Greetings, Scanning the Dial readers and fans of classical music on public radio! I’m really delighted to be taking the reins from Marty, who has done such a great job over the years keeping all of us informed about the goings-on in what is, admittedly, a small (but important) niche in the world of media. So thank you, Marty, and also thanks to Emily Kurlinski, who recommended that I carry the torch onward into the future.
First things first. Marty introduced me as a “professional musician,” which is flattering, but a bit of an exaggeration. I am a reasonably good amateur pianist, and I have been paid a few times for chamber music performances, but performance has never (and likely will never) be a significant part of my life or my income. That ship sailed a long time ago when I was in high school and decided to pursue sports and put my piano studies on hiatus. And I have never regretted that decision. I don’t think I have the personality, or, frankly, the work ethic, to succeed as a professional musician. It’s an incredibly daunting career path that becomes more difficult each year as our society continues to turn its back on the arts and sources of funding become smaller. But for those with the talent, drive, and imagination to make it work as a professional musician, it remains an incredibly rewarding pursuit. I am content to offer support for these amazing people through my role as a broadcaster, and if an opportunity comes my way for a performance, then that’s great, too.
Seven months ago, I had no idea whether or not I would be employed today, let alone running a blog about my industry. I was laid off from Vermont Public Radio on February 17th, 2014, a day that still gives me nightmares. I had read about layoffs at other stations through various channels (including this blog), and had always thought “it could never happen to me.” After all, I was at a station that had invested million of dollars in building a statewide classical music network, I had created new and innovative programming, and was part of one of the great musical communities in the country. But alas, we never know why these things happen, and there I was, adrift and wondering just what on earth I would do next. Over the ensuing weeks and months, I did what many of us have done: updated my resume, wrote countless cover letters, and networked. I joined LinkedIn, a tool about which I was previously skeptical, and within days I had an offer to work as an independent contractor recording weekends and overnights for KBAQ in Phoenix, Arizona, which I still do in my bedroom closet. My search for full time work continued, and I had interviews with several performing arts organizations (including a major symphony orchestra) but for two months, no radio stations wanted to bite. I was fully prepared for and even excited about the prospect of working for such an organization, but I still felt a bit like a fish out of water during those interviews. I was, in my heart, a radio guy; radio was where I started during college, it was my personality could really shine, and where I was the most comfortable. In April, I had my first interviews with two radio stations, one of which is where I am now as Music Director: WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful for this new opportunity to stay in radio, and especially to be in a place that is home to one of those most prestigious music schools in the world.
So, what should you expect, as readers, going forward? My goal is to make this blog the leading forum for both passionate listeners AND broadcasters to discuss all the issues we can that surround classical music and its place in radio (both public and commercial). As I am actively employed by two stations, I will do my best to refrain from judging the programming and personnel decisions made by other stations, but I’m not afraid to call attention to what I feel to be particularly outstanding or egregious events. Any opinions I offer will be mine alone, and not will not reflect the opinions of my employers. What do I expect? I expect to learn things from YOU. Everyone, whether they are station managers, program directors, music directors, hosts, listeners, or employees of other arts organizations, has a different opinion on the role classical music plays both in the community and on radio, and all those opinions are valid. That’s not to say, however, that I won’t disagree with a comment or even a guest blogger from time to time. But if we all agreed on everything, that wouldn’t be so fun, would it?
Coming up soon, I’ll have a recap of the classical music sessions of the 2014 Public Radio Program Directors Conference that took place last week in Portland, Oregon. I’m still getting over my jet lag from that, in addition to reviewing my notes. I’ll say right now that the doom and gloom that I experienced surrounding classical music at the 2012 conference in Las Vegas was replaced by a fresh wave of optimism and some compelling new survey data, and I look forward to sharing that with you in more detail in the coming days. Also, I plan to do a roundup of recent comings and goings in the classical music radio world, and pass along a few job opportunities that I’ve heard about through the grapevine.
Glad to be on board! If you have any questions for me or suggestions for topics that we can explore on the blog, please drop me a note in the comments section.
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