Who Knew? Classical Music Can Be Good for Ratings

Classic Arts News   Who Knew? Classical Music Can Be Good for Ratings
Dropping classical music in favor of news and talk shows at Washington, D.C.-based WETA radio has not increased the number of listeners or helped fundraising efforts, according to the Washington Post.

The new programming, which includes news and talk shows from National Public Radio, the BBC, and other outside media, has not attracted a larger or more demographically diverse audience.

WETA raised $445,000 from its fall fundraising campaign, a decline from $479,000 raised in last year's drive, when classical music still figured prominently in the station's lineup.

The station is behind WAMU, its public radio competitor, which offers similar programming, including NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, which the two stations both play in the prime morning and evening drive time slots.

But Dan DeVany, general manager of WETA, told the Post that a greater range of ages are now tuning in, citing ratings showing that the percentage of WETA's audience in the 65-74 age bracket has dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent in the past year, while those aged 25-34 rose from 10 percent to 13 percent.

The initial vote to replace classical music with talk and news took place in February, and was protested by many of the station's listeners. At the time, an e-mail petition signed by music lovers including James Galway was presented to station officials.

There is now only one other classical-music station in the area, the commercial station WGMS-FM.

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