Thursday, October 20, 2011

NPR-NY Wanted Me For A Moment in Time ... A Curious Tale of Deceptive Solicitation

This is one if not for the books, for my book. One day, when I write about my adventures through circus worlds near and far, and through publishing houses, this one will deserve a good cameo.

You who may tune in this Friday to Soundcheck on W-NYC (The New York NPR affiliate) will listen to a program about circus music, but you will not hear me participate as I looked forward to, having been led to believe it would be by one of the program's associate producers, Kattie Bishop. "I'm wondering if you might be up for doing a segment on modern-day circus music with us," she wrote in an e-mail.

A few days later we talked. Her questions, though somewhat ill-founded, were stimulating. It sounded good, I said yes, and she said that the first half hour would be spent talking to some windjammers, the second with me.

It would take place fairly soon and I'd be notified. About a week later, I e-mailed her, seeking an update, in order to be around for the interview. She e-mailed back the next day. "We're only going to have time to talk to two guests, the editor of Spectacle Magazine ... and Janet Davis, a professor of American studies who specializes in the history of circus music."

How odd. Just like that? How did I feel? For one thing, led on. In all my previous experience being asked to to appear on radio and TV shows -- or being considered, and it was made clear that I was only being considered -- never has this occurred. I recall a young guy for The Learning Channel calling me several years back and wanting to film me up here as a kind of test interview. When I learned the circus doc was being partly funded by the Felds, I bowed out, not wanting to be turned into an unwitting flack for the mighty Feld Entertainment.

More recently, I I blogged about a talent scout for NBC pursuing me as a possible judge for the circus talent competition (that flopped out after the first season). Again, he made clear he was considering me, and I'd have to do a mock filmed interview. For other reasons, I declined to persue his interest. Okay. Nobody mislead. Nobody reneged on

Same thing for people I've I've also been on several radio interview shows. They were all on commercial television or radio.

But NPR and/or W-NYC. A different universe that plays much looser with common ethics, it seems.

"What do you expect when you go to a circus," Ms. Bishop asked me during our informal telephone conversation. "I expect to see what the circus has to show me," I answered, refusing to specify rigid components, for I have learned to let go and see each new ring as an empty slate, and be open to what I see and hear.

I mentioned some trends in modern circus music, most significantly, the original scores produced for several of the higher end shows, among them Big Apple Circus. Surprisingly, I got no rise from Katie Bishop. who seemed curiously dense about a great circus in her own backyard.

"So this is how an NPR affiliate operates," I wrote her in response to her unexpected and sudden dismissal. "I think Juan Williams made the right move, and NPR the wrong one by suggesting he contact his psychiatrist." Perhaps everybody at NPR and its affiliates has one. Not I. I've never needed a psychiatrist. But then again, I try to deal with people whose word has real value.

So, if you listen to the show, and I may too, think of the voice that might have been there. You may rue its absence. You may rejoice in its absence.

I'll be interested to see what a pair of academics have to see about circus music, and if the windjammers were also 86d from the lineup.

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