Confirmed: South Florida radio converts from classical to Christian

Confirmed: South Florida radio converts from classical to Christian


norman lebrecht

July 14, 2015

We warned some days back that South Florida was about to lose three classical radio stations. It now has.

The future is Christian.

God help us all.

south florida

Here’s what the former owners say:

“We are proud of the classical music service we’ve provided to hundreds of thousands of South Floridians on FM radio,” said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of APMG. “As audience expectations and needs have changed, along with changes in media technology and the music economy, it’s clear we must change the ways we deliver and sustain our services. We’ve been working to build Classical South Florida since 2007, and we’ve not succeeded in providing the distinctive value that motivates a sustainable level of support. APMG produces and presents world-class classical music for millions of Americans, every week, and we must constantly adapt to ensure that more people can access our public services on-the-air, online and on stage.”


  • T. Manor says:

    Have a problem with Christians?

    • NYMike says:

      The right-wing gun-loving, bible-thumping, anti-women’s healthcare kind? You bet I do!

      • V.Lind says:

        Me too. I’m a Catholic, and when I meet these people they deny that I am a Christian. Trying to remind them of Christian history is pointless, as they date history back to when they themselves were “born again.” They are absurd, but more than that, they are dangerous.

    • John says:

      No, but I would guess that the programming content almost certainly would change. I think that’s what most people who enjoy classical programming would think, and it’s probably why Norman posted this information.

  • Tim Walton says:

    The problem is with Americans

    The USA appears to be full of God nuts, Gun nuts or Tea Party nuts and I can’t deside which is the worst.

    Fortunately I don’t live ther and have no wish, at all, to visit there.

    An American friend of mine who loves classical music says that the biggest problem with Americans and Classical music is they they have the attention span of a gnat!

    • Max Grimm says:

      I remember an acquaintance (an American who is an orchestral musician in Germany) once saying that he decided to seek a position in a European orchestra because he felt like a beef-farmer in a land of vegans in his home country.

    • Chris says:

      Broad brush strokes are not becoming to the person wielding the brush. As an American, I chafe at the notion of being lumped in with particular subsets of the population. The US is vast, the population exceptionally large, and as equally diverse. As someone who does not live here, nor per your own words, wish to visit, your loss. The country is unique, and dynamic, full of many treasures. The fact that one radio station felt the press of necessity to explore an alternate revenue stream, especially in Florida, where there is a large faith based audience, is not indicative of anything broader than the local audience was not present in sufficient numbers to sustain a classical format. And they’re right…delivery of content has changed. I do not even deal with radio, or at least broadcast based radio. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and other internet based outlets provide access to the vast majority of the classical catalogue. It is heaven. But please refrain from proclamations of “the problem is with Americans” as warts and all, we have a culturally rich and vibrant country, filled with people aplenty who relish the arts produced here. Good day and best wishes.

    • CDH says:

      “The USA appears to be full of God nuts, Gun nuts or Tea Party nuts and I can’t deside [sic] which is the worst”

      They tend to overlap a great deal!

    • Kathleen McCarthy says:

      You have an American friend? That’s hard to believe.

    • Dan P. says:

      Like most generalizations about Americans, this one only exposes the writer’s ignorance about a country that spans most of a continent and whose population is very diverse across every category. Certainly one can’t deny the existence in the US of gun nuts, the religiously delusional, and those whose politics are over a century old. But by the same token, one shouldn’t mistake noise level in the media for the size of the noise makers. That’s a big mistake, which you’d know if you lived here. That they have any influence at all is due to politics as played by Republican as a last act of desperation as they face a steep decline in their base.

      Is there any western country that doesn’t have its share of nutters as the British like to call them? Not in my experience. It’s always easier to recognize someone else’s crazies rather than one’s own. And, if Europe really has fewer people than the US with diminished attentions spans, which I doubt, it only needs to wait to catch up. This is where the younger generations seem to be heading.

      And, yes, it’s a sad fact that classical music is dying in the US. But to be honest with you, I haven’t heard of much better in Europe. I work with lots of middle and upper middle class Europeans – business men and women – on a daily basis and while a couple of them may know the name Haydn, none has heard one of his symphonies or is much interested in doing so. And where would European orchestras be without government subsidies? At some point I’m sure that’s all going to go away when voters decide they don’t want to spend their money on “high class entertainment” for a smaller and smaller audience. So I think we need to look at ourselves before casting aspersions on others.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      You have no wish to visit? Why, we’re heartbroken ! However will we get along without Europeans coming over to tell us everything that’s wrong with us and, not inconceivably, attempt to strangle someone?

  • Brian b says:

    It could just as easily have been converted to a Top 40 rock station or rap 24/7.

  • Tim Walton says:

    , but would the listeners know the difference.

  • Peggy says:

    The Tampa area — including Sarasota — has an amazing 24/7 classical music station — WSMR. Don’t tar the whole state — let alone the whole country — with one brush.

  • JCJ says:

    Re all the (presumably European) USA haters commenting here:

    Big talk from the continent of dyed-in-the-wool altruists like Angela Merkel and George Osborne, not to mention Cousin Vladimir from down east. HA HA HA.

    • Tim Walton says:

      Americans bring it upon themselves.

      I was delighted when Obama got elected but he ha been a complete waiste of space in everything other than Obamacare. He hasn’t got the guts to stand up to the right wing nutcases in the NRA although to be fair no one in the USA has the guts to stand up to them.

      At least Europe, for all it’s faults have thousands of years of history to go back to. Two hundred odd years ago half of America were still living in wigwams. They have ho remarkable History.

      There is a bigger gulf between the haves and have nots in the USA than many third world countries.

      George Osborne has more brains than most in the USA or Europe. Putin is a thug and a bully and as for Merkle she’ behaving like the German Dictators of old – Hitler in Drag – subjugating the worlds oldest democracy rather than helping them. Greece wouldn’t have got in the dire mess they are in now, if there had been some control of them by the EU but thats one of the worlds largest dictatorships, and thats a whole other story.

      • John says:

        What does this have to do with a radio station in Florida changing formats?

        • Dan P. says:

          No it doesn’t. Mr. Walton is simply having a temper tantrum. I think his emotions have gotten the best of him. Perhaps he needs a nap.

  • Richard says:

    Just another example of the cultural wasteland South Florida is. I live in Miami. 🙁

  • PaulD says:

    I don’t see the problem here. Those who want to listen to classical music can stream any number of radio stations, at home and in the car, including those that distribute APMG’s programs. There is also the satellite option. APMG’s statement acknowledges this.

    As for a Christian organization taking the channel, so what? Don’t like it? Then don’t listen.

    • John says:

      I think the problem is the steady decline in free classical programming on the AM and FM bands. In some parts of the country it’s a struggle to keep it going. I live in Denver and that’s the case here. So, from where I sit in cowboy country, I do see a very real problem. And yes, if you happen to have $200+ to spend every year on subscription classical, you do get one so-so station and another station carrying reruns of old Met Opera performances (Serius), so yes, for those people who have 20 bucks-plus to pay for two “meh” classical channels (out of over 200 total) there is that option. For the rest of us, those AM and FM classical stations — declining in number every month — are all that’s available.

      • Marg says:

        You dont have to pay anything. Check out radio streaming on your computer – absolutely free and tons of stations. You can play the BBC all day for nothing for example.

        • sixtus says:

          The sound quality of BBC Radio 3 online is throttled by an excessively low bit rate for all listeners outside the UK. There are other free classical streams from Europe without this limitation (such as Radio4 from the Netherlands, D-dur in the Czech Republic and various Scandinavian streams). There are various VPN solutions to the BBC bit rate limitation, some of which are free.

        • John says:

          Thanks for the suggestion to listen to streaming on my computer, but my desk isn’t where I do my quality listening. And while that might work for me, it’s a stretch for some people who either don’t have computers with good bandwidth, or (for some older people) for those who don’t have or use computers. When classical music leaves the ‘free’ airwaves, that is definitely a loss.

          • Dan P. says:

            Just one suggestion here – internet radios. They are now very inexpensive and if you have an internet connection they are pretty simple to hook up. If you have WIFi you can put them anyplace in your home. You get thousands of stations across the globe and you can listen to anything you like at any time of the day. And, there’s plenty of classical music.

  • John says:

    Oh please, these comments are so unnecessary!

    • John says:

      (I’m talking about the down-on-Christians comments. I’m not a Christian fundamentalist, but they just aren’t relevant here.)

  • MacroV says:

    Thanks to the internet, there’s really no shortage of places where you can listen to classical music. What bothers me is that when you drive across the United States, most of the radio you’ll hear in your car is just so coarse, trashy, or vapid. There’s NPR and an occasional (but increasingly rare) classical station.

    On the positive side, Rush Limbaugh also seems to be on the decline

  • Hank says:

    People still listen to radio?

  • Sergei says:

    In Buenos Aires,Argentina,you have 3 classical radios. Two of them are just for “dilettante amateurs”, transmiting all the old horses everybody knows and had heard 100 times. But Radio clásica Nacional (that belongs to the government) has a very extensive repertory, and works no stop the 24 hours. Probably one of the best -or the best- classical radio of South America. I’m an permanent client.

  • John Nemaric says:

    How true! Radio Nacional music is superb. At least it was 10 years ago when I was there. My wish is that they someday will connect with Internet and be able to listen to them again. As far as I know they have not yet connected to the web at the classical level. Miss that station a whole lot. Now a days I mostly listen here in Pittsburgh to Operavore (New York City) and/or Audiophile Classic (from Greece) on the web. Also to two digital channels provided by my subscription to Comcast TV. We have here in Pittsburgh an also run very stale and rather ignorant NPR station, that is WQED…and absolute disaster…always asking for money! Playing the same old same all day long…and so on and so for…

    • Sergei says:

      But she is, John. I think is // If not google it for radio nacional clasica and you’ll have it All the programs can be heard on the air. Some years ago I was producer of a program (Sundays,4.30/6.00PM) called “rarezas”. That was before the insane cheef mafia woman took the presidence.

      • John Nemaric says:

        And by that you mean the notorious Ms. Kretina?

        In any event I thank you for the info. While I was in Baires I was an admirer of Adelma Gomez and her organ program on Sunday mornings. I even loaned her many of my pipe organ CDs. Sadly she was killed in a traffic accident. Thank you again Sergei.

  • hyprocritesgalore says:

    Europe is a post-Christian (and post-Judeo) society which explains ills quite well. It is ironic that the Europeans writing on this board forget that so much of the classical music they love was financed by the Church and inspired by religion. Good luck with the towering Mosques that continue to populate your land. We will see where you are in fifty years.

  • Michael B. says:

    The classical public radio stations in the United States are, with very few exceptions, incredibly lame. They are virtually all in thrall to “market research” and play a very limited selection of pieces over and over again; in many cases, they only play excerpts and single movements. A few years ago, some of this “market research” was available on the internet; people surveyed were asked whether they liked or disliked a work based on 30-second snippets. The quality of this “market research” was indicated by the fact that a recording made by the violinist Maxim Vengerov in about 1992 was designated a “historical recording.” This market research was conducted in, believe it or not, Iowa City, Iowa, Sacramento, California, and Tampa, Florida, cities without major orchestras or much classical music tradition.

    These stations play virtually no vocal music, on the theory that vocal music does not “test well” in such market research. I guess that is why singers such as Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, and Luciano Pavarotti had such obscure careers and made so few recordings. They also refuse to play virtually all 20th century music, and a good deal of late romantic music as well, which is seen as too dissonant and with too great dynamic contrast to suit their style. Auf wiedersehen, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, and Anton Bruckner! They won’t even play Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”!

    I am particularly familiar with KUSC-FM, based in Los Angeles. KUSC, at one time a tremendous station, has drastically dumbed down their programming in the last few years. They have all of the failings mentioned above. In addition, they have increasingly loaded their programming with recent, junk, movie music (of the Hans Zimmer variety, not the classics by Erich Wolfgang Korngold or Franz Waxman). Moreover, they have adopted a policy of refusing to play any music that may elicit disturbing extramusical associations, which, in practice, translates to refusing to play anything relating to the Holocaust, or, for that matter, other political or social unrest. (They will not even play the suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s satirical opera “The Golden Cockerel”!) This effectively bars a lot of Shostakovich, which uses Jewish themes (i.e., the First Violin Concerto, Second Piano Trio, and Fourth and Eighth Quartets, just to name a few works.) Serving a region with an extremely diverse population, they play virtually no works by Latin-American composers, African or African-American composers, or Asian composers. They used to, and still could, do a lot better.

    • Sergei says:

      Seems that Goebbels is their inspiring and guide. In my time as producer, almost 2/3 of all works I gave for transmition were first audition on radio, and the rest were known works, but of very rare and forgotten historical versions.