Despite being in Minnesota all week, I’ve heard about the white hot response to the morning team at WKLH -- Dave, Carole and KB -- dissing the value of "the arts" to any city in general and to Milwaukee in particular.
I have now fully digested all of the details of this kerfuffle and I’ve listened with a sympathetic ear and read with sympathetic eyes as the "arts community" has arisen en masse to slay this virulent disease that is attacking their world.
I have made my judgement and I have a couple of important points to make that seem to have gotten lost in all the indignation and righteousness and protectiveness.
Point one: THIS IS MORNING RADIO!
As they say in the gospel music songs, Hear Me O’ Lord, THIS IS MORNING RADIO!
It’s not as if this outlandish criticism came from the head of the National Endowment for the Arts or the head of NPR or Barack Obama or Yo Yo Ma or Sen. Ted Cruz or Sheriff David Clarke or anyone who we think might actually be a little bit important. It’s not even as if a legitimate critic said all of this.
This is radio. Radio loves this kind of stuff. Nobody got hurt. No laws were broken. Nobody used any kind of slur. Nobody said anything obscene. Radio is a joke and morning radio is a real joke designed to make you laugh and hope like crazy that you talk to other people about your show. And holy smoke, did they succeed on this one.
Very serious people who do things like opera and theater and music and dance rose up as if they were one suddenly defanged beast and roared loudly about what idiots these radio people are. I can guarantee you that every morning show in town and every station manager are going through a series of kicks that they didn’t think of doing this.
Dave and Carole and KB and the power people at the station (GM Annmarie Topel and brand manager Bob Bellini issued a response overnight) are now seriously wracking their minds for what they can do for a second act that will continue to bring focus to the station and its personalities.
By very definition radio hosts are interested in just one thing, ratings. Whatever it takes, get ratings. Occasionally someone goes too far and gets fired but almost all the time nothing is really off limits.
The second point I want to make is that the "arts community," whatever that is, needs to take a chill pill. I mean if you are an actor or director or choreographer or artistic director or trombone player or stage manager or ballerina or painter or sculptor or usher at the Rep why in the world do you give two hoots what these particular morning hosts think? Or any other morning hosts for that matter.
Artists do their art for a high calling. I have no doubt about that. There is something unique and very special about people who do art. All art is a communication between the artist and the audience. All a real artist wants is for the audience to "get it." The artist doesn’t need a pat on the back.
The artist needs to do art and that is enough. Musicians play in a garage and dancers dance in their basements. Actors act on the telephone and singers sing while driving to their day job.
Sure, all of them want to be liked. Applause is delightful. But the applause is not the drug. The drug is doing it, playing, dancing, acting, rehearsing.
In the end, it shouldn’t matter to the artist what Dave or Carole or KB think or what I think or even what President Obama and David Clarke think. And remember this is just more of the morning radio world that creates and discards controversy with the erratic speed of the wind through a forest of willows.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.