Dear Friends of Classical Music Rising:
A pressing question leads the items in this month’s Classical Music Rising newsletter: Have you ever wondered why donors give five-figure gifts to your local orchestra and only $65 to your station? We turn, in this season of giving, to thoughts about major giving from Classical Music Rising Philanthropy and Engagement Consultant Deborah Lein (pictured, below). The former COO of Greater Public is helping us develop case language for classical stations, as well as identifying opportunities to support major gift appeals. Deborah writes:
I am neck-deep in notes from nearly two dozen in-depth station interviews, write-ups of my upcoming reports on community engagement activities, and first drafts of case language for your use in seeking significant funding. It’s intense, fascinating, challenging, and rewarding − and I look forward to rolling out the final products to you as I complete them. Many thanks to KING-FM’s Jennifer Ridewood for assisting with the station interviews.
Meanwhile, SRG’s Tom Thomas and Terry Clifford have invited me to share some broader thoughts from the background exploration I conducted earlier this fall. This is the first of several informal pieces I hope will provide a backdrop, fill in context, connect some dots, and raise strategic questions around and among components of the work you’ll see early in the New Year.
Plus, scroll down for station news, job opportunities, videos by musicians crossing boundaries, December’s Classical Datebook, and more…
All Classical Portland Launches JOY Project
Portland’s classical station has launched JOY! (Joyous Outreach to You/th) to advance the station’s mission of building cultural community through equity and inclusion. The project comprises three initiatives − Young Roving Reporters, the Where We Live Series and Night Out – all designed to explore new ways to share and celebrate classical music, and mentor the next generation of arts journalists. All Classical Portland announced JOY on its Facebook page with the first of a series of videos the station is creating that celebrate listening. Read about JOY, and meet the station’s first six Young Roving Reporters.
New York Public Radio Receives $10 Million Grant
The Jerome L. Greene Foundation is giving $10M to support WNYC and WQXR’s strategic content initiatives. And that’s not all… In a news release, New York Public Radio notes that the gift builds on previous philanthropic support from the Foundation. In 2006 it gave NYPR $6 million – the largest gift ever to a public radio station at that time – to build out the organization’s first-ever live event space. In 2010, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation provided a critical matching gift of $5 million to help NYPR preserve classical music radio for New Yorkers when it acquired WQXR from The New York Times. In 2014, a $10 million gift was essential in supporting NYPR’s digital transformation, setting the stage for the creation of WNYC Studios in 2015, which is now the second largest producer of podcasts in the world. Read more
KUSC Wins Two LA Press Club Awards
Classical KUSC in Los Angeles has scored two prizes for the 2017 LA Press Club National Entertainment Awards, which were held on December 3. Host Brian Lauritzen won a second place prize for his interview about the arts with LA mayor Eric Garcetti. Contributing reporter Tim Greiving placed second in a separate category for his profile on film-turned-concert hall composer Danny Elfman. And Gail Eichenthal, Director of Arts Programming, was nominated for her interview with Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi. Listen to the interviews on KUSC’s website. A complete list of finalists and winners can be read here. Congratulations to all!
Austin Celebrates 50 Years of KMFA
KMFA held a 50th anniversary benefit gala called Sound Bites on November 4 in Austin. General Manager Ann Wilson reports it was a smashing success − both in terms of community building and fundraising − that raised $276,000 to support the future of classical music radio in Austin. The celebration at the new boutique Hotel Van Zandt included a VIP reception with an interactive timeline, and a program of superb musical performances and spoken tributes, including one by Austin Mayor Steve Adler. The station created a video for the event’s “Moment of Giving,” entitled Like Breathing. “I know there were some tears in the audience after the video,” Ann says, “and I’m moved by the wonderful support we received from our community.” Watch KMFA’s fundraising video.
WCLV Spotlights Unusual Venue For Classical Music
When FiveOne Experimental Orchestra, a Cleveland chamber orchestra, recently staged a performance of lullabies and nocturnes in a mattress factory and showroom, Cleveland’s Classical WCLV was there to capture it in multiple formats. According to station manager Jenny Northern, what began as a standard audio interview about the orchestra’s plans to bring classical music to unusual venues grew to include a video feature shared on social media and the website of ideastream, the parent organization of WCLV, WVIZ (PBS-TV) and WCPN (NPR news). Jenny notes that while the mattress factory provided comfy (horizontal) accommodations for its audience, listeners can comfortably listen to WCLV anytime, anywhere, and on their own mattresses every day.
Programmers Consider How to Handle James Levine’s Recordings
Concerned programmers are examining how their stations should handle recordings and broadcasts featuring James Levine, after four men accused the famed conductor of sexual misconduct with them when they were teenagers. A discussion by station music directors and program directors on Facebook’s Classical Chat forum drew a range of responses, many stressing sensitivity and prudence. A common refrain: put the conductor’s recordings on hiatus, and have a plan for how to speak about the news (if at all) on-air. See website statements from Colorado Public Radio, and Classical 101, WOSU Columbus. The question of recordings is not straightforward, and New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini weighs in. Although the Metropolitan Opera has suspended its relationship with the conductor and cancelled his engagements, programmers are anticipating listener and/or media questions about the Met’s weekly radio broadcasts. Given that other parties may have abetted Levine’s alleged actions, WFIU’s Joe Goetzpredicts more fallout in his blog, Scanning the Dial.
Promoting From News to Music
Craig Curtis, who is advising Classical Music Rising’s Classical Spark promotion campaign, has penned a short piece with tips on promoting classical music listening in news programming, about which a number of stations have inquired. The techniques are generally applicable for dual-format news/classical music stations, and for those with multiple services who are cross promoting between news and classical stations. Audio examples are courtesy of NET Radio(Nebraska), WQXR in New York, and Colorado Public Radio. Download Classical Spark #5: Promoting From News To Music and find more Classical Spark materialson the Classical Music Rising website.
NPR Offers Best Practice Cheat Sheet
NPR Programming has produced an essential one-sheet of programming, positioning, and promotion best practices. Craig Curtis suggests, “Stop whatever you’re doing, print out 25 copies of this PDF, hand them around to your staff, and put one on your office wall!” Thanks to NPR’s Israel Smith for letting us share this with you, and to Jeff Rowe and Steve Nelson who have boiled down a lot of knowledge into a single page. Download NPR’s Radio Programming Best Practice Cheat Sheet on ClassicalMusicRising.org.
The Power of Repetition
Radio veteran Dick Taylor lauds the power of repetition in a blog post about short attention span multi-taskers. Since the dawn of advertising, research has shown that messages are more effective when they’re repeated. Taylor reminds us that radio gets results because it’s the affordable, effective frequency leader. Classical Music Rising’s Classical Spark campaign suggests promoting your station 100 times a week on the air. What is more important than giving your listeners reasons to listen more – and repeat that message frequently? Read The Power of Repetition.
RESEARCH & TIPS
Nielsen Q2 Total Audience Report
Nielsen has released its Total Audience Report for Q2 2017 and radio is holding steady. Most of AM/FM radio’s consumption is taking place outside of the home while listeners are working or shopping. RAIN News offers a quick overview of findings. But there’s hope for more radio listening at home via smart speakers…
Is That “Alexa” Under Your Tree?
Fred Jacobs, President and Founder of Jacobs Media Strategies, notes in his blog, “Not since the release of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad – all from Apple – have we seen a gadget that so captivates consumers.” The adoption rate for Amazon’s Echo (“Alexa”) and Google Home smart speakers is astonishing. The Echo Dot was Amazon’s top seller over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One out of every six households already has one. Four out of ten own more than one. See more stats. Research shows Alexa is boosting radio listening in the home, which is good news, given the erosion of AM/FM radios.
What does all this mean for classical stations? In April Jacobs Media joined forces with Steve Goldstein’s Amplifi Media to form Sonic Ai, to develop smart speaker “skills” for stations, and provide broadcasters with tactic and strategies to effectively market those Alexa skills. Here’s an example from Vermont Public Radio of how stations are making it easy for listeners to use Alexa to access their radio streams.
Music Licensing Secrets
Jeff Emtman, creator and host of the podcast Here Be Monsters, distributed by KCRW, has gone down countless rabbit holes in search for podcast music. He recently shared some of his tricks of the music licensing trade with AIR Media. While mostly relevant with respect to contemporary music, there are nuggets for all. Read How I Made It: Jeff Emtman’s Licensing Secrets.
Studies Reveal Music Training Boosts Children’s Brains
Two new studies from the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California show that musical training can change children’s brain structure and boost engagement in the brain networks responsible for decision-making. The results are part of BCI’s ongoing research collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) and the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), investigating the emotional, social and cognitive effects of musical training on childhood brain development. The work highlights the importance of early childhood access to music and arts education. Learn more.
JOBS: CLASSICAL STATION OPPORTUNITIES
Chief Development Officer – ideastream, Cleveland
ideastream is a non-profit multiple media service organization that operates WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN and Classical WCLV 104.9 FM in addition to a range of educational and public media service programs that serve the people of Northeastern Ohio and beyond. The Chief Development Officer is accountable for developing the vision and strategy and for leading the implementation of effective development and communications efforts for ideastream. Learn more/apply
Vice President, Technology & Operations – WXXI, Rochester
The VP of Technology & Operations oversees all technical aspects of this multi-format joint licensee. This includes the air operations unit, ensuring compliance with WXXI policies and FCC regulations, and responsibility for WXXI’s technology departments, including Engineering, Field Engineering, IT, Facilities, Security and Broadcast Operations. 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
Musicians Crossing Boundaries
Radio has long been a vital source for classical music discovery, but for today’s younger audiences, it’s more often YouTube. Kids are inspired to learn to play classical instruments through videos of artists who blend and bend their classical “chops” into something new while exploring wide-ranging musical passions. Many of these young artists are building bridges between classical and other genres of music. It’s not about “dumbing down” classical music to make it more accessible, but as the following videos show, it’s about how these artistspromote jaw-dropping virtuosity and musicianship in ways that are resonating with younger audiences. And just look at the page views! Tip of the hat to Deborah Lein for providing the links to these videos.
Where do you find classical music trivia and “on this day” items for programming tie-ins? Here are our offerings for December, contributed by radio producer and writer Brian Wise.
In 1830, Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique received its premiere at the Paris Conservatory. (Franz Liszt was among those in the audience.) Subtitled “An Episode in the Life of an Artist,” the score was inspired by Berlioz’s obsession with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson whom he had seen in a performance of Hamlet. For the next two years the composer heavily revised his score – and began his courtship of Smithson. On October 3, 1833, the two were married.
Today is the New York Philharmonic’s 175th birthday. The orchestra gave its first performance on this date in 1842 in the Apollo Rooms on Lower Broadway in Manhattan. 600 people turned out for an eclectic, three-hour program that included Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, chamber music and several operatic selections. The Philharmonic is marking the anniversary with a recreation of that program, led by Alan Gilbert. Additionally, nearly 100 historic performances are being released for streaming for the first time on Apple Music and Google Play.
On this day in 1865, Jean Sibelius was born in a modest wooden house in Hämeenlinna, Finland, the second of three children. Despite humble beginnings — in which his physician father left the family bankrupt — he went on to study music in Berlin and Vienna, marry into an influential family, and become Finland’s most celebrated composer.
Violinist Joshua Bell was born on this date in 1967, in Bloomington, Indiana. As a teenager he appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1982, and made his Carnegie Hall debut three years later. In addition to almost constant touring, he has worked extensively in film, television, and even virtual reality, while toggling between classical and crossover projects. Since 2011, Bell has been the music director of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
In 1759, the first music store opened in America. Philadelphia businessman Michael Hillegas opened the shop selling a variety of musical instruments, sheet music and other related merchandise. It’s believed to be the only specialty music store in the colonies before the Revolutionary War. Hillegas, who was also an amateur violinist, went on to become the first Treasurer of the United States.
Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome premiered on this date in 1921, at the Augusteo Theatre in Rome with Bernardino Molinari conducting the Augusteo Orchestra (now the Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia). The vibrantly scored tribute to the Roman landscape was part of the trilogy that also included Fountains of Rome (1916) and Roman Festivals (1928).
Ludwig van Beethoven is believed to have been born on this day in 1770, in Bonn, Germany. Although there is no official record of this event, his baptism was registered at the church of St. Remigius on December 17. German customs at the time dictated that baptism ceremonies take place within 24 hours.
On this day in 1892, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker premiered to a notably lukewarm reception at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by German storyteller E.T.A. Hoffman, Tchaikovsky’s enchanting ballet adaptation gained popularity in the mid-20th century. Today, Nutcracker performances are said to account for 40-45% of a ballet company’s revenue.
Michael Tilson Thomas was born in Los Angeles on this date in 1944. The multi-faceted conductor, pianist and composer recently announced that in June 2020 he will conclude his tenure as music director of the San Francisco Symphony — his 25th year leading the orchestra. Among the hallmarks of his tenure are the acclaimed national radio and television program Keeping Score, seven Grammy Awards for recordings of Mahler Symphonies, as well as the orchestra’s nationally syndicated radio broadcast series.
Tuba Christmas, in which hundreds of tuba and euphonium players gather each year to play carols and other festive fare, debuted on this day in 1974 at the Rockefeller Plaza ice-skating rink. Conceived by Harvey Phillips (“the Heifetz of the tuba”), the event has grown to include more than 200 editions around the U.S. and Canada. Find local performances on the Tuba Christmas website.
On Christmas Day in 1989, six weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein conducted a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Schauspielhaus in East Berlin. The event brought together musicians from top orchestras in London, New York, Paris, Munich, Dresden, and Leningrad (now, again, St. Petersburg), plus three choirs and soloists representing East and West. In a controversial but affectionate gesture, Bernstein substituted the word Freiheit (Freedom), in the final movement, for Freude (Joy), making this a memorable Ode to Freedom.
On this date in 1841, “Lisztomania” broke out for the first time. Franz Liszt gave his Berlin debut recital and demonstrated an uncanny ability to raise the mood of his audience to near hysteria. Women wore his portrait on brooches and tried to get locks of his hair or even cigar butts (which they hid in their cleavages). Some crafty listeners also collected broken piano strings and turned them into bracelets.
During the dark days of 1939, the first New Year’s concert of Johann Strauss waltzes took place in Vienna. This would be the only time the fizzy event occurred on New Year’s Eve; it was put on hold for two years, and then starting in 1941, moved to New Year’s Day, a tradition which continues to this day. Riccardo Muti will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in this year’s performance, to be broadcast on radio and TV to over 90 countries around the world.
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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.