Can you believe this? Background: The T is Boston's subway system.
Some genius got the idea of piping radio "music" into the waiting
platforms--with commericials, no less. Muzak if you will. Who in his
right mind would have thought of such a thing. I can do without the
buskers, too. They're often almost as irritating as the radio would be
(I never heard the latter, mercifully.) Most of the time, I try to find
a waiting spot on the other end of the platform from them. These days
it seems that silence "ist verboten."
So we get a respite for now, but like mosquitos and locusts, I fear the
radio creatures will be back.
T Radio hits wrong note with riders Program shelved amid a crush
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff | October 26, 2007
Some T riders complained about maudlin Phil Collins music and
lame trivia. Others balked at hearing commercials in yet another
public space. Then there were commuters who wondered why young
guitarists who play live music on the platform were being drowned
out by the "radio ga ga" of corporate disc jockeys.
But today, these disparate T riders are united in joy and a
degree of quiet. T Radio, the two-week experiment in bringing
disc jockeys and music to MBTA platforms, has been shelved.
"There is a God," exclaimed Tom Augello, 45, a multimedia editor
Augello is still irked about a trip to South Station in which
he heard Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight," one of those songs
that gets stuck in the subconscious and refuses to leave. "Not
just Phil Collins, but somebody really inanely explaining the
back story for that song," he added acidly in a phone= interview.
Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation
Authority, said the agency may bring back the private radio
venture, after a period of study and possibly in a new format.
Pesaturo acknowledged that the T received an overwhelming number
of e-mails, 1,800, and that most were complaints about the radio
station broadcast at South Station, North Station, and Logan
International Airport platforms.
"I can tell you that some customers had favorable things to say,"
Pesaturo, said. "Many had mixed things to say. Most expressed
displeasure with the concept."
Daniel A. Grabauskas, MBTA general manager, had said the trial
run would last until at least Thanksgiving, but it was suspended
early because of the response, Pesaturo said.
"The end of Torture Radio!" Roslyn Klein said when she heard the
Klein, 60, heard T Radio, which aired all hours the trains ran,
every morning at South Station on her way in from Lowell. "It's
6:30 in the morning. . . . I really think there is such a
thing as noise pollution."
It was insult to the intelligence of commuters, she said, when
a disc jockey asked a multiple-choice trivia question about when
Bill Clinton was first elected president and gave 1991, 1992 and
1993 as options.
"How difficult is that question to answer?" she sniffed. "Could
anyone with a tenth of a brain not know that we have no election
in odd-[numbered] years?"
The strongest reaction came from street musicians who have long
battled the T for the right to play live music on the platforms.
The buskers, who count such luminaries as folk musician Tracy
Chapman among their alumni, gathered 1,200 signatures in an
"Get commercial interests out of my face. Please," one person
wrote in the comment section of the petition.
Stephen Baird, a dulcimer player who organized the petition and
a website dedicated to opposing the radio broadcast, said that
he measured decibel levels at the three stations and that some
broadcasts were at twice the normal conversation level.
"The T is a public space," he said. "No one corporation, or not
even the T management, can control that space and have a monopoly,
because it's not for sale."
But Baird was not ready to declare victory yesterday. "We've
been through these battles before and they keep happening," he
Pyramid Radio, the private company that runs T Radio, sent a
memo yesterday to its partners, which include The Boston Globe,
announcing the suspension.
Programmer Ed McMann said in an interview that the "quiet phase"
is temporary. He said feedback gathered by Emerson College
students who surveyed riders was mostly positive, though he
declined to release the findings.
The Boston Globe contributes arts and entertainment material to
T Radio, and the newspaper received free promotion on the air.
The newspaper is one of about a dozen media partners.
McMann, Baird, and some of the buskers will meet today to discuss
possible options to accommodate the musicians in case the radio
station returns. He said Pyramid Radio has been seeking ways
to let the musicians play without radio competition and opportunities
to feature buskers on the broadcast.
"There was a perception that this was displacing them, and it
simply wasn't true," McMann said.
Elizabeth Hendricks, a 47-year-old insurance analyst who frequents
North Station, yearns for as much quiet as she can get during
her commute to and from Malden. And that includes freedom from
people using cellphones or iPods blaring loud enough for her to
"I'd rather just read a book and close my eyes and be left in
peace," Hendricks said.
Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
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