These letters are in response to both Sam D’Arcangelo’s web post “WWOZ: A Way Forward?” and Jan Ramsey’s blog post “WWOZ, Where Does It End?” reporting on the resignation of WWOZ Program Director Dwayne Breashears and the publication of WWOZ Membership Director Dimitri Apessos’ open letter: A Way Forward for WWOZ.
This is a metamorphosis caused by the General Manager who has lost touch with the unique soul of WWOZ and its funky music. The problem has become systemic. The best hearts and minds of WWOZ have left over the last year—six of the finest paid staff have gone in addition to some special volunteers and deejays. I predict more of the excellent long time staffers will also be leaving.
The General Manager’s new staff hires are normally out of area and fail to understand WWOZ’s special mission. WWOZ is being morphed into an unrecognizable entity that is beginning to sound like so many other radio stations.
— David “Jelly Roll Justice” Averbuck, Monte Rio, California and New Orleans, Louisiana
Although I have not been involved with the station in many years, except to give money and play on the air, it seems to me that you [Jan Ramsey] and Dimitri [Apessos] have it right. A few years ago I helped with development. Looking back, it seems to me that David [Freedman] had an agenda other than the mission of the station.
In ’86, I was the Chairman of the Board. Walter [Brock] was ready to move on and the station was on a weak financial footing. The transfer of the license made a lot of sense, and still should make sense since the missions of the station and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation are identical. Another problem that the Board has is that people seem to stay on forever. Most good non-profits have new people coming on every year or two. Fresh blood heals.
One minor point: When we transferred the license, Jerry [Brock] was mostly out of the picture. The real visionary (for the idea of the transfer) was a guy named Ken Devine, who donated engineering time to keep the station on the air.
— Robert Eustis, New Orleans, Louisiana
I just cut my monthly, recurring donation back to the $6, most basic level because I’m not working. I didn’t cancel it, mind you, just “renewed” down forgoing a thank you gift because I believe ’OZ is important to New Orleans and an important part of my life. I’m going to seriously reconsider whether I should be a donor at all at this point. I understand the station may have a growing number of remote listeners. I was one once myself, going so far as to rig an old laptop with a modem and line switch and hijacking the fax machine line to get around a firewall at one point while I lived away. Such listeners are not, however, the core. New Orleans is the core and should remain the focus of programming and the source of staff. Bringing in out-of-town hired guns at this point in the sensitive in-migration situation is like dissing Ernie K-Doe on air: inconceivably stupid.
— Mark Folse, New Orleans, Louisiana
I have been listening to WWOZ since it first came into existence over 30 years ago and online since the 1980s. WWOZ has had an obvious problem with recruiting non-white deejays. The loss of Bob French and K Balewa opened the door for young African American deejays or musicians from the New Orleans jazz community to be blended in the time slots, and once again we get the same old homogenized young white deejays to replace these icons. I believe that someone involved in the traditional jazz community would have more to offer than the transplants and neophytes that saturate the time slots.
At first I thought this was an incidental oversight, but the replacement of K Balewa and Bob French with weak naive announcers with scant playings of New Orleans musicians is unnerving. I shall reserve my donations until things improve at WWOZ.
—Dr. Oliver W. Crawford, Jr., Ozark, Alabama
OffBeat welcomes letters from its readers—both comments and criticisms. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and contain the current address and phone number of the writer. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for length or content deemed objectionable to OffBeat readers. Please send letters to Editor, OffBeat Publications, 421 Frenchmen St., Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70116.