Board of Washington's WETA Votes to Drop Classical Music

Classic Arts News   Board of Washington's WETA Votes to Drop Classical Music
The board of directors of WETA-FM, a Washington, D.C.-area public radio station, has voted overwhelmingly to replace almost all of its classical music programming with talk and news, the Washington Post reports.

The vote took place last night at the station's offices.

The switch is part of a move to create a larger audience for the station: in 2004, the audience numbers for the station were at their lowest since 1991: and leaves only one other classical-music station in the area, the commercial station WGMS-FM.

Many of the listeners who attended the public meeting were upset about the loss of music programming, and accused the station of abandoning the cultural minority that depends on public radio and television for less-popular programming: such as jazz, classical music, and bluegrass: that isn't as commercially viable as news and popular music.

An e-mail petition signed by 740 music lovers, including composer John Adams and flutist James Galway, was presented to station officials by Ulrich Bader, director of artistic programming for the National Symphony Orchestra.

Other listeners argued that interest in classical music in the area is on the rise with the opening of the Music Center at Strathmore.

The public comment period before the vote also included a handful of people angry about the decision of many public television stations not to air an episode of the cartoon Postcards from Buster that depicted two lesbian couples with their children.

The station's new lineup, announced directly after the board's vote, will include news, analysis, and interviews, including programming from National Public Radio and the BBC. Maxie C. Jackson III, the station's new program director, said that the switch will allow the station to develop programming for underserved communities, such as African-Americans.

The only classical music programming left on the schedule is the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on Saturday afternoon. A folk-music program has also been spared.

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