Radio conference presentations – for you!

Radio conference presentations – for you!

Dear Friends of Classical Music Rising:

It was wonderful to see so many of you last month – first in Maine at Classical Music Rising’s retreat for station partners, and then in D.C. at the Public Radio Program Directors Association’s Content Conference. Overall, we had lots of great, spirited discussions, and there is palpable optimism for classical music public radio.

Classical Music Rising station partners at August 2017 meeting in Maine. Photo: Mark Vogelzang

Copies of Classical Music Rising’s retreat presentations are posted here:

  • Digital Metrics for Classical (Mark Fuerst, Public Media Futures)
  • Discussion: Making the Case (Deborah Lein)
  • State of Play (Tom Thomas & Terry Clifford)
  • Classical Spark (Craig Curtis & Wende Persons)


Presentations of interest to classical stations from PRPD’s Content Conference will be posted soon on

  • Digital Impact panel (Moderator Matt Abramovitz with NPR Music’s Tom Huizenga, New York Public Media’s Kim Nowacki and Jacobs Media’s Seth Resler)
  • 21st-Century Host Connection (Bill Lueth provided illuminating comparative air check examples)
  • Classical Spark (Craig Curtis & Wende Persons)
  • State of Play (Tom Thomas on classical radio stats and trends)
  • Classical Music Rising Update


One New Thing…
During PRPD’s Classical format breakout session, each attendee shared one new idea their station tried this year. Here’s a quick recap:

  • On Air:
    • Sweepers directly into music
    • Music 101 feature with local professor
    • Digitized library
    • More localism
    • Added NPR News to late night/overnight service (didn’t work)
    • Announcer-free overnights
    • Two-way cross promotions from ATC to Classical
    • One-minute podcast promo teasers
    • Live morning show
    • Complete sound reset
    • Extra Eclectic new show
    • “Music that moves me” listener modules
  • Online
    • Social media tease to next day program
    • Spotify playlists
    • Podcast about opera (new storytelling ideas)
    • Music education podcast (Music Box)
    • Facebook Live
    • Carnegie Hall concert recap feature
    • Digital-only programming
    • Twitter teasers
    • Fun, unique social media content creation
    • Weekly digital review/editorial meetings
    • On demand rebroadcasts of concerts
    • Repackage shows into smaller features
    • “Listicles” (workout music, women’s music, etc.)
    • Video profiles for hosts
  • Onsite
    • Remote broadcasts
    • Inviting community leaders & donors to station for local community briefing
    • 50th birthday party remote
    • Kids Discovery Days
  • Membership
    • Drive divided by theme/focus
    • Aired Classical Countdown during drive
    • Eliminated drive; added 3 weeks of spots
    • Thank you cards (Keep calm & listen)
  • Marketing
    • Strategic partnerships, especially social media
    • Outdoor marketing/billboards
    • Rebranding
    • Partnership resets
  • Other
    • Commissioned music for station anniversary
    • New station logo
    • Staff debriefs
    • Coloring sheets
    • Host training


Finally, in the coming weeks, and in time for the fall book (9/14 – 12/16), we encourage stations to implement Classical Spark – i.e. to dramatically increase the on-air promotion for your station, communicating clear station identification and benefits of listening. See recent features about Classical Spark in Current (“Classical stations seek to boost on-air listening with new on-air promo strategy”) and Inside Radio (“Public Radio Adds ‘Spark’ To Drive Classical Listening”).

Download Classical Spark materials:

  • Classical Spark Project Description
  • Best Practice Guide to Effective On-Air Positioning and Promotion
  • Calculating OES for Your Station

Scroll down to read about developing a strong brand for smart speakers, plus some fascinating research findings on Millennials, station news, job opportunities, September’s Classical Datebook, and more…


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


Ten Lessons We Learned…
At PRPD’s Content Conference in D.C. Fred Jacobs presented new research findings for radio broadcasters to better understand the opportunities and challenges presented by Millennials. The Millennial Research Project was dreamed up by PRPD, executed by Jacobs Media, and funded by a group of 15 public radio stations. Here are ten key takeaways from this insightful study… And guess what? Millennials appreciate public radio for the same reasons everyone else does. Read more


Pitching in on Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts 
Public radio stations in Texas are contributing to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Besides playing beautiful classical music, Austin’s KMFA reports that it is organizing a staff blood drive at a local blood bank, serving as a media sponsor for a benefit concert called Hope After Harvey, and, for its fall fund drive, will unlock an anonymous third-party matching gift to a Texas food bank provided it meets its goal of 1,000 donations. KMFA, along with Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio, have put together web pages containing resources and ways to help out.

Nashville Public Radio rebrands classical service
Nashville Public Radio’s classical service has a new name and identity: 91Classical. Music Director Nina Cardona says, “We wanted a name that is easy to find everywhere. The former identity of ‘Classical 91.1’ had a URL that was tricky to say on air, and the name wasn’t available on social media. We’ve also quietly been making playlist changes and have seen a substantial uptick in AQH since we started playing more local classical music and a wider variety of music, pulling from the entire classical repertoire.” Tune in for 91Classical’s first ever radio-only classical music festival on September 8. 91Classical Radio Fest, says Content VP Anita Bugg, “is a celebration of the music Nashvillians make and the music Nashvillians love.”

Leadership Change at All-Classical Portland
Following nine years as President and CEO of All-Classical Portland (ACP) in Portland, Oregon, Jack Allen has stepped down from the station “to pursue personal projects.” One of the top performing classical stations in the U.S., ACP snared a 4.6 share in January, the highest by far for any classical station in recent memory. This past spring CMR had an exchange with Allen about the station’s success, which he attributed to “clearer mission, deeper, more exhilarating programming, more focused (potent) localism, fewer national brands, persistent micro-community engagement, new board and bylaws, completely refurbished brand (‘we love this music’ and ‘building cultural community’), jettisoning ‘public radio speak’ and the false incentive of ‘TY Gifts,’ new state-of-the-art facility; and the “wind in our sails,” a Jelly Helm Studio designed billboard campaign.” A recently released statement from ACR’s board salutes this track record. The board has appointed Suzanne Nance, VP of Programming, to serve as Interim CEO.

Celestial Soundtracks for the Solar Eclipse
The total solar eclipse on August 21 inspired a variety of celestial playlists among classical stations. Chicago’s WFMT published a Top 10 list that included the aria “Total Eclipse” from Handel’s Samson, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Revueltas’s La noche de los Mayas.Nashville Public Radio’s picks included Terry Riley’s Sun Rings and Vaughan Williams’s Dark Pastoral. Over on WRTI in Philadelphia, there were sun- and moon-themed selections, including Nielsen’s Helios Overture and Debussy’s Clair de lune. If you missed this astronomical event, it’s not too early to start planning for the next one, which will blanket the East Coast in 2024.

No Political Speeches, Says BBC Proms
American Public Media offers broadcast highlights of the BBC Proms through the BBC World Service…and controversy looms as the Proms season draws to a close on September 9. London’s Telegraph reports that the BBC has demanded to see a draft of conductor Sakari Oramo’s Last Night of the Proms speech, “amid concerns the celebration of classical music is being taken over by politics.” This summer’s festival has seen Daniel Barenboim speak out against the dangers of nationalism and pianist Igor Levit perform an improvised version of the EU anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. “Last Night at the Proms” will be available to stations via Content Depot on September 25. Read The Telegraph article



Develop a strong brand so Alexa knows your station
Adoption of smart speakers is on the rise, and according to findings from an Edison/NPR smart audio study released in June, a significant percentage of people are listening to more audio since buying a smart speaker. As reported in a front page story in Currentdigital directors at stations are investing in developing smart speaker technology skills on Amazon’s Echo devices to allow listeners to easily access station content with command phrases to Alexa. Tom Webster of Edison Research advises, “I think the urgency – since you’re a radio station – is to be a brand that people would name and want to listen to.” It all comes down to top-of-mind preferences. Read more
Explore Classic FM’s Spike in Young Listenership 
What are they doing at Classic FM that accounts for the huge increase of listeners in their 20s and 30s? One thing is great, sticky and sharable social media. Classic FM’s Facebook page has nearly 1.3 million likes. According to the UK’s Radio Joint Audience Research (RJAR), 5.8 million people listen to Classic FM each week, of which 1.2 million are under the age of 35. The station says it drew 418,000 new listeners in the second quarter of 2017, of which 231,000 are under 35. It credits the introduction of a new Saturday video game music series for the increase, though listenership grew for several other shows as well. As Classic FM marks its 25th anniversary this month (see Datebook, below), its pop-oriented approach has been widely imitated. Among those keeping tabs is BBC Radio 3, Classic FM’s closest competitor, which according to RJAR reaches about 2 million listeners a week.
Use email to connect directly with listeners (It’s still King)
A new report from eMarketer reveals that while other messaging platforms get a lot of attention, email continues to thrive as the most dominant channel – across industries – for its reach and steady performance. 93% of marketers in publishing and media are strong adopters of email. The number of emails being sent and received is expanding, partly due to its solid return on investment (ROI). Read more


General Manager – KING, Seattle
KING FM seeks a dynamic individual with the highest ethical standards to become the next GM. The successful candidate will have a record of leadership in managing staff and working with governing or advisory boards of directors, a firm grasp of today’s media landscape and the regulatory framework for public radio, knowledge of classical music, demonstrated success in fundraising and budget management, the ability to represent KING FM in the local community, a sense of humor and a passion for the work. Learn more/apply

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 September, contributed by radio producer and writer Brian Wise.

September 7
On this day in 1992, Classic FM, the UK’s first national commercial classical radio station, was launched with Handel’s coronation anthem Zadok the Priest. The station’s innovative (and at times controversial) format been widely imitated, with its openness to playing short excerpts of pieces, taking listener requests, and featuring film and video-game scores.

September 9
On this day in 1836, 26-year-old Frederic Chopin proposed to 17-year-old Maria Wodzińska, a daughter of his parents’ friends. She tentatively accepted, on the condition he take care of his health. But the match wasn’t to be and, following her father’s wishes, their relationship ended the following year. Chopin composed two pieces for Maria: the Grand Valse Brilliante (Op. 18) and, alas, the Farewell Waltz.

September 11
In 1935, Arvo Pärt was born in Paide, Estonia. With his birthday coinciding with the anniversary of 9/11, radio programmers on this day have offered up his soothing, meditative scores like FratresTabula Rasa and Spiegel im Spiegel. They find a natural place beside 9/11 tribute works by John Adams, Steve Reich and John Coriligano, among many others.

September 12
On this day in 1910, Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony received its premiere in Munich, conducted by the composer. An impresario added the nickname “Symphony of a Thousand” in an effort to boost ticket sales, despite Mahler’s disapproval. The performance must have made quite a sound with 858 singers and 171 instrumentalists, for a total of 1,029 performers!

September 15 
Antonin Dvorak, along with his wife and two of their six children, left Prague and set out for New York on this day in 1892. He’d been offered a plum job as director of the National Conservatory of New York. The composer’s stay in America coincided with grand celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the new world. The next year Dvorak’s most famous work, the New World Symphony, received its world premiere at Carnegie Hall.

September 16
On this day in 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center opened with the premiere of Samuel Barber’s opera Antony and Cleopatra. The New York Daily News reported on a star-studded gala audience that included members of the Kennedy family, Lady Bird Johnson and the president of the Philippines. By the second act, “more socialites and celebrities were in the lobby than in the house.”

September 18
On this day in 1693, at the age of 15, Antonio Vivaldi joined the clergy in Venice. By 1703 he was fully ordained and had acquired the nickname “il prete rosso,” (The Red-Haired Priest). There’s no evidence his priestly duties interfered with his dedication to the violin or the composition of more than than 500 concertos — bright, extroverted works that include his ever-popular Four Seasons.

September 23
On this day in 1994, “The Shawshank Redemption,” starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, opened in U.S. theaters. Among its most memorable scenes is one in which Andy Dufresne (Robbins) defies Warden Sam Norton (Bob Gunton) by playing over the prison’s loudspeakers Mozart’s sublime duet “Sull’aria…che soave zeffiretto” from The Marriage of FigaroWatch the scene on YouTube.

September 24
60 Minutes, the oldest news magazine program on television, debuted on this day in 1968. Over the decades, the show’s hosts have conducted probing interviews with Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Horowitz and other star classical musicians. Reports on Venezuela’s El Sistema and the Metropolitan Opera under Peter Gelb’s leadership are among more recent segments.

September 25
Dmitri Shostakovich was born on this day in 1906 in St. Petersburg. He began piano studies with his mother at age nine, and at 13 entered the Petrograd Conservatory. There, lacking political zeal, he failed his exam in Marxist methodology. Yet he went on to become a musical giant who walked one of history’s narrowest artistic tightropes: writing music that alluded to the horrors of Soviet repression, while also pleasing the authorities with its rousing spirit.

September 26
West Side Story, the finger-snapping musical updating of Romeo & Juliet, opened 60 years ago today on Broadway. The creative team of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins and Arthur Laurents drew inspiration from real-life gang wars in NYC at the time – right in the ‘hood where Lincoln Center now stands. A new book, A Place for Us, looks at the musical’s social and historical context.



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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