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Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Radio Radio

Big radio doings in DC today, as WTOP, the all-news goliath at 1500 on the AM abandons AM for FM, taking over the signal of WGMS, the remaining classical station in DC while that station moves to a different and far weaker signal. WGMS bumps off a crappy Beyonce/Blink 182/Whatever station, while the Washington Post takes over the old AM 1500 signal to launch something called Washington Post Radio.

I've never cared for WGMS for two reasons, the first being the commercials, the second being the hopelessly narrow predictibility of its playlist. I don't like Mozart, I don't like Haydn, I don't care for much baroque, and while I like Brahms and Beethoven and Bach just fine, I'm willing to bet there's more in each's canon than listening to WGMS would suggest. Even worse, they not only limit what pieces are played, they do not play entire pieces sometimes, just movements of pieces. How much this is because of the need to run commercials, and hence the station, on a clock, how much because they believe it good radio, I don't know.

It is interesting that another rock station is killed to save the classical station. Any claim of a classical revival in radio, with classical battling rock stations - and winning! -would be silly. The music business has discovered that delivering rock in formats other than radio is more profitable, and that, combined with the near uniformity of most successful rock radio stations, within genres, has rendered many stations redundant. DC used to have three "classic rock" stations; it's now down to one (and it's arbitron numbers are abysmal). That Bonneville thinks it can't lose any more money with a commercial classical station than it does with a Beyonce station says more about the fate of Beyonce stations than it does the potential of classical.

And AM? Now that I'll tune to FM1350 for traffic and weather first thing in the morning, I don't know that I'll tune to AM again come April.