One late autumn afternoon in 1987 I walked into the basement of Upsala College’s Froeberg Hall, where TKF was doing his radio show on WFMU. He was positively giddy with schadenfraude: the stock market was down, was crashing, was destroyed! It struck me as curious, like, why should we care? Nobody we knew had enough money to invest in stock. In fact, a lot of FMU’s DJs in those days had to carefully consider whether or not they could afford the $10 or so that it cost each week to go round-trip to the station in East Orange. Like, could they really afford to do a show? Plus, this was in the days before the Internet, so I’m not sure how TKF was even following the story. Was someone phoning him with updates? Did he have a little radio in the studio so he could listen to the news? Was he just making it up, and somehow projecting his thoughts into reality via mystical DJ powers?
Today the entire economy is collapsing again, but this time we have the Internet so there’s the happy prospect of watching rich people blog about how dreadful it is to be forced to give up their vacation homes and chauffeured Rolls Royce autos. And I am not making that up. Good old Gawker has been documenting the trend under the general heading THE POORS. My favorite so far has been formerly rich magazine editor Alexandra Penney, who is now writing on Daily Beast about the terrible, terrible trials of adjusting to her new economic status. And she has a book deal to tell you all about it, too!
Now, as in 1987, as in forever, the underemployed show-offs who present their shows on WFMU do not get paid by the station. The station itself doesn’t get paid by anyone—it’s completely Listener-supported. And now, as always, WFMU runs one annual on-air fund-raising marathon to raise the money it needs to stagger through another year. But this year there are some extra problems—we need to move our transmitter, the tenant in our building has quit paying rent, and so on. (Station Manager Ken explained it all on a show last Saturday that you can hear archived here.) And of course this year’s economy isn’t making it any easier for us. But I like to look on the bright side: Our beloved Listeners, our Poors, mostly still have their crappy, underpaid jobs. They didn’t have that much to lose, so that means they can give just as much as they always managed to scrape together to keep FMU around. Some formerly rich guy may have to sacrifice membership in his private club, but YOU don’t have to give up a thing: You can have just as much WFMU as ever. All you gotta do is pledge.
Thanks for reading my blogpost this time, and may God bless WFMU.