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WETA Capitulates to the Darkness

Well, as feared, WETA-FM has gone ahead with switching the station from mostly classical music to an all-news format. Philip Kennicott published an article (WETA Board Approves Switch To News-Talk Format, February 11) in the Washington Post about what happened at the fateful board meeting. In spite of the opposition voiced by me and more respected avatars of music, as well as lots of people at the meeting, the board voted by an "overwhelming majority" to go ahead with its plan.

The Post's letters to the editor on this subject (Sour Note in D.C., February 10) include a remark about WBJC (FM 91.5), from Baltimore, as "quite available to listeners in the D.C. area." I hate to break this news, but I can't get that station to tune in anywhere. I may have to get satellite radio if I want to have the sort of classical music programming I deserve.

I have obviously not tried to tune in WBJC in a long time, because it came in just fine in my car this afternoon on my trip home (with some static at certain points along the road, which is the problem with it being so far away). I can say happily that 91.5 has replaced WETA as preset station no. 2. They have the Met broadcasts, and I hope they will pick up Millennium of Music, Symphony Cast, and other favorites. That's what I will suggest to them when I send in my contribution.

This sequence of events has just been exasperating. I know, as Alex Ross has pointed out about this, that classical music programming is far from profitable. However, I don't agree, ultimately, with Alex's statement that "there is, after all, no divine right for classical music to exist on the radio, or anywhere else." He's right that, in the inept system of public radio, we have to ante up if we want classical music. I really do think that the least our government can do for us is to have good cultural programming on local radio and television, and not political blabbing. It would mean, horror of horrors, spending slightly less on the outrageously disproportionate military budget. I want France Musiques and I want Arte. Is that too much to ask?

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