Fans protest loss of folk music program

January 17, 1992|By Eric Siegel

Folk music has helped fuel some of the most important protests of the last quarter century. Now area folk musicians and others involved in the music are organizing a protest of their own.

Their protest concerns the cancellation of the Lee Michael Dempsey Show on Washington public radio station WAMU-FM (88.5). The station replaced Mr. Dempsey's long-running noon to 3 p.m. weekday show of folk, acoustic and bluegrass music on Wednesday with a local two-hour talk show hosted by Derek McGinty and an hour of a new national talk show syndicated by National Public Radio.

"There's enough talk radio already. We don't need any more. Public broadcasting is supposed to offer an alternative," said Joyce Sica, who is involved in booking folk acts into the Coffehouse at Otterbein in downtown Baltimore and at the Fokal Point in Ellicott City.

"To pull such an important show off the air is outrageous," she added.

Ms. Sica said she and others are gathering petitions to present to the station demanding Mr. Dempsey's return to the air.

WAMU decided to remove Mr. Dempsey's 9-year-old show from the air because it "wanted to focus more sharply on the things we do best --news/talk and bluegrass music," said spokeswoman Charlotte Taylor.

The station has received more than 200 calls protesting the move, she said.

Mr. Dempsey, 38, a 16-year veteran of WAMU, will remain at the American University-based station in an off-air capacity. "I'm overwhelmed not only by the volume of calls but about how strong people feel about the program," he said yesterday.

He said he was concerned that without a regular radio outlet for folk music fewer people would attend local folk venues.

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