I won't keep you in suspense. The shocking surprise is that radio has a certain role in people's lives -- regardless of format. And people are creatures of habit.
Think about your own radio listening habits (for those readers who still use the radio, that is). Chances are, you most often listen to the radio in the car. And most often while traveling to and from work. You probably have a few choice stations preset on the dial, and you flip back and forth depending on what's on.
On the weekend, there's probably certain times you like to have the radio on. I like turn it on when I'm in my garage workshop on Saturdays, for example. And I often use it while I'm working in the attic or other home maintenance-type projects where wearing an iPod would either get in the way or be dangerous.
However you use the radio, it's most likely part of a routine. Complicated schedules don't enter into the mix. Either what you want is on, or it isn't. And if it isn't, then you move on to another station where it is.
So when WTJU blew out its regular programming for five days of classical music and five days of jazz, they messed with people's routines. And what do you do if the station you have on isn't playing what you like? Right. Either turn it off, or turn to another station.
My Saturday evening fund-raising program on WTJU did what I thought it would -- very little. Do I fault those that listened and didn't call in? Not really. Because I don't think that many were listening, anyway. I replaced the Saturday program that had it's own [non-classical] following, so I'm sure many people just tuned out.
I've had many discussions with my fellow volunteers about fund-raising at the station. They continually cite anecdotal evidences proving that listeners love our marathon fund-raisers and wouldn't have it any other way. Well, perhaps, but each drive there's a few less of those long-time listeners who contribute. New listeners (especially those who are used to how public radio works in other parts of the country before moving here) don't know about the marathon tradition at WTJU.
All they know is that they turned on the radio one day, and something different was being broadcast on WTJU. And so they went somewhere else.
I understand how people use the radio. And anyone who uses the radio, if they paused to think about it, understands it to. But to many of my colleagues at WTJU? It continues to be a shocking surprise.
Day 132 of the WJMA Web Watch.