Friday, May 7, 2010

Globe puff piece produces interesting reader comments

Meg Griffin, walking one of her horses at Kittery Crossing Farm in Rowley. (Jim Wilson/Globe Staff)

A recent Boston Globe "puff piece" about WUMB's newest "on air personality" has produced some very interesting and I am sure unanticipated reader comments (read the PR backfired) about the station's programming, policies and management. I attribute the volume and intensity to pent-up feelings by the dispossessed former fans of the former folk station due to lack of the Globe's lack of coverage ...

The departures of Brian Quinn and, more recently, Barnes Newberry from WUMB certainly ARE newsworthy, but somehow got not a whisper of mention even on the stations' own web site, let alone in the local media. Not a word! That's simply amazing, since these are losses whose magnitude defies description by (or to) anyone with a real knowledge of folk music since the sixties.

...of WUMB's transformation into a AAA station.

In a nutshell, "WUMB: get back to quality folk music AND quality on-air FOLK."

Select reader comments (see article for all).

jayfin wrote:
One tires of these puff pieces. Why not some info about ratings, about how a team player broadcasts from her house not the studio, how about most people do not care about the DJ - it's the music that matters. I admit I do not listen, not a night time radio listener, but I did find the World Cafe a bit cloying and artificial. In any case, some advice -- interviews with DJs are as boring as interviews with musicians (something that always surprises me).


ookpik wrote:
Meg Griffin is great at what she does, and a welcome substitution for "World Cafe."

That said, the old folk station WUMB is sadly missed. Likewise, WGBH's 2009 decision (taken apparently without consulting its audience, and followed by a display of contempt towards those of us who asked that WGBH reconsider) to abandon almost all of its own excellent folk and blues program is deplored. Together, these changes leave one of the strongest folk-music communities in the nation without a radio presence; we listen to Internet stations such as Folk Alley when we have access, and wonder how newcomers will ever have the opportunity to discover the music we love.


Paine wrote:
There are two errors/misconceptions in the story and the subsequent comments.

1. "a local college station". WUMB is not a college station. True, the license is held by UMass Boston, but its staff consists of professionals on the UMass payroll. There is not one minute of student- or community-member produced or hosted programming, such as with the three other UMass stations, WUMA (Amherst), WUML (Lowell) and WUMD (Dartmouth). This past Sunday, WMUA's Celtic program, hosted by a member of the community who is not compensated for her work, was pre-empted by coverage of a softball game. When is the last time one heard UMass Boston sports or any other student program on WUMB?

2. “WUMB dropped "World Cafe" to make room for Ms. Griffin.” Not true, it moved the start time back from 7 to 10pm. "World Cafe" is still broadcast some 20 hours per week, a new or repeated show from 10-midnight, echoed immediately midnight-2am.

Re "In an era when commercial-laden, focus-grouped, talky, pre-formatted stations have driven any thoughtful (sic) listener to other music mediums" describes WUMB to a "T".
• commercial-laden – much of its daytime programming is in-house produced commercials for itself.
• Focus group – check – when management took WUMB from a folk station to AAA, it used focus groups.
• pre-formatted – check – what an “on-air personality” will say or do next is predictable.
Its format is as predictable and stale and like a AAA pop station, it features the same few trendy AAA pop artists ad nausium. It does not have DJ's, their own term is "on-air personalities". The "OAP's" have little or no freedom to produce their own programs, instead that is done by a music director who was hired for his AAA background; all songs and artists must be approved by station management. They do little more than voice-overs, often giving the same repeated trite facts about the repeated artists. What a waste of professional talent.

With regard to Arbitron ratings, if they were not so important to WUMB, why else would they subscribe and participate? WUMB subscribes to Arbitron and airs canned national syndicated programming and has a programming formula because its handlers at NPR tell it to do so.

WUMB's Arbitron numbers (1)

S-09 O-09 N-09 D-09 Holiday J-10 F-10 M-10
Est 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
% cume 59300 44300 33500 52300 54600 52900 41300 44600

These numbers are not exactly stellar, WUMB is ranked #41 out of 56 in the Boston market. Makes one think, if federal/state/university money were not propping up the station, how long could it afford to carry its professional staff?



SWozniak wrote:
I've been finding WUMB a little too "uptempo" lately.

I never heard of Meg until she came to WUMB but I was an 'underground radio' listener in Detroit when people like Jerry Goodwin, later of WADN, played bands like The Amazing Blondel.

Honestly, after a listen or two, I find Meg a tad grating.


manoakid wrote:
Wumb pretends to be a "public" radio but is operating under the dictatorship of one Ms. Pat Montieth. She pulls down a salary of well over 90,000 per year and stands at the helm of a sinking ship brow beating employees and volunteers alike. UMASS Boston seems to have a cloak of silence surrounding her behavior although over the years has collected countless complaints from her co-workers. Meg is an asset but I doubt that she will last very long....she is too good. Ms Montieth consistently demeans those that work for her....and if they don't like the abuse they can leave. Bear witness to the departure of Mr. Barnes Newberry who decided to leave with his dignity and not accept his banishment from live airwaves for two weeks because he dared to express displeasure on a decision Ms. Montieth had made concerning his show. His show was one of the most popular and financially sound spots on the station....and now is gone. Hopefully Meg can rise above Montieth's reign of terror and we can finally have some 'good radio' on the airwaves!


Paine wrote:
Since Barnes' resignation has been brought up…

1. Is anyone aware of a Boston Globe article by Joan Anderman or other writer about Barnes' "resignation"? Or come to think of it, Brian Quinn's (former program director and 20 year vet) or Marilyn Rae Beyer's (former program director and 14 year vet)? Prove me wrong, show me the article. If it wishes to make amends and cites the sources, the Globe is welcome to any of the information contained in this series of articles -

2. Read the public facts about Barnes' "resignation" in a blog post titled "End of the Highway" dated 4/25/10 at and mirrored in

3. Read "Brian Quinn, WUMB program director, "laid off"", dated 11/12/09, and his own announcement dated 11/10/09 at

Remember, this is the same Globe that buried the fact that WUMB laid off its weekend staff in an article about serving alcohol at Club Passim. Read

…and glossed over the folk-to-“music mix” format change in a small mention in passing buried in an article in its “celebrity” section titled “Wahlberg and gang take over oyster house” dated 1/2/09 –

Do we see a pattern here? If you want happy news, read the Globe. If you want reality, dig and share it yourself.


no-moore wrote:
Congratulations to Meg- perhaps the recent changes at the radio station will create enough force to impact the current mismanagement that would allow the loss of Barnes.
Meg's quote says it best... "To be remembered as a radio personality you need a singular vision, and you can’t be compromised.’’ Keep that thought Meg-never allow yourself to be compromised!


unabashedleftist wrote:
I can tolerate Meg, though the chatter - from her and all the other "on-air personalities" (some of whom cannot even pronounce the names of the artists they're playing...) - is grating.

What I can't tolerate is the steady deterioration of WUMB. The loss of Brian Quinn ("laid off" after 20 years) and the programming takeover by the incompetent pop fanatic John Laurenti had me on the edge. With the loss of Barnes, I made my decision to stop donating to the station after a decade of doing so.


Olgasparky wrote:
I myself have doing a gradual to steady burn re: WUMB, and the wave of obvious change. More and more, just turning it right off, with the amount of chatter..but also the change in music. The times when it has seemed like there was just a reel to reel playing. Or hey, set your clock..THAT song is on again..hmm same time too! My donations have always been plugged to Highway 61, and Barnes Newberry. I can't believe that #1 Barnes would leave, unless totally provoked. #2 That management, Pat Montieth, would think is a good decision to let another of the true anchors, slip away from this WUMB Family. Although more and more it seems to be a total disfunctional family. With various cuts here and there, I wonder..did managment make any effort to take a cut in their salary? Many of us in listener land, are under huge economic cuts, yet believe in supporting what we enjoy and love..for me Hwy 61 AND Barnes the host. So although I cut the dollar amount, I still donated, to back up the full version of my Hwy 61..NOT the now..duluted version of this show, and others. Shame on WUMB for letting another great slip out the door!


TBRodman wrote:
The "addition" to WUMB of a New York DJ who was most recently "a champion of the punk and new wave scene" to a station which purports to be "all about folk radio" is hardly a "plus" by my math. It is neither sensible nor newsworthy, except perhaps to illustate the egomaniacal and completely out of touch nature of the alleged "management" currently in place at WUMB. Such developments are an insult to seasoned WUMB listeners and (in my case, now former) regular financial supporters.

The departures of Brian Quinn and, more recently, Barnes Newberry from WUMB certainly ARE newsworthy, but somehow got not a whisper of mention even on the stations' own web site, let alone in the local media. Not a word! That's simply amazing, since these are losses whose magnitude defies description by (or to) anyone with a real knowledge of folk music since the sixties. The loss of all the knowledge of the culture, music, history, evolution and meaning of folk music went out right out the door with Brian Quinn and, more recently, Barnes Newberry. Meg Griffin and her punk background and horse hobby are somehow news, or cause for celebration? Sorry, but I don't think so...

Simply stated, WUMB manager Pat Monteith should either quit or be summarily fired. If the station continues to plummets any further downhill, the (clearly already waning) support for the station will dry up completely. The death knell won't be far behind. Say goodnight, Pat Monteith. What you know about folk music wouldn't fill a matchbook cover! Meanwhile, my checkboois CLOSED when it comes to further financial support for WUMB.


EthansDad67 wrote:
Highway Sixty-one
Revisited is gone and
so is my support

Cole of Arlington


Talisker wrote:
Well, WUMB’s made one move in the right direction by bringing Meg on. Her music offerings are a big improvement on what the station's come to. I do appreciate her banter, whether commentary or info-based. I hope they can keep Meg, but that’s to be seen.

Sorry to say that Meg can’t make up for the significant program deterioration and disappointing personnel changes at ‘UMB. In these economic times, why move away from what’s been so long appreciated and respected?

WUMB: get back to quality folk music AND quality on-air FOLK.


pedrolr wrote:
Despite being a foreigner and to live in Europe, I discovered WUMB googling for "FOLK RADIO" back in 2005. Since then I addopted WUMB as my favourite radio station listening its internet stream. Due to WUMB, I spent 2 holidays in Northeast, music has such power, doesn't it? Since 2005 I'm a member of this station, to whom I donate every 6 months at Barnes' HW61R.

WUMB decided by their own to make a shift in their philosophy without even consult their members and supporters. I can't agree with their decision. WUMB is not anylonger a folk radio station rather a "patchwork" radio station. As my father taught me, "when a man loses his credit he hasn't anything else to lose". So here's how I picture WUMB. As far as I am concerned, WUMB lost its identity. I don't know why Barnes had to quit, but together with Dick Pleasants, he was the last man WORTHY at this radio station. I don't have much left over there... And quite frankly, my support is gone for good too...
Pedro Ribeiro, Lisbon, Portugal


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