Sunday, December 20, 2009

Redeux News: WDET Dropping Matt Watroba's "Folks Like Us"

Starting with Judy Adams a few years ago, WDET continues to drop the extraordinary "only on 'DET" shows that made WDET a Detroit institution. Then they wonder why their pledges are WAY down. John Penny, Robert Jones, etc.,...going, going, gone.

"Folks Like Us" and "The Arkansas Traveler" weren't exactly MY cup of tea, but I really enjoyed the diversity of WDET and its prior commitment to being a "different" kind of radio station for Detroit.

The "numbers" of a particular show are not supposed to matter so much for a local public broadcasting station, because it is supported by its listeners. But what happens when the public broadcasting station deletes the shows the listeners are willing to pay for with their contributions?

Another "public-supported" station going corporate...why am I not surprised?

Here's an email from Matt--his final show is today from 4-7 pm.

From: Matt Watroba>
> Date: December 19, 2009 10:45:49 AM GMT-05:00
> To:>
> Cc:>
> Subject: Folks Like Us News
> Happy Holidays to all!
> Please tune in on Sunday, December 20th from 4PM--7 to what will be the last Folks Like Us program to be broadcast on WDET. That’s right. After 23 years on the station, the new management has decided that roots music programming is no longer relevant to the audience they are interested in attracting or maintaining. They dropped me, the Arkansas Traveler, And Robert Jones in an attempt to make their music mix “more contemporary” (sound familiar anyone?). I must be honest and say, as both a host and a life-long listener, I feel the switch to a news format (a few years ago) and these recent changes will most likely ruin what was once a self-sufficient, cultural jewel in our struggling city. What they might tell you (if you are one of the few to get a response from them) is that the roots programming just didn’t have the numbers. Please keep in mind the methodic way in which all this happened. When Mikel Ellcessor, the new station manager, came in about one year ago, he moved Folks Like Us and The Arkansas Traveler to the least listened to time slot in radio—Sunday evenings. He did this without ever mentioning the changes in a single e-newsletter or on-air promotion to our audience. After two pledge drives—what a surprise—the numbers went down. If you get a chance, be sure to ask him how the numbers were before the un-ceremonial shifting of time-slots. Now, the most important truth:
> Serving this audience for over 23 years as host of the Folks Like Us Program has been one of the absolute privileges of my rich and wonderful life. Sharing this truly essential music with you over the years has, in many ways, made me what I am. Words will never be able to adequately express the gratitude I have for you—the listener who has allowed me the gift of enriching my own life through—hopefully--enriching yours. I need you to know that I consider this a minor set-back. I am not giving up my quest to share this music with as many people as possible. While we discover and create other ways to do this, please keep checking the show’s website, We will continue to keep you updated on roots music events in the area and what is happening with the future of the program. If you have any influence with other media outlets that would love to welcome thousands of loyal, supportive listeners to their fold, this would be the time to talk to them. If you want to let WDET know how you feel, you may contact them through, but keep in mind that these changes were also fueled by the folks at Wayne State University who hired them.
> Please tune in on Sunday for a celebration of 23 years on Detroit Public Radio!
> With love and gratitude,
> Matt Watroba

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