Classical Boston’s Little Secret

Classical Boston’s Little Secret

On December 19, 2009, I posted about the differences and similarities of the WQXR takeover by WNYC and the WGBH takeover of WCRB.

The subject of the events in Boston has been covered in a variety of places: Scanning the Dial, boston.com, and Doc Searle to mention the most salient.

The debate about the events in Boston have been characterized by some of the negativity which we have experienced in New York. But one place where there has been no discussion is on the web site of WGBH. At WQXR’s web site, we have the advantage of “blogs” in which we can vent our spleens and insult each other. Instead, the Boston thing is being thrashed out at the sites listed above, and on some forums like The Good Sound Club and Hub Arts.

In both Boston and New York, there have been many complaints about the diminished range of the transmitters. This is a serious problem. Listeners, and probably members, are being lost. Suggestions about listening on the computer have been dismissed by many.

But, here is the topic that is most important to me and no one seems to be even aware of it.

Of the ten on air hosts that one finds on the weekly schedule, fully seven of the hosts are actually Minnesota Public Radio people. You can find them listed at Classical24’s web site, just click on Host biographies.

So, what this means is that the Classical music listenership and membership in Boston, one of the great cultural meccas of the world, is being fed the pabulum of Classical 24, a subscription service (read “rental”) offered by Minnesota Public Radio. One noted Classical music critic described services such as Classical 24 as “musical wallpaper” designed not to intrude.

At Scanning the Dial, Marty Ronish posted about a meeting to discuss the whole situation. Checkout Marty’s post. I really like the line about “a Minneapolis syndicate”. Sounds sort of like The Mob.

I am very thankful that things have not come to this in New York at WQXR. I hope that we can stay afloat without recourse to such happenings. I think that the listeners and members in Boston deserve better.

5 thoughts on “Classical Boston’s Little Secret

  1. I just found out about these changes! So WCRB is mostly just playing canned music? Taped music disguised as a live deejay? Did any Boston deejays loose their job when they started playing taped music from Minnesota?

    A quality community radio station would play music handpicked by local experts from that community. Someone familiar with the tastes of local listeners should be playing the music. How can a taped program from Minnesota understand what works in the Boston arts groups and venues? Force feeding the public generic music from Minnesota is below the standards Boston deserves. Why would this radio station, with it’s access to all the cultural resources of Boston, start acting like a podunk small station that doesn’t know how to program it’s own music and needs help from Minnesota doing it?

    We don’t need WCRB to hear that taped Minnesota show, that is already syndicated on other stations and can be streamed over the internet via computer at home or iPhone in your car. Why donate to WCRB for taped music that is already easily available to us elsewhere? WCRB needs to be providing the community something unique. Cut the canned music!

  2. Well, Larry, I don’t know who you are or where you live. I don’t recognize your name from any of the forums where this has been discussed. But, you seem to be sincere. And, frankly, with the little reaction I have seen from ‘proper” Bostonians, I have no reason to doubt your sincerity.

    I suspect that WGBH is not oriented toward music. They seem to be oriented to squabbling over bragging rights with WBUR. So, not only does WGBH want all of its air time for talk, it also wants all of its money for talk. Taking Classical 24 from Minnesota Public Radio, described in Boston as ” a Minneapolis syndicate…” is saving them a lot of money.

    The only hint of Classical 24 on the 99.5 web page is that the shows in yellow on the weekly schedule are all MPR people. Local hosts are in blue.

    I looked around http://www.publicradiofan.com at other stations using Classical 24. Mostly what I found the stations using the service were not hiding it. So that is why I called this post “Boston’s Little Secret”.

    If you live in the Boston area, get angry and do something about it. Search on WCRB, find the forums, blogs, whatever, participate in the debate, try to get some sort of movement going to financially punish this offensive behavior.

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