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7/17/2008


OTR Digest Issue…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 5:10 pm

I’d like to ask for some input on an issue that is becoming pretty major on the OTR Digest…hit-and-run commercial interests.

Let me back up a little; routinely, people are sent to the OTR Digest to ask a question. It used to be folks asking about some family member or another who appeared, or at least was said to have appeared, on one program or another, and, “does anyone have or know about this show?”…that kind of question certainly belongs on the OTR Digest, and I’m sure everyone on the list is interested in checking their collections to see if they can help out.

But recently, the questions are coming more and more from commercial interests — people writing a book, working on a documentary, or the like; basically people with no interest whatsoever in Old-Time Radio other than their current “desperate need” for whatever it is they are going to be making money on. One example was someone with a company making money producing a radio series with an idea stolen from a certain famous newsman; hit - subscribe and request specific material; then run - unsubscribe and while doing so tell me he really doesn’t care about OTR, he just needed that one piece. Very recently a woman writing a book about someone hammered the Digest address (and every other address she could find on the server) with the same form letter over and over, asking for specific shows so she could use them in research for her book about this person - no interest in radio, just interested in the person. Heck, just today I was told this is why we are here, to help people who are involved in commercial projects.

Seriously.

Maybe it’s me, but I’m becoming offended by this…it’s almost as if the subscribers to the OTR Digest are expected to be an unpaid research service for these commercial interests demanding information or programs, and it never occurs to these folks how self-centered that assumption is. Understand, I’m not talking about the folks who are involved in the hobby; we have boatloads of authors (Martin Grams, Jim Cox, Stephen Kallis, David Siegel, and Anthony Tollin, just off the top of my head, and probably dozens more) who routinely participate in the Digest discussions. And I’m not talking about “legitimate” questions from folks dealing with their relatives…heck, I’ve participated more than once in finding long-lost programming for someone. I’m talking about hit-and-runners who don’t give a whit about OTR, and are only interested in having someone else provide them with research material they need “right away” and then vanish into the night never to be seen again.

Like I said, maybe it’s just me. I’d appreciate subscriber thoughts on this - I realize it’s pretty much my issue to deal with (and those who go out of their way to annoy me, by sending form letters to every address they can harvest, for example, will still be summarily ignored), but I want to know what you think about the issue. Please…discuss.

(Oh, just so there’s no confusion, this discussion is open to subscribers to the Digest…hit-and-runners justifying your “desperate need” should not apply… And one day soon I hope to bring up the contentious issue of on-line auction posts, but one major issue at a time, eh?)

Edit: Please be sure to read this comment before responding, to make certain we’re talking about the same thing. (Actually, I urge you to read all the comments, since they are universally interesting and well-thought-out.)

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