To the editors.,
In Bryan Miller’s interview with Peter Dominowski (June 22, 1990), the latter is quoted as stating that, “Seemingly, there is a small percentage of people who are already offended when very few changes have been made, because they perceive changes have been made.” I would respond by suggesting that there is a large percentage of people who are offended because these “very few changes” are, in fact, not so minor and not so good.
The perception of change, to which he refers, is reflective of the reality of the situation, not some fantasy. Jay Andres is, unfortunately, not a fantasy; neither is the nausea produced by the abundant and intrusive jingle commercials.
With his emphasis on the entertainment value, Dominowski fails to realize that programming that challenges, instructs, and informs, is every bit as valid and, in my opinion, more important, than programming that is merely comfortable. His analogy to remodelling Orchestra Hall is a poor one: he suggests that all he wants to do is add seats, whereas everything else in the interview makes it clear that he really wants to change the program, not just the venue.
If Dominowski wants to increase listenership, which is certainly a fine goal, he should do more than quote Ardis Krainik’s reluctance to glorify the past. He might try to understand why the Lyric is doing so well. It is not because they made their programming more comfortable; rather, they made it more challenging and accessible (via supertitles).
I would suggest, therefore, that the way to increase listenership is to increase the challenge and the educational value of the programming. A simple technique, used by KDFC, in San Francisco, may be helpful: before each presentation, they announce the date of the work about to be heard. With this modest change, WFMT could help educate both the current and the next generation of loyal listeners.
But there has been a more fundamental change at WFMT, which is revealed by Miller’s fine interview. It has to do with what WFMT is to produce; and this is the most important thing to understand, for all the rest is built on this foundation: whereas WFMT’s main goal used to be the production of musical and spoken word programming, its main goal will now be to produce customers for its advertisers.
And with this attitude so prevalent among the leadership of the station, we can now answer Miller’s question with a prediction: “Will this man ruin WFMT?” Yes, probably, with a little help from his friends.
Joel R. Finkel
Bryan Miller replies:
Actually, the editors, not I, write the headlines.