Credit must be given where credit is due to those seducers at KXPR. They have been giving it their best shot lately, trying to lure me in with the tender strains of my favorite music. I was surprised the other morning to begin my day with Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1. Okay, perhaps “tender strains” is not an appropriate description, but I love Prokofiev's amusingly goofy, repetitive, and relentless composition. Short, sweet, and hugely entertaining.
My irritation with KXPR was momentarily assuaged. Over breakfast, before I could fully restore my attitude of righteous wrath, the radio station hit me with Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture. Damn! I'm happy again. Then Korngold's lushly lyrical violin concerto. Those bastards are really trying to wrestle me into submission.
The onslaught continued. They broadcast Dvořák's Seventh Symphony (as if momentarily forgetting that they usually never air any of Dvořák's work except the Ninth—“From the New World”; it was apparently time for them to make their annual exception).
It couldn't continue indefinitely, of course, given that KXPR is no longer a 24-hour classical-radio station (more on that anon). But damned if they weren't quick to recover after the evening intrusion of jazz, giving me both Prokofiev's First Symphony (“The Classical”) and Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 (but why not No. 2?). I admit I was impressed that day.
I have a love-hate relationship with KXPR which has lasted several years. Back when I was a member in good standing, the Sacramento-based public-radio station pulled “Says You” off its schedule. I waxed wroth, because I never missed that delightful word-game show. During KXPR's next pledge drive (gosh, I hate those!), I made a point of not renewing my membership. I did call in a pledge, but I specifically told the person on the other end of the phone line that I was contributing n − 1 dollars, where n dollars was the standard membership level.
The volunteer was dismayed, of course, pointing out that I would not qualify for the many wonderful benefits of membership, including the monthly newsletter. I stood my ground and became one of the station's few contributors who was not also a “member.” Eventually, I sort of forgave them and acquired a full membership again.
Then the bastards switched frequencies between their classical music station and their news/jazz station. KXPR was relegated to the weaker of the two signals provided by Capital Public Radio. Again, I was mightily irritated and let my membership lapse (although my mail-box and CapRadio's fundraising people continue to see each other behind my back quite regularly). Recently, however, I was beginning to weaken. Surely I should show some appreciation for the fact that I lived within the broadcast range of the only 24-hour classical-music public-radio station in northern California. Even San Francisco didn't have one! (Recently, however, KDFC stepped into that breach.)
I should have known. CapRadio announced in January that KXPR would no longer be a 24-hour classical-music station. Nope. Not anymore! They were going to abandon their jazz fans on KXJZ and jam a few remnants of the jazz programming into a four-hour block on KXPR, thus cheesing off both jazz and classical music lovers. KXPR is now a dead zone for me from 7:00 till 11:00 every evening. CapRadio managed to figure out a lose-lose situation.
Rich Eytcheson, Capital Public Radio general manager and president, feels the station knows what the public wants.Um, excuse me. “Ratings”? What the hell do ratings have to do with public radio. What the heck is membership for if you're going to treat your broadcast outlet like all the commercial stations out there? Does the “public” part even mean anything anymore. Should the peasants rise up with their pikes and staves and explain things to Eytcheson?
“We get ratings and we can tell–hour by hour–what people are listening to,” Eytcheson said. And what they are listening to most is news radio, he said.
CapRadio provided the same sort of happy talk on its own website:
We feel that these changes best respond to our news and information listeners' requests, while at the same time honor our music listeners by continuing to provide the best jazz and classical service in our communities.I guess when you're the only jazz and classical service in the greater capital region (extended by a number of repeater stations down the valley), you can lower the bar quite a bit and still be the best. Way to play word games, guys! (So why the hell did you cancel “Says You,” if you like word games so much?)
I'm still simmering, so perhaps I should paw through the stuff stashed in the garage and see if I can find an old pike or staff. And perhaps during the next pledge drive I'll offer my irksome pledge of n − 1.