Who Decides WTJU’s Classical Programming?

Marty Ronish, in Scanning the Dial, recently posed a question to the classical music personnel working in public radio: how do you program your station?

In her post, “Programming – Our Ongoing Controversy in Public Radio,” Ronish sums up the general industry practices this way:

Most public stations have a music director or program director who chooses all the music, though a few brave ones let the hosts choose their own. Most do “dayparting” where they choose upbeat music in the morning, longer works in the evening, and calming music at night. They have hierarchies they’ve developed from focus groups: no vocal music, definitely no solo harpsichord, nothing dissonant, play chamber music sparingly, lots of orchestral music, plenty of Baroque and Classical but not much 20th century, and go easy on too much flute and violin.

Well, count us as one of the brave ones, then. Here at WTJU each announcer gets to choose their own music.

There are some guidelines, of course.

1) Avoid playing the same work sooner than six weeks from last airing. This may seem like a long time, but play something twice in the same months and we’ll get call complaining that we’re airing the same thing “all the time.”

2) Respect the music — air complete works. There are exceptions, of course. Opera overtures, individual lied, and other pieces meant by the composer to be excerpted are fine. But if you’re going to air a symphony, air all the music, not just the slow movement.

3) Program classical music. This can be as messy as trying to figure out the line between porn and art (“I’ll know it when I see it” – or in this case, hear it). But on the whole, this means sticking to the work as originally composed. So a Beethoven piano sonata on piano, fine; arranged for accordion and pan flutes, probably not. There’s much more to this guideline, enough to merit a post by itself (which I’ll do another time).

4) If it’s worth listening to, it’s worth airing. So, at WTJU, there are really no banned genres. Choral music, solo voice, solo violin, organ, contemporary music, medieval music, renaissance music — if the announcer thinks it’s worth presenting to the audience, then out it goes.

We could certainly expand our coverage by reigning in our volunteer announcers. Were we to follow Marty Ronish’s outline, WTJU might have a larger audience. But would it still be WTJU?

Our continued commitment to our free-roaming programming suggests we’ve already asked and answered that question.

But what’s your opinion?

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