Saturday, May 23, 2009

"We had to destroy the town ..."

One of the most memorable chunks of language to surface from slimy pit of the Vietnam War was the statement attributed to an anonymous U.S. Air Force Major by AP war correspondent Peter Arnett after the destruction of Ben Tre, a town of 65,000 people: "it became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it" - or, as it's usually paraphrased "we had to destroy the town in order to save it." Well, folks, the management of the Mountain Area Information Network, license-holder for WPVM, ought to issue a like statement after the actions of its Executive Director, Wally Bowen, last week.

The station had been bleeding volunteers, and the original programming they produced, ever since Bowen's heavy-handed intrusion into station management last fall, and Bowen effectively eliminated the rest of WPVM's original schedule last week by forcing all volunteers to re-apply, and then denying the applications of all those whom he deemed undesirable for whatever reason. Those undesirables included virtually all of the station's remaining on-air hosts.

One of the shows so canceled, sadly, was Wordplay. I'd anticipated Bowen would take this step at some point, given that he'd included me as one of nine (later ten) volunteers he'd "disinvited" from the station a few months ago. All the ten, curiously, had been among the group that had actually kept the station on the air after the station manager had resigned last September, or had been among the volunteers who had had the temerity to approach MAIN's feckless board with a plan to reorganize the station and structure its relationship with its parent organization during the winter. Funny about that. I figured I had till Asheville Wordfest, the poetry festival that grew out of Wordplay (but which Bowen now touts as "an outreach project of the Mountain Area Information Network" on its Facebook page) had become history, since he'd probably not want to blow a hole in the festival's ranks until after it was over. For whatever reason, that proved to be exactly right.

I'd planned to take a sabbatical this summer, in any case, to travel and do some recording for future shows, so I'll begin it a little earlier than I'd planned. I've offered apologies to guests whom I had already booked, and regrets that we won't get to do those live shows just yet.

While it's too soon to say more, I believe there's a very good chance that Wordplay will once again bring poetry "to the airwaves and the ether" in the near future, and I certainly look forward to it.

Thanks, as always, for listening.

And stay tuned for more.

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