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Welcome Back, WETA!

Radio antennaThere was a feeling of elation here at Ionarts Central last night at 8 pm, when WETA-FM (90.9) returned to the classical music format it had abandoned almost two years ago. You may recall that we could not help delighting in a moment of Schadenfreude when after almost a year in its all-news format, the station's audience had actually decreased. Now, however, all is forgiven, and all classical music lovers should be ready to renew their membership at WETA-FM. This is especially true since the new format is actually MORE classical music than the previous one, since there will be no more NPR news coverage (other than hourly updates), no Prairie Home Companion, and no folk music.

At 8 pm, announcer Nicole Lacroix and Vice President and General Manager Dan DeVany shepherded in the new (old) format (President and CEO Sharon Rockefeller was notably absent from the airwaves, preferring to acknowledge the change by press release). Lacroix said that the moment called for a fanfare, so the first musical selection after two years of talk was Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Trumpets (with both solo parts recorded by Wynton Marsalis). The station has even inaugurated a classical music blog (one entry by DeVany so far). Here is an Ionarts wish list of programming we hope WETA will pick up:

  • The Monday night New York Philharmonic broadcast
  • The Tuesday night San Francisco Symphony broadcast
  • Live at the Concertgebouw on Wednesday nights
  • The Friday afternoon Boston Symphony broadcasts (is this only on WGBH?)
  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic broadcasts on Sundays
  • Pittsburgh Symphony broadcasts, also on Sundays
  • BP Chicago Symphony broadcasts, also on Sundays (how to choose?)
  • Creators at Carnegie Hall (does that show even exist anymore?)
  • NPR World of Opera
  • Saturday Afternoon at the Opera (CBC Radio Two)
  • Symphony Hall (CBC Radio Two)
  • From the Top
  • SymphonyCast on Sundays (perhaps if individual symphony orchestra broadcasts are not possible)
  • Some programming from BBC Radio 3 would be nice
Obviously, this is probably too much to hope for, but here at Ionarts we dream big. The Post confirms today that WETA's CD collection (25,000 discs) was never given away and that WGMS's collection (18,000 discs) will be added to it. Congratulations, WETA!


Debbie said...

While not classical, I miss Hearts of Space. No one in this area has picked it up. WETA used to play it at 11pm on Sundays, and it was a nice way to wind down the weekend and gear up for the work week ahead.

Terry said...

Additional shows for the dream list:
Performance Today
Record Shelf
Pipe Dreams
St. Paul Sunday
And a Piano show - Cliburn Concerts?

This is really great news. Time to make a pledge quickly to indicate my approval.

Anonymous said...

I, too, miss Hearts of Space and also Millenium of Music. PIPE DREAMS PLEASE!!!

Anonymous said...

That is a great list. I am concerned, however, that WETA is hoping to make a go of it this time round by adopting the WGMS formula: easy-listening classics, not much vocal music, not much talk by people who really know something about music (remember Martin Goldsmith and Robert Aubry Davis?). The music functions as wallpaper. You can have it on all day at the office and not bother anybody. I suspect that this formula would work for WETA to garner respectable ratings. But I doubt that it is going to generate committted listeners -- people who are prepared to ante up at pledge time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Milton. Something more than just the three Bs, Mozart, and Vivaldi, please.

Charles T. Downey said...

Agreed on most points. Millennium of Music is an essential one, especially.