Skip to comments.Radio Silence. How NPR purged classical music from its airwaves.
Posted on 06/07/2004 6:43:16 AM PDT by Valin
IF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF BLACKSMITHS AND BUGGYWHIP MANUFACTURERS had held a convention in 1910, in those last sullen moments before the Horseless Carriage put them all out of business, then this is what it must have felt like--the same forced cheerfulness laid over the same defeated air, the same stiff upper lip at the prospect of the inescapable end. Outside the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort, on the Florida coast near Tampa Bay, the beach was streaked with wind and black thunderheads stacked up along the horizon. Inside the hotel, members of the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio had gathered for their 42nd annual convention. These are the programmers who play what remains of classical music on America's noncommercial radio stations. They milled about the Citrus Room, and ducked in and out of the Mangrove Room, and stepped hopefully toward the Manatee Room, where, in the manner of all such trade conventions, a space had been set aside for interested tradesmen to hawk their wares to this select professional audience. It was nearly empty.
On a couch next to the Dolphin Room, Dave Glerum sat talking about classical music and public radio. Glerum is a friendly and thoughtful man, bearded and roundish, who serves as the music director of WMFE, the public radio station in Orlando. He's been coming to the AMPPR conference for 25 years.
"Believe it," he said. "This was once like a major trade show. You had 30 record labels here, giving records away, all kinds of free stuff. Artists would perform during the day, every night, promoting their records. There were throngs of people all weekend long. By Sunday, when you left, you still wouldn't have met 80 percent of the attendees. That's how many people there were. And now it's . . . well . . ." He waved his hand toward the conference-goers who drifted from room to room, singly or in groups of twos and threes.
Glerum has been working at WMFE since 1990. He was hired away from WXXI in Rochester, New York, where he'd worked for more than 10 years. In retrospect, those years now look like the tail end of the glory days of classical programming on the nation's public radio stations, when a large majority of them devoted a large majority of their airtime to music.
"When I came to WMFE, we had three full-time on-air announcers and two part-time announcers," he said. "Now we have no part-time announcers and one full-time announcer." He tapped his chest. "Me."
Like most public radio stations, WMFE was conceived as a "fine arts" station, broadcasting classical music and other arts programs around the clock. Today it carries only three hours a day of its own classical programming. The rest is talk--call-in shows, BBC news, interview shows, as well as the flagship newsmagazines from National Public Radio, All Things Considered and Morning Edition--plus several hours, most of them overnight, of a syndicated classical music service, called Classical 24, that originates from a studio in Minnesota but is designed to sound like local programming wherever it's played. Listeners in Orlando worry that much of even this canned music will soon be replaced by more talk shows. And they're right to worry.
(Excerpt) Read more at weeklystandard.com ...
Time to dump the NPR and PBS subsidies. LONG OVERDUE. Unfinished business from the Reagan Administration.
Well thankfully we still have classical music on the air in my market.. but its not the NPR station that plays it. I don't listen in often for classical, but it is nice when in the mood.
Though it is NPR, it is mercifully free of leftist trash, and they have a webcast.
I wish we had something like that here.
Kill the beast. Cut it's throat. Drink it's blood.
Curiously, although they have slashed coverage of classical in their paper, the New York Times radio station is still all classical. They play long pieces, too, whole symphonies and operas, as well as stuff like string quartets that you would not normally hear on a commercial classical station.
I listen online.
Listen over tbe web if you like. In any case, the worst possible thing that could happen to classical music in America is that it becomes the sole province of the state.
We in NE Ohio are blessed to have both a commercial classical station (WCLV)and a public classic station (WKSU). Both compete vigarously for the classic music listening market which is quite large. The LOSER is the second public station (WCPO)is dying-on-the-vine with 24 hour PBS talk.
I don't not begrudge what the government gives to Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, or the National Endowment for the Humanities. These three programs represent such a small amount of the total federal budget that complaining about spending in this area is tantamount to telling you kids they can have a piece of penny candy. Getting angry over the cost just seems foolish.
These groups do need to police themselves a little better and watchout for funding the dumb or offensive stuff, but for the most part, they do a pretty good job stretchingthe money they get.
And a great deal of the money goes for educational programs, funding local sympphony ochestras and art museums, festivals, theater groups and more.
Last year our community received a total of $56,000 that was divided between the symphony, two community theater programs, two local art museums, three festivals, and a half dozen local artists. That's all the money they got. The two theater companies have budgets of more than $1 million, which they raise through other means.
If that doesn't convince you then maybe this will. The top 20% of tax payers pay 65.7% of all tax monies gathered each year. The bottom 20% pays 1.1%
Nearly 50% of the budget, however goes to benefit the bottom 20% in terms of welfare and other programs.
Since I'm paying large sums of money to fund programs I don't use, and the people who do use them pay nothing, why can't I have that piece of penny candy?
On a wide note, this article in more about the death of local radio. In our market, we have 15 radio stations, only eight of which have jockeys. We have one guy who programs his own music. He's been on the air for more than 50 years, he owns more than 50,000 albums and 20,000 CDs. He plays everything; classical, rock to country to opera to musical theater. You can hear Frank and Elvis each do "My Way" back to back.
Everyone else has canned or programmed music. There is not a single program director in this market who actually programs the station. Radio with local programing will soon be a thing of the past.
There are three stations devoted to classical music.
First, the cultural base for classical music, and the arts in general, has been eroded by bad TV, bad radio, and bad education. No amount of government funding would fix that -- the only answer is for people to want to have good taste.
Second, you're right about the effects of the big stations. Most of them play the same schlock, in pretty much the same order. The problem in that case is that the radio corporations are big (i.e., they have no feel for local wants or needs), and they're in bed with the record companies (which means that they get paid to play crap).
As with so many other problems, the dearth of good radio can be traced to a populace that doesn't know any better.
Local public radio here has consolidated three independent stations into one corporate entity. One station is talk, the other is rock/folk/jazz, but the third is classical. However, the classical station has a daytime play-list carefully designed to be friendly to local businesses that wish to sponsor it, and who wish to play it in their establishments as muzak. So the programming is heavy on sweet violiny Mozarty stuff. They even have announcements suggesting to businesses that they can play -- and sponsor -- "beautiful music". Late in the evening, they switch to the Beethoven network (out of Chicago, I think), which plays a much more interesting mix of music (late 20th century, for example).
Wish we had a classical station in my area.
But look how many public radio stations play essentially the same few programs, just like the commercial stations.
I think they are "commercial" in most respects, they just do their accounting a bit differently. There aren't many stations that can afford to produce their own "big time" programming, which is why they subscribe to NPR and such.