Classical radio loses its most knowledgeable presenter

Classical radio loses its most knowledgeable presenter

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norman lebrecht

December 20, 2020

The engaging broadcaster Rob Cowan is about to make his last appearance on Classic FM this Saturday.

Rob’s 3-year contract has come to an end and has not been renewed.

He knows more about records than anyone presently on air – maybe too much for Classic FM, which constantly respins the same old hits.

Having quit the suffocating BBC, he’s too male, pale, stale to be welcomed back.

It’s a bleak day for music broadasting.

 

Rob says: Come Boxing Day and I deliver my last edition of Cowan’s Classics @ClassicFM. Throughout this very happy stint (my third with the Station) listeners have responded positively via email and on a weekly basis to the menus that I’ve concocted for them, their varieties of style, genre, tone, tempo, mood and recorded vintage, the familiar played alongside the unfamiliar, and so forth, which leads me to sincerely hope that by reaching out I’ve facilitated some valuable discoveries. Aside from the odd birthday or anniversary my agenda has always been simple: quality, more quality and yet more quality still, with brief, lightly delivered commentaries. I love sharing and although I’ll continue to listen with joy (often related to my critical work as Contributing Editor for Gramophone and on my blog Rob’s Retro Classical at robccowan.com) I’ll miss the opportunity of programming the best of what I hear for responsive listeners. So to those of you who have listened, thank you – and thank you too to the lovely CFM team.

Comments

  • Ellie says:

    ‘he’s too male, pale, stale to be welcomed back.’

    What a despicable comment to make, Norman. You are in a position of influence and this is what you decide to write.

    People from different backgrounds, including over 50% of the population as women – should not have to deal with people spreading the idea that their appointments are down to anything other than merit, together – with no apology- , with the enormous benefits that diversity in all its forms brings to us all.

    I was watching the Barenboim ‘lost tapes’ on C4 last night and the orchestra being about 90% white male men in 1970 was the first thing that stood out to me as glaringly awful – though looking it up this was better than most orchestras then. That isn’t right!

    So, 50 years later, that you indicate someone’s contract is not renewed because they are ‘male and pale’ – to be still spreading dangerous falsehoods about roles being taken from deserved, privileged (white male) people to those who, by inference, don’t deserve it (the ‘others’) – that’s abominable. Shame on you.

    • kaywarbrick says:

      Hear hear!

    • The ‘truth’ a little too difficult for you Ellie.

    • Hmmm says:

      Ellie, does it not occur to you that norman may think it is *right* that he is replaced for that reason? It would fit better with most of the stuff here. You can’t have it both ways- either you want a push to take people from other backgrounds because of their backgrounds, in which case you should have no problem with them not being the “best”, the yardsticks for that having in any case been made by the all-powerful over-represented white blokes you want gone, or you should want the people, whoever they are, who are most attuned to interpreting the output of music produced by the chosen men of the 17th-19th centuries- if you think that identity is so incredibly important then it would presumably follow that those sharing that identity would have some advantage in doing so, and would mostly then be the ones doing that job. Indeed, do you not see the fact that most of the composers were white and male as a black mark against the art form itself? If so then why would you regard the job of conducting an orchestra as something to be put on a pedestal and looked up to/aspired to anyway? The instruments themselves, ways of using them and the ensemble formats were created and decided for this music- again by old white men- you would need to invent whole new instruments and and ensembles and modes of performing to escape it, and then hope that people also actually would want to listen to it as you wouldn’t be able to draw upon it being “established” so they “should”. You’d be a bit late for because “pop” musicians already did that while “classical” musicians were staring into their tone rows.

      So what are you trying to achieve? I don’t get it

      • Ellie says:

        Hey Hmmm,

        I’m not sure I entirely understand your post but I’ll try and respond just a little.

        Yes, patriarchy is entrenched in the art form, even in the composer and the luthier as you say. But does a feminist model of music (as you seem to assume I want) really need to be an entirely different, radical music? I’m not sure the answer is as clear cut as you make out. And there are plenty of theories that the most effective radical disruption can come from operating within systems, exposing the cracks from the inside out.

        I also don’t agree with your idea that inclusivity or (male-defined) quality is a binary either/or matter. Both can form part of the whole. It’s not straightforward, it’s definitely not ‘have your cake and eat it’. But it’s really so important that matters like inclusivity are properly valued alongside other kinds of criteria too. To me, NL implies he disagrees with a value system that takes into consideration a broader set of criteria than just (traditional, white male) ‘quality’. I couldn’t disagree more with that.

        I hope that explains a bit more where I’m coming from. I’m no expert on it, it just seems really obvious the situation is more complex, and that making derogatory remarks like NL’s is extremely unhelpful.

        • Paul Brownsey says:

          “(male-defined) quality”

          Why call it “male-defined” rather than “defined by the knowledgeable”?

          • Ellie says:

            I recommend you read ‘Why have there been no great women artists’ by Linda Nochlin’ so you can understand this better than I can articulate 🙂

          • Marfisa says:

            Ellie: “(male-defined) quality”. You are implying, then, that women would define quality differently – but I thought that was what you were not saying? Why not just stick to the distinction inclusivity/quality — obviously these values are not incompatible, unless bad choices are made.

            What do you understand by ‘patriarchy’? Is it simply another way of saying ‘white male men’ (your phrase)? (Don’t tell me to go and read a book about it!)

            A final plea – don’t judge history by the preconceptions and prejudices of 2020!

          • Ellie says:

            Hi Marfisa
            I can well expect contradictions in my points – there’s lots of different things at play. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and picking up on things.

            I think that the notion of quality has been male-defined because, by and large, history has been written by men and the taste-setters have been men. Not 100% of course, and it’s changing, but that’s certainly been the inherited status quo for several centuries.

            How funny I wrote ‘white male men’ – oh well! For me, patriarchy is the system we have lived in, where the power is dominated by men. Gender pay gap etc etc all indicate we’re still in a patriarchal society, albeit one that has progressed enormously.

            Judging history – I agree, you can’t make judgments across periods of time without recognising that’s exactly what you’re doing and it is problematic to do so. But there aren’t many other ways we can do it, and it is possible to see the problems in a past period and recognise them as such, not to just say ‘oh it was how it was at the time’ – it’s about relativising I guess. And you’re right – recognising our own biases and what we can and cannot see in our own episteme is also really important.

          • Marfisa says:

            Thank you, Ellie. It is good (and rare) to have friendly discussions about these matters.

            ‘Patriarchy’ annoys me a little, because it is often used to lay blame solely on Men while ignoring underlying historical factors such as: no reliable mechanical or chemical contraception until the 1960s; danger and frequency of death in childbirth; warfare without today’s remote machinery; marriage normally a contract for life, and involving extended family; no electrical machinery to make the job of home- and garden-keeping quick and easy; long working hours for men; ideas shared by both women and men about natural role differentiation. Women often married and had their children when they were still young, and (even when education and careers for women became more common) it was difficult for older women to make progress. Nowadays it’s the other way round: women establish careers when they are young, then find it difficult to conceive and start a family when they are forty-ish!

            Material things have changed, but it takes time and thoughtfulness to change attitudes and systems, so that is why I call for tolerance and understanding rather than condemnation. Those might even lead to less resistance and faster progress!

    • Ms.Melody says:

      Why would anybody watching a documentary of a great orchestra led by talented conductor, playing great music, focus on counting the number of representatives of each gender, is beyond me.

    • James T. says:

      Ellie, I don’t think you recognized the biting irony in Norman’s comment.

      • Ellie says:

        Yes I do get confused by NL’s pithy comments at times and am not always clear on the inference. But here, to me it’s kind of clear he’s lamenting what he might call ‘wokeness’ with all the overtones of the classic ‘PC gone mad’ brigade.

        But if I’m wrong and he’s not inferring that, I’m very happy.

    • BARRY R GRAHAM says:

      Just go ahead and imagine him as trans or something. Then maybe his knowledge and insight will mean something to you.

    • Brian Brotherston says:

      Shut-up or go and live in RUSSIA !! .. !!

    • Jim C. says:

      I think it’s a funny line. And quite true. He won’t get hired anywhere.

      Were non-white players being kept away in 1970? Or did few exist then and there?

      Big difference.

    • psq says:

      Ellie, do a blind test and see if you can tell the difference whether the orchestra has 90% male or 50/50 evenly divided, or 90% female.

      • Ellie says:

        I think we’d come up with the same answer – you can’t tell…

        My point is – given that there is likely to be pretty much no difference if you close your eyes, there was a discrimination against women who should have had an equal share of the positions.

    • Arnolphe says:

      Rob’s big mistake was not playing enough Amy Beach. Classic FM will not be happy until it has become as ‘woke’ as the BBC. Quotas sound the death knell for any form of meritocracy.

    • BrianB says:

      Dangerous truths, you mean.

    • Maria says:

      Well, it happened to a presenter on BBC Radio 4 for being too posh! You need to get real, Ellie, and not be so naive. It dies happen but other boxes are ticked to make it more acceptable – like speaking too posh or the colour of one’s shoes. Ranting at Norman in such a way is not the way to vent your anger. Sadly you just don’t seem to accept the truth when you hear it. Yes, seen as male, pale, and stale just about sums up the verdict, yet a very sad day for broadcasting.

    • Brian says:

      Hahahahaha. Wake up and smell the coffee. I don’t always agree with Norman, but this time he is 100% right.

  • Rob says:

    I remember listening to Classic FM when it had just started in Sep 1992 and he was playing Rattle’s new recording of Mahler 7 on emi.

  • Anon says:

    “Most knowledgeable”? Hmmm…..

    I suspect any of Radio 3’s main roster would give him a run for his money in the mainstream he specialises in, and most of them have specialist sidelines he doesn’t have. And then there are the R3 specialists in early music, modern music, jazz, folk and so on.

    The sad thing for readers of this blog is that I suspect Cowan would gladly acknowledge their expertise and ability to present it in an engaging way.

    • Jason Lewis says:

      Could you please list the musical specialisms of R3’s main roster of presenters? I’d be interested to know.

    • James says:

      With no disrespect to the other broadcasters, and while it isn’t a competition, I can assure you that Rob would give them a run for their money on almost any specialist area, as *they* would gladly acknowledge! I can think of very few with his breadth of expertise since the late Ted Greenfield.

    • robc cowan says:

      I would indeed. Then again when I was on Radio 3 I factored into my self-curated mixes those very categories, ie early music, modern music, jazz and folk. A specialist? Not exactly, but I’d be excited by musics rehanging from Victoria to Lully, Schoenberg and Bartók to Reich and Adams, and would also programme music by female, Black and Asian composers long before others felt prompted to do so. For me Ellington is just about America’s greatest composer. And my background? North London Jewish (maternal line originally from the Ukraine), married to a Glaswegian artist – my biggest stroke of luck – and with daughters who are as PC as the best of them. And don’t believe for a moment that I haven’t suffered the rod of prejudice, ie seaside boarding houses that insist on ‘no dogs, no Blacks, no Jews’ – mind you I was very young).
      Best to all and thanks so much for sharing your views (quiz whizz Herbie Goldberg especially), snipers and all. Have a great Christmas.

      • Jason Lewis says:

        I’ve always enjoyed your programmes, Rob. You have wide knowledge and great enthusiasm. And you have championed neglected composers, some of whom are close to my heart. In addition, you are never nasty……..

      • Good morning Rob, what a sad day! I’ve read most of the comments and find that many of them are rather unimpressive. I remember you on BBC radio 3 but since your departure I’ve not tuned in as often! I also feel that CFM could have given you a better slot! Saturday evening so often clashed with other events. However, on a different note, my ancestors (Grandfather and two great uncles) owned a musical magazine named The Musical Opinion. My great uncle Arthur was the editor and I have inherited a large collection of 78’s all marked with a label telling me that they are Editor’s review copy only and “Not for resale”. They are very old (I’m 83) and in my youth were my musical inspiration! My wife has, reluctantly accepted my large collection of LPs and even larger collection of CDs but these 78s do really need a good home and, after nearly 60 years I still need my dear wife. Might you have any suggestions or interest?

  • Francis Loughheed says:

    I hope he considers podcasting.

  • Edgar Self says:

    It’s the loss of BBC and its music-loving subscribers. Rob Cowan’s columns in “Gramophone”, particularly those on historical recordings, are a delight of many decades’ standing.

    I met him at Tower Records in Chicago on one of his visits here. He struck me then as an enthusiastic man of the people, a loving unpretentious, knowledgeable connoisseur who listens to music honestly. It didn’t hurt that we shared a regard for the highly idiosyncratic Beethoven violin concerto recorded in 1934 by Bronislaw Hubermann with Georg Szell and the Vienna Phiharmoni, still my favorite among many other vintage recordings. . It’s a sort of test piece He passed the test.

  • CarlD says:

    There goes my only reason for tuning in. Cowan is also the best writer in Gramophone, IMHO.

  • Costa Pilavachi says:

    Maybe pale but not stale. A lovely man and a true enthusiast. He will be missed.

  • Paul says:

    Noticed that with out local Classical FM station here…repeating and repeating. I’ve turned to subscribing to YouTube for a better selection. But still support the local Classical FM station.

  • Tancredi says:

    Knowledge isn’t everything. I switched Radio 3 off when Cowan came on at 7 a.m. It must be said that he calmed down from 0900, so perhaps the dumbed down R3 required this noisy style for ‘breakfast’. Only go to Classic with remote control to zap trailers and chatty girls on R3.

  • Warren stutely says:

    Mr lebrecht I have great sympathy for you but as far as I am concerned both radio 3 and CFM have become completely dumbed down . The “powers” that be on both stations seem to equate wearing bright clothes and inane laughter with musical intelligence rather than the worst form of consumerism, rather like most of our “culture”. Nowotimeen ??? All best wishes. Warren

  • Heather Thompson says:

    Great shame such a knowledgeable and enthusiastic man is not kept on . Too few people have such a knowledge to share with others

  • Mark E de Saint-Rat says:

    too bad, I still remember when Robert J. Lurtsema and Morning Pro Musica passed from the scene.

  • Matthew Coldicutt says:

    Rob Cowan is a presenter l have a have always looked forward to hearing. He gives me ( and many other listeners keen for a top recording and absorbing, unshowy background info ) the kind of experience where everything he imparts is deeply absorbed rather than merely listened to. He has hit just the right note on CFM, never too highbrow, but inviting the listener to go a little deeper than they might themselves probe.

  • Blair says:

    I was pleased when he left R3, thinking I could listen again in thr morning, but disappointed when Breakfast was then overtaken by Petroc Trelawny, who mangles the English language, and speaks in infra-sound

  • J E S Bradshaw says:

    Ellie, I can’t stop laughing. Do you ever read what you write before you post it?

    “I was watching the Barenboim ‘lost tapes’ on C4 last night and the orchestra being about 90% white male men in 1970 was the first thing that stood out to me as glaringly awful…”

    Have you no idea how daft that sounds? Music is about the sound, not about the gender of the band members. Just think about it.

  • Tom Helvin says:

    Ellie, do you not think Norman was making a sarcastic comment about the person(s) who decided not to renew Rob’s contract?
    Good luck, Rob. I’ve loved your programmes and will miss them terribly.

    • Ellie says:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for commenting. I know Norman thought highly of Rob Cowan. But wasn’t the sarcasm implying criticism of the decision makers?

      My point was that to imply reasons about gender, ethnicity and age were behind the decision leading to the loss of a good presenter was a really rubbish, damaging thing to do.

      I also really enjoyed Rob’s programmes and am sorry to see him go, I should add!

      • Robert Werblin says:

        It seems I can’t see my original comment! Really can’t write it all over again. Have a great holiday season!

    • Herbie G says:

      Of course you are right Tom! Had Ellie read NL’s header to this thread carefully before rushing into print, this would have been glaringly obvious. I share your sentiments about Rob but you can’t keep a good man down and I am sure that he’ll find a niche in some place where culture, warmth, modesty, kindness, good humour and a gentle touch are the watchwords. Sadly, that’s not Radio 3 or CFM.

  • Raoulduke says:

    What a disgrace. I followed him on radio 3 ,his essential classis show was very enjoyable and enlightening.
    A loss to broadcasting.

  • Chris Boyes says:

    Hear hear: I agree with the negative comment. I was never a fan of Mr Cowan’s either for the reasons given. Well said that man.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Meanwhile, the BBC World Service’s weekly “Arts Hour” is hosted by someone called Nicky Baby.

  • Jasper says:

    Gregg Whitewide (WRTI in Philadelphia; http://www.wrti.org) is a wonderful, literate, conversant classical-music radio host. No one is better. No one.

    Jasper

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    This is indeed a tragedy; Rob was the best presenter at the BBC and the best on Classic FM. He has a unique and very personal combination of great knowledge and a natural infectious enthusiasm which seduces the listener. He reminds us of all the great irreplaceable artists of the past and new discoveries and often reveals some we did not know about. I would refer you to an excellent piece by Michael Tanner in the Spectator last April where he is generally critical of BBC presenters and refers to Rob Cowan as an exception, https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-do-radio-3-presenters-adopt-the-tone-stupid-adults-use-when-addressing-children-

  • Herbie G says:

    Forget those derisory comments – there’s always someone who wants to piddle over your birthday cake and even if Beethoven himself were engaged to do the job they would be there complaining that he had a German accent or needed the services of a barber.
    NL is spot on – it’s a sad day indeed. Rob has been a part of my musical landscape for decades. He was born for broadcasting, with that friendly mulled-wine voice and avuncular manner that made me feel that he was sitting in the same room talking to me alone.
    More than 25 years ago, when I just knew Rob as an erudite reviewer in various publications, he wrote a fine article in the BBC Music magazine about Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Pointing out how modern that work was at the time, he wrote that it was the first symphony in five movements by a major composer. I immediately put pen to paper and wrote to the magazine pointing out that a quite well-known German émigré who had settled in Vienna had, a quarter of a century before Berlioz, written a sixth symphony in F major in five movements. I posted it off and forgot about it. Two days later, I was sitting at home when the phone rang. I couldn’t believe it – it was Rob, who introduced himself and laughingly agreed with me – after which we had a long discussion about music although he was obviously busy with other things.
    Years later, I met Rob after he had been presenting a Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, and thereafter on several occasions. He always has a warm-hearted smile, a twinkle in his eye and a sense of humour – in other words, he was just like he sounds on the radio. One might have thought he would progress further up the ladder at the BBC, maybe to the position of Director of Radio 3 – but sadly he lacked two essential qualities for that job – arrogance and ignorance.
    He wears his phenomenal knowledge lightly. He could probably tell you by the surface noise on the record before the first note turned up that it was Furtwangler’s Beethoven 9th – the 1942 recording of course, not the 1953 one. It seems beyond doubt that he left the BBC when they wanted to dumb down Essential Classics to a roller-coaster ride through ill-assorted snippets, designed for listeners with short attention spans. At least on his Saturday night slot with CFM, he could play whole works, although interspersed with adverts and broadcast sound so mercilessly compressed that it was an ordeal to hear on any reasonable quality hi-fi system.
    Rob’s departure might be seen to mark the end of an era on the air, but something tells me that this may not really be the end. Rob is young at heart and I have long felt that, to misquote West Side Story, there’s a place for him. Radio 3 is now beyond redemption so what we now need is a new radio station for serious devotees of classical music. The one thing that might bring this about would be a consortium of the independent classical music CD producers such as Bis, cpo, Dutton, Hyperion, Chandos, Naxos, Capriccio and so on. They could use this as a showcase for their monthly releases, of which there are dozens, interspersed with a few educational presentations. They might also sponsor on-air performances by artists and ensembles whose futures are so desperately threatened by this dreadful pandemic – and young performers who need a forum to demonstrate their talents.
    In that kind of environment Rob would be in his element. But, for now, we owe him a debt of gratitude for all those years during which he has delighted, enlightened and amused us and in so doing made the world a better place.

    • Lady Weidenfeld says:

      You hit the nail on the head Herbie and I think the idea of a new radio station for serious music lovers is brilliant! Of course I remember you well from Ron’s brain teasers which I always loved and your name with correct answer came up very often!

    • Lady Weidenfeld says:

      I mean ROB’s brain teasers!

    • Ellie says:

      Forgive me if you meant my comments in ref to the ‘derisory comments’ – what I have been highlighting is the way NL framed Rob Cowan’s leaving. I haven’t levied any criticism at Rob and nor would I wish to – I have enjoyed his shows. He will clearly be much missed!

  • Allan says:

    A sad sad day, listened for decades at the beeb, was sad to see him go from there. I’ll be listening at Xmas.

  • What a load of distorted twaddle ! Good luck, Rob.

  • Congratulations Rob for all your wonderful work!

  • Christopher Sears says:

    A bad day. Taking the station deeper into its same old, same old limited repertoire.

  • christopher storey says:

    One of the greatest, and most knowledgeable , broadcasters on Classical music , ( along with Stephen Johnson and the late Anthony Hopkins ) certainly in its recorded form , ever . I go back to his early days on Classic FM when he had a regular discussion programme with Keith Shadwick who was another polymath. Rob Cowan will be enormously missed

  • Ralph says:

    Shoddy article full of bile without any corroboration. There’s no hint of bitterness in the quote you give yet you preface it with cheap shots at both Classic FM and the BBC, whilst also dismissing other presenters. It may be a sad day but hardly a bleak one.

  • Mary Graham says:

    Sorry to see you go as yours was the only show I listened to since the new presenter of breakfast radio arrived .
    You would be appreciated at Scala

  • robc cowan says:

    Hi dear Norman – actually my last programme is on Boxing Day, so do join me if you can!

  • Robert Werblin says:

    Basically it’s just a matter of if you truly believe in merit only, then you can’t have some preconceived notion as to the ethnic or racial make up of the group that then is assembled as a result of paying attention to only merit. If you do, then you are saying that merit is not the only thing that matters. This is OK, so long as you don’t claim otherwise.

    • Ellie says:

      I guess I’m saying we should think of merit as something drawn from a more complicated set of criteria, some hard to classify or quantify.

      But merit in the way you mean it – yes I don’t believe in merit only while we have such an unequal society. It doesn’t allow enough change to happen to that inequality in my view.

  • robc cowan says:

    Hi Norman – in my little piece rehanging should be ranging!
    Best
    Rob

  • Patricia DIXON says:

    Good luck in what you do in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed your programmes. Will be thinking of you. Wishing you a Happy and Holy Christmas ☃️☃️ and New Year 2021. Look after yourself and keep well and warm.
    I do hope that the bosses at Classic FM will reconsider renewing your contact.

    Patricia DIXON

  • barry bennett says:

    come back to Radio 3

    • Herbie G says:

      What is there left to come back to at R3? It’s far worse than it was when Rob left after Davey’s wrecking ball struck Essential Classics. And let’s mention Sarah Walker too – another phenomenal presenter whom I also had the privilege to meet – as with Rob, friendly, modest and with a lovely voice. She’s only to be heard on R3 on Sunday mornings now, reduced to dispensing the same dismal cavalcade of dreadful snippets. What a waste. It’s a bit like getting Leonardo da Vinci to paint your garden shed.
      It’s no surprise that the BBC is haemorrhaging its listeners over 50 years old – many of whom represented Radio 3’s principal audience, by desperately attempting to seduce younger listeners in the forlorn hope that churning out a little bit of everything as ear-bait will attract a shoal of new younger-generation listeners. Someone should explain to Dismal Davey that most youngsters don’t listen to the wireless and that he who tries to please everyone pleases nobody. Maybe if they put Chris Evans in charge of Essential Classics and Graham Norton presided over Record Review, with Composer of the week in the hands of Janet Street-Porter and Ali G on the Breakfast Show, they might have a ghost of a chance…

  • Rodney says:

    a sad day.
    come to Lyric FM.

  • Ed says:

    Why all the pseudo intellectual bull***t comments? The sad fact us that Classic FM has lost one of the finest broadcasters in the UK. Rob Cowan’s weekly programme was a weekly tonic; masterclass that educated, informed and entertained. His voice and musical selections, will be greatly missed.

  • Chris says:

    Yes Classic FM has gone down hill over the years, like the rest of us! But remember it is a private station and if anyone clicks through TV. stations you will see the absolute rubbish that people seem to think is a program. So what can you expect, we like CFM on in the background most of the day, and as do, I expect most people who have it on, it is a gentle sound and also for non knowledgeable music listeners sometimes quite enlightening. So thank you Rob for your enlightenment. Good wishes and good health.

  • Evelyn Gottlieb says:

    Judging from the large response here, CFM is clearly out of tune with its listeners in having decided to end Cowan’s Classics. In contrast, Rob consistently sought the opinions of his listeners in asking for their reactions to the music he presented, and was open to suggestions of music to be included in future programmes. In Rob Cowan CFM had its most knowlegeable and highly respected and much loved classical music broadcaster who went beyond simply presenting the usual diet of popular classics ad nauseum. Each one of his programmes included rarely heard works chosen from his own vast collection of CDs which made the programmes interesting, eductional and most importantly thoroughly enjoyable. Shame on CFM for its ill judged decision to end this much loved series.

  • Douglas Evans says:

    Tuned in this evening to hear dear Rob and, sadly, what do I hear but film music. Andrew Collins is excellent, but what a sad loss to the station! Please could Rob return to the BBC and rescue us from Ms Alker Saturday am? Aaaaargh!

    • Evelyn Gottlieb says:

      How I detest ‘Croissant Corner’ on the Saturday ‘Breakfast’ programmes on R3. What can we do to get rid of these ghastly chansons which don’t belong to the classical music repertoire.

      • Mrs Margaret L Ross says:

        Couldn’t agree more. And now there is an even worse programme before it. Not worth turning on before 9.00am. And then I don’t enjoy Tom Service myself, or Jess Gillam. A horrible morning now on R3 except for Record Review.

  • Joe says:

    A lot of negativity you seem to attract, Norm. Bad audience. I love Rob Cowan. A wonderful man with a depth of spirit that is striking. Start a podcast Rob!,

  • Florence King says:

    Please bring back Rob Cowan. Saturday night is a desert without him. His choice of music is a welcome change from the same old things which turn up time and time again. And his presentation is concise and intelligent, unlike many of Classics presenters.

  • Mrs Margaret L Ross says:

    I’ve never got over Rob Cowan’s leaving Radio 3. It’s beyond me why some broadcaster doesn’t want his expertise in archive recordings and historic reissues (see Gramophone magazine). Surely a review of these plus interesting things he has found would make a great programme, as a parallel to Record Review. There is so much stress on new releases on Radio 3. (That is when it’s classical music rather than rubbish continuous stringing together of ‘wellbeing’ ‘type tracks).

  • Mike says:

    I really miss Rob. He was knowledgable and was the best presenter on Classicfm. His issue was that he didn’t play the “same old, same old” Classic fm charts. Such a shame.

  • James West says:

    Miss your variety and excellent quality of performances. B W James

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