History of Public Radio's Music Personnel Conference
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Professor Linda L. Clauder
November 1, 1984
"A Floating Crap Game....."
"A Midwest Cabal"
"A P.E.G. of N.A.E.B."
"An A.I.C. of A.P.R.S."
These are a few
of the titles which have been attached to the MUSIC PERSONNEL CONFERENCE
over the years. It's history has been colorful, checkered, and controversial--and
I suppose for those reasons, among others, not very well documented. The
following is a late-night, off-hours attempt to begin to collect the history,
with the hope that others will feel welcome to contribute items from their
faded files and recollections.
Our history begins in 1962
at WUOM, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The following information came from Ed Burroughs,
former director and staff member who recalled that several" music-types"
who had been attending NAEB meetings were disgusted that there were no
sessions on music and that the NAEB ignored them and their interests. So
they got permission from NAEB to organize, sort of "on their own", and
now I quote from WUOM archives
Programming for Educational Radio", a conference planned and conducted
by WUOM was held Nov. 6-7, 1962, in the WUOM studios with 45(!) registrants
representing the educational radio stations in the Midwest. Special guests
included Mr. Christian Lang, Chief Music Section, Norwegian Broadcasting
Service; Abram Chasins, music critic, author, and pianist, New York; Harold
Hill, "veep", NAEB, Washington DC and Leonard Feist, President, Associated
Music Publishers, NY. Dean James Wallace and Associate Dean John Flower
of the University School of Music addressed the conferees. The conference
was the first of its type sponsored by the NAEB and resulted in requests
from other educational stations for help in developing similar meetings
in the regions."
Ed recalled that the group soon
became dissatisfied with the NAEB which ignored them, offered no support
funds (sound familiar?) and which treated them like "mavericks" who didn't
really belong. So, in subsequent years, they severed relations with NAEB
and became the now famous "floating crap game." (Ed said he also recalled
"sharp conversations" at the Minneapolis meeting about relations with NAEB.)
I think it safe to say that
Harry Welliver, Music Director of WUOM, was the chief founder and guiding
light in those early years. (He was President of the MPC until 1967.) One
story WHA's Cliff Roberts used to tell about Harry is that, since he was
also a church organist, he insisted that meetings be held between Monday
and Wednesday so he wouldn't miss the Sunday morning church service or
Thursday night choir practice. (Later, when the MPC changed days, Harry
either left early or didn't show up at all.)
From an old MUSIC NOTES I
found this: "In 1962, several midwestern music directors met to discuss
mutual problems and possible solutions. Annual meetings were held." (Now
you see from whence the title "midwest cabal".)
The earliest dated
MUSIC NOTES I have in my possession (Volume 2, Number 3), announced the
fifth annual MPC held at the Allerton House in Monticello, Illinois. (All
MUSIC NOTES during this period were edited by Harry Welliver.) He described
the Allerton, owned and operated by UI "as close to an ideal conference
site as one can imagine." (A descriptive folder was enclosed, which I do
MUSIC NOTES included these
items: For $5, one could join the newly-organized Association for Recorded
Sound Collections at the Library of Congress (Donald L. Leavitt, Treasurer).
The idea actually came from a graduate student working in the WUOM record
library. Several meetings were held in '65, attended by Welliver. The goal
was not to collect old recordings, but to compile a list of collections
and their content. A "moral and artistic victory" was achieved in the obtaining
of permission to broadcast all discs of the American Musical Heritage Society
if the station joined the Society at $50/year! It's reported that Volume
2, Number 2 of MUSIC NOTES contained an account of the "successful Cincinnati
WUOM hosted the
sixth MPC--registration fee: $19.00 (Mon.-Wed.). Monday night's concert
at Hill Auditorium offered the French National Orchestra with pianist Eugene
Istomin! Tuesday's panels began with "Stimulating Listening: How it is
Done," with Richard Goerz, WIAA Station Manager, Interlochen Arts Academy
and Cyril Peters, WRVR Director of Cultural Programming. The afternoon
session included "Archival Recordings: Should we Preserve Them?" with Ken
Beachler, WKAR Music Director and Paul T. Jackson, Information-Materials
Control Manager, The Richmond Organization, NY and Executive Secretary,
Association for Recorded Sound Collections. David Stewart, National Council
for the Arts, Washington, DC spoke on "Federal Programs and Educational
Radio". There were other panels on rights and copyrights, and technical
evaluation of recordings.
The first six meetings of
MPC were held in the Midwest, mainly because most of the educational stations
were concentrated in that area. As it grew in size and strength, it was
thought that it could meet in more remote parts of the country in alternate
years for the convenience of broadcasters in those areas, and the success
of the Austin conference in 1968 demonstrated the wisdom of that plan.
The Seventh MPC
was held in Texas at the Sheraton-Crest Inn and the UT Communication Center
with Miss Eleanor Page, KUT Music Supervisor, as host. (They recommended
a side trip to Hemisfair '68 in San Antonio.) Ken Cutler, Music Director,
WILL, was the Conference Chairman. David Stewart, Director of Programs
in Education and Media from NEA, was a guest speaker. Cliff Roberts led
a session on "New Equipment"; Joe Gwathmey, Radio Production Supervisor,
UT Communication Center(!), led "The Copyright Situation"; John Witherspoon,
NER Board Chair, spoke on "NER Structure" and W. Sanders, head of International
Productions, Belgian Radio/TV also spoke. David Harrison, Music Director,
KSUI, led a "Computerized Programming" panel (in 1968!). Artists who performed
were George Neikrug, vlc; Agnes Vadas, vln; Frank Speller, org; and Joyce
A very early tradition for
the MPC was the final session called "Clearing the Air"--it appeared on
every schedule. (In Cliff's memoirs are four photographs from the Austin
conference including Eleanor Page, Cutler, Walsh, Cliff, and a couple others
I can't identify. Pity we don't have other photos.)
I attended my first
MPC in 1969 when the eighth session was held in Madison at WHA. It was
hosted by Music Supervisor, Cliff Roberts, who was quickly dubbed "Gadfly,"
(a name I was to inherit in subsequent years). WHA--"the oldest station
in the nation"--was celebrating its 50th anniversary that year. The MPC
President was Ken Cutler, WILL, who was also editor of MUSIC NOTES. Sessions
were in the Wisconsin Center, and the approximately forty conferees were
housed in Lowell Hall, a women's dormitory on Lake Mendota.
Panelists included Tom Bird,
Assistant Manager, WNCN; David Harrison, on computers, WSUI; and Paul Snook
on "European Sources", WRVR, Riverside Radio. Guests that year were Sylvia
Goldstein from Boosey and Hawkes; Charles L. Halteman, BMI; Donald Griffith,
from Franco Colombo; John Coveney, Angel Records, (and we never saw him
again) and a young woman, M. Scott Mampe (formerly of WRVR), who represented
Mercury Records. From NER (yes, NER!) was Executive Director Robert Mott.
Others included a young man from the UW Center System, Norman Kaderlan,
who later did a stint at NPR, and the PD from WBFO, Henry Tennenbaum. Also
attending were WRVR's Walter Sheppard; WCLV's Robert Conrad and Bill Munger;
Norris Dryer, WUOT; Burton Paulu, KUOM and Mary Rousculp, WOSU. My notes
also include "the man with the beard"--Myron Bennett, WGUC. Those noted
by their absence were Harry Welliver, Eleanor Page and Carolyn Watts, WGUC.
The entertainment was pianist Paul Badura-Skoda, artist-in-residence at
the U.W. and the Pro Arte Quartet.
I found an NAEB letterhead
from l970 from Russell Walsh, Field Coordinator and that is when we returned
to our first "umbrella" with a new title. We became the P.E.G. (Professional
Emphasis Group) back with NAEB.
In l970, the MPC
made its longest geographical leap to date and met in Portland, OR to try
to stimulate activity on the Western Front (and find out "who was out there").
Actually the conference was hosted by KOAC, Corvallis, even though held
in Portland at the Ramada Inn.
Russ Walsh and Jerry Yokom,
NER Associate Executive Director, opened the session. Mary Ann Feldman,
Program Annotator, Minneapolis SO and Walsh led a panel--"The Music Script:
Why?" and later one titled "...: How?" Get this: "From Sea to Shining Sea"
with Don Quayle, President, NPR and Al Hulsen, Radio Project Director,
CPB. Another panel presented "Quality Programs with Local Resources" with
Frank Woodman, KOAC and other Oregoners. Entertainment included the season
opening concert by the Oregon SO and a tour of the Blitz (not Blatz!) Brewery.
I did not attend the Portland
conference, but I do have the following recollection from Cliff: one of
the speakers was David Stewart from NEA who invited stations to apply for
grants. Cliff asked if this would include radio drama--it did. Stewart
subsequently went to CPB and Karl Schmidt at WHA in Madison made an application
which, in l97l, became the first grant for an audio experimentation center.
Ed Burroughs moved from Michigan to run the NCAE and the following year
Earplay was funded. Since that 1970 meeting in Portland, almost $4 million
in grants, through CPB and NEA, have gone to Earplay and the NCAE.
of '71," was the 10th annual meeting held Nov. 30-Dec. 2 to be exact--the
latest conference in the calendar year--at University Inn. The host was
Norris Dryer, WUOT, and the Chairman was Myron Bennett, WGUC.
There were about 25 attendees,
including Fred Calland and Bill Siemering, NPR; Don Glass, WFIU, Bloomington
IN; Al Hulson, CPB; Curt Oliver, KUOM, Minneapolis; Eleanor Page, KUT,
Austin; Mary Rousculp, WOSU, Ohio State; Harry Welliver, WUOM; Don Wirtz,
KUOW, Seattle; Dave Harrison, WKAR; Jerry Yokom, Associate Director, NER
and yours truly, Linda Clauder, WHA.
Curt became Editor of MUSIC
NOTES and in Myron's introduction to issue Number 1 he wrote: "Our concerns
cover all aspects of the music director's job, from programming concerts,
and how to get records, to copyright and grant rights problems, and relations
with NPR, CPB, and all other organizations we deal with" and continuing:
stands for Professional Emphasis Group,--we take our profession seriously.
The organization and this newsletter are meant to improve our profession,
and make it a little easier. We hope you will be with us."
Al Hulson spoke on the possible
music uses of CPB funds, and announced the awarding of the first Music
Production Center grant to WGUC, Cincinnati.
Fred Calland explained the
nature and scope of his activities at NPR. A staff of three was assigned
to the performing arts. (Have we come full circle?).
The following proposals resulted
from a "brainstorming" session of needs from national organizations (NPR,
NAEB and CPB):
copyright information center
Finally, there was a consensus
of concern about our relationship with NPR. Myron was encouraged to inquire
about means of improving lines of communication between the NPR cultural
staff and our colleagues in the field. An interesting list--some of which
has come to pass--while other items are still on the list "to do.")
--A representative in Washington D.C. on an ad hoc copyright committee
--A legal advisor
--A negotiator for record purchase and distribution
--An NPR series on the history of American music for the Bicentennial
Black composers series
--Smaller-sized CPB grants for specials or single programs
--NPR should use low noise tape and improve dubbing procedures
--And, we need a music-affairs coordinator at NAEB (artist/composer
files, employment, copyright, G.R., etc)
The entertainment featured
some of our country's earliest music and musical instruments, performed
by the mountain people of east Tennessee and west North Carolina.
I remember an all-night session
(my initiation to what I learned was a "hospitality suite")--actually a
good old gripe session. I took notes on the University Inn's laundry tickets
and, thus, became the next year's Secretary. I also earned the title "Gadfly