Monday, May 24, 2010
Valley leftist crusader Bill Dwight (above) is back in business, or in the pod to be precise. He is now creating podcasts at various intervals as the latest evolution of The Bill Dwight Show after he and producer Jaz Tupelo ended up no longer employed by local radio station WHMP. What happened? According to the program's Facebook page:
Bill was told by Chris Collins, the station's program director, that Michael Kusek, an area publicist, was no longer allowed on the show because one of the businesses he represented was no longer airing ads with the station's FM affiliate, 96.9 The River.
Shortly after, Dwight said he was told by Sean O'Mealy, the station's general manager, that "either Michael is off the show or 'The Bill Dwight Show' is finished." WHMP maintains Bill's decision to leave was voluntary. However, one indicator that this was not truly voluntary, his fine producer, Jaz Tupelo, has been fired as well.
Not surprisingly WHMP has a different perspective on what went down, as they explained in the following statement:
Like any other business, we set up some rules that we think are important for our employees to follow. We try very hard not to be too bureaucratic especially in an entertainment based business in which creativity is valued. We have many long-time employees who have carved out their own identity following some simple guidelines. For his own reasons Bill became uncomfortable with those guidelines and chose to leave WHMP. He was not asked to leave and in fact, we were not expecting for this to be significant issue - it certainly hasn’t been for our other staff members.
More details surfaced in a message Chris Collins (above) wrote to Dwight fan Susan Apgar:
Bill wanted complete autonomy to book his own guests on the show. That autonomy doesn't exist in our company, and pretty much every other radio company in the world, if the truth be told. Bill was not willing to adhere to our mandate regarding editorial control, and there was NO WAY we were going to cede that control to anyone, least of all a part-time host, popularity notwithstanding.
You should also know that I did cut Bill a wide berth during his tenure, and allowed him to book a wide range and variety of guests, yourself included, and 99.9 percent of the time, I had no problem with the people he had in. This time, I did have a problem, and that's what led to this impasse, and his eventual departure.
You can feel free to classify us as the "bad guys" if you choose, but I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who has had a boss or has been a boss is going to very much understand and appreciate our position.
The bottom line is, in the "real world," even in radio, you don't get to have everything your way, and, at the end of the day, that's what this was really all about.
The switch to a podcast will give Dwight all the creative control he wants, but also has certain drawbacks. Eventually all of what we now call "radio" will be some form of podcast, but that day ain't now. Traditional broadcast radio still has the advantage of being freely available over the air to nearly all the population, while podcasts still have a limited, tech-savvy audience that makes it hard to draw the numbers necessary to sell advertising. Soon that won't be a barrier, when digital becomes the only medium, but at present most successful podcasts are primarily supplements to programs that are also available on the airwaves. That doesn't mean Dwight can't succeed, but it does mean he has to show persistence, patience and a knack for economics not common among liberals.
Having knocked around the Valley radio scene myself, I wrote on Dwight's Facebook page the following appraisal of the radio profession:
As the former host of several versions of The Tommy Devine Show I can testify that radio is a ruthless, bullshit business where you can find yourself off the air at any time and for any reason or for no reason at all. The pay generally sucks, the management is reptilian and the gratitude level is zero, but if you fall in love with the medium you'll put up with it.
Personally I like Bill Dwight, WHMP, Jaz Tupelo, The River, Chris Collins and everybody else involved, and I'm sure I speak for many fans when I say that I just wish all this drama would go away.
Artist/designer Jon Sendelbach recently completed a beautiful metal townscape of Amherst for display in Raos Coffeeshop.
Pretty neat, eh? It shows from the right, Grace Church(on the Amherst Common), the Octagon (Amherst College), Amherst Town Hall, Johnson Chapel (Amherst College), Old Chapel (UMass) and Emily Dickinson's house.
Montague Bookmill by Greg Saulmon.
Locally harvested maple syrup at the Northampton Farmer's Market. Only 52 bucks a gallon!
Flowers in a mug at the Haymarket Cafe.
The first rays of the rising sun strike my neighbor's flag.
Grateful Dead bear shirt for sale in Hamp.
I like these little Smart cars, or "Smarties" as they're affectionately called.
Interesting paint job.