Wednesday, August 6, 2008

When a Thing Dies

There is one breath that is clear:
Plaintive and convincing,
Filled with the shadow of
A promise that once was,
And dark with anticipation
or acceptance
of what will
-- or will not --
be.

So that's my requiem for quality radio in Fall River. In other parts of the world, if a radio habitant gets a new job, there is no big story in the paper. But around here, there is so little radio of quality, losing one talk host throws the whole place out of plumb.
Everybody's eulogizing Kerianne Rodrigues today. Lefty, James, the Fall River Community blog, and Inquire Fall River, and I'm sure others...
I wrote that above bit while having one of those melodramatic film montage moments -- you know, the ones where the cello swells to the tympani roll while scenes from the last five seasons jumpcut to a lingering closeup of something significant falling out of the character's hand and then: "Rosebud."
Or something.
And I also remembered the last heartfelt moaning exhale of one of my cats.
For vessels that aren't tied off in this particular harbor, let me remind you of WSAR, Fall River.
Last century, I worked at WSAR. Twice. First, I was fresh out of school and thought that broadcasting would be a career. WSAR was the first place to hire me, beginning my ill-fated foray into dealings at various broadcasting facilities filled with walking examples of textbook personality disorders. And then I went back there under the current ownership, which finally convinced me that broadcasting would not be a career as much as it would be a hopeless, endless, downward spiral of masochistic exercises in self-loathing.
I've worked in toxic environments over a large portion of my life, because I was brought up in the manufactory-infused atmosphere of Fall River, where everyone concedes that there's a reason why they call it "work."
Because you're not supposed to enjoy it because it's not "play."
Along with that Puritan disdain for pride in performance. And the Catholic guilt. And a fear of wealth. And the cultural incredulity about the benefits of any manner of sophistication, including education.
And that's WSAR. The Perfect Storm of all those disastrous fallacies.
I watch with morbid interest the goings-on at that place. I listen to hear some glimmer of quality. Because I still believe that local radio is the visage that a community presents of itself to itself and to the world at large.
And I can't decide whether I'm disappointed as WSAR freely and proudly displays Fall River as a slovenly, technically-inept, poorly-prepared, uncomprehending, doddering moron.
But then I heard Keri.
Because she made it sound as though the ol' station were about to motor toward a new course, one that was fresh, contemporary, uncompromising, with a relentless curiosity and drive for quality and honest detail. With a compelling and entertaining sense of flair.
And she wasn't faking it.
And I'm sure that she scared the daylights out of that swamp.
And I'm glad that now she's working for the District Attorney's office -- child abuse and senior abuse prevention advocate -- not just because I have more friends there than at that radio station. I hope she might be able to get some free legal advice about how to address the obvious civil rights' violation "not allowed to blog" thing.
I am sincerely glad that she'll be in a field where she can use her considerable talents in ways far far FAR more consequential than that stupid radio.

Of course, WSAR will go on, as it always has, with all of its mispronunciations and misapprehensions and multiple public service announcements playing at the same time and the network feed drowning out the news and long-past-retirement-time radio veterans and patronage hosts and recycled or stolen ad campaigns and oddly-semiliterate newsreaders and humorless callers and self-congratulatory smugness, still believing that "you can't please everyone" is a good enough excuse for wanton incompetence.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

... And Hess Oil closed today UP at 100.75, a gain of 4.75% on the NYSE after yesterday's close of 96.18.

ThirdMate said...

I think we've really rounded a very significant marker here on the Journal, shipmates.

The other sites I mentioned have comments that range from sincere good wishes to hopeful speculations on Ms. Rodrigues' and WSAR's future.

I get stock guotes.

Large said...

Set all sail and head away from the perils of anonymous shoals,..

remember shoals do ships no service except to clean the barnacles off the hull of a prudent mariner,..

and remember the importance of a wireless will be measured by the loud volume of its silence after it slips beneath the waves..perhaps WSAR should learn the older call,..

- · - · - - · - - · ·

-John George "Jack" Phillips (11 April 1887–15 April 1912)

15 April 1912 you history buff...

ThirdMate said...

CQD, aye.

"God himself could not sink this ship."

I think I remember Robert S. Owner saying something like that when he christened WHTB back in '89 and put this maelstrom in motion.

AFAIK, only one "man" who was at that "celebration" is still "working" in "radio."

The rest of us climbed up into the lifeboats, enjoyed rescue, better commissions, and met better mates.