WPR kills live classical music

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Detritus
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WPR kills live classical music

Postby Detritus » Thu May 08, 2014 11:00 am

Wisconsin Public Radio has decided to kill "Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen" (after a 36-year run) and replace it with recordings. WPR says the program is successful, the host (Lori Skelton) is not a problem, listenership is not a problem, and even cost is not really a problem. So, then, what is the problem?

WPR marketing director (who apparently made the decision, not the music programming staff and certainly no one at the Chazen) attempts to explain here and again here.

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby kurt_w » Thu May 08, 2014 12:45 pm

Thanks for posting that. At Detritus's first link (to WTE) there are heartfelt comments from a couple of well-known local classical musicians, decrying this unfortunate decision.

It sounds like the only "live" music left will be Gilliland's "Midday" program, but that's far from the same thing -- he's interviewing musicians in a WPR studio with no audience, not broadcasting a public performance.

There's a lot of mush in there about diversifying the coverage of music on WPR from other parts of the state, but it all sounds (a) very vague and noncommittal, and (b) only for recordings not live people.

penquin
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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby penquin » Thu May 08, 2014 12:57 pm

My gut reaction is that this is a simple choice about how money is spent. Broadcasting a live event, especially something like chamber music, costs quite a pretty penny.

Detritus
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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby Detritus » Thu May 08, 2014 2:26 pm

penquin wrote:My gut reaction is that this is a simple choice about how money is spent. Broadcasting a live event, especially something like chamber music, costs quite a pretty penny.

In general I agree, but in this specific case I don't think cost was that big a factor. Broadcasting live from the Chazen is not like sending a truck out to Devil's Lake--the Chazen is right across the street from Vilas Hall, and right next to the Humanities Building, where the Music School is housed. There is even a tunnel from Humanities to the Chazen, in which is stored, among other things, recording and broadcast equipment. Plus the Chazen was designed for live performance, so it's not like there is a ton of work in setup and breakdown.

I think the fact that this was done within the marketing department, and then dropped on the music programmers and the Chazen without warning--and still has yet to be properly announced to musicians and composers around the state--tells us a lot more about the decision than any justification Potter may give. And it will be a terrible blow for classical music, musicians, and composers across the state. There is no other regular venue for live performance of classical music that reaches the entire state. None. And that resource cannot be replaced with canned performances that Potter didn't even guarantee would be of local musicians:
We will draw on our extensive music library of some of the best recordings from around Wisconsin and the world.

Note also the reference to "our extensive music library." That tells me that WPR will not be making new recordings, so new music and new performers will be SOL.

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby fennel » Thu May 08, 2014 7:28 pm

Detritus wrote:I think the fact that this was done within the marketing department, and then dropped on the music programmers and the Chazen without warning--and still has yet to be properly announced to musicians and composers around the state--tells us a lot more about the decision than any justification Potter may give.
My hunch is you are right. This sounds as if a marketing person were acting according to some "best practice" meme that's been propagated via business social channels.

For organizations that have a vested public interest, it's a good idea to expand one's scope of interest beyond the tired tropes of corporate PR outlets. This involves humans, after all.

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby Ducatista » Fri May 09, 2014 9:50 am

They've reversed unpopular decisions before. With enough outcry, maybe they'll reverse this one?

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby Detritus » Fri May 09, 2014 1:13 pm

Ducatista wrote:They've reversed unpopular decisions before. With enough outcry, maybe they'll reverse this one?

At this point, Potter says no:
Both Potter and Panczenko said they anticipated negative reactions and backlash from the public. But, Potter said, that is unlikely to change the decision, as happened when WPR tried to cancel live broadcasts on Saturdays from the Metropolitan Opera and tried to change Classics by Request from Saturday to Friday, then rescinded each decision.

“Anytime you have a program change and lose something, it is hard on people,” said Potter, who added that WPR gets about 36,000 emails and phone calls about programming each year.

“I don’t think we will reverse this decision despite opposition” said Potter. “We are really trying to look at the bigger picture. We want to hear opposition. But we didn’t enter in this lightly and we wouldn’t exit it lightly.”

They like to hear opposition to their decisions. They just don't care to listen to it.

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby Ingabinga » Fri May 09, 2014 4:19 pm

From the WPR announcement:
"Q: Did the Chazen museum have anything to do with this decision?

A: This decision was made solely by Wisconsin Public Radio and questions about the decision should be directed to WPR. We appreciate the partnership and support of the Chazen Museum throughout the run of Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen. WPR and the museum may consider other partnerships in the future. "

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby Ducatista » Sat May 10, 2014 8:30 am

Detritus wrote:At this point, Potter says no

Actually, he says:
...unlikely to change the decision...

and:
“I don’t think we will reverse this decision despite opposition”

If I felt strongly enough about the death of the series (I don't), I'd see that as a sliver of hope and try to make something happen.

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Re: WPR kills live classical music

Postby DCB » Sat May 17, 2014 7:06 pm

I'm bummed out and I'm not even a big classical listener.
We want to highlight music in Green Bay, Superior, Milwaukee, Lawrence University in Appleton, even Mills Hall at the UW-Madison.

Does that mean you'll be bringing other live music from those places? Uh, no.

“The resources we put into a live broadcast are not insignificant,” Potter said. “Live music may be exciting, but being live music doesn’t determine whether it is great music or not.”


You, sir, are all kinds of wrong.

"Live music is better"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoUVBYHYy4s


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