Everyone’s rejoicing about how WETA-FM’s stepped in to save classical music in D.C. That’s all fine and dandy, but no one seems to mention it also means a hefty blow to locally produced radio in D.C., notably The Intersection. The show covered D.C. politics and schools, along with quirkier topics, like saving the world by banning beer sales on H Street NE and how D.C.ers spend their summer vacations.
Less than a year ago, WETA convinced the host of that show, Rebecca Roberts (Cokie’s kid), to pick up her life and family and move from California back home. (Literally—her blog detailed extensively how she and her brood moved in with the ’rents while her newly bought house was getting the once-over.) Roberts, along with the rest of the staff from that show—most of whom don’t have famous parents and fancy houses and probably needed the work—found themselves kicked to the curb. WETA’s GM and board pulled the switch without much notice, predicated on the death of classical on WGMS-FM.
So, OK, it was sad when the classical music people lost their home—but WETA took the easy way out, abandoning its local content without considering the fact public radio, for the last decade or so, has been beating the drum to expand beyond its white, crusty image. And let’s not forget that WETA never even consulted its members—you know, the people who give their cash during the periodic shilling. People, a few hundred of them, were pissed, at least at first, demanding their money back. These days, they’ve rightly switched over to WAMU-FM and the biggest controversy on WETA’s public boards is whether it’s OK to play single movements from multi-movement pieces.
Speaking of WAMU, it picked up a few of the dropped shows, like the always-popular Prairie Home Companion (conveniently, right before WAMU’s latest fund drive), but didn’t bite on anything local WETA offered and left what else was unique—the BBC feed—on the chopping block.
Still, I guess I know who’s going to get my 20 bucks from now on.