Notes From All Over

BIO – No, I’m posting no new autobiographical snippets today, just my status report. Some time ago I read a comment posted by my friend Richard Wanderman on his own blog, to the effect that writing a blog post isn’t the same as going down to the corner local pub to hoot and holler with like-minded, fist-pounding patrons. To that I might add: writing a book isn’t the same as writing a blog post.

For one thing, I had no idea how big my draft was becoming. I’ve never written a book. When I finally created representative draft content for my whole six-decades-plus¬† autobiographical life span, I started doing what I hoped were some standard metrics to figure out my page count. I’d read many citations that authors don’ t want to exceed 200-250 pages if they’re anticipating the e-book publishing route. I found that paperbacks weigh in at around 325 words per page, hardbacks around 350, and publishers use a standard 250 word page length to allow for white space and, presumably, for photos and illustrations. Was I surprised to find my draft weighing in around the low 500 page range – horrors!

Secondly, blog entries like this one are generally written and posted in under an hour, or a few hours at most. From post to post, readers invariably encounter variations in style, relevance, interest level and raw writing skill. That’s even less acceptable when reading a book! Within one or two boring or badly written paragraphs in a book, most of us bail. I’m re-writing and chopping my book draft, paragraph by paragraph. I’ll confess, it’s tough. My book, “Afraid of Changing”, is up to its seventh major rewrite and 68th serial update.

My editing formula is simple. If my own single sentence or paragraph begins to bore me after ten re-readings, I need to either delete it, or figure out why it’s relevant and find a fresh approach that shows you why it’s relevant and interesting too.

MUSIC STREAMING – In January I wrote about the sad demise of our Bay Area’s last classical radio station, KDFC. They went to an NPR format and a low-power transmitter that doesn’t even reach the South Bay. KDFC does stream ad-free music over your broadband connection. If you’re tired of commercial broadcasting advertisements insulting your intelligence and eardrums with obnoxious ads, you can find your own kind of music streamed to your Mac or PC whether it’s hip-hop, classical rock, classical classical, jazz, or traditional and big-band jazz.

Unfortunately for KDFC, they went from being a big frog in a Bay-sized pond to a little frog in a huge digital pond. I prefer classical station KBAQ out of Phoenix (either streamed or on FM), but I’ve also bookmarked WFMT (Chicago) and KUAT (Tucson). There’s a great classical jazz station in Paris, France … but right now I’m listening to “Classical Jazz –” for early Dixieland and 40’s style tunes … Who’s Sorry Now?

Assuming you do love music and do have broadband, I’d suggest you download Apple iTunes to your Mac or PC today if you didn’t already do that years ago. Even if you never load a single favorite CD into your iTunes – and how could you NOT do that? –¬† the Radio icon in the menu bar gives you far better access to American and international radio than your table radio or even that $900 FM tuner.



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New KDFC FM Format – Kudos!

Bay Area classical radio station KDFC has migrated from ad-supported commercial radio to listener supported public radio. The broadcast format is now pure classical, with no ads (grating or otherwise).

There are some frequency changes coming as well, effective Monday Jan 24. South Bay listeners at first may get weak signals or none at all. I plan to stream the broadcast from the internet. For more information on this major change, see the KDFC Changes statement on their website.

In part, the announcement states:

KDFC is the last major commercial classical station in America to make the transition to public radio. This move ensures that classical radio is sustainable for our community into the future.

Having been so publicly critical of this station in the past, I am delighted at the new format, and wanted to share this update with classical music fans who had not yet heard.

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“Now I’m in the BATHROOM”

This is the Chase radio ad that shouts at you: “NOW I’M IN THE BATHROOM”. The ad boosts Chase’s new smart-phone check bank-deposit service. Chase, a 2009 recipient of $25 billion in TARP funds, needs to peddle a LOT of checking accounts to pay for their $138 million plan to buy two new luxury jets and a new hangar.

I, for one, am not now in the Chase bathroom. Courtesy of iTunes music streaming, I’m listening to classical FM radio station KBAQ in Arizona, on my PC.

KBAQ is an NPR station affiliated with Arizona State University, Rio Salado College and Maricopa Community Colleges. As far as I know, it’s the only classical station in the Phoenix area. Advertising consists of community announcements and sponsor info for the programming segments. The classical music selection is interesting, diverse and non-repetitive. You can leave KBAQ on all day and never become bored or irritated. It’s a 24-7 delight.

Around San Francisco, we also have just one classical FM station, KDFC. It bills itself as the Bay Area’s classical “Island of Sanity”. The announcers have a friendly, generally relaxing and low-key delivery, they’ve been around for years, and they’re nice people.

Unfortunately, KDFC was bought out a couple of years ago, or otherwise suffered a radical management change. The subtext was PROFIT. Management started selling more advertising content, and that wasn’t “highbrow” any longer. It was cheap and sleazy, and “the Chase ad” is far from the only ad that shatters the relaxed listening experience.

I can just hear KDFC management telling the staff, we need to reach out to a younger, broader advertising base. You need to broaden programming to attract people who may not even care for your classical music.

For some reason, KDFC also gets a lot of bank and credit service ads that read legal “fine print” like an old 33-1/3 rpm record played at 78 speed.

Now we know why we really NEED an”island of sanity”: to recover our composure before the next round of grating, irritating, distractingly inane ads that will overload the senses again and again. KDFC ads can rattle the aggregate out of a concrete freeway overpass.

KDFC has a predictable repertoire of “standard” classical, including much Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Mendelssohn. This is “elevator music” for the classical crowd. A lot of it is still very nice, but wears thin quickly when you realize the day’s programming sounds like an endless-loop tape. If I hear another Beethoven’s 5th or Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture excerpt, I think I might just be sick.

I used to discover a lot of great new music and obscure old favorites on KDFC: Guiliani, Tallis Singers, and Schubert (to name just a few). What KDFC has done now is to substitute classical diversity with movie and television sound tracks. Harry Potter and Star Wars theme songs are insipid at best. Like the Chase ad, they have their own way of detracting from the classical listening experience.

Gotta go; another CHASE ad!

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