Friday, October 23, 2009

Important message: WMUA Fund Drive Week!

The WUMA Fund Drive is on from October 27 through November 2. WMUA will be accepting donations and giving away fantastic gifts in appreciation of your support. Help support your favorite independent radio station during WMUA’s annual Fund Drive. To pledge your support during the fund drive please call (413) 577-3000. You can also donate online at and click the "donate" link on the right under the banner.

A big thank you to Rob Voisey for donating 60 x 60 CDs as special premiums for Martian Gardens. Mr. Voisey's 60 x 60 project has been running since 2002. Not only does 60 x 60 feature works by some of the finest artists in contemporary music, but it covers all the types of music I broadcast on Martian Gardens. These are double-discs, each featuring 60 minute-long works by 60+ artists, totaling over 120 complete, individual works. I wil be offering these often-featured 60 x 60 CDs as a premium for your generous contribution of $20.00 or more.

Other standard premiums for various denominations include WMUA t-shirts, caps, and tote bags. Ask the fund drive operator about these and other premiums when you call (413) 577-3000 with your pledge in support of WMUA and Martian Gardens.

In addition, I am offering a double CD-R: "Martian Gardens 2009: Favorite Short Works." This special premium comes with your pledge of just $10.00. The goal of MG is to disseminate contempoary, electroacoustic, electronic, and avant-garde chamber musics composed present day and throughout the past century deserving of greater recognition in our culture. The shorter works, generally under four minutes, allows me to develop an anthology of the diverse canon of musics broadcast on Martian Gardens.*

The labels that release the recordings I play on MG are make do on a break-even or non-profit basis. The proprietors of labels such as Mode, New World Records, Bridge, Pogus, empreintes DIGITales, Vox Novus, Centaur, ECM, and Innova Recordings do their work for the same reason I produce Martian Gardens every week: Dedication to great music. That is why I post a link to each one every time I broadcast a recording from these labels on MG. I cannot thank them enough for making Martian Gardens possible and they are all deserving of your support as discerning music consumers!

My program during WMUA's annual Fund Drive week is always a challenge for me. I violate all fund drive protocol when I say I hate to be obliged to ask listeners for money. If I had my druthers, I wouldn't do it all. Then something struck me a few months ago. A Martian Gardens detractor challenged me:

"How many people actually listen to Martian Gardens?"
"I don't know, and I don't care!," I scoffed.

This statement is only half true. I do too care. I want everybody with a radio in the Pioneer Valley and everybody with Internet acess to listen to every Martian Gardens every Sunday! The salient point is I have the luxury of saying "I don't know, and I don't care." Nobody on commercial or public radio can even afford to think such a thing. That is where the annual fund drive comes in. Two-thirds of WMUA's funding comes to us from student activities fees from the University of Massachusetts and from the businesses that purchase underwriting with the station. In fact, the bulk of the Fund Drive pledges are made during the 16-hour Polkathon on Fund Drive Saturday from fans of WMUA's phenomenally popular weekend polka programs.

Thus, I do not have to worry about such serious business as market shares, underwriting clients, and pleading for every dime every listener can possibly give. You know what a National Public Radio pledge drive sounds like and I don't have to sound like that! I never intend to alienate any listener, but if a listener screams, "What is that terrible noise?," and reaches for the dial, I do not have to worry about it. Martian Gardens has carte blanche to explore the any avenue of avante-garde music and sound art without fear of reprisal. There have been years when Martian Gardens has raised hundreds of dollars and there have been years when MG has raised nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. No money at all. This is not a factor determining whether my application to renew Martian Gardens every semester gets approved by station management. What you really tell WMUA's management with your pledge of any denomination is that you support the rarest commodity in American broadcasting: Complete freedom.

How much is freedom worth to you?


WMUA FM 91.1 Amherst, Mass. 01003 live webcast

Sundays 21:00--24:00 EDT
Host: Max Shea
online playlists: Martian Gardens blog

*In deference to Mr. Voisey, none of the 60 x 60 pieces will appear on the Martian Gardens 2009 CD-R.