Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The waiting is over, and now 99.5, Boston's All Classical station is off the pad and soaring. Time to settle in an enjoy the view and what's possible from a listener supported 24/7 classical radio station in one of the great classical music cities of the world. It's something we've been looking forward to for a long time, and the excitement around the studios has been palpable the last few days.

And remember, if you're having trouble picking up 99.5FM, look into internet and HD radios. Our broadcast on 99.5 will be carried on the All Classical WGBH internet stream as well as on 89.7-HD2. In fact, a listener called me in the studio today after I mentioned HD radio on the air. He wasn't aware of HD radio, so after we talked it through for a few minutes, he got pretty excited. He lives in an area 99.5 doesn't reach and doesn't have an internet connection at home. It wasn't long before I got another call from him, in which I learned that he had tracked down an HD radio at a local Radio Shack and was on his way to pick it up.

And by the way, be sure to listen throughout December for the Music That Made You Love Music. These are the pieces and stories we asked you to send us earlier this fall, and there are some incredible stories to hear. A perfect way to connect listeners at our new home at All Classical 99.5.


  1. It's great to hear WCRB again thanks to HD radio and the internet. Congrats WGBH on your action to obtain the long time classical music leader. Hopefully one of these days the 99.5 signal will be heard here in RI.

  2. The former WCRB was not intellectual or subtle, was plagued by a strident and percussive tympani-laden, pom-pommy, oompahish and waltzy play list. A shallow and hamfisted interpretation of the Classical genre saturated that station. And the degree to which thoughtful classical music was played was marred by the ever-present threat of the next appallingly over-played selection.

    The former WCRB had no sensitivity, none, no empathy for the audience, was not thematic and paid no attention to the sequence of play, took no notice of the time of day. A bash-crash waltz was played at 07:10AM. Dvorák, Beethoven, Copeland and Gershwin occupied the same hour.

    Whereas the former WGBH Classical had none of those poor qualities and never presented untimely or at random.

    Painfully the old WCRB has not been altogether eradicated as love for the genre demanded and the audience deserved. The hosts brought in or transferred from WGBH and the ones kept on from the old station have clearly set into two camps, the former ossified 'commercial' WCRB and the former far-ranging and exploring WGBH, and are not unified by a common mission. Though I allow once an irritation passes a critical stage one becomes hyper-attuned to the remotest recurrence, that is not the case with the new WCRB. An affront to musical sensibility is an affront. Daily waltzes before dawn are untimely and insensitive choices, singular at best.

    A bash-crash waltz played at 5:30AM the other day upended for no apparent reason a most wonderful 3-hour stretch of chamber music. The afternoon was disjointed and bangy. The unacceptable practice of excising single movements from symphonies occurred recently, a single movement from Brahms' 3rd. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was played between 5 and 6AM.

    I would have thought that with the appalling frequency with which Rhapsody in Blue (and a dozen or twenty others) had been played - daily - in the same manner that other commercial stations rendered pieces toxic through repetition ad nauseum - that the new management would have realized sound ground to assert a ban of the piece (and a dozen or twenty others) for a some years for form's sake and to establish a fresh beginning with the old guard.

    Why it could be imposed upon the old WCRB the framework of a 1970's AM hit radio station and yet the new management did not impose wholesale upon the new venture the "curatorial approach" to classical music they had been rightly praised for is beyond me. There is no place, not even an hour for Richard Knisely who gave to me some of the most wonderful afternoons of listening I have ever experienced?

    I held my disappointment in abeyance, trusted that force of example would transform the old guard freed from their commercial fetters and the WGBH Classical sense we all knew and loved would prevail, but that has not happened. The WGBH Classical that was wondrous, invigorating and life affirming has been spliced with what never should have been. Not, thankfully, to the relentless lowest common denominator as WCRB had been, but after six-odd weeks, grateful relief for the New has become sobered by the confidence and insistence of the unacceptable Old.


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