music and politics on radio

Laurence Glavin
Sun Sep 19 15:39:09 EDT 2004

>From: Donna Halper <>
>Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 15:13:09 -0400
>To: Garrett Wollman <>
>Subject: RE: music and politics on radio

> >Garrett wrote--
> >I do not think it is smart for music-oriented radio stations to pay
> >much attention to the political views of musicians.  If station
> >ownership does not support those views, the best way to call attention
> >to them is to make an issue of it in the playlist.  Doing so may
> >satisfy some foamers, but (particularly if it is reported in local
> >media) may also offend many previously satisfied listeners.  It's not
> >worth the risk.  Better to keep political statements in the political
> >arena. 
> But aren't some formats, such as country and album rock, often very 
> political?  I recall from my days in AOR that we often played anti-war 
> songs during the Viet Nam era.  It was very common at the majority of album 
> rockers to do so.  And if I had worked at a country station back then, I 
> would have expected to play patriotic songs, because those were the 
> hits.  But I am not sure owners or programmers should make that decision 
> for their listeners-- aren't listeners capable of accepting or rejecting a 
> song, even if it has a controversial message?    
Another country heard from...there has been a bit of a trend in recent
years for new operas to be based on recent events that have 
political overtones.  The best-known examples have been works
by the living (I know because I met him last March) American composer
John Adams.  He has written operas entitled "Nixon in China" (performed
last season in Boston) and "The Death of Klinghoffer", based on the 
Achille Lauro massacre (NOT performed in Boston yet.)
He is now working on an opera based on the World War II Manhattan
Project that developed the atomic bomb.  Another new opera
called "The Handmaid's Tale" by contemporary Canadian
composer Puol Ruden (yes Poul, not Paul) deals with a future dystopian 
USA led by a fundamentalist President who rides roughshod over
his opposition.  Opera companies are in fact willing to
produce such works in order to appear more "relevant" and they 
have done surprisingly well at the box office.
"Nixon" and "Klinghoffer" have been recorded and some
principally public radio stations have played them.  If 'W'
is elected in his own right, don't be surprised if
some American company performs "The Handmaids' Tale"  just to 
stir things up.  (If it's in Boston, I wonder if
Joyce Kulhawick will breathlessly cover it?).

Find what you are looking for with the Lycos Yellow Pages

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list