Wednesday, March 29, 2006

IAJE Rallies the Troops

PBS is set to air a weekly series devoted to jazz: Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. However, as IAJE informs its members in an e-mail blast, WNET 13 the local New York PBS affiliate, is scheduled to air it at 12:30 am on Thursdays. I can still catch it then, but it effectively excludes any younger audience unless parents make an effort to Tivo or tape it for later viewing.

They have even sent members a form letter:

Attn: Carmen DiRienzo, Vice President and Managing Director
450 West 33rd Street

New York, NY 10001

Dear Carmen DiRienzo,

I want to see LEGENDS OF JAZZ on TV!

I am delighted to hear that jazz is returning to television in the new series, “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis” (see cover story in April issue of Down Beat magazine). And PBS is the perfect station for it. I’m eager to watch the program and to encourage many friends who are jazz fans to tune in to this weekly program. But, I am very discouraged to learn that you will be airing the series in a fringe time slot when I will not be able to watch it. Truth be told, I don’t know anyone watching TV on at 12:30am on a Thursday.

It continues by referencing the success of the Ken Burns documentary, arguing for primetime placement. Of course I’m sympathetic to the cause. Finally PBS is producing programming of significant cultural importance. Lately, PBS broadcasts seem to either be Bill Moyers-style left wing propaganda or Suze Orman/Wayne Dyer infomercials. Even if you believe in the mission of PBS, its difficult to advocate funding for this kind of programming. Its time to hold PBS’s feet to the fire. Either they support cultural and artistic programming, or they should lose Uncle Sam as their sugar daddy.