Stay tuned

Tune in….Seems like anytime an employer goes out of the way to thank you, you can bet on it: you’re being let go. Last week I got an email from WBEZ thanking me for the essays I’ve recorded for them over the years. The note went on to say WBEZ is reorganizing their local programming to emphasize live shows. They hope their new formatting will encourage listeners to comment on social media or phone in live and in person. Translation: they will no longer be airing pre-recorded essays like the ones I used to write for them.

Let’s be honest. I’m pretty lucky that WBEZ took me on to write essays in the first place. It sure felt cool to jump into a cab with Hanni or Harper and ask the driver to take me to Chicago Public Radio. So many times the driver was listening to WBEZ as we drove — one of them even asked for my autograph!

And what a kick it was to have someone call or stop me on the street after one of my essays aired. “I heard you on NPR!” they’d say. Or, “I thought the voice sounded familiar, and when I, like, waited until the end, they said it was. It was, like, you!” It was a very, very good run, and I’m sorry to seehear it come to an end.

The WBEZ arts editor did write to ask me to come and meet with her personally to see what this shift might mean for me, so I’m heading over to the WBEZ studio with Whitney tomorrow. Will it be my very last trip there? I hope not. Gee, guess we’ll all have to, ahem, stay tuned to find out.

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22 Responses to “Stay tuned”


  1. 1 Lauren Bishop-Weidner March 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I’ll ‘fess up: One of my favorite things to tell people is that you’re a commentator on NPR! I love your essays–they were my first introduction to your layered world-view. You stick with ‘em, and we’ll stay tuned!

  2. 3 pattibrehler March 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Here’s hoping they have something else in mind for you!

  3. 4 S. Bradley Gillaugh March 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Just when Dmitry tells me he became a supporter of WBEZ you may go off the air. But I’m sure it’s not the last time we’ll hear from you! Thank goodness.

  4. 6 Kim March 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Oh no, Beth, say it ain’t so! Listening to people’s essays is my favorite thing about NPR. That call-in-show format just stirs people up, feelings get hurt, solutions aren’t found, and nothing of value is contributed. Hey, maybe they’re going to offer to let YOU do a call-in radio show. You can pick fabulous topics and require that the callers be civil. I’d tune in for that!

  5. 8 glivingston March 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    After getting over my last protest to NPR programming changes we recently rejoined as members. So, they had better find a place for you–recorded, live, whatever. We need more womens’ voices on NPR (I still miss Gretchen Helfrich, and not just because we share a name) and I suspect there are not too many blind commentators there either (though it would be hard to know for sure). I did listen to the Rachel Madow interview today and I think you could be every bit as good.

    • 9 bethfinke March 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Wow, that is high praise! And you know, I noticed, too, that with the new format on Chicago Public Media there aren’t any women hosting shows. Is it just me, or do the male voices all tend to sound alike?

  6. 10 Gail Piernas-Davenport March 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Boo hoo! Your essays always touched my heart and I will miss hearing your voice on my airwaves.

  7. 12 Rhona March 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Beth – if in their infinite wisdom they decide not to use your essays anymore there are other outlets in Chicago. Perhaps we can discuss over a meal.

  8. 14 Audrey Mitchell March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    It may not be as bad as you think, but if it is, I have prepared a first draft of my letter to WBEZ.

    • 15 bethfinke March 29, 2012 at 8:07 am

      Stil processing yesterday’s meeting, will report on it later. A tease here: don’t post that letter. Not yet, at least!

  9. 16 Susan Ohde March 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Bummer! You could do a live show! Whit could bark once in awhile. Whit says “woof”. It’s true that all call in shows are just nasty. I guess those are the folks who use the social media more. They just like to hear/read themselves in public!

  10. 17 bethfinke March 29, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I hear what you are saying about folks who like to hear/read themselves in public – all my sadness over the personal essay cancellations on WBEZ tells me I must be one of those people who likes to hear/read myself in public, too. Guilty as charged!

  11. 18 Carl March 29, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Yes, but you allow them to edit you.

  12. 20 Anonymous March 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Golly, Beth, maybe i shouldn’t have been as generous with my last contribution. I sure hope all goes well tomorrow, because I love hearing you on the radio. It’s so cool to hear a familiar voice, as well as to listen for the new or interesting information your essays provide. I’m saying a prayer that the arts director can fit you in somehow so we can still hear you on the airwaves.


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