Note from the Editor:
It is with deep regret that I received the following submission from Delta Public Radio’s Trish Lewis about new contractual requests presented to her by Delta College that precipitated her resignation at the station, and hence the demise of her weekly radio show, The Eclectic Chair, which for nearly 10 years has filled an important broadcasting void by connecting local & regional musical artists with an outlet to have their music heard.
As a public and a tax supported entity, we should be deeply concerned with this latest maneuver that raises serious questions about proprietary & creative rights, along with fostering both independence and access to public airwaves that are fundamental to fostering the freedom that publicly funded entities are bound to deliver.
To Fans of the Eclectic Chair:
It was heartbreaking trying to stuff too many hours of music into two last 53:30 minute broadcast hours of the finale of The Eclectic Chair to air on Delta College Quality Public Radio Station WUCX 90.1FM. I missed airing so many songs both old and new that I promised myself I would include. Time is the one thing we can't produce more of.
The whole day of production was bittersweet. The afternoon was brightened considerably by my pal Mr. Happy himself, Jeff Yantz who crashed the pity party with a great cover of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman No. 12 & 35” that I simply named “They’ll Stone You” directed at my departure from the local airwaves - a fitting big finale of my own recordings “Almost Live In Studio Q” (formerly known as C) at Delta Broadcasting.
As much as I had hoped to make it through to my tenth anniversary producing The Eclectic Chair on the Q airwaves on December 29th, 2014, I am not sad to hear my voice disappearing just as those who shall remain nameless departed before me. I have never enjoyed hearing my voice on air. It has always been my aim to stuff as much music into the show with as little small talk possible. The music was supposed to speak for me.
Although I will be forever grateful to Delta College for the opportunity I was given and thank the organization at the end of the final broadcast, I am not happy the broadcasting department tried to force me to sign a new policy contract aimed at me.
They wanted to take credit by renaming the production “Studio Q Presents The Eclectic Chair with Trish Lewis” and have final edit on my website, playlist, Facebook and even Twitter! I was told when double-teamed on July 29th, 2014 (with a third witness at a desk in the same office) “We never asked you to do that work.” regarding my promotion and work for the show.
I asked for some time to think about it, but did warn them at that time I believed this would be the death of the show. I even offered to return to being an unpaid volunteer as I was for nearly five years of my tenure there as long as I could remain an independent producer. The immediate answer was negative to that possibility.
The work I did was my way of paying for and receiving music for my show. It was a long time understanding at the station that community radio producers could receive music from the public, friends, and musicians both local and national for air on their shows. Their new policy contract states it would be ok for producers to buy their own music for air and keep their purchases, but when they receive any music at their home or in my case, my show’s P.O. Box it would become property of Delta College.
They didn’t ask me or pay me to do the work I’ve done, but they certainly wanted to reap the rewards of said work. I was told to only use the Delta Broadcasting website and email on air. I’ve complied with that since this meeting.
I have spent literally countless hours on post production of The Eclectic Chair because it was my pride and joy. I published an extensive playlist every week including links and photos to all the music that aired on each show. I shared on Facebook, Twitter and many other mindless social media sites to simply promote the show and the musicians who are the heart of any good music radio program.
I would no longer be allowed to thank anybody without expressed permission from the production coordinator or program manager. They even wanted to take the technical control of the show away from producers during the live pledge drives. The final line of the contract said it all: “All programs are property of Delta College.”
It seems they believed that as an extreme part-time employee, my being paid per diem $30 per broadcast hour of The Eclectic Chair contract was payment enough to ask for more work for free. They seemed surprised when I refused to immediately sign the onerous and over-reaching policy contract. Or perhaps that was their plan all along to eliminate me from the station? Either way, I believe they are the biggest losers in this lack of negotiation and the public listeners to their station in flux get to suffer. Although it’s not my fault, I’m sorry for that.
None of my desktop self-publishing or social media activities has ever been used for personal gain. The only times I've solicited funds on these sites was only to raise money for Delta College’s Q90.1FM Pledge Drives every six months when I would include their links and toll-free number. Along with not missing hearing my voice on the local airwaves, I will not miss live shows groveling for public radio dollars for a station that has a history of discounting and throwing away with two hands community volunteers. This is Public Radio?
So, after about a thousand hours of radio production both volunteer and compensated at Delta College Quality Public Radio, my last production of The Eclectic Chair airs Monday & Tuesday 8/25 & 8/26 1-2pm on Q90.1FM.
As to the future; a friend with a studio offered to host my podcast. I may do that. Or I may start a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a small home set up. Or I may simply fade into radio history and write music reviews to keep my ears in. I will keep you posted. The Eclectic Chair is mine and so is my PO Box, website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. I won't give up creative and final edit control to anything less than a national compensated contract. I believe the show is worth far more exposure than the small community college has a stomach for.
I now offer the last word and only real call to action as on most of my Eclectic Chair productions: Peace.
Trish Lewis, ‘The Eclectic Chair’