PRODIGY FACES THE MUSIC, AND THE MUSIC WINS

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For Martin Bookspan, the chatter of a computer keyboard is music to his ears.

Last month Prodigy told Mr. Bookspan, a noted commentator on classical music, that it would no longer need his services as an expert on one of the online service's bulletin boards.

The move struck a sour note with Arnold Huberman, a Prodigy subscriber, so he quickly took matters into his own hands.

Posting exclamation point-filled calls to action on the classical music bulletin board, Mr. Huberman urged other subscribers to flood a Prodigy executive's e-mail address with letters. He and others suggested subscribers threaten to boycott some Prodigy advertisers.

"It's WAR, people, and we have the biggest mouths in town!" wrote Mr. Huberman, president of his own executive search company and a percussionist who once played with the Boston Symphony.

The grass-roots effort had a resounding effect. Just days after the first note was left, there were more than 90 public replies from other Prodigy subscribers.

A sample warning: "Hear me well!!" wrote one subscriber, "If you ... eliminate Martin Bookspan from the service, YOU DO SO AT YOUR PERIL. I cannot guarantee cancellations beyond my own, but you are assured of mine."

The campaign worked. Less than a week after the first note of discord was sounded, the Prodigy executive, Scott Kurnit, logged on to tell subscribers that Mr. Bookspan would remain.

"This is a case where I think voices raised in protest had a result," noted Mr. Bookspan, who said he was told he would be let go "in the interest of paring expenses." Prodigy has said it will eliminate some services to concentrate on those with higher usage.

"On a pure ratings basis, Bookspan shouldn't be on the service," said Mr. Kurnit, Prodigy exec VP-consumer products, marketing and development. "On a combination of ratings and desire, he should be."

"We did it," Mr. Huberman said. "It shows that a concerted effort by a group of people who have a good case can work."

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