Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 8 News List

ICRT was always rubbish

By Mark Wolfe

I can't imagine why anyone would want to bring back the old ICRT, since during the past nearly 20 years that I have been listening to it, the station has always been far behind the curve when it comes to providing contemporary music and good programming (with the possible exception of the news).

ICRT has always been a third-rate radio station playing songs that are generally 20 or more years out of date (ICRT has never considered itself an oldies station) and with DJs that range from competent, like Lan Roberts and Richie Walker, for example, to annoyingly amateurish, like Rick Monday and Bill Thissen, to the unlistenably childish Ron Stewart.

Moreover, the "IC" part of the station's call letters has never represented the "international community," unless you consider the US its representative. The station may say on its Web site that it represents the foreign community, but as far as I know, ICRT has never played in its regular programming Thai, Filipino or Indonesian songs, even though these members of the international community in Taiwan outnumber all the other foreigners put together.

For that matter, when was the last time you heard a German song on the station? How about French? Spanish? A station cannot claim to be catering to the international community and only play songs in English.

International for ICRT has always been derived from the billboard rankings from the US, and even there the station generally has never covered the top 20 with anything like comprehensiveness. In fact, if you wanted a more international station, just look at the Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC), which regularly plays English, Mandarin and Japanese songs (ever heard a Japanese song on ICRT?).

I certainly want to see a good radio station in Taiwan that plays music for the international community, but hoping to go back to some earlier version of ICRT would only be a step backwards.

Anthony Van Dyck and Gus Adapon, in their original opinion piece ("Keep the ICRT true to its mandate," Jan. 10, p. 8), seem to think that throwing money at the station will improve it to their satisfaction. They said that FTV gets NT$80 million a year from the government to run their daily TV news program and lament that ICRT had been left out. However, on the Internet bulletin board that the authors administer, one of them posted that ICRT receives NT$70 million a year. Either this figure is wrong, or both are wrong, or ICRT is not exactly short of funds. Do the math.

It isn't a question of money that prevents the station from improving; it is the management that is -- shock, horror -- actually trying to successfully run a business, regardless of the possibility that the station is, or was, supposed to be non-profit.

So trying to get ICRT to revert to "the good old days" is predicated on a falsehood, and trying to get them to be "better" for the real international community is about as likely as getting a fish to ride a bicycle.

Mark Wolfe

Taipei

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