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Classical radio sacks presenters and goes auto-feed

San Antonio’s classical public radio has dropped all five local presenters to save costs. It will take an automatic feed from Minnesota.

Read the wretched news here.

 

kpac

Dierdre Saravia, one of five sacked hosts at KPAC-FM

 

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Comments

  1. That Minnesota feed is awful. 99.5 used it every through the night. Pieces of pieces. The same pieces over and over again.

    Ugh!

    We are losing our morning announcer, Suzanne Nance, here in Maine, and I’m worried that’s the way we are going. I’m waiting, but if that’s what happens I’ll pull my donations.

    • That would never happen in Canada, where CBC Radio 2 classical hosted programs are varied, diverse and open to all classical musicians:
      For instance, the Wang/Abbado “live” Rachmaninov CD was played on “Tempo” on November 15, 2012; December 20, 2012; January 4, 2013; March 6, 2013; June 14, 2013; June 17, 2013 until they switched to the Hough/Litton Grieg on June 7, June 27, July 8, August 1st and counting! ;-)

  2. PK Miller says:

    This, alas, does not surprise me. I fear, sometimes, this is the direction WMHT FM the classical music station in the Capital District of NY State may soon be going. From an era where we had announcers themselves classical musicians, who could speak knowledgeably, intelligently, articulately about the work being played, performance, performer, etc., as well as giving you the record label/number afterward. Station breaks occurred at a convenient “jumping off point,” when a recorded performance was complete. Now, the station seems to have become “classical top 40.” The announcers will tell you what you are about to hear, the performers but that’s all. There’s no background. They will even interrupt a recording at the top of the hour for a station break. Yes, WMHT FM still carries some significant syndicated programs like From the Top, Pipedreams etc. But the general mix is “classical top 40″ w/announcers who might as well be on top 40 radio, & feed from NPR.
    And I have to ask–not to denigrate the decent people of Texas, but is it something in the water down there? Lack thereof? It seems then news from Texas seems to be more and more negative, depressing….

  3. Yep, MPR is pretty much corporate these days (and look at the Board). I’m stopping my contribution. Another reason is that the’ve been told to “stay out” of any significant investigation and reporting on the orchestra situations. Yep, corporate media at its finest.

    • I love MPR and have it on the computer twenty-four hours a day. To be able to get that in central PA is great.

  4. James Brinton says:

    Texas. Rushing headlong into the 19th century.

    • robcat2075 says:

      Here in Dallas (Texas) we have a classical station that is locally staffed. WRR is a rare city-owned station and a rare commercial classical station. It operates without tax payer subsidy. There have been numerous attempts by classical music non-fans among the city leaders to sell it off but all have been turned back so far.

      http://www.wrr101.com/about/

      Going commercial might not work, however, in San Antonio, that is a far smaller market for ad revenue.

      We also have public radio in Dallas but it is all news/talk.

  5. Unfortunately, San Antonio is by no means the first place in the US where this has happened (though it may be the largest market).

  6. Losing the local connection for programming also unplugs the affected community from its local classical music makers and presenters. Touring artists and presenters have no interview or airplay outlet to promote with nor do the local/regional musicians and students. There’s no conversation.

    I work for an American classical record label. While I am glad that a service like MPR’s Classical 24 exists for those markets that want to offer classical music on their airwaves but lack the budget for presenters or the library to do it themselves, it has been a game-changer. As more and more stations utilize a single feed, there are less and less ‘voices’ in the classical music conversation. It is harder to develop new artists or have new recordings played because labels have less folks to appeal to when promoting a new release.

    Like big box stores, mega-marts and malls erasing the individual character of a community downtown, it happens with the ‘permission’ of the populous at a fundamental level. The town wants the tax revenue or the perceived jobs needed to build and staff those places, as example. Without strong support, local media is taken over by the ease of a plug in. No live, local human beings required.

    Change is inevitable, but how it changes can be and must be shaped at the local level or we all lose.

    • Your last sentence “speaks” volumes. How true! MPR is no longer very “local”. I appreciate the poster above whose choice is MPR feeds or nothing, but that is not a true “choice”.

  7. A bright spot may be found in Detroit, where WRCJ-FM provides one of the greatest classical stations in the country. It is staffed by extremely knowledgeable presenters and administration who raised the station from the failed remains of its predecessor. Their programming is relentlessly interesting, and I highly recommend to all that they sample it through the station’s streaming option on their website. WRCJ-FM is a model for how classical radio should be run in America; it will give you hope for the medium.

  8. Paul Ricchi says:

    Listeners should remember this when the station does its periodic begging.

  9. Here in small Connecticut we have an embarrasment of riches when it come to classical radio programing. Three stations that come to mind are WMNR 88.1 FM, WSHU 91.1 FM and WJMJ 88.9 FM, which programs classical music in the evening from 8pm to midnight. All stations are available via web streaming worldwide.

    They are staffed by local announcers who have individualistic programs with appropriate commentary. I would recommend on WMNR Mike Shakinovsky’s Great Pianists of the 20th Century, Monday at 8pm. He writes the program himself, and by day he is an engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft. Mike has recorded 62 of these programs. WMNR also presents the Boston Symphony live from Tanglewood.

    On WJMJ I would recommend Ivor Hugh’s Good Evening Good Music daily at 8pm. Ivor is inimitable.

    On WSHU try David Bouchier’s long running program on Sundays from 1 to 6pm. He writes the programs himself.

    • PK Miller says:

      WAMC Northeast Public Radio also has a CT station–I’m unsure of its frequency but check wamc.org–there’s a complete listing of all of the stations w/in WAMC Public Radio’s “empire.” I don’t know if these are physical stations or just frequencies. All I know of radio is I turn it on, tune the station & voila–I have RADIO!!!! :)

      Does WCPB Connecticut Public Radio itself no longer exist? (I believe it was out of Hartford if it was licensed out of New London or somewhere in that area–I’ve not been to the New London/Mystic area in 30+ years) My old friend Albert Goss, dismissed in one of WMHT FM’s infamous periodic putsches, was Program Director there for several years. (WMHT FM is a classical music, public broadcasting station out of Schenectady NY. They seem to have periodic bloodbaths & programming slips yet another notch. Like the station originally discussed here in SD, I suspect, sooner or later, programming will be more syndicated than live.) I’m glad Connecticut seem to have an embarrassment of riches! WAMC & WMHT FM are very different stations. The most classical music WAMC offers is the Boston Symphony & Met Opera live. (Though they do carry John Pizzrelli’s Radio Deluxe Jazz program 2ce a week–God bless you, Alan Chartock (WAMC CEO!!!)

    • I wish I lived in tiny Connecticut instead of the huge country to the north. This is the type of program host that we are now lacking in our government funded CBC Radio2 here in Canada (the total funding for all of the CBC is over $1 billion a year that includes all its TV and radio and internet operations). Also we get no classical music in the evening. The daily weekday classical music show runs from 9:10 am until 1 pm. It is then followed by another hour or so of classical music which then, with the same host, starts to move into other genres. This is broadcast coast to coast with timing to adhere to the different time zones, up to 4 hours in total.
      May be I should move, it’s not that far from Ottawa to Connecticutt, with its three classical radio stations. However it would be more desirable if those running the three stations down there could come up here and replicate their contributions to musical life in Canada.

  10. Michael B. says:

    Unfortunately, most of the United States classical radio stations, whether commercial (a dying breed) or public radio (presumably nonprofit) are pretty ghastly. They all seem to be reading from the same playbook and seem to be chained to the results of “market research” and “focus groups”; it appears that the “market research” and “focus groups” have been conducted in Frog’s Nose, Nebraska. These stations play virtually no vocal music (except maybe Pavarotti’s “Nessun Dorma” once in a while) on the theory that vocal music doesn’t “test well.” (I guess that this explains why Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, and Luciano Pavarotti himself had such unrecognized careers and sold so few recordings.) They won’t play anything considered “dissonant” or “difficult,” which takes care of not only the Second Viennese School and the other usual twentieth-century suspects, but also of most of Richard Strauss and Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” These stations are playing more and more excerpts and single movements, and, for many of them, their programming is restricted by a rigid hour-by-hour format, making it impossible to play, for example, symphonies by Mahler or Bruckner (if they would ever risk that), or even Beethoven’s Ninth. They play the same bland, anodyne stuff over and over again; a billion Handel concerto grossos. (Listening to them, you would never know that most baroque music was vocal.)

    • Yes, it seems that most classical stations are in the grip of a one hour vise, which restricts programing to shorter pieces if the station also needs to broadcast sponsor messages.
      But with respect to poor old Bruckner, most of his symphonies clock in at well under one hour, even if played slowly. Bur for some reason his works are rarely played.

  11. Michael B., I sympathize with your frustration. Really, I do.

    But what “vocal music doesn’t test well” means is that, over and over again, listener surveys indicate that something like a third of the average US classical radio station’s audience says that they do not want to hear any vocal music in any way, shape, or form. (That’s the way the last article I read on the subject worded it.)

    Mind you, I have a bit of trouble accepting that, because – while I understand that some people are truly put off by operatic singing – that would include everything from Mozart or Verdi arias to the Tallis Scholars to Handel’s Messiah to Anonymous 4 to Arvo Part and Eric Whitacre, and I have trouble believing that anyone who is willing to listen to classical music on the radio would object to all of those.

    Nevertheless, listener surveys have repeatedly shown that allergy to vocal music among a big chunk of the audience. In that light, I can understand why stations would avoid vocal music. Very fortunately, there are classical radio stations that don’t avoid it.

    I sympathize even more with your complaint about most US classical radio programming consisting of a bunch of Baroque concertos (mixed in with some 19th-century chamber music and the occasional popular orchestral work).

    What we have to accept, unfortunately, is that here in the US, most listeners to any type of radio use it as background music. (Except for when they use it to keep them company in the car.) So the classical radio stations that offer this programming that bores us so much are giving the majority of their listeners what those listeners want.

    Basically, we’re outvoted.

    Fortunately, we have the Internet now, and (except in the car) we’re not limited to our local radio stations anymore. I listen to concert broadcasts from European classical radio stations at least two or three times a week.

  12. In my earlier message about classical radio in Connecticut, I was remiss in not mentioning yet another station available in our small but cultured state, and that is WFCR at 88.5 FM. Although out of Amherst, Massachusetts, their signal can be picked up in much of Connecticut.

  13. Michael B. says:

    I really wonder where this research about listeners disliking vocal music comes from–whom are they interviewing or otherwise surveying, and how is it done. A few years ago, there was a document that appeared online that purported to summarize listeners’ reactions to various pieces and types of classical music. It was revealed that these reactions were obtained by playing snippets of the music, some as short as 45 seconds, to listeners. How can any listener form a coherent impression of, for example, Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, after listening to 45 seconds of a work whose full performance typically takes 45-50 minutes?

    The real reason that I am intensely skeptical of the theory that vocal music doesn’t “test well” is that the same stations who completely avoid vocal music much of the year play almost nothing but Christmas-oriented music, most of it vocal music, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Much of this music is unmitigated junk, and this is extremely irritating to listeners who either do not celebrate Christmas or, even if they do, are tuning into a classical music radio station in an attempt to avoid the sort of commercialized Christmas music that you hear in every mall during that period. It would not be so bad if they played full-length recordings of works such as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Hector Berlioz’s “L’Enfance du Christ,” or Vaughan Williams’s “Hodie”, just to name a few works–but of course, they don’t play those works.

    Finally, why should a non-commercial public radio station be chasing after ratings and why do they need the largest possible audience? That should not be the function of public radio. I understand that not everyone will like any particular piece of music, and it will always be that way.

  14. The news of local announcers being dismissed at KPAC-FM, San Antonio, is sad and deplorable. Obviously, MPR is providing a “service” at least allowing a format of classical music to continue. But, were the members and listeners apprised of this plan ahead of time by station management?
    I am the senior part-time announcer (since the station’s inception in 1977) at Classical 94.5 WNED-FM, Buffalo, N.Y. (& on the web at WNED.org.). We pride ourselves on being a 24 hour, member supported, classical music station with a wide range of genres, including opera twice a week, and choral and vocal selections.
    Granted, we reach the 3 million + population of the Toronto, Ontario area, but 70% of our finances depend on member support. Our announcers work hard to provide a variety of works, intelligently presented. We provide nightly concert and syndicated programs as well.
    The bottom line is that if you value your local classical music station, support it financially as a member, or it may not stay the way you like it.

  15. Wow, what a great topic, and a well-informed group of folks posting on the thread. I think it’s a given that being able to listen locally is not a choice, if we are looking for ad-free, or nearly ad-free, high quality classical programming,,,,,not 24/7 Classical and similar feeds. Internet streaming is IMO the only way to experience this. There is just too much good programming around the world, to think that any one local station can come close to what’s available. I publish the Classical Radio Guide, listing choice radio stations, but more importantly, the programs from each station that fit the bill. All of them have at least 128Kbps streaming, some as high as 320Kbps. There are some great programs mentioned here in the thread, but their audio quality, frankly, sucks, via streaming. If you live in the area and can hear it via the radio no issue, but Classical music streamed at less than 128K is just bad. My Classical Radio Guide is ad-free and costs nothing for you to use. If you care anything about vocal classical music, as I do, my guide will interest you.

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