Changes at WQED-FM affirm its classical music commitment
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Starting Monday, WQED-FM's (89.3) program schedule will look and sound a little different, but it's still designed to be the destination on the dial for classical music listeners. The changes are mostly in the evening and weekend schedules.
WQED-FM executive director Susan Lyons describes it as "going back to the basics" in terms of music and hosts. "It's about more music and less talk. Listeners tune in a classical music station 'to escape talk.'"
Lyons describes the new schedule as programming for both "the classical music liker and the classical music lover." For casual and newer listeners, that means accessible programming. "You just need a set of ears and a heart," she says. The devoted listener will find an expanded playlist of lesser known and newer music.
"We've recommitted to the classical music format -- and to make sure every show we offer is speaking in a contemporary, welcoming, down-to-earth voice," Lyons says. Part of that recommitment includes dropping some syndicated programs that play other genres of music, like "Hearts of Space" and "Schickele Mix."
The major change in weekdays is a revamping of Jim Cunningham's morning show. It's the exception to the less talk, more music rule, with expanded reports and coverage of happenings in the arts and cultural community.
Because the morning show will incorporate more arts and culture coverage and reviews, the station is dropping its weekly Sunday arts program, "The Bayer Arts Magazine." Pittsburgh Symphony broadcasts will move to the "Arts Magazine" Sunday 4 p.m. time slot.
"Performance in Pittsburgh," which is hosted by Stephen Baum, will expand to three hours a week, airing live Fridays from 7 to 10 p.m.
During peak weekday listening hours, the station will play more music by the PSO and add opera arias, giving the music exposure to a wider audience than would tune in a program devoted entirely to the music.
Several evening and weekend syndicated programs are being replaced by new ones.
A new weeknight feature -- "Buried Treasures," hosted by Charles Andrews -- digs deeper into the repertoire to spotlight musical rarities and lesser-known classical music. It will air weeknights at 8.
Former Pittsburgh Symphony trombonist Bill McGlaughlin will host the syndicated "Exploring Music" Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 p.m. Lyons says the program will fill the educational void left by the late Karl Haas, whose syndicated "Adventures in Good Music" re-broadcasts are being dropped.
Overnight (11 p.m. to 6 a.m.), the station will carry syndicated programs hosted by Lauren Rico, Bob Christiansen, Valerie Kahler and Monica Vischer.
The weekday lineup remains the same -- Cunningham from 6 to 11 a.m., followed by Anna Singer from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Ted Sohier from 4 to 8 p.m. Singer and Sohier will broadcast live from WQED's Carolyn M. Byham Studio in the Downtown Cultural District.
Weekend changes include:
The Saturday program "Listeners' Choice" changes name and moves to the evening, following "Prairie Home Companion." "Saturday Night Requests with Jim Sweenie" will air from 8 to 10 p.m. and features call-in requests from listeners. Sweenie also will host a Saturday show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The station is adding "Modern Masterpieces," a weekly program hosted by Alan Chapman that will air 10 p.m. Saturdays. The program features music by both classical and emerging composers.
For opera listeners, "Metropolitan Opera" airs Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. (December to April) and "World Class," a combination of opera and orchestral music, airs Sundays from 7 to 10 p.m.
Stephanie Wendt is host to "Sacred Classics," featuring choral and instrumental works, airing Sundays from 7 to 10 a.m.
Gone from the schedule are syndicated programs including the aforementioned "Adventures in Good Music," "Record Shelf," "Vocal Scene," "Cleveland Orchestra" and "The Romantic Hours."
The new lineup will be ushered in Monday with a live broadcast at the Byham studio. Commuters can drop in for refreshments and meet WQED personalities.
First Published August 11, 2006 12:00 am