Fall Update and Music Education Podcasts

Fall Update and Music Education Podcasts

Dear Friends of Classical Music Rising:

The Station Resource Group’s co-CEOs Tom Thomas and Terry Cliffordprovide this month’s update on Classical Music Rising fall activities as we move fast forward in our work with classical stations through the end of 2017.

SRG writes: An impressive consulting team is rolling up sleeves for a multi-front effort with our classical music station partners, which now number 28. (Welcome Maine Public!)

Our on-air promotion campaign, Classical Spark, is accelerating toward full swing under the leadership of Craig Curtis, who has been a key player for the NPR Spark effort on which our work is modeled. ClassicalMusicRising.org houses a growing list of resources, guides, and suggestions to help stations with branding and promotion. The most recent includes some sample templates for scheduling station promos, including an example from San Francisco’s KDFC, courtesy of Bill Lueth.

“I’ve had a lot of ‘nuts and bolts’ conversations with stations, and gotten a lot of great questions,” notes Craig, “including several about promoting music in news programming. We’ll assemble some ideas and best practices on what stations are doing to promote music in dual-formats and cross-promoting from all-news stations.”

Deborah Lein, most recently COO at Greater Public, has the engagement and philanthropy portfolio. She will be working with stations to highlight compelling opportunities for community engagement and identifying one or two engagement projects where collaborative work would add to the impact. She will also be developing case language about the value of classical music radio that can be put to work in pursuit of five- and six-figure gifts and grants.

“That ‘force for good’ orientation is so compelling,” says Deborah. “I’m now gearing up for helping CMR stations build on the findings from last spring and move into action. I’m confident we’ll identify not only great ideas but also solid best practice guidelines for a set of core engagement activities that all CMR stations can scale and adapt for their own circumstances. I’m also particularly eager to work with partner stations to identify some ‘pioneering’ opportunities for collaborative work across markets in 2018. And of course great case language − my first love − will help stations raise significant gifts for these activities and for the core broadcast service. You’ll be hearing from me frequently on all of these fronts, but please reach out to me any time with your thoughts and ideas.”

Judy McAlpine, now a consultant after many years as a senior executive at American Public Media, is taking the lead on digital strategies for classical radio, beginning with an assessment of where we see the greatest opportunities for audience growth and looking to content and services for current and next generation users. Judy will also be highlighting critical music rights issues for classical stations and needs for digital metrics – before we pass these responsibilities along to others for deeper dives.

“Right now I’m pulling together research on audiences and their behaviors with music on digital platforms – internal to public media and beyond. We seek to understand what both our current and next-generation audiences want,” says Judy. “Send research and thoughts!” 

CMR Managing Director Wende Persons continues as the internal and external point of connection for all this and more, including regular audience performance check-ins with veteran PD Scott Williams, enriching the ClassicalMusicRising.org website, and scouring the larger classical and media universe for news, research, and insights to share with classical stations and our widening group of CMR friends.

“Much of the groundwork is in place now for classical stations to communicate and collaborate more easily together,” Wende notes. “And every day I wake up thinking about what we can do to help more people discover our stations as daily destinations and welcome companions.”  

The Mellon Foundation support that jump-started our work in early 2016 wraps up at the end of this year. Amidst the full-tilt work currently underway, the CMR Steering Committee and the SRG board have begun sorting through the nature and extent of SRG’s classical music activities for 2018 and beyond.

SRG is also continuing our work with Triple-A Music Discovery stations in the area of music rights, primarily focused on labels. We will be adding aclassical music rights agenda, which may initially lean more toward music publishers.

Scroll down to read about music education podcasts, mood shifting with classical music, station news, job opportunities, October’s Classical Datebook, and more…


Wende Persons, Managing Director
Classical Music Rising | www.classicalmusic.wpengine.com 
wende@classicalmusicrising.org | cell: 917-691-1282


A number of classical stations are creating notable programs and podcasts to introduce listeners of all ages to classical music. For stations looking for high-quality music education material, here are examples of offerings available On Demand – and possibly sharable.

Louisville Public Media’s “The Music Box” 
WUOL launched The Music Box podcast – “where imagination comes first” – in conjunction with Summer Listening, the station’s educational program that encourages families to listen to classical music together. The podcast’s goal, host Sara Soltau told Current, is “to invite and inspire kids to listen to and engage with classical music, making it relevant to their everyday lives.” WUOL’s impressive music education offerings made the Final Four in the first “Local That Works” contest, a collaboration between Current and the Public Media Futures Forum. Louisville’s Director of Radio, Daniel Gilliam, said WUOL’s education program attracts support from corporate and private donors. Listen to Episode 1 of The Music Box: The Golden Record, created with students from Lincoln Elementary School in Louisville.

Colorado Public Radio’s “The Great Composers”  
Last year Colorado Public Radio received a $500,000 grant to support its classical service, the largest single gift in CPR’s 45-year history. The gift came from a family motivated by CPR Classical’s educational storytelling, to generate more material with Scott O’Neil, former resident conductor of the Colorado Symphony. The Great Composers is co-hosted by O’Neil and CPR’s Karla Walker, and each 30-minute episode “dives deep into the lives behind some of the greatest music ever written,” starting with Mozart.

PD Monika Vischer noted last month, “It was such a hit when it first aired in May, we were inundated with requests to make it available as a podcast. So, here we are. We’re also airing all five chapters over five weeks. And get this: our new digital strategist accidentally posted it with CPR news on NPR One, and it did gang busters! 1600 listens so far, beating out all but a few of our news stories.” Listen to the Mozart episodes.  And just for fun, take CPR Classical’s quiz: How well do you know Mozart?

WGUC’s Classics for Kids® 
Classics for Kids, created at Cincinnati Public Radio’s WGUC and available to stations, is a multiplatform way to engage children of all ages with classical music. On the radio, Naomi Lewin hosts a six-minute, music-rich weekly feature that focuses on a new composer each month, highlighting different aspects of the composer’s life and work. The show is available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and the Classics for Kids website, which can be linked to a station’s website. The website also has lots of material for kids to learn about music, an audio archive of all past programs, audio files of favorite classical pieces, and educational resources for parents and teachers to help integrate classical music into daily K-5 classroom activities. A 2-CD Classics for Kids set is available for stations to use as a fundraising gift.

In 2017, WGUC inaugurated Classics for Kids Livea family-friendly music event in which host Naomi Lewin and live musicians use works by Beethoven and Vivaldi to demonstrate how composers tell stories with music. WGUC presented the inaugural event this summer with Great Parks of Hamilton County, Wump Mucket Puppets, and actors from the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Classics for Kids Live will be going on the road to North Carolina, in partnership with WDAV Classical Public Radio. GM Frank Dominguez testifies, “At WDAV we consider Classics for Kids a crucial part of our community outreach and education efforts, and our faith in it has been rewarded numerous times by feedback from listeners both young and not-so-young.”

WDAV also offers its own music education podcast called Classical Road Trip. Alexander McCall, Themba Searles and Kali Blevins take listeners on a journey through different periods and styles of classical music. Listen to recent episodes of WDAV’s Classical Road Trip

For those curious to learn more about the music of our time, Meet the Composer – produced by WQXR and Q2 Music − is a Peabody Award-winning podcast that takes listeners into the minds of the composers making some of the most innovative and breathtakingly beautiful music today. Subscribe to the Meet the Composer podcast.

What is your station doing with podcasts about classical music? Send links to wende@classicalmusicrising.org


WDAV Suspends Fall Pledge After Las Vegas Shootings
The morning after the catastrophic shooting rampage in Las Vegas, WDAV’s General Manager, Frank Dominguez, posted a message on the North Carolina station’s website that they were suspending their Fall Campaign until further notice and returning to the regular presentation of classical music. “In times like this the classical oasis we provide is more necessary than ever.” Dominguez says he and his staff have been overwhelmed with positive feedback and support about their decision to temporarily pause the campaign.
Maine Public’s New Classical Station Hits the Airwaves
WBQA, Maine Public’s newly acquired station at 96.7 Boothbay Harbor goes live this month, bringing the rapidly expanding network of classical service in Maine to six stations. CEO Mark Vogelzang launched Maine Public Classical in May 2016, and has joined Classical Music Rising as an active partner in the project. Where to hear Maine Public Classical.
New Mexico’s KHFM is Now Noncommercial
It’s official: the Albuquerque Journal reports that New Mexico’s KHFM converted on September 1 to a listener-supported, public radio station after decades as a commercial classical broadcaster. The station broadcasts from Santa Fe, with translators across the state. Other classical stations that have made the move to noncommercial include WQXR in New York; KDFC in San Francisco; WCRB in Boston; KING in Seattle; and WCLV in Cleveland. Ken Mills notes in Spark News that KHFM’s transition leaves only a handful of commercial classical broadcasters in the U.S.: WFMT in Chicago, WRR in Dallas (both operated by noncommercial licensees), KLEF in Anchorage, WFCC in Cape Cod, WBQK (BACHfm) in Williamsburg, Virginia, and WCRI on Block Island, Rhode Island. A reader told Spark News that St. Louis also has a commercial classical station at 107.3 FM, branded as RAF-STL, owned and operated by the nonprofit Radio Arts Foundation, St. Louis. Download a list of U.S. classical stations on ClassicalMusicRising.org.
“Something That Works” at WXXI
WXXI-FM in Rochester, NY has a good thing going with Classical 91.5 Presentsquarterly screenings of music-related films at The Little, a local independent film house the station manages. In September WXXI presented West Side Story with live music before the movie by the Empire Film Music Ensemble. A panel discussion followed about the movie’s groundbreaking choreography and dancing, hosted by WXXI’s Music Director Julia Figueras, with reps from Garth Fagin Dance, Rochester City Ballet, and Geva Theatre. Program Director Ruth Phinney reports, “It really was a great way to bring together arts/music and the community, connecting film, music, conversation, and COOKIES to great effect.” (Yes, they baked Jets and Sharks cookies for the occasion.) “The West Side Story event would not have been the success it was without the wealth of social media and creative promotions and posts by our staff. It was a real team effort.”
KDFC’s Hoyt Smith Retires After Four Decades as Host
After nearly 17 years with San Francisco’s Classical KDFC, and more than four decades in radio, morning host Hoyt Smith has retired. Reporting on Smith’s retirement, the San Francisco Chronicle praised his ability to deliver colorful anecdotes about composers with a “folksy, mellifluous, almost preposterously agreeable” on-air manner. Smith came to the station in 1999 after a decade as afternoon host of the top-rated smooth jazz station KKSF. In a message to listeners, Smith, 65, said he and his wife are planning to travel and visit music festivals. Last year he and fellow KDFC host Dianne Nicolini were inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. Read KDFC’s tribute to Smith.
A Key to Attracting Top Talent
“Classical radio has a personnel problem,” writes WFIU Program Director Joe Goetz in the blog Scanning the Dial (reprinted in Current). Reflecting on Classical Music Rising’s Workforce Survey, Goetz questions whether stations can attract and retain fresh talent if salaries do not become more competitive. As longtime, experienced staff members retire, he worries that stations will try and cut costs by underpaying, or make full-time positions part-time. “The potential talent pool is narrowed to people who can afford to take the financial hit, have supplemental income from another source, or have a life partner with substantial income,” he says. Read “Classical radio has a personnel problem”and Goetz’s follow up post: Get New Talent in the Door!


Women Choose Stations That Connect with Them Emotionally
Do the women who listen to your station believe you understand them? Strategic Solutions Research, in partnership with Alan Burns & Associates, discovered that women need to feel understood, and if they do, they will reward you with more usage. “We suggest conducting a ‘mood audit’ of your station and ensure that your station stays consistent and delivers on its promised value,” advise the researchers. View highlights from the study What Women Want.
Mood-Based Playlists Are a Boon for Classical Music
Billboard reports that Spotify has seen a 70% spike in its classical music streams over the past year, thanks largely to the popularity of mood- and activity-based playlists. The streaming service’s “Intense Studying” playlist has 1.4 million followers, while “Peaceful Piano” counts over 3 million users. The streaming gains are helping to offset declines in classical CD sales, according to Universal Music Group. “You’re finding this music in every inch of your life,” says Universal Music Classics President (and former WQXR GM) Graham Parker.
Muscle Relaxation with Classical Music
Classical stations and services like American Public Media’s YourClassical.org offer a variety of mood-based playlists, but here’s something new. To rest and rejuvenate, take ten minutes and try MPR’s guided progressive muscle relaxation with classical music. This guided exercise – with carefully selected pieces of gorgeous music – is co-presented by Classical Minnesota Public Radio and HealthPartners.
Classical Music Can Heighten Men’s Attractiveness
Here’s a way to get women’s attention: try a little Brahms in the background. According to a newly published study, featured in Pacific Standardwomen perceive men as more handsome and desirable when their faces are paired with classical music. A University of Vienna research team brought together 72 women who listened to short excerpts of Romantic-era piano pieces while looking at photos of men. Regardless of whether the music was pleasant or unpleasant, the women were more drawn to the men while the music played. “Our results clearly demonstrate that music-induced arousal can significantly prime dating desirability,” concluded the researchers. “Well, there you go,” quipped WBAA’s John Clare when he posted this item recently on Facebook’s Classical Chat.


The Smart Audio Report: Part Two
NPR and Edison Research have released the second part of their Smart Audio study on smart speakers and voice control. The top reason respondents gave for wanting to own a smart speaker is “to ask questions without needing to type.” 76% or respondents are using smart speakers to listen to AM/FM music radio. See Radio and Internet News for highlights of the report.
Bite-sized Content for “The New Radios”
“Audio listening is growing, however, people are accessing and listening to audio on new devices that don’t have AM/FM dials,” writes Amplifi Media’s Steven Goldstein in a fascinating post called “The New Radios.” Where does this mean for broadcasters? Goldstein suggests, “The biggest potential win is the opportunity to share great, curated ‘bite-size’ content and to develop original, device-specific content to entice people to engage with smart speakers. For classical stations this could be music education-oriented content (see above for examples of what stations are producing) curated for shared family listening around smart speakers. Read more…
New Study Looks at Decline of Broadcast Radio
A new study explores radio’s diminishing role in the American musical diet. Larry Miller, director of Music Business at NYU’s Steinhardt School, cites broadcast radio’s struggle to remain relevant as consumers embrace streaming platforms like Pandora and Spotify. “Radio needs to invest in strong and compelling digital services,” observes Miller. “If it does, radio can look forward to a robust future built on the strong foundation it already has in the marketplace leveraging the medium’s great reach, habitual listenership, local presence and brands. If it doesn’t, radio risks becoming a thing of the past, like the wax cylinder or 78 RPM record – fondly remembered but no longer relevant to an audience that has moved on.” Read Paradigm Shift: Why Radio Must Adapt to the Rise of Digital.
Warning! Update Your Station Malware Software
All Classical Portland’s Interim CEO Suzanne Nance advises stations to update their website malware software. The West Coast station had a serious malware security breach a few months ago that required an intense and expensive emergency fix. “Based on what we have experienced, investing in and updating your protection software and providing cybersecurity training for your staff and volunteers on how to best protect your organization is crucial,” Nance adds emphatically.


Program Host – KUSC, Los Angeles
America’s #1 Classical station is looking for America’s next great classical announcer. Can you connect with a broad audience of music lovers of all kinds? USC Radio Group’s Los Angeles division, KUSC, is seeking a Program Host with a passion for and basic knowledge of classical music, someone that has an engaging personality that can weave topical elements into a show effortlessly beyond classical music. Come to beautiful California and celebrate classical music! Learn more/apply

Chief Engineer – WFMT, Chicago       
WFMT in Chicago seeks a Chief Engineer to maintain and improve broadcast and production facilities and processes for WFMT, the WFMT Radio Network and related digital initiatives. The Chief Engineer will set long-term strategic plans and will oversee the Operations Manager, Production Assistants and other staff. Learn more/apply


Where do you find classical music trivia and “on this day” items for programming tie-ins? Here are our offerings for Octoberber, contributed by radio producer and writer Brian Wise.

October 7
On this day in 1954, the Metropolitan Opera signed a contract with Marian Anderson, making her the first African-American singer to appear on the company’s roster since its founding in 1883. She made her debut on January 7, 1955, playing the fortune-teller Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Anderson previously made history by singing at the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of 75,000 in 1939, at the invitation of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

October 9
Walter Murphy’s disco hit “A Fifth of Beethoven” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on this date in 1976. Murphy, a commercial jingle writer and a classically trained pianist, played all the instruments in the song himself. He subsequently released disco versions of “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” but they failed to repeat the success of the “Fifth.”

October 10
George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess opened on this day in 1935 at the Alvin Theatre in New York. The milestone “folk opera,” which clocked in at nearly four hours, not only brought Gershwin greater fame, but also was considered a victory for the 70 African-American singers who performed it, as it marked first time black singers performed an opera for primarily white audiences. That first Porgy ran for 124 performances, and it has since been performed all over the world by theater and opera companies.

October 11
Talk about a power breakfast: In 1853, Hector Berlioz hosted Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner for breakfast in his Paris home. Liszt’s teenaged children were also present. After eating, Liszt accompanied Berlioz’ singing parts of the latter’s Benvenuto Cellini. In his autobiography, Wagner wrote that Berlioz “sang in his own rather dry way.”

October 13
In 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid in the District of Columbia. President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the mansion in November 1800, and shortly after invited the young United States Marine Band to perform at an opening reception. This marked the first in a long series of musical performances in the White House, followed by some of classical music’s biggest names, from Vladimir Horowitz to Itzhak Perlman and Renée Fleming.

October 15
On this day in 1825 a 16-year-old Mendelssohn completed his Octet for strings in E-flat major as a birthday gift for his friend and violin teacher Eduard Ritz. The Octet is one of two early brilliant works – along with the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream – that revealed the genius of its teenage composer.

October 16
On this day in 1590 composer Carlo Gesualdo ensured his future notoriety by brutally murdering his wife, Maria D’Avalos, and her lover Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria. To carry out the crime, Gesualdo enlisted three hired assassins, who surprised the two lovers in bed. As an aristocrat, Gesualdo escaped prosecution, and continued to write daringly chromatic motets and madrigals.

October 20
On this day in 1973, after 15 years of construction, the iconic Sydney Opera House officially opened with a ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II. The Sydney Symphony performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and fireworks exploded over Sydney Harbor. As one of the 20th-century’s most famous and distinctive buildings, the multi-venue facility became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.

October 22
Thirty years ago today, Nixon in China, by composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, received its premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. Director Peter Sellars first proposed the idea of an opera about the famous 1972 meeting between President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Sellars and Adams have recently reunited for their latest collaboration, Girls of the Golden West, slated to premiere on Nov. 21 at San Francisco Opera.

October 24
On this day in 1919, long before it was known as the “L.A. Phil” and led by “The Dude” (Gustavo Dudamel), the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra gave its inaugural concert. Walter Henry Rothwell conducted Dvorak’s New WorldSymphony and Liszt’s Les Preludes at the Trinity Auditorium. The new orchestra “startled Los Angeles out of her symphonic slumbers,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.

October 29
Sergei Prokofiev made his American debut in a 1918 concert at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The program, in which Prokofiev accompanied a Russian dancer with some of his own music, was held in conjunction with the opening of an exhibition of the Russian-American painter Boris Anisfeld. Though the concert drew little notice, Prokofiev wasn’t discouraged, and he gave a solo piano recital at NYC’s Aeolian Hall the next month.

October 30
Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring premiered on this day in 1944 at the Library of Congress, danced by Martha Graham’s company and performed by 13 musicians. The composer had been commissioned to write a piece of modest proportions for the Library’s orchestra pit and something with a “frontier” theme. (Its storyline was revealed to him only later.) Appalachian Spring won the 1944 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

October 31
500 years ago today Martin Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church by nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, the event that effectively set in motion the reformation (and later inspired music by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn). October 31 is also Halloween, the day when radio programmers dig out their most colorfully spooky pieces, including such favorites as Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and the soundtrack to “The Shining.”


Send your news, tips, job openings, successes, grand failures and big ideas to share through Classical Music Rising. Do you have colleagues to add to this e-news list? Send name, title, station or organization and email address to wende@classicalmusicrising.org.


Find classical and news/classical stations across the U.S. on this interactive map – and listen online.

About Classical Music Rising

Classical Music Rising aims to shape the future of classical music radio against a backdrop of 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. Classical Music Rising is a project of the Station Resource Group and is supported by participating stations and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Visit www.ClassicalMusicRising.org.