Classical Music Rising releases findings on U.S. Classical Public Radio Workforce

Classical Music Rising releases findings on U.S. Classical Public Radio Workforce

Dear Friends of Classical Music Rising:

Every week more than eleven million Americans listen to classical music on public radio and engage with classical music content via public radio digital services. So much of our success depends on our people. But knowledge of our workforce has been scant and anecdotal. For the past several months Judy McAlpine, formerly of American Public Media and now heading her own consulting firm, has led a Workforce Working Group for Classical Music Rising to delve into the opportunities and challenges for stations in building and sustaining a 21st-century workforce. The group has now captured both baseline data regarding the size, composition, and training needs of our classical public radio staff and prepared recommendations for addressing challenges and concerns. Both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, we seek to bring new voices, different perspectives, and a new generation of curators and presenters to our services.
The Classical Music Rising Workforce Working Group Report and an accompanying document of survey results are available to you for download.
Nearly 150 organizations with classical or mixed format stations filled out the Workforce survey. We particularly focused on personnel involved in the specialized areas of presentation and production of classical music, as well as executives’ concerns and priorities for the future. We heard from 73% of the afll-classical organizations, 46% of the news/classical, and all four national organizations: American Public Media (APM), National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI) and the WFMT Radio Network.

Among the findings noted in the report: classical stations need to sharpen the presentation and digital skills of hosts and producers, pursue talent projects that will increase staff diversity and promote new ideas, and strengthen local connections and audience engagement.

Overall it is a sobering report that highlights, among other things, impending generational change, the need for training in new skills, and obstacles to achieving the diversity in staffing that many stations seek. The report also sets out concrete steps we might take together to make progress that would be very difficult for any one station acting alone. Some can be accomplished within our existing resources. Others will require identifying new investments.

The top three recommendations from the working group are to create training modules for on-air presentation skills and digital skills for hosts and producers; create a fellowship/internship program to develop new talent at stations with the goal of increasing diversity of staff and adding to diversity of ideas; and partner with AIR (Association of Independents in Radio) to launch a project designed to increase diversity and skills related to classical music content, and particularly digital content.

The Workforce report is now with Classical Music Rising’s Steering Committee for evaluation and determination on how best to implement the suggested steps.

Many thanks to Judy McAlpine and the dedicated members of the Workforce Working Group: Frank Dominguez, General Manager and Content Director, WDAV Charlotte; José Fajardo, President and General Manager, Hawaii Public Radio; Daniel Gilliam, Director of Radio, Louisville Public Media; Ruth Phinney, Program Director, WXXI Rochester; and Maggie Stapleton, Assistant Station Manager, KING FM Seattle.

We invite you to download the report and the survey findings, and welcome your thoughts and reactions.


Wende Persons, Managing Director
Classical Music Rising | | cell: 917-691-1282


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About Classical Music Rising

Classical Music Rising is a collaborative project managed by the Station Resource Group of leading classical stations to shape the future of classical music radio as the field confronts evolution in delivery across multiple broadcast and digital platforms, demographic and cultural change, and significant disruption throughout the music industry. The initiative centers on strategy, innovative tactics, and collective action – all informed by ongoing research and analysis. Read the full project description.