copyright Bill Widener 2000

Radio Radio

"AAA Club," an article about local public radio in your June 29th issue is misleading [In Media Res]. The author writes that the four public radio stations in this area don't provide enough diversity, and she blames WUKY because she believes we should not have switched the focus of our daytime music to an adult rock format which radio people call "AAA." A casual listener might confuse it with other music formats, thus the alleged reduction in diversity. The author of your article is apparently among the confused.

She implies that bluegrass, "alternative," and Americana music are elements of the AAA format. In fact, bluegrass, "Americana" and AAA are separate formats, while the word "alternative" is applied to many different kinds of music. Leaving aside these technicalities, a list of the music played on all four stations mentioned in the article during an hour or two would show Lexington public radio listeners enjoy a wide variety of music with little duplication. Aside from the daytime music, WUKY broadcasts 34 programs (totaling 93 hours per week!) which are NOT available on any other local station! Each of the other three stations also offers unique programs.

As for change itself, every station Program Director has the right, perhaps even the obligation, to constantly evaluate programming and make changes to better serve listeners. In summary, if your reporter dug harder for facts, a different picture would have emerged. The author is entitled to her opinions, but the readers of "Ace" deserve better journalism.

Roger M. Chesser
General Manager, WUKY

Thank you for the article on Lexington's public radio stations [In Media Res, Jun 29]. I had been a fan and supporter of WUKY for many years and considered it to be a guardian of the hundreds of thousand songs that make up the great American Popular Songbook. My radio was on all day as I listened to the intelligent music and lyrics of the Porter, Berlin, Arlen, Mercer, Sondheim, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Wilder, Van Husan, Ellingotn, Blake, Bernstein, Waller, Condon, Morton, Carmichael, McHugh, Young, Kahn, Harburg, Livingston, Monk, Johnson, Webb, Strayhorn to name only a few. These songs were sung by artists who have no other venue now that WUKY has dumbed-down. Though I feel strongly that the public radio stations have a duty to protect our American popular song as well at the classical music WEKU presents, I am mostly saddened that those younger than I will not have this music readily available. Listen to one hour of WUKY then give yourself ten minutes. Now name one song your heard, or repeat one lyric, or hum one tune. Very likely it will not be possible and very likely you will feel irratable and headachy. Now listen to one hour of music by any of the composers listed above sung or played by the musicians who used to be featured on WUKY.Wait an hour, a day, even a week; something will have stayed with you and you will feel a better person for the experience.

This will be my last year as a supporter of WUKY. I have turned off the radio during the day, catch the morning and evening news on WEKU and wonder why WUKY decided to change format to play music that is neither interesting, memorable nor lasting.

Perhaps Stacy Yelton at WUKY is simply in denial when it comes to listener response to the new format. When I phoned in my hundred dollar pledge I was asked for comments on the station. As I recall I said something like " I strongly dislike the music now being played by WUKY and am making this pledge to support the news programming and in the hopes that the mindless music being played will be changed." When my name was read over the air a few minutes later my comments were read "he really likes the music."

Tom Johnston
via email

As a student who has been a part of WRFL 88.1 for over 3 years, I have always hoped that someone would write an article about our radio station. We are pleased to be student-operated, and most importantly, we are proud of our diversity. For 12 years, WRFL has brought the community all kinds of music, including bluegrass, jazz, blues, Americana, world, punk, electronica, hip hop, punk, metal, and even experimental noise. These are just some of our block shows! The rest of our shows play almost exclusively independent "college" music, as well as bands that you won't hear anywhere else. We have news read by student volunteers, and we also air the wonderfully conscious Pacifica Network News every single day from 6:00-6:30 PM.

No one "owns" WRFL, and I feel that it is sad that we are name-dropped in the same article where corporate and homogenized radio is being slammed. The article hardly even follows up on two of the four radio stations mentioned, a sure sign that (a.) someone was too lazy to do thorough research, or (b.) Karla Robinson has never listened to WRFL. Here we strive to accomplish exactly what she demands Lexington radio should be, and we are automatically dismissed. Shame on her; Ace's very own Bill Widener has worked at WRFL from the day it first broadcasted. I for one encourage Karla Robinson to listen to WRFL, and experience the broad diversity of our programming.

Claire Buxton
Music Director

Several members of the Ace staff and freelance team are actually WRFL alums. But Robinson's critique focused on WUKY and its recent shift in music programming.

Letters Policy: Ace LOVES to publish our mail (250 words or less please); please include name and daytime phone. No photocopies. No bulk mail. First come, first served. We may edit for space and grammar; we will limit frequency; and, on popular issues, we may print one or two letters to represent a segment of public opinion. Private correspondence should be labeled “NOT FOR PUBLICATION.”

Mail: 486 West Second St , Lexington, Ky 40507



If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, does it make any noise? Hell if we know, but we do know if you don't sign your letter, no one's gonna read it outside of our staff meetings. Usually.

But there are always exceptions.

About half of this week's mail arrived unsigned, or labeled "not for publication." Anonymity precludes us including them in the Letters section, so we're sharing some of them here.

A DJ at WRFL wrote an impassioned defense of their station as an alternative to public radio in rebuttal to last week's In Media Res. He was so eloquent, it seems a shame to waste it, even if we can't attribute it:

"Never acknowledged is Lexington's own independent college station that has spent over 10 years ignoring complaints that it airs nothing but obscure, excessive, unsigned, unpackaged, non-commercialized 'noise.' ... If this community really wanted true commercial-free, raw, diversity (from reggae to heavy metal to punk to bluegrass) they would sit glued to their radios listening to the eccentric grind of WRFL. Few people in this town appreciate their true alternative media source because few want to admit that real diversity in a public station would render it 'unlistenable' to them. Their white bread conceptions of what music should sound like left shattered. Real musical freedom is a thundering, spastic rollercoaster of sound. It is not always pleasant, or happy and least of all settling. Then again, maybe that is why Ms. Robinson does not listen to WRFL. Instead she writes an article about public radio diversity that is about like a Coke vs. Pepsi (WUKY vs. WRVG) taste test. Both bland and non-offensive, but sticky with sugar and sparkling with middle class liberalism. Neither offering anything one cannot hear on a Dtv channel. So who is really 'making the airwaves less diverse?' Those listeners who are content with choosing between NPR and Steeley Dan." He adds a postscript, "I am a WRFL dj. (We do not get paid, it's just about the music). My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the station. (Many of our djs like Coke and Pepsi). If you choose to print this please (for entirely unrelated reasons) print only my first name."

On another topic, a nurse wrote in to protest the insensitivity of Rob Bricken's synopsis of My Dog Skip, which referenced a canine attack. (The description was written when the movie was in its first-run release and certainly was not intended to minimize the tragedies of any actual mauling victims.) She suggests, "Why don't you go up to the waiting room at UK and hang out for a while, and witness some real trajedy and suffering, instead of sitting in a theatre enjoying popcorn and pretending that you are worldly because you see Hollywood violence for a living? You have no idea."

A farmer (who works at "our soon-to-be-great Land Grant university" and fears his "letter would certainly lead to my demise there") wrote to clarify some misconceptions he found in the sidebar to last week's factory farm cover story: "dairy cows, like their beef cousins, are expected to become pregnant once a year, not 'constantly'" and "dairy cows whose udders drag the ground quickly become Big Macs and Whoppers."

The gist of the sidebar was that the animals don't have it very good on factory farms.

He also writes, "As a farmer... I despise the very concept of contract farming. As an environmentalist, I understand that factory farms and air and water pollution are synonymous. As a citizen, I am concerned about the dominance of corporations, especially of the agribusiness variety, over our political, economic, and social agendas. The Kentucky Farm Bureau is only a water boy for agribusiness," but he concludes with, "Finally, many small/medium farmers (the real mainstream) are turned off by the Farm Bureau's blatant corporate sucking-up, but feel that they have nowhere else to turn for representation."

Of course, if this anonymous excerpt does cost him his job, maybe we'll have to put him to work here as an ag columnist.