04 February 2005

I mean, I *like* NPR and all

The Washington Post announced on Wednesday that WETA, Washington DC's classical music and public radio station, is planning to eliminate the classical music portion of their programming. Over the last several years WETA and WAMU (a college-based station at American University that played blue grass and hot jazz) have been in a race to see who can have the most news/talk programming. Several years ago WETA dumped their morning music in order to run "Morning Edition," annoying the people who actually wanted to hear Brahms with their coffee instead of news and news analysis.

Right now WETA and WAMU run in parallel at lot of the time. The only NPR-based or APM-based (American Public Media) shows that I can think of off the top of my head that they don't both carry (except for the programs that WAMU generates) are "A Prairie Home Companion" (WETA) and "This American Life" (WAMU).

Frankly, radio in the DC area is pretty crappy. There is a better selection and wider choices in Cleveland than here. (I'm not making that up. There really is.) After the programming change goes through, there will be one DC-based classical music station. WHFS, which back in the day was an alternative rock station that would play stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else, recently changed to a Spanish-language station and the only other alternative station in the area, WRNR (?), has a signal that doesn't carry past its own building. 'HFS was a shadow of its former self and we don't have any Spanish-language stations to speak of, so I can't get too worked up about that one, although they could have given their remaining listeners more than .0001 seconds notice.

The definition of business, as I learned it in my Introduction to Banking course years ago, is "to generate profits while providing a service." And the fact that "generate profits" is at the front of the definition and "provide service" at the back wasn't lost on me. If we won't support classical music, it will go away. Ratings were down and so were pledges.

I listen to NPR a lot. I really like it. Heck, my pal Stacey works for them. But in a listening area with so little diversity, it seems counterproductive for stations to simply ditto each other.

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