The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CI, No. 4April, 2001


To the Editor:

I read with interest Ethan Fein’s letter regarding PBS not giving credit listings to side musicians on their musical programs. I have always been disappointed by a similar lack of consideration on the part of the film industry. Typically, the composer, conductor and “name” soloists will appear on the film credits, but almost never are the orchestra members mentioned. These long credit lists will very often include the caterers for the set and limo services for the actors – but the many musicians whose work lends so much character and emotion to the film are apparently not as important!

–Raphael Klayman


To the editor:

Having read the recent “Member to Member” article concerning WBAI (see February Allegro), I feel compelled to comment. I have never listened to this station, as I live outside the NYC listening area, so I am not qualified to judge the merits of their programming.

However, as a working musician and longtime member of 802 who happens to hold many of the conservative values of the new Bush administration, I was a bit startled to discover that I am (or at least support those who are) a “slimy crypto-fascist.”

Talk about hate speech! I would suggest that such reckless use of language tells us more about the author than it does about the strength of his argument.

–Werner Lutz

Tim Ouimette responds:

Thank you for being interested enough to respond to my article. However, I find it curious that the right and their supporters are so offended by any pejorative term, in light of their history of scapegoating the poor and minorities since time immemorial.

Not only is it “business as usual” to use hateful images and words to keep many hard-working people at each other’s throats over what “trickles down,” but this is what the right considers to be the formula for winning elections. “Hate speech,” indeed! Did you object this strenuously when George Bush (daddy) ran his Willie Horton ads? How about when Giuliani slandered Patrick Dorismond, releasing sealed juvenile records of an honest working man shot by the police, with the clear implication that it was drug-related, the victim was Black, and the public could draw its own conclusions.

Bush and his cronies are slimy because they never just come out and say it – “We hate working people, so don’t expect a minimum wage increase, safety regulations on the job, or anything to do with dignity for workers.” (In this political climate, even the term “workers” sounds socialist.) And they are crypto fascists because they are actually real fascists working under the “disadvantage” of the United States Constitution.


To the editor:

Tim Ouimette is speaking the truth when he points out that the undermining of independent radio is bad for musicians. On Sept. 12, 1999, the Eureka [California] Times-Standard reported that the “Hosts of a Spanish language program on KHSU-FM radio are refusing to go on the air because they have been barred from speaking Spanish unless they are talking about music.” As one of the hosts at that time, I became increasingly aware that Spanish speaking immigrants, and their concerns, were not welcome at this National Public Radio affiliate.

KHSU, which makes the odd claim that it is “diverse radio for the Northcoast,” receives major funding from a small group of local businesses and arts organizations as well as the international corporations that fund NPR. Moderately left leaning opinions are sometimes heard here, but nothing that seems likely to offend one of the groups named above.

One bad consequence of these policies is that it is impossible for a professional music scene to exist here. Like other working people, musicians are ignored at KHSU. Venues that use live music (we can’t say hire as they are rarely paid and never given benefits) contribute regularly to the station. The Humboldt Arts Council, for example, once actually offered me a door gig and then wanted the first fifty dollars! They were appalled when I suggested that organizations receiving government and corporate funding should pay union scale.

None of these issues are about to be brought up on KHSU. Meanwhile, Black and Latino musicians are, of course, always welcome on KHSU – on disc. I am not aware of any non-white programmers or on-air hosts employed at the station.

After many phone calls, letters and editorials in the local papers, the recalcitrant NPR affiliate did finally allow us back on the air, Mexicans and all. A fairly mild version of the show still exists as their one segment of non-English programming. I can’t imagine that the elimination of real alternatives will improve this broadcast situation.

–Marco Katz