

Jul 31, 2014

As the summer comes to an end and we are threatened with yet another horrendous ice age winter, we should take a moment to think about everything that WAMC does to help with our extended weather forecasts that have no peers anywhere. People need to know about tornadoes and nor’easters and snow and ice. In fact, we have no higher priority here at WAMC than keeping you informed about what’s coming your way. But it is more than just information. It’s David Guistina in the morning telling you what to expect and then suggesting what you might want to do about it. Even if it’s a simple suggestion that you watch out for the black ice or bundle up you know that you have a real friend when you need one.

If there’s one thing I know about our WAMC listeners, it’s that you’re there for us when we need you.  Over 30 years worth of fund drives have proven that.  You know that when we ask, it’s because we truly can’t do it without you.  Sometimes we find people who really love the station and can afford to do more, and such is the case now.

I recently had the real pleasure of spending some time at the WAMC studios with Garrison Keillor who is, of course, an immense star. He’s very tall and shows some wear and tear around the edges. He has tremendous intellect and he is sardonically funny.  As you know he has the “Writer’s Almanac” every day and I love the show, it’s so interesting; a little bit of history, a little bit of poetry and he always provokes thought. Every once in a while he likes to push the envelope and if it involves something naughty it can present radio problems for us but so far we’re still breathing. You know those poets, always crossing boundaries.

On June 1, all of us in the WAMC family will commence our spring-summer fund drive.  You have got to realize that you are just as big a part of this event as the WAMC staff is. The last fund drive was quite a miracle. In about four days, we (and I mean “we” as in all of us) raised a million dollars because we all understood that the way to make everything go faster was to feed the locked box before the fund drive.  It turns out that the locked box is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. It’s there for just one reason – to hold money in reserve for the fund drive. Every penny that is in that box comes from people like you. Some give because they want to make the drive go faster. Some are truly worried about the physical and mental health of the staff as they approach yet another Herculean effort. Some just love the contest. They are fascinated by the effort of our community to make something happen that no one has ever done before.

The Roundtable Panel

Mar 28, 2014

The first hour of The Roundtable has proven to be a great success. Host Joe Donahue and I have received many compliments about the way in which the program is conducted.  Listeners recognize the obvious love and respect that exists among the panelist and new heroes and heroines have emerged.

Everywhere I go, people are congratulating the radio station for, by far, the fastest million dollar fund drive in history. I always try to make the point that it is not the WAMC staff and board that deserve the kudos but all of you who made it happen. The amount of money that came in before the drive even started was astounding. A few weeks out we had about $300,000 in the magic locked (or lox or lock) box. We announced that number on the air and within days, we had $417,000 in the box. Every penny that came in before the drive that was marked for the box was accounted for and added to the total and used to shorten the drive.

Into The Fray

Jan 31, 2014

The fund drive is upon us. As I write this, there is over $350,000 in the Locked (Lock or Lox) Box. That is incredible. What a crew!  What a community! The truth is that we have all made this radio station what it is. So when we have a fund drive it is a festival. In each society there are celebrations that bring a community together. Many of you took an anthropology course or belong to a social or spiritual group in which the interdependency of everyone in the group is emphasized. No one has to talk anyone else into anything -- people do what they need to because it's the right thing to do.  They give what they can.  Think about any community gathering.  Some people bring cakes and cookies. Others make a plate of chicken or meatballs or tuna noodle casserole and there are always those who say, “I have a little more so let me help pay for all of this.” That’s the way the Fire Island community was when I was a kid. Every year, someone among the Island’s literati would write a song about things that had happened during the year.