I am unimpressed with your exposé on Radio One ["Hip-Hopcrisy," August 28]. I've worked in radio for over 15 years, mainly in black radio, including at 93.1 WZAK. Payola has been around for decades. The industry is corrupt. Demonstrate to me that Radio One is any different from other radio giants.
As for wages, there's salary disparity in corporate radio, big time. If studio technicians aren't getting measly wages at other radio stations, then they are working long and ungodly hours. People are so desperate to be affiliated with a radio station that they'll accept a position knowing that it pays minimum wage, thinking that they'll rub elbows with the stars and get free concert tickets. And management banks on folks accepting those positions on a part-time basis. Again, show me that the pastures are greener and cleaner elsewhere.
As for your sources, no disrespect to Dale Edwards, but show me a disgruntled former employee who isn't ready to slam his old boss. Maybe Cathy Hughes shouldn't talk the talk if she's not willing to walk the walk in terms of serving the black community, but Radio One does community service because it wants to, not because it's required by law.
The FCC knows what radio station owners, employees, and indie reps/promoters are doing. The stations know how to get around the illegal parts. My advice to those trying to get airplay is to create your own Internet radio station. You can get around licensing fees by playing original music and providing original content. Stop bitchin', stop listening, and stop pointing the finger.
Radio One responds:
I am responding to the article "Hip-Hopcrisy" by Thomas Francis. Certainly, Radio One does not agree with the article's depiction of the company, especially its central allegation that the company operates in violation of the laws forbidding payola. Rather than catalog the litany of errors in your article, I write to ask that in future articles you may publish about our company, you take a more careful approach to fact-finding, including to the motivation and accuracy of your sources.
First, Radio One complies with all applicable laws, including those relating to payola and plugola. This policy is clearly communicated to personnel at each of Radio One's stations and is strictly enforced. Earlier this year, Radio One launched an initiative to reeducate its employees to ensure compliance with these laws and all company policies.
Second, Dale Edwards, upon whom your article heavily relies, was responsible for WJMO's operations when Radio One purchased that station in August 2000. Radio One communicated its policies and practices to him on numerous occasions, and asked him to bring his operation into compliance. Mr. Edwards resisted and ultimately refused to abide by the rules. After a failed attempt by Mr. Edwards to purchase WJMO and WERE from Radio One, Mr. Edwards and Radio One parted company. As you know, Mr. Edwards now owns a station that is in direct competition with Radio One's stations. Mr. Edwards's station employs several former Radio One employees, including his daughter and Willie Adams, all of whom would share a competitor's motivation to misrepresent the facts. We respectfully request that you consider the obvious bias among competitors that exists in all industries and observe journalistic integrity.
Third, the issues raised in your article, about payola in certain segments of the radio industry, are certainly important ones. We think that an objective review of Radio One demonstrates that we're committed to achieving success only through lawful and legitimate practices. We will be monitoring your publication to ensure that any subsequent articles are accurate and fair.
Alfred C. Liggins
President, Radio One
Don't shed a tear for the majors:
What a joke. The record industry isn't losing any revenue at all with its BS story of people downloading ["Do the Math," August 28]. You can't release garbage noise with someone screaming obscene Dr. Seuss poems over it, packaged with photos of "The Most Grotesque Humanoid on Planet Earth Contest," and expect to make the money that used to be made when actual music was being released. Sorry, that story don't flush. Because its sales are in the same sewer as the crap it's releasing, the industry is trying to say it's losing money. There aren't any sales because there is nothing worth buying.
Why the Play House is clueless:
Thank you for Kathryn DeLong's wonderful article on the Cleveland Play House ["Season of Discontent," September 4]. I have long been disappointed in their artistic product and at a loss to understand why such a richly endowed institution, one with such tremendous resources (four theaters, huge costume shop, restaurant, etc.), can consistently put out such mediocrity year after year.
If they ever had a heyday, it was before I moved to Cleveland in 1994. We subscribed for a couple of seasons, but were greatly let down. Much was promised, and little was delivered -- and at a very high price. Some notable bombs include the horrible musical Elliot Ness in Cleveland, which featured dancing body parts, and a dreadful version of Strindberg's A Dream Play that would have been an embarrassment to the most pathetic college theater.
Since the restaurant inside the building is a members-only club, there is absolutely nowhere to eat before the show, unless you rush to an eatery in Cleveland Heights and pay a second time for parking. (Parking in the Play House's own lot is a tidy $7.50 a pop.) And after the show, theatergoers rush quickly away from a depressing building that lacks any after-performance bar or eatery.
Add to all that an artistic director who thinks that On Golden Pond is a play of equal importance to Death of a Salesman, and you scarcely need to add anything else. Clearly, the entire artistic management team is clueless, about both their product and the interests of the Cleveland theatergoing public.
Ellen B. Hersch
PS: I think you are incorrect about the play Love, Janis having its premiere at the Play House. It was one of the few enjoyable experiences we have had there; however, my souvenir program clearly states that the play premiered at the Denver Center Theatre and was later produced in Joplin's hometown of Austin, Texas.
It's time to go after Wal-Mart:
Martin Kuzs story [The Wal-Mart Menace, September 4] did not touch on some important points. Where are the states attorneys general, or the U.S. attorney general, [who should be] confronting the corporate criminal that Wal-Mart appears to be? And where is the major media attention to abuses by Wal-Mart? Through its advertising budget, Wal-Mart may own the major media. What is called for is a citizens arrest of this apparently criminal corporation. This citizen will never shop at Wal-Mart again.
Derf earned his paycheck:
Congrats to Derf for once again nailing a great point in his September 4 strip. I've been 9-11 ballpeen-hammered into cerebral oblivion by the bastards on eBay who tried selling WTC items the same day the towers fell, to the local car dealer who implied, "This is a time for heroes. Buy cars now." It's hard to distinguish the genuinely hurt from the profiteers.
Every 9-11 program on national TV eventually directs viewers to commercials. It remains a business. I haven't heard of any big ad firms donating big profits to relief efforts. Agency heads must work hard for those six-figure salaries. Surviving firefighters face a lifetime of respiratory illness from inhaling dust from the collapse. Anytime I see the yellow boot collecting money, they're the first to get mine. On his worst day, Derf is at least worthy of my attention. Since Max Cannon can only be bothered to draw one frame, can he give the other two to Derf?