From: Tom Fine <tflists@BEV

 From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 2:52 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Radio

Hi Karl:

Having higher-brow or just non-mainstream tastes is not elitist, it is a matter of personal interest,education and fulfillment. Imposing those tastes on those who do not share them via subsidized or government-owned broadcasting IS elitist. 

Tastes...I am not sure that is what I suggesting. I am suggesting that the provision of in-depth information is considered, by some, to be elitist. Do you consider publicly funded education to be "elitist" because there are those educators who provide in-depth information using government support? 

My record label is classical and tax exempt. We applied for, and were granted, that status as an educational organization. Should a label devoted to popular music be granted tax exempt status? Why not? We give tax "incentives" to businesses of all sorts, even the government in this country, provides support to the arts and other non-commercial churches. Yet I am not aware of a pop music label having tax exempt status. 

While I am getting off target of this list, I wonder, should my tax dollars be used to provide a tax break to a religion I do not believe in?


If enough people share the high-brow tastes, then there is a market for them and therefore a broadcasting outlet will emerge. Back in the 50s during the "Hi-Fi Golden Age," public taste among adults skewed toward or at least tolerated classical music, so there were many broadcasting and recording ventures centered around it. 

I believe that one could make a strong case for the perspective that it was not so. Your use of the phrase, "high-brow" is for me, curious. Are you suggesting that I am suggesting popular culture is low-brow? I am only suggesting popular culture is "popular," and, if it is to be popular, it must have success in the market place. Yet many see all of the arts to be nothing more than a business...even if the art is not popular. 

I have been hard pressed to find any statistically significant data which suggests that the audience for classical music was significantly higher, per capita, 60 years ago. "The Performing Arts, the Economic Dilemma" by Bowen and Baumol  provides some fascinating data which supports their notion that there was no such thing as an "arts explosion" in the 50s and 60s. 

One can argue as to what was the ultimate motivation for the Toscannini/NBC; Bernard Herrmann/CBS broadcasts, etc. Yet, classical music has rarely made money. So why was it broadcast with such frequency, even by the major networks, earlier in the days of radio? Why did early television offer such fine dramatic programs? Were more people interested in theater in those days? I think not.

Tastes have changed since then, so we have many broadcasting and recording ventured centered around rap/hip-hop, what is called "country" today (Nashville Pop to some of us) and what is called "R&B" today (nothing like classic Aretha or Bobby Blue Bland). These are not my cup of tea, but I do not feel at all compelled to "educate" those fans or impose my own tastes on them. To do that would be elitist! I do feel free to advocate for my favorite artists and to argue about music, vehemently but in a civilized manner, at any opportunity.


I just happen to be of the perspective that the media has a responsibility to educate...just as our schools have the same responsibility. For me, a society based totally on bean counting will not be doing the best for its population. I believe that if you have access to the pulpit, you have a responsibility to the congregation...

Popular tastes that I don't care for are imposed on me every day. In doing so, is society being elitist in its own way? By definition, "elitist" is marked by a sense of superiority...and that can be financial superiority.

Do we, as a society, have a responsibility to educate? If so, is the classroom the only appropriate venue?