Ray Bayles wrote:
>As a person who has worked as a public radio station manager and board
>president, I was very disappointed to learn that most music public radio
>stations receive is free... But not classical music... Stations pay a
>high price for the classical music libraries. And the classical music
>programming is similarly expensive... Among the most expensive programming
>we provided, next to the NPR news shows, Diane Rehm, Garrison Keillor,
>and Car Talk. ...
>Stations cannot continue to offer classical music when the costs are so
>high, and the listenership is so small.
Ray's thoughts seem to contradict the opinions of another longtime public
radio person. As a followup to the recent thread here about WETA-FM in
Washington dropping its classical music programming this month, I note
a letter to the Washington Post that was recently published.
The letter is from Fred Flaxman, Vice President for Development at
WXEL-TV- DT-FM in West Palm Beach, FL and who was the founding manager
of WETA-FM back in the early 1970s.
Besides castigating the current WETA management for the "breach of a 35
year trust," Flaxman also notes what some of us in the DC area already
know, that the new programming format will duplicate a number of programs
already available on Washington's other NPR station, WAMU-FM. Flaxman
"Going all-classical is much less expensive than going all-news
and public affairs. The cost of spinning CDs and acquiring
syndicated classical music programs cannot be compared to the
expense of acquiring NPR shows such as "Morning Edition" and
"All Things Considered." These programs have anchors, producers,
editors, reporters, announcers, librarians, computer technicians,
engineers and administrators. Does it make any sense to have
both stations paying for and broadcasting these same pricey
Yes, NPR news programs appeal to a far larger audience than
classical music programs, and the station with an all-classical
format is likely to bring in fewer dollars from fewer listeners
than a station that broadcasts NPR news. But a classical
station doesn't need nearly as much money."
This seems to follow my own (admittedly misguided, perhaps) notion that
the fixed costs of running a station with a classical DJ and obtaining
disks to spin (or radio concert series) is going to be less than doing
all-news and talk programs, especially if some of these are "locally"
produced. I could use some enlightenment on my erroneous notion, if
that is the case.
Flaxman's letter also mirrors my original posting in the WETA thread--
that WETA should have considered coordinating their programming (or even
undertaken a more formal alliance) with WAMU so that the redundant NPR/BBC
programs could be avoided and classical music restored to the public
radio airwaves. But that doesn't seem to be in the cards for now.