Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tom Bauerle is a Putz

I am not a big fan of talk radio and a good portion of my dislike comes from the brash, shock 'em approach many of these individuals take as they proclaim opinion on contemporary issues.

The constant one-sided, perceived "truth" these individuals spew out makes me cringe as these spin-doctors pounce on the First Amendment without any understanding of the consequences of spreading their negativity and misguided information.

Unfortunately, we live in a 21st century world where even if truth and fact contrast one's opinion that their belief still has substance. The art of compromise went out with the Y2K threat and we now live in a world with loosely connected pockets of shared opinions and an "us versus them" mentality.

Talk show radio hosts use this their advantage as they throw out subject they have opinions about in attempts to rabble-rouse demographic pockets.

I noticed this recently as I was told to catch a segment of WBEN 930's The Tom Bauerle show.

Apparently, Bauerle was on a tangent about the cuts to WNY Cultural agencies and had recently carried on a discussion with someone in the theater community who commented on Bauerle's anti-Cultural position. Bauerle ripped the caller claiming that the Arts should not receive funding and that those who are in that industry are nothing more than hobbyists.

A hobby?

According to Webster's dictionary, a hobby is "a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation." Based on this definition I will speak for myself and say that being in the Arts is not a hobby. Grant it, there is not much money in it and I have to look to other sources of income to survive, but I treat what I do as a job and get no "pursuit of relaxation" with it.

Now I have mixed views on Cultural budget cuts, but will take offense to someone calling what I do a hobby, so I called the The Tom Bauerle show.

In the ensuing conversation, he maintained those in the Cultural do it as a hobby. I countered to him that some people may feel the same way about on-air radio announcers in an era of online radio services. He disagreed by saying what he was doing "was his job".

"That is the same way some people feel about working in the Arts." I replied to him. "And some people treat use the opportunities in the Arts to help subsidize their income as well."

It did not register with Bauerle.

Neither did my point to him that although some creative passions begin as a hobby and with proper funding for venues, these hobbies can turn into full-time jobs. Much like a college student who takes up radio as a hobby and eventually becomes a talk-show host.

Clearly, Bauerle's opinion is set. What truly disturbed me was the callers responding to his show who were echoing his sentiments on the subject. One caller mocked the theater person by calling him a "Thurston Howell type with leather patches on his elbows,"and Bauerle kept feeding this prejudice by creating an "us versus them" mentality with his callers.

The overall point that Bauerle and his callers missed is that those involved in the Arts are not some toy-soldier painting group of intellectuals. We are folks who are dedicated to pursuing our creative passion. We treat what we do as professionals. We get the greatest satisfaction in doing our best, without any hint of relaxation, with our crafts.

True, there is no money to be made in the Arts, but it does not mean we treat it as a hobby. Most importantly, although some changes need to be made with business models, funding Cultural groups enables them to pay individuals their creative worth. With this, the frequency of paycheck may not reflect a more traditional job, but the concept of getting paid, instead of the work being a labor of Love, qualifies the industry and the creative passion. Eliminating the idea that what Artists do is a hobby.

To say someones passion is a hobby because the work does not generate a good income is ludicrous.

After all, some might believe that being an outspoken, on-air talk-show host for a small AM radio station in a small city with a listenership-demographic comprised of angry white people, technophobes, folks over the age of 60, and ignorant ridge-runners is just a hobby as well.

Right Tom?