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Old 02-03-2010, 01:11 PM
Location: Limestone,TN/Bucerias, Mexico
1,452 posts, read 3,014,672 times
Reputation: 496


Apparently no more 'Blue Monday', no more classical music and no more 'Roots and Branches'. This is very sad news for ETSU's entire listening audience. E-mail I received and a petition to sign below.

"I am forwarding this information that was sent to me from a fellow local musician. I support WETS every fundraiser and particularly like "Roots and Branches" which supports local artists by playing their music. Many of these folks would never get a start without growing a following locally before stepping into the world scene. This area is rich with talent that will suffer as a result of the WETS decision to simply cut music out of their weekly programming. I know that budgets are tight, but this is going to ultimately kill the station if allowed to continue. I know that will no longer support a station that is "all talk and no music." Please read the message below and sign the petition if you agree."

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Old 02-03-2010, 03:18 PM
Location: Seattle
6,917 posts, read 15,635,345 times
Reputation: 3563
Thanks, Sarah, I signed the petition.

I heard this on the station as I was listening one day. I can't believe it. It seems to me that WETS is "pissin itself," as my great-grandfather used to say. Why would anyone want Roots and Branches, Blue Monday, Sunday Baroque and a host of other great musical programs to go away? It's redic.

I'd already sent a long email to WETS last week about how they could kiss my annual contributions goodbye. Not a big threat, but hopefully a lot of people are sending similar letters.

If these guys can't look at the success of the Blue Plate Special in Knoxville, combine that in their brains with ETSU's pretty amazing Bluegrass department and new recording studios, and see that further development of unique Americana programs would be both easy and beneficial, then they're too damn dumb to run a radio station.
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:52 AM
67 posts, read 233,002 times
Reputation: 44
I wonder if they could continue their regular programming with the funds they had? Or if this is some kind of shock tactic to get the publics attention and get more funds?

Anyway, this makes me very sad. That was the only station I listened to and I was wondering why all the talk when I tuned in yesterday. I guess if they continue with this type of programming, I will no longer contribute financially to the station.

Thank you for posting the link for the petition.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:34 PM
Location: Limestone,TN/Bucerias, Mexico
1,452 posts, read 3,014,672 times
Reputation: 496
Just saw that there's a poll on the JC Press website asking if folks like the new changes at WETSU.. Can you believe that 16% said YES??

(I JUST got back on-line after a terrifying tornado/hurricane came through my area, causing major damage and knocking the power out - then delivering low voltage power, which is very bad for things like pumps and refrigerators!)
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:50 PM
Location: Seattle
6,917 posts, read 15,635,345 times
Reputation: 3563
This is the email I got today from Wayne Winkler. I'm sure some of you got it, as well. Wayne makes many good points, but some of them are bad, I feel, as well. And he's right in that WETS is going to take a hit in fundraising this year. Personally I have no interest in listening to the station's line-up during the week, and don't have time to on the weekends (aka the few hours that have been crammed full of the actual interesting stuff). With me not listening to WETS at all, I will not be contributing my usual amount this year.

As follows:

Since February 1, WETS-FM (89.5 Mhz), the public radio station serving the Tri-Cities region, has a new sound and several new programs. The recent changes in programming at WETS-FM were prompted by a lack of listener support, which resulted in a steady decline in revenues over the past four years.

It might seem strange that our reaction to lack of adequate listener funding was to make changes that risked alienating a large number of contributors and adding programming that will cost us more money. But it actually makes sense.

The first principle of radio is to have a unified format. People tune to a station to hear a particular kind of programming; the more consistent that programming is, the more likely a listener will be pleased that he or she listens to that station. WETS had three distinct programming streams: NPR news, classical, and Americana. These program streams had three distinct audiences. Listeners commonly complained that we weren’t what they thought we should be (“Why aren’t you more like WNCW?” “Why don’t you play classical music all the time like WUOT or WDAV?” “Why don’t we have good NPR shows like ‘Diane Rehm’ or ‘Talk of the Nation’?”). Many of those same people didn’t care much for our previous format when they had it available every day; only in retrospect do they regard it as an irreplaceable cultural treasure.

In a way, it might seem that this split format would have been an advantage for WETS. The station had three distinct audiences we served, bringing more listeners than a single program stream would bring. And having those three program streams did boost our cume (the weekly cumulative audience, the total number of people who tuned in for some period of time during a week, as measured by Arbitron, the radio ratings people). However, the most important factor in turning a listener into a contributor is TSL, or time spent listening. The higher the TSL, the better. Our TSL was just over half that of WUOT in Knoxville, for example. Every time we changed program types, we sent a signal to listeners: change stations or put in a CD; we’re done playing what you like. Some read that signal in another way: I don’t need to support WETS because I don’t like some of the programs they play.

We had a good, solid 50,000 listeners per week. The rule of thumb in public radio is that you’re doing well to get one in 10 listeners to contribute. But we usually had about one in 20. And that was our problem.

We have seen a decline in listener support during the past four years. Although we often made our goal in pledges, and even set a record in 2008, we saw that we were not collecting all that had been promised. Our revenues from listener contributions in fiscal year 2009 were $49,164 lower than in fiscal year 2006.

After carefully examining a great deal of information, including the number of calls during fundraisers, ratings, online listener surveys, and other data, we could see that classical music was not attracting many listeners or supporters. For example, during our most recent drive, we raised less than $4,000 in phone pledges during all classical programming over 10 days. Of course, phone calls aren’t the whole story; many people call when it is convenient, not when their favorite program is on. But this is simply an example of what all the other data were telling us. Americana music did better. Classical music had 12 hours of programming every weekday, while Americana only had four, or one-third the air time. But Americana raised three times the amount of money by phone, nearly $12,000.

Our financial condition became critical as we ran into a tight situation in 2004, when we invited Bob Edwards, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, to speak to a large group of contributors and volunteers to celebrate the station’s 30th anniversary. This event would, we believed, set us up for a very successful fundraiser in April. Just before the start of our drive, however, NPR announced that Edwards would be removed as host of Morning Edition, and that situation quickly turned acrimonious. We heard from many listeners and (former) contributors who told us they realized WETS was not at fault, but the only way they could register a protest was to withhold support for the station. Needless to say, our fundraiser was not at all successful. Our fundraising revenues for fiscal year 2004 were down by more than $42,000 from the previous year.

This was followed immediately by a directive from the Tennessee Board of Regents that WETS could not make financial commitments based on projected revenues from fundraising. While “forward funding” now makes my job a lot easier, the transition came close to ending WETS-FM. We got several national producers to give us programming free for a year and tightened belts, in part through a reduction in staffing.

Obviously, WETS-FM was in need of more secure funding from our listeners, and we began looking seriously at our format and how we might strengthen listener support. After examining all possible alternatives, we at WETS-FM decided, and the ETSU administration agreed, that a news and information format was the best option for the station.

I won’t deny that my own personal preference was for the NPR/Americana format, and there is no doubt such a format would have resulted in far less criticism from listeners. But I was nervous about how soft our listener support really was for Americana. We pushed the Americana audience hard during the last four fundraisers, but we didn’t see numbers that made us comfortable. While Americana, with one-third the air time as classical, raised three times the money, that still represented a too-small fraction of an annual budget of over $900,000. By comparison, we raised nearly $50,000 in the 7:00 a.m. hour alone during our last 10-day drive.

Nationwide, there has been a trend among public radio stations, and that trend is news/information. Nearly every public station that has changed or is changing format is dropping music, at least on weekdays between morning and afternoon drive time. In the past 18 months, this change has happened in Nashville, Winston-Salem, Birmingham, Gainesville, Hartford, and in the entire New Hampshire Public Radio network. Dozens of other stations, including WAMU in Washington, DC, had done the same thing earlier. Clearly, public radio stations see the news and information format as the safer bet.

I got into radio because of music. I knew the news format would kill my Blue Monday show, a program I’ve done for more than 25 years. It would eliminate from our weekday schedule the local and regional performers that have been a big part of our sound. It would alienate two of the three distinct audiences we have, instead of just one. But as popular as the Americana format was, as exciting as the NPR/Americana option would have been for me personally, the numbers just didn’t support it. Faced with the possibility of future cuts in state funding in the years ahead, we couldn’t gamble on programming which had not lived up to expectations in the past.

I expect we’re probably going to take a hit during our next fundraiser. But our current approach offers the best long-term chance we’ve got. I can just about guarantee that, had we not made any change at all, WETS-FM would have been out of business within five years. There was no solution that was going to make everyone happy. Doing nothing, though, was not an option.

WETS-FM has added programs often requested by listeners, including The Diane Rehm Show and Talk of the Nation. The weekend schedule still features Car Talk, Mountain Stage, American Routes, A Prairie Home Companion, and other favorites. Seven hours of locally-produced music programming, including Studio One, Friday Night Americana, and Out On a Limb, provide more opportunities for regional musicians to be heard than on all other Tri-Cities radio stations combined. Our new schedule offers more time for public service announcements covering musical and cultural events. We remain committed to serving this community and urge you to tune in and find out what WETS-FM has to offer.

Wayne Winkler
Director, WETS-FM
Box 70630
Johnson City, TN 37614
Official Site of WETS-FM 89.5: Tri-Cities Radio Source for NPR and BBC News
FAX: 423.439.6449
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