Monday, August 12, 2013

The Passing of a Folk Hero

It's no secret that I'm a die-hard music fan; it soothes my savage soul, so to speak.  Since before we moved to Kent, I've enjoyed the musical contributions made to Ohio airwaves by WKSU, the National Public Radio station run by Kent State University.  For over 30 years, the station has brought folk, classical, and news to Northeast Ohio and farther if you had a good antenna.  They've also helped to host the annual Kent State Folk Festival, and more recently spawned Folk Alley- a 24/7 streaming online all-folk station.  Folk Alley has since made the switch to not just internet, but having an HD channel of its own as well.  While at this point in time classical music is a bit easier to find on the dial, stations that play both older and current folk hits are few and far between, and classical is slipping away slowly but steadily.  It's within this atmosphere of radio-wave homogenization and declining cultural arts investment, that I reflect with a heavy heart on the station changes at WKSU. 

New management to any organization invariably brings some changes.  That's no surprise, and everyone expected that having a new station manager would bring some new ways of doing things and maybe some differences to the old line-up.  I don't know that anyone was expecting quite the wholesale re-ordering that we've experienced.  And I definitely didn't expect the dismissive tone to any opposition to the new format.  Obviously, there are great places like Ear to the Ground Music (from the Shameless Self Promotion department) to find new folk tunes, but typically speaking surfing on the radio is where we are first introduced to new music.  Searching the internet to find something requires that a certain level of interest is already there, and that takes away a particular serendipity. 

There's a certain irony in all this.  Folk music- by its very name, music for the masses- moving off of the standard radio format, currently analog, onto the newer less common radio format which requires additional equipment for most people.  This move is taking folk away from us regular folks, and the same with classical music.  Sure, there are a couple of hours on the weekend, but not like what Kent and the other WKSU listeners are used to.  This, alongside the recent downtown redevelopment with expensive high end shops, and the loss of community green space, has me very much disliking gentrification in my neck of the woods.  You can hear the inequality growing.  But that's what our city council has decided needs to happen, so that's what's going to happen.  Maybe November's off-year elections will be more interesting than I had expected.

On the bright side, us little folks are working together and getting some cool stuff done on our own terms, like the new Edible Kent endeavor and pARTy and Snack-nic outdoor art extravaganza to help replace our community green space.

No comments:

Post a Comment