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.

By Taken byfir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.auCanon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=282390

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:

original: By ManuelFD - Own work fuente propia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11368669

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. 

Listener Marilyn sent us this: "I cannot believe I did not listen to NPR until I arrived in Wilmington, became a Luddite and gave away all my electronics devices except my radio and new Jitterbug cell phone. Now, NPR is on all day and into the night. I refer to NPR Wilmington as the Rachel Lewis Hilburn station. . . She has the best radio voice I have ever heard plus intelligent and interesting comments in each setting."

This came from Anonymous:

By Sergiy Klymenko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=854852

Listener David wrote: “If the uninterrupted drives have been successful, why do you do these [Fall pledge drives]?” It’s a good question, and one that we have examined in depth. We’re been very pleased with the success of our summer “Stealth” drives. We think listeners appreciate the fact that over the years we have reduced the number of fundraising days from 26 down to 15. But the Summer drive is different from Fall or Spring in that the goal is so much lower — typically, less than half of the big ones. Still, it took three weeks of fairly intense messages, several per hour in the last few days, to reach those goals. We don’t think our listeners would be in favor of a Fall drive that took six weeks of messages, even if none disrupts regular programming.

Sara Jarvis wrote:

I’ve been happily listening to WHQR via my SONOS system for several months. I access the station via Radio by TuneIn — a program that came loaded on my system. During that time, I’ve had several experiences in which the WHQR signal simply disappeared. . . For the past week, WHQR is totally inaccessible via the Radio by Tunein program.

Anonymous from Oak Island wrote, in part: “It seems that every day on virtually every program you air the topic is LGBTQs… 3.8 % of the population are LGBT and yet 85% of the programs seem to involve the LGBTs.”

Listener Susan wrote on our website after a recent commentary by Shane Fernando: “Beautiful memories, Shane. Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me that we are a multi-cultural nation of immigrants- some who came willingly and some forced. Our country has a rich and varied heritage... which we often forget in our attempt to make everyone 'the same'. For some reason, we assume that will make us feel safer and more accepted or more comfortable, but actually, embracing our differences and the richness of our ancestors, is what makes life interesting, teaches us respect, and gives us stories to tell.... stories that bring us into community to celebrate our lives and memories. Please keep on telling your story! Thank you.”

Listener Jimmy wrote:

I was a bit taken aback by a story aired in WHQR that informed us that “A conservative limited-government group is actively campaigning against Democratic nominee Deborah Ross in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race”. The story went on to outline their objection to Ms. Ross’ policies, accusing her of “raising taxes and supporting reckless government spending.", buzz words worthy of Roger Ailes.
I found that story, virtually verbatim, in the News and Observer, and discovered that your reporting left out the next paragraph, which revealed that this particular limited government group is funded by the Koch brothers. They, like most superrich, find government spending anathema to their quest to personally acquire the largest share of the nations’ wealth. After all, he who dies with the most cookies wins.

A station underwriter, who shall remain nameless, sent us this: "…regarding the underwriting, it’s funny. We had to hire a marketing firm to help us and the first thing they did was cancel the agreement I had with Kate [Brandis] -saying it was a waste of money. So when Kate called me back and told me that, I of course instantly reinstated our agreement. (I think of everyone there as my friends for one and two I knew it was the audience I was after). Anyway, to make the story short, we get a LOT of calls from WHQR listeners, and I love pointing that out to [the marketeer]!"

Listener Beverly wrote on Monday: "Cokie Roberts is just the latest NPR commentator offending my husband and me. We listen to NPR for news. We do not listen for an individual commentator's personal assessment.

“To be biased without even realizing it...for example, in asking a leading question...is sometimes understandable. Cokie makes no excuses for imposing her opinions. Whatever happened to journalistic principles? Is she not a journalist? She seems to be a lifelong politician which is contrary to the Jeffersonian principle of public service by citizens across the board as citizen duty...not public/political careers.

Abby Saunders of Hampstead wrote: "After hearing Isabelle Shepherd's story on Trump's rally in Wilmington [last week], I feel compelled to share my disappointment with the use of the adjective "lighthearted" to describe Governor McCrory's inappropriate joke about bathrooms during his speech. Certainly, all who are negatively impacted by HB2, as well as all who are in marked disagreement with a bill that violates human rights, would disagree that a joke referencing the bill is cheerful or happy-go-lucky. Thank you for your time.”

We received some calls and messages on Monday when listeners heard Donald Trump’s full speech to the Detroit Economic Club on our air. Some pointed out that there were some odd moments, such as when our local announcement aired right on top of NPR. Some wondered why we decided to pre-empt Here and Now to carry it. In both cases, at the beginning of the day, we were not aware that NPR intended to preempt the entire noon hour (and beyond) of Here and Now to carry the speech. A communications snafu caused us to miss some of the normally scheduled program cues.

Well, it must be karma. Just as in the last couple of weeks we have been celebrating out new AudioVault control software, another problem reared its head. A couple of weeks ago we started noticing and receiving reports of poor performance on our Classical HQR signal (92.7 in Wilmington, 102.3 in Myrtle Beach). People heard distortion in loud music and overall weak signal resulting from our attempting to solve the problem by lowering the music volume. For example, Joanne Purnell wrote: "Makes me sad not to be able to listen to my classical music in the car.

Listener Margee Herring wrote: "As you consider programming to fill aging programs (enough with Car Talk!), or retired programs (Prairie Home) or repetitive programming … , please give thought to introducing a less-than-accessible perspective. Several years ago, NPR conducted its own "voice audit" and recognized that its voices-of-color were frequently less than ethnic-sounding, and thus, began its code-switch programming in earnest. As communities re-consider our country's progress, or lack thereof, in race relations, an authentic and accessible black perspective would valuable.

Thanks to the 549 generous donors who made our Stealth Campaign such a success. Together we were able to end the drive several days early, and over the goal. The final tally was $73,615, and contributions are still coming in over the transom, so to speak. What did you think of the drive? Here are some comments we’ve received. Paul Reinmann wrote:

As I predicted last week, we were at last able to get our new AudioVault computer automation system up and running – with thanks to a lot of people here, but especially consulting engineer Jobie Sprinkle of Charlotte, assisted by George Scheibner, Lan Nichols and others. The irony of systems like this is that ordinarily, listeners are aware of them only when they misbehave, as the old system did recently in a massive way. But the new system will give us extra capabilities for producing and distributing content in new ways, and provide extra backups in case of failure.

I’ll get to listener comments in a moment, but first this: after returning this week from vacation, I’m happy to report that there are strong signs of progress at WHQR – despite recent setbacks concerning our program automation. The system we use to run both HQR News and Classical HQR, called AudioVault, suffered a major failure in late June.

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Jake Thomason had this reaction to a recent interview on The State of Things from WUNC: “Why is there a Christian discussion on your broadcast right now? My coworkers and I are loyal listeners, but are very concerned and not interested in hearing this. Christians have their own stations. Thank you for your time.” I wrote to Jake that the show segment featured an interview with two people who are attempting to approach environmental activism from a religious perspective, much as Dr. Martin Luther King worked within both an activist and a religious framework in the battle for civil rights.

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