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January 25, 2007


Chris R.

I don't pretend to have an answer to this, but here's what I think is a relevant comment: Most people who have tastes that run outside of commercial mainstream radio also have higher incomes, care more about what they listen to, and are far more likely than others to be able (and want to) provide themselves with their music through whatever medium. In other words a lot of the people who would be an audience for something like classical radio will be listening to satellite radio, CDs, their iPod, etc. At the same time a lot of the Great Unwashed who want only to be exposed to music they already know, mostly insipid pop, are going to have smaller disposable incomes and don't give enough of a crap to spend X amount of it to avoid radio.

As long as the regular radio airwaves are the cheapest and most accessible option, and as long as we make programming decisions in trying to capture the largest ratings portion of that least common denominator, we're going to end up with least common denominator programming. Sad.

Krys O.

Classical music stimulates brain activity. Try some Shostokovich.


Chris R,

I don't listen to Cheyrl Crow radio either but I don't feel sorry for the people who do. Get over yourself and your BS music snobbery.

Yours Truly,

PS.I make $25K a year btw - How much am I allowed to make before I have to get rid of my Eagles records? That would be 'sad'.


I think the key words are "soothe" and "refuge." They evoke the very same balance of intellectual laziness and (especially) existential cowardice that informs the programming of Radio George, or for that matter the feudal aristocracy and their inheritors for whom canonical music was composed (with exceptions). Music intended to be ignored is worthless. From "furniture music" to "chill out rooms" I would be ignoring that stuff right now were I not writing about it. I will go back to ignoring it for the remainder of the day in just a minute.
While I am not big on Shostakovich I agree about the merits of classical music that is challenging.


A coworker of mine is really into classical music; he listens to it constantly, and even plays the piano and some violin. He's also a thickheaded, self-centered prick who jabbers incessantly about reality TV shows and has more than once proclaimed Ann Coulter to be, in all seriousness mind you, "a genius". He recently earned my employer a summons from the Fire Marshal by interrupting a test of the building's fire safety system to vociferously complain that the siren disrupted his listening pleasure. Also, many people who have tastes that run outside of the commercial mainstream are pretentious dipshits.


Wow, what a saga of stations. Powerplay in the classical broadcasting world!

From the excerpts you posted above, the survey-presenter is really writing about easy-listening classical or "top-40 classical." Play mostly classical's 'greatest hits." Play unfamiliar stuff occasionally but only from the 18th century up to the late 19th century, unless it's something from the "pretty periods" of one of the 20th century composers (i.e. if you play something by copland other than appalachian spring or fanfare, don't play "Piano Variations" or any of the late stuff.) Bartok is a composer of short folk-based piano pieces that fill a minute before the news break.

I don't listen to WQXR anymore but when I used to run across it, 75 percent of its programming was like that.

Oh, and almost entirely off topic, what happened to Sam Seder's show yesterday in New York? I hear they pulled him. Is he back on air?

The Contrarian

Does this indicate that WFMU needs a classical music show?


The idea that Canonical art makes you a good or smart or refined person, was to my mind best refuted by (if I remember correctly) Terry Eagleton. He points out in Literary Theory that concetration camp guards were discovered to have been reading Goethe during their downtime. A soothing refuge indeed.


Bethany, among others, plays lots of classical music.

Buddy Max

"chris r"s comments are an interesting seed for further commentary. i think it's telling that people who listen to classical music (or music outside the norm) tend to be more intelligent (the key word is "tend"-- Dmck's Coulter-loving jackass may be the exception).

i have never met a person who listened regularly to the Top-40 radio of the last 15 years who also wasn't pretty clueless about world history/current events (i think Top-40 died sometime in the late 80's when it became the bastion of 1-hit-wonder rap/r-n-b cookie cutter groups like "MC Brains"). Maybe I'm wrong but it sure seems like the people who listen to commercial music of all stripes (pop, r-n-b, smooth jazz, country, etc.) are the ones buying those crappy celebrity-obsessed magazines at the supermarket checkout.

again, there are (i'm sure) exceptions to the rule, but i'll bet the average top-40 listener would be flummoxed watching "Jeopardy" whereas the average classical fan would be getting the answers right one by one.


Haha @ JC,

Look at the pot calling the kettle black!! Dear friend, this is WFMU fer chrissakes. You don't gotta call it snobbery, but just try cranking this up on the Wal Mart PA system, or at the AO Smith water heater factory. Hipsters, artists and posers are just as vacuous as all of the Belle Meade crowd. They just earn less and brand their noise as the soundtrack to their culture.
What I find amusing is how here in Nashville I have a 100% better chance of tuning into real great classical and / or jazz stations pretty much when I want to. On one of those dang fangled old fashioned radios! Try that in New York City.

Webster Hubble Telescope


This is the scoop on Sammy --

"The Sam Seder show was not taken off the air.
Sam was not censored and is a valuable part of our format.
The problem that affected the airing of his show yesterday (January 24,
2007) has been corrected"

Lindsay Lohan

Ann Coulter is a Genius you Commie Traitors!
Although her musical tastes are only half right.
She listens to those crappy hippy jam bands and the Dead.
But like the true Hot godess Genius Uber-Woman she is-she also listens to the Ramones.
Ann is a serious Dead and Ramones fan.Saw 'em both live a lot when she was younger and they were alive.
Classical music is fine on commercial stations but I don't want my hard earned tax dollars supporting deadwhitemale culture on public radio stations. Although I suppose compared to trust-fund singer-songwriter americana Classical is the lesser of evils.

Roberto Guiterrez

Decades of Arbitron ratings have said that classical music listeners have the highest income and education levels of any format of music listeners. The problems is, there have never been very many of them (as compared to listeners of other formats). This was as true in 1957 and 1977 as it is in 2007.

True enough, there's a few 'pretentious' people in both the indie rock world and the classical music world, but there IS a big common ground that these fan groups both "love music proactively" much more than the average commercial FM radio listener.

The "$25K WFMU" listener and the "$100K classical" listener are BOTH far more likely to use alternative technologies (Satellite, Internet, MP3) for 'radio' than the "$50K cubicle-dwelling Jack-format" listener. The "Jack" listener
has the money for alternative 'radio' technology, but not the desire. Compare this to a WFMU listener who's eating ramen for dinner, but has Satellite radio! Which one is the 'music lover' is obvious!

Kip W

I'm part of the problem. I built up my collection of music (maybe 65% classical) and did so well that I didn't listen to the radio enough. I kept giving money to my local station, but they could tell somehow that I wasn't listening all the time, and even though the local station is still thriving, other stations in other places somehow caught on and died of sadness and neglect. The ones who didn't dumbed it down to try and get me back (shorter pieces, limited playlist, excerpts from things).

And the next generation will only know the classical music they hear in ads, having lost that vast music base that my generation had in the soundtracks of Warner Brothers cartoons. It's sad.


Someone I know gave me a password for satellite radio and I gotta say it has nothing on WFMU. I suppose that I would appreciate the oldies channel if I were at the barber shop.
The idea that I'd part with money to listen to "Hair Nation" or 24 hours of Howard Stern and assorted Sternesque Pastiche is just not reality. Many people are dissatisfied with broadcast radio, not just people drying their dishes with a Man or Astroman? t-shirt.

Despite this, as far as I know, neither of the satellite radio outfits feature even a jam band/Grateful Dead channel. Upon perusal it looked like their classical offerings were short of even the Naxos catalog let alone Bethany's show.

In terms of dollars and cents though, Jack FM is basically one computer. That's much cheaper than paying Les Nessman, Venus Flytrap, etc. Nobody looks forward to the weekly shopper, but they still sell ads and still make enough money to publish.

Buddy Max

I agree with the previous assesment of satellite radio-- i had the chance to surf a free satellite radio for a couple of hours and was surprised at how weak the channels were. It seemed like a lot of what they were offering was already available on brodcast radio (country, classic rock, right-wing and left-wing talk radio, oldies, etc.) and the "specialty" channels of dance music were some of the weakest crap i've ever heard-- as if someone in a board room made up a playlist based on blurbs he/she read on a music industry 1-sheet: "oh, Jake at Craptonics Music said this guy was good-- let's add him to the playlist."

in fact my first exposure to satellite radio was at my cousin's house in Florida-- he was listening to classic rock. all i could think was "people are buying into this because it's a fad, it's the new 'thing', the content isn't any better than what's already out there." is this because the companies are run not by music lovers, but by businessmen? all it will take to end satellite radio is an extended economic downturn/recession, and the masses will realize it's not worth it.

Chris R.

Hey JC (I know from high school English that your initials make you a Christ figure),

I don't think that I have music "snobbery." I like musical diversity and quality. If you want to eat at McDonald's, more power to you. The more diversity the merrier; doesn't make anyone a better person. If a city block of mom'n'pop ethnic eateries is demolished to put up a row of Burger Kings and McDonald's, I reserve the right to call that "sad."

Kenzo ( /

"The classical format serves as a refuge that preserves the beauty and majesty of a better time."

Wow, better for whom? Kings and queens, maybe.

The term "classical music" often refers to the music that mainstream classical stations play. This is a narrow subset of the world of classical music, that I think of as "top 40 classical." If I happen to flip past an NPR station or the NY Times' WQXR, I can almost guarantee I will recognize the piece, and have about a 1 in 5 chance of correctly guessing the composer. Sorry, if they were playing a diversity of classical music, that wouldn't be possible.

At my old (college/community) station, we played what we called >alternative classical music<. I felt that was much more worthwhile than just hearing the same ol' Mozart piano concerto yet again.


As far as I'm concerned, all these comments are just more proof that we need more freeform stations like WFMU.

How many weeks to the annual fundraising marathon?


good one kenzo. kings and queens... I am happy with the classical that is played on wfmu. let the moldy dusty pop classical music rot. those stations always played crap. you can go to any sale and buy up classical lps for $1 each. a turntable from the thrift store $10. we have internet and wfmu. to hell with everyone else. [wps1 is ok]. when are you guys getting a cable/satellite station? i'm sure some of your listeners have the capital/connections. ''real culture tv'' or sumthin. we want it. it would work. the talk shows.... the ''improvisation idol'' show, the dance contests. i know you are salivating like me, so........


I am all for Top 40 classical music, as long as it is played by Liberace, Portsmouth Sinfonia, or on a Moog. By the way, Kenny G once played the whole Portsmouth Sinfonia concert at Royal Albert Hall on his show, playlist and archive here.


By the way, at this out of the way corner of SW Arkansas, in the past few months, we've had the opportunity to hear Crumb's Black Angels and Bartok's 4th String Quartet. Neither provided much in the way of stress relife, but both were awesome.

While I had heard recordings of both pieces, hearing them performed live was a very different experience.

Buddy Max

Maybe I'm wrong-- but I still think "top 40 classical" is a more satisfying musical meal than regular "top 40"- I'll gladly listen to Vivaldi (pick a piece, any piece-- they're all the same) than Sheryl Crow.

Maybe this is because when I was a boy my dad insisted that "muzak" was classical music, depspite my insistence that 101 Strings playing a Beatles medley wasn't REAL classical music (it sure sounded like classical to him!)

Sure, I prefer the more difficult/obscure classical, and luckily I have a local college station that caters to serious classical lovers, but if I didn't I would gladly listen to the commercial classical station when I needed a fix.


This means pretty much nothing for anybody in DC as our music options are still terrible. We need WFMU!

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