Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Thank you for your coverage of the programming changes taking place at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network ("Maine public radio cuts back its music for more talk," Nov. 27).
A sign protesting a Maine Public Broadcasting music-program cutback in 2001 expresses the feelings of some readers about the radio network's newly announced changes in programming.
2001 File Photo/The Associated Press
The decision to eliminate classical music on weekend mornings and to ax two of the three jazz programs on Friday evenings constitutes the continuation of a policy evidently adopted more than a decade ago to replace classical music, jazz and other music programs with news, talk and public affairs.
A radio station that once seemed to have an appropriate balance between music and news now appears to be on the brink of becoming all talk -- leaving its members and other listeners with almost no source for classical music and jazz or for news about cultural events around the state.
It seems to me that in Maine, as in other states with only one public radio station, the station officials have a responsibility to offer diverse programming that features an array of programs not available on commercial radio. Shrinking the time devoted to classical music and jazz reduces the opportunities for encouraging interest in music and the arts in general and for promoting the really fine concerts and other cultural events that occur in Maine throughout the year.
My wife, Sally, and I are extremely troubled by these decisions -- so concerned, in fact, that we have informed the station's leadership that we are significantly reducing our financial support. I would encourage other MPBN members to consider this step with the goal of persuading the station's board and staff to restore balance to the station's schedule.
As a loyal follower of and contributor to MPBN, I was saddened and dismayed by the recent cutbacks to musical programming. More news and more talk is just that -- more of what we already have been told and more commentary on commentary that we have already been subjected to ad infinitum. Music is new news.
It not only gives us respite from the constant verbal battering but offers insight into the human condition that provokes the news. I've learned more about the American psyche and its reaction to WWI, WWII, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the '60s, etc. from a Friday afternoon with Toby Leboutillier than from the lecturing of many a political pundit.
Bring back the music. We're drowning in talk.
Time marches on with "improvements" under way, but I want to mark the passing of musical traditions once brought to us by MPBN. I'm a member, so I've bought my right to rant about the changes going into effect today.
It will no longer be possible to stroll "Down Memory Lane" with Toby Leboutillier on Friday afternoons.
When I first listened to "In One Era and Out the Other," I thought it corny and, frankly, kind of annoying.
But over the years, that dose of nostalgia grew on me. It signaled the start of the weekend. It reminded me of earlier times. After my parents died, I found myself listening more closely to "their" music, wondering if they had liked these tunes as much as I did in that moment.
And no more easing into Saturdays and Sundays, lulled into dozing and daydreaming by the 6-8 a.m. classical music offerings. The two hours of music provided a gentle wakening, versus being jerked out of sleep Monday through Friday by the BBC and "Morning Edition" news.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a news junkie. I like staying up on current events. But enough is enough. Another five hours of music is gone, replaced by more talk shows, more chances to stay in one's head instead of being coaxed into one's soul.
This shift away from the music to relentless talk, talk started with 9/11. Gone were the afternoon delights of jazz, folk and world music which could have provided respite from the horrors of that September morning. Instead, more news shows discussing, debating and parsing every twist and turn in current events.
My choice: Let anxiety fed by these shows grow, or turn the dial. Guess which I'll choose?
Mayan calendar indicates new era, not world's end
As we approach the winter solstice, Dec. 21, we will probably hear a lot more about the calamities that will befall us as the Mayan calendar "ends" on that date. Fear not! The world will not end, nor will disaster befall us.
Dec. 21 marks the end of the 13th "baktun" of the Mayan calendar. A baktun is 144,000 days (approximately 394 years) and is one of the primary units of the Mayan "Long Count" calendar. The peak of the Mayan civilization occurred during the eighth and ninth baktuns. Although the calendar on my wall ends on Dec. 31, we simply "roll over" into a new year.
The same is true for the Mayan calendar. When one unit, be it a baktun or a katun (1/20th of a baktun) ended, the next one began. With the end of the 13th baktun on Dec. 21 (22.214.171.124.0 in the Mayan calendar), the 14th baktun begins, just as 2013 will begin after Dec. 31 for those of use who use the Gregorian calendar.
So relax, the world will not end, and we will all be here on Dec. 22 to continue our celebration of the Christmas season.
Good memories remain of musician Mac McHale
Thirty or more years ago, the community of Cape Porpoise came together to convert the old fire house to what is now Atlantic Hall. At the same time, Alan McHale had formed the Northeast Winds and looked for venues for his talented musical crew.
"Mac," Emery Hutchins and Paula McHugh found a place to perform and at the same time do a good deed by raising money for upgrades to the old hall. They played there often for little or no money, and the people of Cape Porpoise and Kennebunkport loved them.
Who wouldn't? They were enthusiastic, good musicians and just plain uplifting to be with. Mac was always the leader and the consummate entertainer.
So many people will miss Alan "Mac" McHale and his music. We wish to thank him and the Northeast Winds and ask that God bless his soul.
Dick and Jane Pickering