Thursday, December 19, 2002
BARBARA SMYTHE, who hosted KAZU''s Saturday afternoon "OPERA SHOW" for 14 years, made her fans'' case last month at a board meeting of the FOUNDATION OF CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY-MONTEREY BAY, which acquired the station in 2001. Not only is it a university''s responsibility to encourage cultural diversity, she told the board, but KAZU''s argument that the program change reflected what local audiences want and will support doesn''t hold water.
"The ''Opera Show'' brought in more money per hour than any other show," she states. Indeed, the figures from KAZU''s fall 2001 pledge drive-the last drive before the format change-bear her out: The "Opera Show" netted $7,567 in pledges, 8.2 percent of the total $66,000 raised. The only KAZU show that raised more pledge money was the five-day-a-week "ROADSIDE CAFE" (also cancelled), which brought in $15,410 that fall.
"The Met costs nothing to broadcast," Smythe adds. "The concerts are completely underwritten by Chevron."
Pebble Beach resident SHIRLEY LOOMIS was one of the opera-loving letter writers. She and her husband are "longtime KAZU supporters and opera buffs," she says, and they can''t understand why a state university would stop carrying opera. "Cal State in Sacramento is licensed to carry the Met and they do. CSUMB has chosen not to, and that''s a shame. I only listened to KAZU for the Met."
CSUMB Associate Vice-President for Community Relations STEPHEN REED says the board "had always intended to take another look at the programming in about a year-the entire format, not opera specifically." He reiterates the litany CSUMB and KAZU have been giving out since the ax fell last June: "We made a format change based on audience preferences." And, he continues, the Met''s producers aren''t cooperative. Opera concerts take place live at the Met in New York on Friday evenings, but West Coast stations only receive the broadcast Saturday afternoon, and are forced to air it then. "In the middle of the day, a five-hour opera is more than what most listeners want."
Oh, yeah? Just ask Shirley.