Word in Wednesday's Washington Post that the local National Public Radio
station that also plays classical music, WETA-FM, is considering dropping
most of its musical programming in favor of all news and talk.
Evidently, the problem is one cited elsewhere--lowered ratings caused
by a decline in numbers of people who listen to classical music, thus
affecting the fundraising efforts for the station. News and talk are
seen as more reliable revenue builders, especially in an era where any
sort of subsidies to public broadcasting in the U.S. is likely to go
by the wayside.
A management plan for the format change is slated to be presented to the
station's Board of Directors next week, with an announcement to station
staff scheduled afterwards. If accepted, the result would be that most
all classical programs would be axed by month's end, with perhaps one
of the few survivors being the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturdays.
(Of course, dedicated listeners to that program already know that Met
broadcasts are in a precarious state following the termination of
sponsorship by Texaco.)
No word in the article about details of replacement programming, although
the implication is that more news-related broadcasts from NPR would be
in the mix. Evidently, speculation along these lines increased with the
recent hiring of a new Program Director who has no classical background
but has worked on developing news/talk programming at other stations.
If this does happen, the only DC area station that will still broadcast
classical music on a steady basis will be WGMS-FM, which is a commercial
station and often does a "bleeding chunk" approach to programming, and
little vocal music. (But WGMS has been advertising a sister webcasting
site dedicated to vocal music, vivalavoce.com--tonight, for example,
they'll be webcasting the Minkowski/Archiv recording of Rameau's
"Dardanus".) There is also a decent CM station broadcasting from Baltimore
(whose call letters I forget), but in my own locale the signal is so
weak it is in mono.
The problem we DC area people see is that if adopted, the new WETA format
will evidently differ little from that of another local NPR station, WAMU-
FM, which has undergone its own format change traumas in the past decade.
In which case, perhaps a merger might be more efficient?
The direct link to the article (registration required, but is free) is:
Bill H. (like everyone else here, evidently a demographic dinosaur)