Saturday, February 19, 2005

I was recently out to dinner with a musician friend and the talk came around to the level of musical and general cultural awareness of people nowadays. My maintenance is that many in his generation didn't have the patience or desire tolearn to appreciate classical music, and, rather than just say that they didn't care for it, labelled it as "establishment" or "elitist." This has had an effect, I think, on how music has been taught in schools, on how much less classical music has been incorporated into popular culture, etc. He answered that generally if someone used the term "elitist" to describe something, they didn't merit his attention. If I were to follow my friend's lead, I'd be ignoring this post. The notion that a type of programming should be given less consideration because it doesn't fit in with one's personal tastes is one thing, as everyone has their preferences and probably feels this way about something. The notion that it's more than merely personal preferences, that it's the choice of a caricatured elite group (wealthy older people who can afford to buy the CDs anyway) is just laughable if it weren't so sad. One can argue that, as a group, NPR listeners are "no doubt the more affluent folks who are perfectly capable of purchasing all all the easily available classical music (substitute jazz, blues, bluegrass...journals and cable stations to provide constant news coverage) they want ..."

She goes on to say that "If poor, minority, or marginalized persons were big fans of classical music, I might think about this differently. But the audience for classical music does not deserve special favors."

Well, perhaps if it were classical music by poor, minority or the marginalized composers it would be alright? I don't quite understand this. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that given what station she's holding in life, she's probably not got her finger on the pulse of the tastes of the "poor, minority, marginalized." Beyond that, though, with what authority does she get to decide which audiences deserve "special favors" with regards to public radio programming (or anything else for that matter)?

Perhaps it is because I live in Boston where we have both an NPR station devoted to talk and a station devoted to music that I can see the importance of having a good balance of non commercial programming. I don't care for all the programming, but I'm not going to bedgrudge others a chance to listen to what I don't care for out of some misguided sense of (false) populism.

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