Tonight in Copley Square: WGBH and its discontents

In a piece that'll be out later this week, I cite the coming public-radio battle between WBUR-FM and WGBH-FM as one of the big media stories of 2010--and state that, at least during off-peak hours (i.e., when the programming on the two stations isn't duplicative), the decision to take 89.7 FM to a news-focused format (while moving classical programming to 99.5 All Classical, which WGBH acquired last year) has been good for public-radio junkies. (Disclosure: I'm a paid contributor to WGBH-TV's "Greater Boston.")

Others are less sanguine about WGBH's programming shift, however--and they'll be well represented this evening at a panel discussion that begins at 6 pm at Copley Square's Old South Church.

The event in question--titled "What Can We Do for Classical Music Radio in Boston?", and moderated by William Bulger--seems sure to focus on concerns involving 99.5 (e.g. reception problems and the cancellation of Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts). But organizers also intend, apparently, to critique 89.7's programming as overly duplicative of WBUR's--and to ask if WGBH might reconsider the arrangment. (I'm guessing that John Voci, GM of WGBH radio, will answer "No" to that one.)

Here's the full press release:


The Boston Musical Intelligencer presents


Panel discussion at Old South Church, Copley Square

Tuesday, January 5 at 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Recent articles in the Boston Musical Intelligencer and elsewhere evoked widespread dismay over the changes in WGBH and WCRB programming and the lack of signal strength from the recently-designated station for classical music, WCRB. Come hear what the experts think, ask your questions and have your say.

Moderator: William M. Bulger, formerly President of the Massachusetts Senate, president of University of Massachusetts, and trustee of the Boston Public Library and Boston Symphony Orchestra

Richard Dyer, former classical music critic of the Boston Globe
Christopher Lydon, broadcast journalist on WBUR and WGBH
Dave MacNeill, announcer & fomer general manager of WCRB
John Voci, general manager of WGBH radio

Boston Musical Intelligencer reviewers Mark DeVoto, John W. Ehrlich, Brian Jones, Peter Van Zandt Lane, and Tom Schnauber

The Issues:
· Friday afternoon broadcasts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra are cancelled.
· In Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and areas south of Boston, listeners are unable to receive a clear signal from "all-classical" WCRB.
· Much of the music on WCRB is programed by a Minneapolis syndicate.
· Area listeners have lost fifty hours a week of quality classical music.
· Do we really need more talk radio and duplicative NPR programming?
·Are WGBH contributors pleased with the changes?
·Are WCRB listeners pleased?
·Will the administration at WGBH reconsider?

The Boston Musical Intelligencer is at

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