Friday Feedback

We’d love to hear from you on Friday Feedback. WHQR takes comments on all aspects of its programming and operations. Leave feedback by calling the station at 910-292-9477 or by emailing feedback@whqr.org. Your comments may be read on air during Friday's Morning Edition at 7:45 and 8:49 am, and during All Things Considered at 5:44 pm. As always, thanks for your feedback.

OK, this is what my week has been like. I got an email message from someone who had found one of our news stories on the GenX situation in the Cape Fear. Describing himself as an "environmental activist", he had tried to repost it on Facebook but Facebook would not let him do so, and he wondered if we could fix that. I told him that we were all scratching our heads about this, though now I think I have a better idea. Then I started getting more, and lengthier, communications from him. I wrote to him, as I have done with many groups, “I do not participate in decisions about what goes into our news coverage. Please remove me from your mailing list. Thank you.” Well, as the crummy paid ads on the web say, you won’t believe what happened next.

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Listener Wayne wrote: “Decline of American societal values is led, in part, by the trend-setting broadcast of vulgar language by the media. My long and appreciative listening to WHQR finds that it is a media outlet which does maintain a good level of broadcast quality. Yet from time to time a little cuss word manages to find its way onto WHQR's airwaves. . . a case in point is the recent announcement of some material to be aired entitled "Getting Paid to Be a Smart <expletive deleted>." . . it appears to me that our WHQR is in a position to assist in reversing the use of this improper language. . . I appeal to WHQR to exert a little more positive influence over the vocabulary used by its own staff and local contributors.

By Photograph by en:User:Stijn Ghesquiere 2004., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=295333

Last week I wrote about our effort to restore our HQR News signal to full power. A few days afterwards, I received this email from an HD2 listener in Brunswick County:

The restoration of beautiful music is always a good thing.

Thank you so much.

It has been sorely missed.

As members on our email distribution list know, HQR News (that’s this channel) operated at low power for a day or so earlier this week. Thanks to George Scheibner, John McHarry and our consulting engineer Jobie Sprinkle, we identified the problem as a failed power supply for the main transmitter. The team went back to the wilds of Brunswick County to take us back to full power, [which was restored shortly after 1 pm Thursday].

Scott Relan wrote on Tuesday: “I watch an awful lot of movies, coming from my previous career as well as occasional festival judge, but [The Sense of an Ending at Cinematique] really stuck with me. Kimberly and I both left Thalian [Monday] night with our jaws dropped. It was quite beautiful and sad. The audience was lighter than normal, and that is a disappointment as I think the regular Cinematique crowd won't know what they're missing. . . You all always pick the best movies for the Cinematique screenings. I try never to miss any.” Thanks, Scott.
I’m going to depart a bit from the usual content of Friday Feedback to step back for some context. . .

Listener Anna wrote concerning reporter Vince Winkel’s story about the dedication of a plaque on Confederate Memorial Day. I’ll quote it at some length: “…as I was driving my car this week, I am quite sure that the drivers around me were wondering who this mad woman was who was yelling back at the radio. I yelled because I was incensed by what I heard, in particular by [the] lack of follow up questioning to the assertions made by the members of the Daughters of the Confederacy. 

I’m going to deal today with an issue worthy of serious attention. This past Monday Pat Marriott, on his Evening Concert program on Classical HQR, played music by Felix Draeseke. That’s an unfamiliar name in music, and Pat explained on Monday morning that the works of Draeseke were favored by “the cultural authorities of the Third Reich”, then largely disappeared after World War II, but are now coming to public attention again. We immediately heard from listener E: “I find [Pat’s] choice, his timing, and his words to be particularly scary, alarming, and distressing."

This week I published results from our Spring Survey on whqr.org, and included a chart of all our programs from most popular to least. When we shared this story on Facebook, Jonathan Trunz posted this question: “Any trends in the comment box like “Please bring back Prairie Home Companion?” I found some support for that. Out of 417 respondents, 7 people voiced support for either Garrison Keillor or Prairie Home. It’s difficult to tell when people say “Bring back Prairie Home” whether they mean the old show with Garrison or the new show. For example, Nina wrote: “I miss Prairie Home Companion.” We know that Garrison is gone and not coming back. Anonymous specified that he or she specifically means the current show. We’ll continue to monitor the reaction. Some samples:

Penny Schmitt wrote: “Not kidding. Tuesday afternoon just after 4:00 p.m. Lynne Warfel actually introduced William Walton's "Orb and Sceptre" march as having been "played at every Coronation since it was written." Since this march was written for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, and this is the one and only coronation that has taken place in the United Kingdom since, that certainly stopped me in my tracks while putting away the clean laundry! I know Lynn is not a local staffer, but could not resist reacting to this whopper!!!!" And this is Cleve speaking: I don’t know Lynne either, but I wonder if it’s possible that she knew what she was saying, and said it tongue-in-cheek.

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Today is the last day for our Spring Listener Survey. We’ll give away a Smooth Landing or Classical Guest DJ-ship to one respondent, drawn at random. See whqr.org for details. Here are some nuggets from the Survey so far. Anonymous wrote: “Coastline is unremarkable, needs some life breathed in. . .1A is a terrible successor to Dianne Rheem. Josh the host is ateurish, sometimes unnecessarily combative, and rudely uninformed. (Opinionated tone and insterted noise does not substitute for intelligence).” A different Anonymous wrote: “CoastLine has an excellent moderator.”

Starting late Tuesday night and on into Wednesday afternoon we experienced a problem at our 91.3 transmitter in Winnabow, resulting in diminished signal strength and the complete loss of HD2 (though our web streams continued without issues). Anonymous from Supply wrote: “. . . as you leave, could you see [for] people like me who have given to the station religiously for many years that the station’s serious music is preserved and operational, hopefully for years to come (in fact, the station was started by people like me who wanted to hear the opera and other serious music)?"

One of the great things about our fundraising campaigns is hearing directly from listeners about what they like (or don’t). I’m touched and appreciative for the comments made about me on my retirement later this summer. Here are some other samples from last week’s Take A Day Off drive. Laura Dean of Wilmington said: “Thank you for consistently bringing excellent programming to Wilmington." Donna Giles and Sue Sneddon of Shallotte said: “WHQR is more important than ever in our current political climate. We need voices of reason news that is just the opposite of "fake”speakers who can discuss opinions in thoughtful clear ways without histrionics and vitriol. Thanks WHQR!”

Ben Newton from Australia - 24, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10462693

Anonymous wrote: “[The] pledge drive is sooo... demeaning and embarrassing. it must be terribly inefficient at raising money, terribly efficient at raising hackles. thanks for ruining "Science Friday". name withheld because of gossip.” And listener Jerry said “Why do you spend two weeks telling us that your pledge drive is shorter than ever?”

An anonymous listener has left a couple of profanity-laced messages on our station line (not the Feedback line, so I don’t have permission to play it). But he objected, in a very angry tone, to at least 3 things: 1) Commercials, some apparently with with Pat Kobala (WRONG!); 2) Ads every 5 minutes on the classical station (WRONG!); 3) Ads every 2 minutes interrupting programming with messages that say we’re not going to interrupt programming (mostly WRONG!).

It’s been an interesting week. One person wrote to accuse me of being a ‘minion of Satan’. A more polite listener, Jeff, wrote: “After a long history of listening to WHQR at work, unfortunately today I changed the radio station. I did this because your programming has been way to anti-trump and liberal recently. It appears that WHQR is trying to make some point about how terrible conservatives are. I have a feeling I'm not the only one switching the dial, however I realize that you will continue to have a strong liberal listener following as long as you continue to program to their agendas. I just thought you might want to know. I sure am going to miss Smooth Landings!”

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I’m going to start with a matter of personal privilege. You may have read in the papers or seen on our website or Facebook page that last week I notified the Board of Directors of Friends of Public Radio of my intention to retire later this summer. Since the word got out, I have been overwhelmed with comments from well-wishers, both from friends and listeners. (And I hope there’s overlap between these two groups).

Oh boy, this is a good one. Listener Dan had a reaction to Nan Graham’s commentary on language pet peeves: “I have never heard the word “forte” pronounced as "fort." This most likely has to do with my musical background. . . Although I realize that this may put me in the camp with the folks that pronounce nuclear as "nuke-u-lar," or library as "libary," I cannot follow you down the "forte is pronounced fort" road. Sorry.”

Last week I read the words of a voicemail we had received, criticizing us in, shall we say, colorful language over public radio’s coverage of Donald Trump. One person wrote: “I suppose you must take the syndicated programs but your first anonymous listener's feedback this morning was right on! Many of us are similarly frustrated. . .Can NPR "journalists" not see their bias...and if they can see it, please get by it!. . . And you know, I don't really need a BBC program commenting on USA aspects.

An anonymous caller left a message on our voice mail. We don’t have permission to play the actual recording, so I’ll do the best I can to capture the flavor of it. “There’s not a lot of talk radio, unless you’re going to listen to Christian, so unfortunately I have to listen to your station. I think it’s pathetic to put down the new president every morning, every angle you can. He’s done more in a week… At least he’s trying. And nobody’s done a weekly address since Franklin Roosevelt. I think you people are scum and maggots.

Wilmington Faith and Values

Listener Andrea wrote: “I have moved from NY to Wilmington in the past few years, and absolutely love having a radio station that makes me feel connected to the community I have transplanted into. I especially like Communique and the Writers Almanac, and love preparing dinner in the evenings listening to jazz. Thanks for making a 20-something Northerner feel right at home!”

Listener Martyn wrote:

This message came in this week for our emPowering Our Future campaign, whose last official day was New Year’s Eve. It comes from listener Reed, and it encapsulates a sentiment which I’ve heard from many people: “Congratulations on your success with the emPowering Our Future campaign! Enclosed is a small — and belated — gift to that campaign. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate that there will be an even greater need for public radio in the next four years. Now I have Classical HQR too for those times when I can’t take any more of current events. Best wishes for the continuing success of WHQR!”

By the way, that drive is now $13,000 over the goal of $1.5 million. Together with listener commitments to make future planned gifts such as memorials and bequests, the grand total is approaching an amazing $1.9 million. We are humbled by the response from this incredibly generous community.


Allen Latham wrote: “Why is it that the announcer of the weekday time check/ station breaks announces that it is "almost X o'clock" if it is in fact 10:59 or 10:58. Would that not be a little bit more accurate?” I wrote to Allen that this is an interesting question, but the answer may be more than he bargained for. And it depends on which station you’re listening to.

Today's Friday Feedback is going to be a little bit different. I'm recording this on Thursday afternoon before our one-day drive is over and so I don't have any final totals to give you for it. I hope our announcers will be able to give you that. I'm going to just take a look at some of the comments that were made and read them, kind of at random :-)

James Papile and Kay Evans of Wilmington said:

We recently moved and are enjoying your station.

You know, sometime you have one of those weeks when everyone thinks you're just swell. . . Yeah, this is not one of those weeks. Listener Len in Ocean Isle Beach wrote: "I will never contribute to NPR again. . . Your news reporting for the past year never revealed the facts of the sources of the stalemates on Capitol Hill, of the depth and breadth of the Obama successes, and the sources of his oppositions, and of the depth and breadth of Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposed programs. You only reported Trump's proclamations, and on Clinton's emails, a trumped-up year of falsehood.

Listener Patti enjoyed reading about all the awards WHQR received last week from the Associated Press and from the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas: “Congratulations for the awards and thanks to the news team for all their good work. It's great to see others recognize just how good you all are!” Thank you, Patti.
Commentator Peggy Porter’s remarks this week on bad behavior from people in the aftermath of last week’s election drew several reactions. For instance, listener Verena wrote:

Listener Bill wrote: "Where is "Prairie Home Companion?!? PLEASE tell me there is technical problems and not a decision to drop it from your schedule. I've heard nothing about it being dropped, and as a long-time supporter I would be very unhappy about that decision. Please explain." And listener John wrote an actual and graceful-worded snail-mail letter along the same lines. I wrote to them that:

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Last week I played a call by a fan of our on-air campaign, and got this email in response: "I really like WHQR. I'm a long time listener .. & I do contribute to your support. But I *HATE* your awful begging for money (on-air). Yes, I know someone called in & said he thought it was well done. I'm on the other side of that coin; it is awful. I find another station to listen to when you start & continue to run your terrible begging for financial support. Why can't you do it quietly, like other charities?. . .

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I've been out this week, so mostly it's listeners who will do the talking this week. Wendy Lewis wrote on our WHQR Public Radio Facebook page: "I am appalled at this stations partisan rhetoric. It's obvious this station is run by left wing nuts. Maybe you should try to be more in touch with the community that you are supposed to be serving." I thank Wendy for her comment. We do try to be more in touch with the community. Which is why we published an article about early voting, poll locations and same day registration, to which Wendy so strenuously objected.

So now it's time for some community voices:

Listener Donna wrote: “As a long time member, I am very glad that the goal for the pledge drive was met yesterday, but I a very disappointed that the pledge drive did NOT end when the goal was met. Early in the pledge drive, you told listeners that the pledge drive would end when the goal was met. We as listeners should have received 2 more hours without pledge banter. 

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