This gets curiouser and curiouser...
I doubt there has been any enlightenment here; more likely, the talk
radio experiment is not doing as well as management hoped or as well
as they are indicating.
WETA May Fill Classical Music Gap Left by WGMS
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 16, 2006; C01
Bach might be back on Washington's airwaves, even if the region's
only classical music station, WGMS, drops the format.
Public broadcaster WETA (90.9 FM) is considering dumping its
news-and-talk programming and returning to being a classical
broadcaster if the music dies on WGMS, WETA's management said
In a special meeting Thursday, WETA's board voted to give station
executives the green light to consider switching back to classical
if WGMS drops the format. Dan DeVany, WETA's vice president and
general manager, said the station "could move very quickly" back
to classical if circumstances warrant.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has a preliminary agreement to buy
WGMS (103.9/104.1 FM) from its owners, Bonneville International
Corp. A Snyder-owned subsidiary, Red Zebra Broadcasting, intends
to turn the station into a sports-talk outlet that probably would
also air Redskins games.
The proposed sale has classical music fans fearing they would
lose the only remaining source of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart on
the local airwaves. (A Baltimore station, WBJC [91.5 FM], carries
classical music, but its signal doesn't reach parts of the
WETA and WGMS were rival classical stations for 35 years, but
WETA abandoned the format in March 2005 for news supplied by
National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. It said
at the time that the move was designed to boost membership and
donations, but some longtime listeners complained that WETA
simply duplicated programming that was available on public station
WAMU (88.5 FM).
Now, WETA might have the classical field all to itself.
Red Zebra still could affect WETA's future by taking one of
several strategic routes: It could keep classical on WGMS -- an
option that local radio executives consider to be highly unlikely
-- or it could move the classical format to the three smaller
stations it owns.
Although those three stations (730 AM, 92.3 FM and 94.7 FM)
have spotty signals, classical remains a viable commercial and
relatively popular format in the Washington area. In the most
recent quarterly ratings, WGMS ranked seventh in audience share
among local radio stations.
"This is a good classical music market," DeVany said. "WGMS has
done very well with it. But there's something to be said for a
non-commercial station carrying it." As a public station, WETA
could air long musical pieces without commercial interruption.
At the same time, WETA's news-talk programming has been relatively
successful, according to DeVany and Mary Stewart, the station's
vice president of external affairs. When WETA dropped classical
music, its audience had been declining, attracting an average
of 1.8 percent of all listeners. In the spring quarter, its
audience averaged 2.5 percent, or about the same rating that
the station had three years ago.
Overall pledge contributions are about even, although neither
Stewart nor DeVany could provide a breakdown showing how much
came from WETA listeners and WETA (Channel 26) viewers.
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