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March 19, 2005


Michael McNeill

Yeah, a lot of crap (if you'll pardon me for saying so) gets played on my local classical station. Lots of 18th and early 19th century music, although in the evening they broadcast concerts by major out-of-town orchestras and they play some more modern music. I'm not holding my breath for an all-Stockhausen concert, but it at least mixes up the sounds a little. And, yes, at age 15, my listening to early '70s Keith Jarrett opened doors to both Ornette Coleman and Bill Evans (and, eventually, to Cecil Taylor, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and everyone else).


How, exactly, is this different from any radio station? No, seriously, it sounds just like your other typical commercial stations.That's just the way things are in the radio world, unless you're lucky enough to live in an area where the college radio station has good jazz, postclassical, or something similar on the air. Other than that, internet radio is the way to go. If I think about the crud put out on our local classical station, then I enjoy my local college radio even more. Free form mixing of Riley, Glass, ambient, Radiohead, and more seems far more interesting than some mediocre baroque output. Sigh.

Richard Friedman

The state of "classical" or art music on the radio in this country is just plain awful. So I've given up entirely and removed the FM tuner from my system, replacing it with a spare iMac and a DSL connection. We listen to internet radio all the time. E.g. BBC Radio 3. And on Live365 there are many many personal feeds. The best for contemporary music are Kyle Gann's PostClassic Radio http://www.live365.com/stations/kylegann
and Robin Cox's Iridian Radio http://www.live365.com/stations/iridianradio. Both can be accessed via iTunes or any mp3 stream player.

It is sad because when I grew up in the 50's in NYC we had many extremely fine classical stations. I learned all I needed to know about classical music from the radio. (I never got into pop music... none of it made sense to me.)
And then the leap from Varese (who I first heard on WNYC in 1959!) to Coltrane, Mingus, and Ornette, was easy.
Orchestras and opera companies complain today that they have no audience for new music. Maybe if they played some they might develop an audience. KDFC is an abomination. We sometimes leave it on a portable radio to entertain our parrots when we're gone. I'm waiting for one of them to mimic Diane Nicolini. THe announcing on KDFC is a farce. Worse than a Monty Python skit.

But then again, I'm happy to announce that I'm back on the radio myself, after a 10 year absence from KPFA (I did new music programs on KPFA/Berkeley from 1969-1995).
You can hear my Music From Other Minds on KALW 91.7 every Friday night at 11pm. http://rchrd.com/mfom/ for details.
Thank you, KALW!

I also wish KDFC would play more contemporary music. Sometimes they'll play some Copeland or Britten, etc. (which is good) but I never hear anything from the Viennese school or Bartok or Stravinsky and certainly not Varese. I've voiced my gripe with KDFC to them before, and their response was that if they played that sort of stuff they wouldn't remain competitive in the commerical radio market, which is unfortunate. I'll contiue to listen to them, however, because when it comes to classical music radio in the Bay Area, they're the only game in town--and Beethoven, Brahms, etc., are still worth listening to. Unfortunatly, their ads make them sound like they're serving up longhair Muzak for stressed out yuppies who need to mellow out after a day of multitasking. Frankly though, Los Angeles has a listener supported classical station (KUSC) which incudes a lot of challenging modern music as well as other classical dials, and Sacramento has one as well. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason why we only have KDFC here is because the Bay Area isn't the mecca of culture it makes itself out to be. LA has more cultural resources than SF, but people here love to smugly put LA down as a cultural wasteland. It's no surprise that "Phantom of the Opera" was such an enormous hit up here.

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