SundayArts is Now NYC-ARTS
So long WQXR at 96.3

As I write this, it’s 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, and I’m listening to WNYC radio host Terrance McKnight count down the last 30 minutes before New York City’s all-classical WQXR becomes part of the WNYC public radio family. The change to a new radio frequency is being celebrated with a live broadcast of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall concert, which features Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks,” Webern’s Fuga from Bach’s Musical Offering, the Beethoven Violin Concerto, and the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s Concerto with Echoes. In a few minutes I will move my Bose radio pre-sets so that there is a reserved spot at 105.9 instead of 96.3, and here’s hoping the signal makes it over the airwaves to where I live. The is the main worry that traditional radio listeners may have about the change, other than duplication of radio hosts and programs during the hours when both WNYC-FM and WQXR hosted all-classical programs. (You can view a WQXR program schedule at the WNYC website and a bunch of other FAQs about the switch can be found at here.)

Terrance McKnight sounds pretty happy and proud of the fact that an all-classical station has been preserved in any form in the city of New York. Terrance is now one of two evening hosts associated with the new WQXR. David Garland—the other evening host—is on site at Carnegie Hall, and he’s on air chatting with Terrance. David mentions that he is “cool, calm, and collected” about the “historic moment,” not just the Carnegie Hall broadcast but the big radio switchover about to happen. To make things a little more exciting, substitute violinist Henning Kraggerud is substituting for the originally scheduled Janine Jansen in the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

Yes, in the current climate it is remarkable that we still have a classical-music radio station—not just in light of the economic recession but also the difficulties currently faced by the classical music in general. (I wrote about this at SundayArts in July.)

Orpheus Chamber OrchestraThe classical-music world adapts slowly to change. An obvious point, and an understatement, to be sure. After all, some of what classical music is about is preserving tradition. But that’s not the only thing it’s about. “Classical music” was once new—it wasn’t always old and venerated. (Just think of Puccini’s Tosca or Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.) But nowadays, I don’t know anyone under age 20 who even owns a radio. Alarm clock radio? That comes from a cell phone or iPod. I myself don’t listen to much radio over the traditional airwaves, except if I am driving. At home, almost all my radio listening comes streamed through the computer.

What we all want, in the end, is quality. Right? And we can spend from now to eternity arguing about what “quality” is, whether that’s Julia Wolfe’s wailing “Lad” for nine bagpipes or whether it’s the epic, genre-defining Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. Here’s hoping for quality and frequency at the new, higher-up-the-dial WQXR.

Photo: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

  • Richard Mitnick

    Geeze, I just came to the site looking to check the Sunday Arts schedule, hoping against hope for the Ahmet Ertigun piece, and I found this post on a subject that has been occupying me for several months.

    Please look at (“Whither Public Radio and serious music”). I have written several posts on this subject.

    I am a PubRadio zealot and a WNYC/”New Music” fanatic.

    I think that they did a really good job. The WQXR people should be happy with the music. I tested out the signal in my car, 30-40 miles from The City, it was fine in my car which has no stick antenna; my friend’s car does have a stick antenna, and we needed it to get any signal, but got a good one with the antenna up.

    I am not happy to be losing the wnyc2 influence on Evening Music and Overnight Music, but, mostly I listen while working at my home or office, so I will “manage” with Q2, the new name for the web stream and HD stream.

    Thanks for a very nice piece.


  • Lucy

    Changes in local stations is really tough. Fortunately in San Francisco we have 102.1 KDFC which has a great play list, an active music community and a happy fan base. They are also available by online streaming.

  • Anthony

    I feel bad for WQXR to go away. Learning the culture & the arts, it’s even good so I can become an even better artist.

  • Nancy and Karl Steinberger

    We have both listened to WQXR since the 1950s and are extremely upset due
    to the fact that we can no longer receive a clear signal here in northern
    Rockland County!

  • lee hipius

    I was aware the switch was coming. Ever since I can remember, I always listened to WQXR, became educated in classical pieces. There were times that there were some really annoying pieces being played; some sounded as if the pianist was just practicing, some had flautists tootling very annoyingly. But for the most part, there were some really beautiful pieces floating through the air, symphonies, operatic arias, chamber music (not my favorite). So I do tune in warily now, but for the most part, we won’t be starved for classical. It was a bit of a task finding the new station, but hurray! I did, and it is set there all the time. Please feed us quality pieces ad infinitum! Gratias!

  • Home Security :

    Classical music is the king, i like Maria Callas and operatic arias ..

  • Water Filter

    classical music is always the best, it is relaxing and very rich in melody **-

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SundayArts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank and by the Rubin Museum of Art. Funding for SundayArts is also made possible by Rosalind P. Walter, The Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation, The Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Jody and John Arnhold, and The Lemberg Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding provided by members of THIRTEEN.