Cheesy Broadcasting Corporation

We have three PBS stations in New York. Tonight, in pledge time, one of them has a diet show and two have cheesy violinist Andre Rieu. That is PBS’s dirty secret: They aren’t supported by high-class culture but by low-class cheese. Hey, whatever pays the bills. But why not just start the all-cheese-all-the-time channel to raise money for the real channel? Or why not just take ads? Are they really worse than Andre Rieu?

  • I, as a Dutchman, would like to apoligize for Andre Rieu.

  • I’d say ads are worse than cheese. You can turn it off for the week the cheese is on. Zapping ads is more labor intensive. That said, for one reason or another, I’ve hardly watched PBS since the 80s.

  • Hunter McDaniel

    Jeff, what programs do you consider the “real” PBS? I can’t figure out what they offer anymore that’s both valuable and unique and that wouldn’t survive on its own without a PBS.

    Sesame Street? – Children’s Television Workshop could start their own cable channel anytime they wanted.
    Masterpiece Theatre? – duplicates A&E
    NOVA? – duplicates Discovery Channel
    AmericanExperience? – duplicates History Channel
    Washington Week, Bill Moyers, Frontline? – the good stuff duplicates CSPAN, the bad stuff duplicates CNN and FNC
    local current affairs? – not much better than what’s on the local public access channel.

    I’m still a dues-paying subscriber (out of habit), but I honestly wouldn’t miss much if PBS went away.

  • It seems clear that some music is “inauthentic.” There is just something about it that rings false. I’ve been puzzling over this for some time, but haven’t come up with a set of criteria that doesn’t sound elistist. It’s not that the performer is backed by a corporate giant or that the quality of the music is poor, it’s just something else. My examples (I’m sure no one will agree):

    Country music – inauthentic. It all sounds the same, the themes are trite and it takes itself much too seriously.
    Jazz – authentic
    Blues – authentic
    Rieu/Welk, etc – inauthentic
    Hi Hop and Rap – some of each
    Bubble Gum girl singers – authentic synthetic product
    Rock – early authentic, late ???
    Crooners – inauthentic with one or two exceptions (Tony Bennett, for example)
    Classical – mostly authentic

    It would seem to have something to do with the inner artistic motivation of the performer, but as I said, I can’t pin it down.

  • Jeff — channel 13 (WNET) just broadcast the Cream reunion on Great Performances the other day, so as far as I’m concerned, they’ve done their job for the week.


  • Paw

    I’m not sure why we need 3 public television stations in the same market, all broadcasting the same schedule, more or less, redundantly anyway. All are available on any cable system or over the air. As others have posted, their programming is hardly unique anymore. Why not sell two of those stations and put the money toward some relevant municipal use?

  • PBS pledgedreck is sad, but it isn’t a choice between it and ads. There could be decent funding for public broadcasting in this country.

    On December 1st, KQED in San Francsisco was airing that Cream concert and another 60s music special instead of Ending AIDS (it won’t be on until the 14th) and at the height of the California energy crisis, they showed a glass blowing infomercial instead of a Frontline investigation.

    Hunter, first not everyone has cable. And you obviously haven’t watched A&E lately. It might have overlapped with Masterpiece Theater a decade ago, but somehow I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like Dog: the Bounty Hunter on MT.

    CTW along with PBS and Comcast have started a cable channel called Sprout (which was a controversial move among PBS affiliates).

    C-SPAN doesn’t do documentaries. CNN barely does them. I don’t think FNC does them. And only HBO does documentaries of the quality of Frontline, POV, and Independent Lens (and only Frontline puts almost all of them online). And neither CNN nor FNC covered media consolidation like NOW did.

    American Experience is so much better than most History Channel programs. Discovery does do good programs, but NOVA is as good or better (and they are starting to put programs online.

    Several local PBS stations used to do good local news and would do it again if there was more funding.

  • Laura

    Nothing could be worse than Andre Rieu. It’s on both of our PBS stations today and I’m not turning the TV on again until I can be sure he won’t be on it. Ew.

  • Do these bait n’ switch programs really help the pledge drives? Seriously, any numbers? Here in Dallas, our KERA has preempted most of Sunday’s regular programming for these godawful “be successful” snooze seminar/lectures by Suze Orman and some bald dude whose name I can’t recall. I can understand that sometimes you might be in the mood for Suze Orman, Andre Rieu, or even John Tesh. But as an incentive to donate?

    It would be like a blog taking donations, but then going into a “pledge drive” and replacing all of the regular current events posts with anagrams, bad puns, and wall-to-wall nursery rhymes.

  • Symkat KK

    So you are all bitching about PBS & Andre Rieu. I find that sad. If you want “better” programming, quit yer bitching and produce a show. How droll and little to sit back and complain. Certainly allowing others to produce a show, put their necks out and for them to stand up, only so you who do nothing of the sort, can complain, says more about you than it does about them.
    Millions upon millions disagree with you about Andre Rieu and he is laughing all the way to the bank.
    In this day and age of Bobby Brown beating his wife once again on the news or of the latest formerely greatest guitarist blowing his brains out via drugs, you moan about Andre Rieu?
    Leave me out of your self pity party of one. I’ll take Andre’s music over lower than snake spit hoit anyday.

    *I do understand about the pledge breaks being a bore, but unless PBS becomes self supporting, and I think ALL FED FUNDING for it should stop…pledge breaks will be on the tube.

  • MB

    Late to the game I know, but I just have to comment.
    Anyone who thinks PBS programming “duplicates” that sclock on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and A&E just aren’t paying attention. PBS history and culture programming are head and shoulders above that garbage — when they’re not rebroadcasting old PBS material.
    Have you noticed that the History Channel, for example, is contastantly broadcasting “Left Behind” themed “history” programming? Like we need to give those whackos more credibility? Please!

    That said. Andre Reiu sucks more than anything else has sucked before. It’s elevator music. No, it’s worse. It’s hold music. Why can’t the pledge targets just call a bank after hours and stay on the phone, and then we can have our history and science programming back? I’m not pledging again until they stop. That and Doo-Wop festivals. And Celtic Woman. It’s insane.

  • Niki

    Sorry For You. I guess if it dont have cursing or what some one wants to do to your sister . mother.. or father it isnt music………..
    F.Y.I. this music is where all music comes from check the history of the composers 1890 and before. As Far as Andre Reiu he is good but again if it isnt Jay Z or Nelly or Backstreet Boys. Grow up and if there is something you dont like on the Television take the remote control and change the channel. Well that I guess is a little to compicated for some of you.
    Now go crawl uder your rock intill something new comes out

  • SteveJ

    I guess I am one of those millions that Symkat KK talks about. I saw my first Andre Reiu concert on Dec 4, 2006 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. The show is great! He is great! One of the last purveyors of real music. I’ll be going again whenever I get the chance. The rest of the music industry is junk. I am glad to see there is still a little left that is worth the effort to get out and see/hear.

  • My gosh you guys/gals are spoiled having 3 PBS stations to bicker over their programming. I live in San Diego where we only have ONE. How would you like to ONLY have one choice on PBS on Saturday evenings. We are treated to repeats of Lawrence Welk’s TV Treasures from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM EVERY Saturday night.

    I may be “middle aged”, but I sure would rather watch Andre Rieu any night over Lawrence Welk. Our KPBS is located at San Diego State University. One of the top “party/drinking” colleges in the country. I don’t get why, with a young college aged student population there, that KPBS plays Lawrence Welk during prime time on Saturday night. I know that there is a Lawrence Welk community in the La Jolla area of San Diego, but I can’t imagine that there is enough of a population here to support Lawrence Welk Saturday nights prime time. I guess they must have the big bucks $$$$$ for donations to KPBS to keep Lawrence on here on Saturday nights.

    I am fortunate that I have a computer I built and installed a $100.00 HDTV tuner card for over the air HDTV broadcasts. It also turns my hard drive into a Digital Video Recorder. With the Over the Air/Free to Air signals, I get a different broadcast stream from KPBS than what they are broadcasting on cable and providing to my satellite carrier Dish Network (both have Lawrence). What KPBS has over the air/free to air, isn’t much better, it is Rick Steves travels Europe for the 1,000 th time. His travel program is interesting the first time or two. Unfortunately KPBS airs its HDTV over the air in 4 hour blocks, and then repeats the same block, over and over.

    So, my NYC area friends, I hope it is some solace that you have 3 PBS stations to argue over. When I move back to LA (after 10 years in San Diego), I will have the same luxury of 3 PBS stations to pick from. I just hope that they have different broadcasts on each, unlike what it sounds like you sometimes have there in the NYC Metro area. The only reason I can see for more than one PBS station broadcasting the same thing in the same market, might be that some areas of a Metropolitan Area the size of NYC, LA, or Chicago, is that some customers on some cable/ satellite or just over the air broadcasts may only get one of two of the 3 PBS stations. I do know in some large cities different cable or satellite companies carry DIFFERENT PBS stations from others, in other parts of a metro area.

    Give me Andre Rieu over Lawrence Welk here in San Diego every Saturday night.

    Best Wishes to all in the “Big Apple”,


  • Debra Chasse

    I don’t watch much television and when I do I just flip the channels to see the same boring shows and inane blather on every channel. One night I was lucky enough to catch a little of Andre Rieu and his four year old protege and it was so beautiful and pure and fun.

    I wound up watching the whole thing and found myself smiling through it all. l next bought tickets to the concert in St Pete, Fl in april 2007 and and I can tell you, it was like heaven!! No one can take away the image of Angels and harps and Andre Rieu with tears welling up in his eyes while playing America the Beautiful. There were people of all ages there and some had seen him five or six times!

    It was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I have seen A LOT OF bands from the Stones to Johnny Lang and many more I like all kinds of music even EminEm, but I totally THANK YOU PBS for bringing Andre to our lives. His violin solos are superb and the sincerity and heart he brings to his music is contagious. I will go anytime and every time I get a chance. The man and his orchestra are absolutely ETHEREAL. (His schlick is a little behind the times, but refreshingly so.:)

  • Xenna

    Saw my first Andre Rieu concert on PBS tonight, August 12, 2007. How wonderful he is! The program was just great, I’m sorry for those who cannot appreciate him!

  • Warren

    Andre Rieu is the Thomas Kincaid of classical music. I dare you to close your eyes the next time you see him perform. Because if you do and you don’t see all the balloons floating in the air and the grinning idiots playing the instruments in his orchestra I think you’ll realize that there is not much music going on there. It all seems to be loud and dramatic, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    Kind of like a Thomas Kincaid painting full of cozy looking “Ye Olde Village” houses that a first year art student could draw.

  • goodmusic-AndreRieu

    I agree with Symkatt KK. Have you listened to the type of music that is out there–cussing, violence, etc. Please people–you are complaining about his music.

    I just saw Andre Rieu’s concert on TV for the first time. Mr. Rieu should be put on PBS. This is a good way to reach the young generation. His music provides dreams, hopes, and magic. Can you please tell me what is wrong with this??? I am going to make sure that my grandchildren listen to his music.

    Berry-you have nothing to apologize for. The dutchman will inspire my grandchildren to go for their dreams. This is how I feel when I listen to his music. I am a dreamer and my dreams have become a reality. So, I say, “go dutchman”.

  • sammie

    All of you out there who are bagging out Andre are fools, the man i a down to earth family man who loves music.
    My 3 year old son loves him and i didn’t even introduce to the music he just saw it on t.v. and loved it now his dvd is hardly out of the player, and personally i would rather have him watching that than see something as STUPID and SENSLESS as the simpsons or some of stupid cartoons that are shown on t.v. for kids these days (full of guns and laser) what is this world coming to!!!!
    I say GO ANDRE keep playing your beautiful violin.
    And for all of you out there who don’t get classical music GET A LIFE AND SOME CULTURE!!!!

  • pmapson

    Please allow me to contribute to this “longoing” (pardon my invented term) discussion.
    I arrived here via a google search for .
    Obviously the man is very gifted technically, but the superficiality and schlockiness of his style put me off completely. I agree with Warren’s views above.
    Contrary to what the last poster said, it is people who DO “get classical music” who can’t stand him. I like classical music and I also like The Simpsons, which is neither stupid nor SENSLESS [SIC].

    It is puzzling to me why PBS stations, during pledge drives, put out some of the worst drivel imaginable, like the aforementioned Andre Rieu — the Lawrence Welk of classical music — and concerts by the likes of Sarah Brightman. Listen to her sing, then listen to someone like Jessye Norman to hear what a real performer of opera sounds like.
    Not just style, she (Norman) has all of that, but also power and substance to the level of Pavarotti.
    Don’t get me started on Andrea Bocelli :).

    If this sounds offensive to some, or elitist, as Mr. Feinman was concerned about over three years ago, I’m sorry, but it’s just my opinion. Obviously those people have more talent musically than I could ever hope to have, but the result is like perfectly done icing on a cake made of, well, more icing. After one piece you start to feel queasy. So I can’t make it, but I don’t have to like it either.

    Similar to the above are the “self help” programs by the likes of that “bald guy” whose name Carson Fire couldn’t recall. It’s Wayne Dyer.

    I was taken in for the first couple of shows, and I will admit I even enjoyed them. Then I came to the realization that I was just hearing platitudes, although the ideas behind them seemed to have a lot of merit, such as “forgiveness”, “the power of intention”, etc.

    Problem is, as with most of these new age “gurus”, you don’t get much in the way of real advice on practical ways to improve your life, but mainly nice-sounding catch-phrases and recycled advice from various mystical sources, mostly eastern.
    Worse, the “you are in control of your destiny” advice can, at worst, lead to a “blame the victim” attitude, if things don’t go your way or you get sick, or at least lead to unrealistic expectations.

    Say you want to be a millionaire, for example, or “manifest abundance” as Deepak Chopra might put it (it sounds so much nicer than “get lots of money”).
    You can’t just have the intention, and keep wishing for it to happen, although that is a start. You have to actually go out and DO something about it, and that is assuming you have the ability and drive to accomplish it in the first place.
    If you do, great!
    Go for it!

    Watching these pledge drive shows won’t give you that ability or an action plan, though.
    You’d be better off doing something about it rather than watching the TV, even if it makes you feel warm and cosy inside.

    I seem to have digressed somewhat from my original Andre Rieu diatribe, so I’ll leave it there. Thank god for “broad”band or what passes for it, and my PC. I hardly watch live TV these days, especially the ripoff that is cable TV, but that’s another topic…

  • pmapson

    The blog software removed part of my post above. It should read:
    “I arrived here via a google search for [“Andre Rieu” cheesy]”

  • Bob

    It turns out that Richard Tognetti, the artistic director for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and therefore presumably someone who knows a bit about classical music, thinks Rieu is a joke. I’m no musician, but after attempting to listen through one of his songs I’d have to agree.

    Sure, there’s plenty of crappy music out there, but the fact that this guy plays a violin doesn’t grant him an exemption clause. You might describe him as the tabloid of classical music. Every field has its suckers- simply calling it “classical” doesn’t make it good. He simply can’t compare with the actual good classical musicians out there, and there are many of them. Rieu is classical music’s answer to Britney Spears, and it sickens me that he’s managed to achieve the fame that he has.