Lockout woes: Now Atlanta’s radio station cuts classical

Lockout woes: Now Atlanta’s radio station cuts classical


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2014

Nobody’s calling it cause and effect but after 10 weeks with a locked-out orchestra, Atlanta’s public radio station WABE is dropping daytime classical music for news and jabber. Atlanta will truly be a town without music. Read here.

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  • Ken J. says:

    Not directly related to the Atlanta orchestra lockout. For maybe 20 years, the public radio industry has found that news/talk stations inspire more fund-raising dollars from listeners than classical music, and as a result many public radio stations which used to specialize in classical music have been flipping formats to carry from the suite of public radio news & information shows. In my town, WUOM flipped from classical to news/talk in 1996 and went from a miniscule market share to the market ratings leader.

    Public radio stations which still have classical music tend to carry a national feed “Classic 24” for more and more hours, meaning there are fewer and fewer local radio staff making the music programming decisions. I’ve also seen split-format stations develop in Detroit and Philadelphia, where it is classical music until the end of the afternoon drive-time, and then programming switches to jazz.

    Probably both the Atlanta radio format change and the Atlanta symphony lockout have a common cause, which is the shrinking and aging of the classical music audience here in the USA.

    I rely increasingly on the internet feeds for BBC Radio 3, Radio France’s classical offering, and RAI 5 from Italy. There are some very nice internet radio apps for smartphones which can be set up for these stations.

    • Ken J. says:

      Smartphone radio apps — be sure you are configuring for wi-fi only, or else be sure you have a good handle on what the audio streaming data charges will be… I don’t want anyone to run up a huge bill on my advice…

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    I would like to direct everyone’s attention to one bright spot in this grim picture. My hometown PBS station, WXXI in Rochester, NY, runs THREE stations. Talking heads and other meaningless gabble (as well as some excellent programming) are broadcast on AM and television, and FM (91.5) is classical music 24/7, with several local hosts and mainly local programming. WXXI classical is also available on the web, and I recommend it. Of course, Rochester is a significant classical music town, with the presence of the Eastman School of Music and the Rochester Philharmonic. But this shows that it can be done if one wants to.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Public radio in Dallas is all news and talk also, but we have a commercial classical station… owned by the city of Dallas.

    It is a political football with several city council members perennially demanding it be sold off for the money or changed to a format more “of the people” like country or hip-hop. From the tone of their comments in these discussion it apparent they are motivated by desires for whatever petty victory they can get against the type of people who listen to such a station.

  • Space Outer says:

    I’m thankful to live in Charlotte, where we have two separate NPR stations for 24/7 News (WFAE-90.7) and 24/7 Classical (WDAV-89.9 FM). I’m sorry Atlanta can’t have the same and will be losing classical music on analog.

  • Greg says:

    Typical profit/findraising drones push this kind of jabber and garbage for cash. Atlanta has just proved one thing. It is as ignorant and uncultured as the rest of the South.

  • Greg says:

    I remember when philadelphia’s wfln was taken over and the format changes to 70s oldies. The first thing the new owner said when he entered the station ahd heard classical was “what is this garbage”. As ignorant as this slob who puts fundraising cash before culture.

  • Edwward J Forrest, Jr. says:

    I think I have lost my mind! It’s June 8, 2016 and I am listening to WABE and it’s more like CNN and FOX than Bach and The Boston Pops! Sadly, Atlanta surely has become a wasteland of HipHop, Country and too much political “analysis”. When WABE comes to me for $$$…I am not renewing until I can enjoy some intellectual peace and quiet. Join me!!!