Recently, I sent WETA an e-mail complaining about its program changes. The station responded by asserting that it believes the changes are in "the best interest of our regional audience."
WETA, I was reminded, serves listeners "far beyond the signal area shared with other public radio stations in Washington," and in "the near future, that coverage will extend even further" when the station begins broadcasting via new facilities in Frederick and Leonardtown, Md. The reply continued, "We soon will be the only public radio signal available for approximately 300,000 people." WETA closed with what I regard as a pro forma assurance that classical music will continue to be WETA's "predominant programming" and asserted, presumably as proof, that during the past year and a half, WETA has increased its broadcasting of live and pre-recorded concerts.
What WETA did not explain is why the 300,000 members of a regional audience now deprived of National Public Radio yak-yak should merit more of WETA's attention than the loyal audience nearer home that is now deprived of classical music in the early morning hours, seven days a week. Nor does it explain the growing commercialization of NPR itself as it seeks additional funding for programs that much of the traditional WETA audience would happily forgo for good music.
Finally, the reply did not address my point about the kind of NPR news WETA is presenting us with more of. Rather than hard news worth our attention, we are getting more feature stories that, even before the changes, stretched my tolerance about what, of "all things," ought to be "considered," whether at 6 a.m. or 5 p.m.