So what is this blog all about, anyway?

Last month in Los Angeles, Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, premiered a chamber opera he wrote with composer Paul Salerni called "Tony Caruso’s Final Broadcast."  The main character, Tony Caruso, is a failed operatic tenor, but he’s well respected as a classical music announcer.  Sadly, Tony loses his job when his station drops its classical format and switches to Golden Oldies.

A familiar and painfully realistic scenario.  The opera is fiction, but here’s a scenario that’s real: just over a year ago National Public Radio quietly closed down its Classical Music Unit, laid off nearly all of the staff, and outsourced its flagship shows Performance Today and SymphonyCast to American Public Media.  NPR executed the shutdown so quietly that the public really never even knew about it.

If the nation’s number one public radio broadcaster and the nation’s
number one arts guy in Washington consider classical music on the radio
endangered, it must be true.

Of course we’ve overstated the case to make a point.  It’s a little
like saying newspapers are dead.  Or books are dead.  Or the housing
market is dead.

It’s been so easy all these years just to turn on the radio and get
our classical music fix, but things are changing in the radio world. On
this blog, we’re going to explore the shifting landscape of classical
music radio.

Of course radio’s decision makers can never kill the music itself.  To misquote Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice,
the music will out.  After all, Shakespeare had plenty of music in his
life; so did Bach, Mozart, and Brahms, and none of them had radio.
Radio has been a lovely blip on the classical music continuum. And
there’s no question that many programmers at radio stations have a deep
love for classical music and are committed to keeping it on the air —
though in the face of falling ratings or listeners’ growing appetite
for news, that can be quite a struggle.

What does the future hold for classical music on the radio?  And in
an era of iPods, XM and Web streaming, how much does radio still
matter? We aim to find out.

Stay tuned…

—Mike and Marty

About Mike Janssen

Mike Janssen Served as Scanning The Dial's original co-authors from Mar, 2008 to Jan, 2010 and is a freelance writer, editor and media educator based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He has written extensively about radio, mostly for Current, the trade newspaper about public broadcasting, where his articles have appeared since 1999. He has also worked in public radio as a reporter at WFDD-FM in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he began his career in journalism and filed pieces for NPR. Mike's work in radio expanded to include outreach and advocacy in 2007, when he worked with the Future of Music Coalition to recruit applicants for noncommercial radio stations. He has since embarked on writing a series of articles about radio hopefuls for FMC's blog.

Mike also writes regularly for Retail Traffic magazine and teaches workshops about writing, podcasting and radio journalism. In his spare time he enjoys vegetarian food, the outdoors, reading, movies and traveling. You can learn more about Mike and find links to more of his writing and reporting at

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5 thoughts on “So what is this blog all about, anyway?”

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere and best of luck with Scanning the Dial. I hope you also cover classical music radio in Canada, with stations such as CBC Radio 2 that have a magnificent past and uncertain future.

  2. I produce my own podcast and manage several others, and I am fascinated by the potential that this new form of distribution holds for classical music, providing a means of getting niche content out to a worldwide audience. I’m excited to hear your thoughts on classical music in the media, and I’ll be checking in regularly. Welcome to Inside The Arts!

  3. Chris: Thanks, and I’m definitely interested in following developments in Canada. Please help by sending links or suggesting resources if you have the time!

    Jason: Thanks to you as well, and I’m also looking forward to at least a few posts about classical podcasters. Any tips as to podcasts worth listening to and checking out would be much appreciated.

  4. I believe it is the many “classical music” broadcasters , “duty bound” to their arbitrons; those who have dumbed down what classical music is heard on the airwaves, that are the worst culprits. If they haven’t killed classical music, it isn’t because they haven’t tried.

    Much of what classical radio I encounter in the US is classical music “light,” and an insult to art music. For me, when classical music becomes wall paper, it isn’t being listened to. The true meaning in classical music is only found when one “listens.” When music becomes something to be passively enjoyed it becomes devalued…a bit like being surrounded by a bunch of “yes men.”

    From the marketing of the NBC Symphony to the writings of the myopic Knight report, I sincerely believe that classical radio, as I have experienced in recent years, has been one of the major contributors to the devaluation of art music.

    It will be interesting to see what perspectives you bring to this topic.



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