Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Classic Celebration

By Misty L. Harris

Do you remember what you were listening to in 1977? If you are a classical music fan (and we know you are) you were enjoying your Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Dvorak on vinyl records. Most likely, you would have been hard-pressed to find a local radio station devoting all of its airtime to this treasured music.

But you were in luck! That searching and longing ended on April 18, 1977 when you found yourself cruising the FM dial around 6 a.m. looking for perhaps the latest update on the weather and stumbled upon the sounds of Beethoven’s Consecration of The House Overture and wondered what is this? What have I found? It was a breakthrough. Classical 94.5 FM WNED was born! The beginning of a musical journey that would change the way the community interacted with music from that point on. For 35 years, listeners and members have expressed their appreciation for this music through pledging to keep it on the air. And on the air it has stayed.

I remember the station as the one in between an R&B/Popular music station I listened to in my youth and the other station that played soft rock and oldies but goodies. I never stopped and listened, not for a moment, until I became a member of the chamber music orchestra in high school. I recognized pieces and appreciated the music because it was a part of my life. Now, I love and value it. Now that my nephew is exploring his artistic talents (violin, piano), I hope to educate him on the beauty of this music as well.

As the station’s anniversary approaches us, I asked Classical 94.5 WNED staffers what aspect of the station (in its 35 year existence) are they most proud of. Here are a few responses:

Gabriel DiMaio (Program Director): “The longevity of the station. It has remained true to the principle of being a classical radio station, while others have moved to talk radio. We play more than ‘top 40’ classical music. We have a very vast library that we draw our music from. Moreover, we are not afraid to try different things.”

Peter Hall (Mid-day Classics Host): “The advice and legacy of Peter Goldsmith, the library and the standard of excellence that we live up to. Most of all, the marvelous members who make it all possible”.

Jim Berryman (Evening Classics Host): “The fact that we have had the same format for 35 years shows how important having classical music is on the radio and the members who have supported it. We love you and we thank you.”

Dora Rankin (Radio Traffic Manager): “ I like the attention given to the events and seasons for example we play big-band music during summer programming, holiday programming and the Oscar Music. The music is often related to what is going on at the time. It’s fun.”

Stratton Rawson (Music Director): “We have never compromised our standards in terms of classical music. Our staff is incredibly knowledgeable and best of all it’s listener supported!”

So members and listeners, I turn the mic to you and ask, what is it that you value about this station? Could it be the local programming such as Classical Canada, Philharmonic Friday, the upcoming Young Performers series? Or could it be the Met Opera broadcasts? Maybe it’s the vast selection in the Peter Goldsmith Library that continues to grow annually. I think I’m most impressed by the announcers. They really know their music. They love coming to work everyday and love spending their time with the listener. It’s not just music and you're not just a member to them. It’s musical discourse. They share with you what they know about the music (no scripts needed) and carefully select only the pieces they know you want to hear and you respond as you have for the last 35 years with your support.

Share your memories and celebrate with us as we continue on this musical journey!

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